In Pittsburgh, a city notorious for its lack of representation in many areas, Brian Cook was a leader in trying to improve racial diversity both in front of and behind the scenes. As president Pittsburgh Federation of Black Mediahe has worked to bring more positive and affirmative stories about the Black community, and now the new role gives him the opportunity to serve as a role model for a new generation.
Three weeks after graduating from Central Catholic High School in 1998, Cook got a job at American Urban Radio Networks, which led him to work for national radio for 14 years. After that he worked on television for 10 years. And if Cook’s resume is impressive, his story is even more inspiring.
“It started when I was 10,” Cook says. “I used to look in the mirror and talk to myself, working on the projection of my voice. I tried to stand balanced and kept a wooden spoon, which we stirred and mixed Kool-Aid, and would do a report in the living room.
Cook wore many hats throughout his career, but his early curiosity cemented his success, from taking photos on the sidelines of the Pittsburgh Steelers Games, to be recently appointed Director of Communications at his alma mater, Central Catholic.
Seeing someone like him in the media was an important feature on his path to journalism. He cites the work’s 60 minutes reporter Ed Bradley, who, according to Cook, could “turn the phrase like no other,” and with whom he had the honor of corresponding until Bradley’s death in 2006.
Cook says the most rewarding thing in his career was the ability to tell “reliable” stories.
“I came up with city radio, where many times there will be negative stories about the city community,” Cook says. “I’ve always tried to turn it around and find the positive to undo the negative rhetoric.”
He adds that it is always nice to hear responses from stories that have had negative experiences with the media, he adds, for example, journalists who took their words out of context or published too much just to have Cook tell his story more fairly. and in an honest way.
He has attended and covered seven Super Cups since 2006, when he first photographed the Steelers playing with the Seattle Seahawks in Detroit. Cook says coverage of these games was a highlight of his career, and jokes that he was born wrapped in a scary towel. Cook now works full time at Central Catholic High School and says he feels at home. He praised the time he spent at the school, emphasizing that it became a strong base for his work in the media and journalism. “The Central Catholic language has a rich history with a rigorous and complex curriculum under the auspices of the teaching of Lollipop principles,” he said, referring to the teachings of St. Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, a Roman Catholic religious leader.
Before joining Central Catholic, Cook says he has worked on about seven jobs in the media at a time, including being president of the Black Media Federation, and says his management has sometimes improved significantly since he started working full-time. He says he gives 100% of himself to this role for the benefit of students and society, but also still loves going out to film for Steelers.
His father was a photographer who photographed natural landscapes in black and white, and he attributed to his mother his love of history, especially black history. Cook says the two passions combine a lot in his work, and he tries to instill them in the students he works with, as well as his son Brian Cook Jr.
“Every time I do an interview, I always talk about it, it’s my source of life,” says Cook. “I love him more than myself. This is my man. He is now nine years old, you know, he is full of life and very smart and I am trying to teach him the same principles by studying your history and learning to walk positively through life ”.
Cook says many of the students he works with are interested in participating in the media, and he has tips for other young black people who want to go out on the field.
“The first thing I’ll say is make sure that’s what you want to do,” he says. “If you want to do that, know that sometimes you have to be twice as good at it because there are so few people of color. Finally, have fun. This is a fun industry. There are opportunities to cover the red carpet at the Grammys or Oscars. There are so many different areas that you can cover. ”