Broadcast Pioneer William T. Cochran Dies at 90

Decorated Air Force Hero, Radio Announcer Was Famous Face of Dristan Ads in 1950s

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- William T. Cochran, a pioneering radio and TV broadcaster at NBC in New York and the one-time face of Dristan nasal decongestant, passed away on April 26 at his home in Reno, Nev. He was 90 years old.

"He still had a booming voice up until the day he died," said Alan Hopper, whose sister married Mr. Cochran's son. Mr. Hopper said the radio announcer was like "an actor in the show" during the 1940s.

Mr. Cochran was a page and later an on-air announcer at NBC before he was drafted into the U.S. Air Force in 1942. After the war and a stint at Miami's radio station WIOD, Mr. Cochran rejoined NBC as a broadcaster for both the Red Network's WEAF and the Blue Network's WJZ, which later became ABC. In 1955, the brand that would become Dristan invited him to be its TV pitchman and the face of its billboard and subway car advertising.

The success of this campaign made Mr. Cochran one of the most recognizable faces on TV, Mr. Hopper said.

In addition to his broadcast work, Mr. Cochran was a captain and decorated war hero with the Air Force, earning the Purple Heart after being wounded in Word War II. Mr. Cochran also received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star and the Bronze Star, which was presented by General George S. Patton.

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