A 4-part interview — “Life at WNST” (part 2)

January 10, 2012 | Drew Forrester

RL — Working with Charley must have been interesting.  I’ve heard lots of stories about him.

DF — I actually knew Charley from the time I was 8.  His nephew and I played little league baseball together.  Charley lived on Georgia Avenue, about 3 miles from where I grew up.   We’d pass his house every time we went to Sawmill Park for little league baseball.  Working with him was a blast, no pun intended, but I knew the legend of Charley Eckman long before I started working with him as part of my duties with the Blast.

RL —  Any special memories of Charley you want to pass along?

DF —  Well, he was the first guy to impress upon me how important gambling was to the world of sports.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  But to Charley, if you couldn’t bet on it, it wasn’t worth talking about it.  I got into trouble once when I was running the soccer team because I put together a knock-off of the famous “football office pool” that we all used to see floating around – you know, the one where you circle the games and get “points”, wink, wink.  I handed them out to the fans in attendance at a Spirit game, I made up the point spreads of the games being played in the league that night, and I gave out prizes for the folks who got the most “points”.  I almost got suspended by the commissioner for that.  But it was harmless.  I did it to get the fans more interested in the other games around the league.  That was all Charley there.  He would have done something like that, too.

RL — How did it all start with WNST?

DF —  I had known Nestor for the better part of a decade, I guess, when I first started at WNST.  He covered the occasional game when he was with The Sun and I was the media guy for the Blast.  He tries to tell the story of the first time we met – professionally – and he says I was rude to him but I don’t remember that.  I sat in with him to talk 2002 World Cup.  He was doing special guest hosts on his afternoon show and I’d come over and sit in for a couple of hours and talk about the World Cup with him.  One day out of the blue, he said “You should think about doing this full-time”.  A month later, I was in the chair doing the morning show with Terry Ford.

RL —  That was my introduction to you and WNST.  Terry was unique, wasn’t he?

DF —  Good word — unique.  I always tell people, even today, that Terry knew more about names and players and stats than anyone I’ve ever met.  Man, that guy knew a lot about sports.  Still does.  I shouldn’t say he knew a lot.  That sounds like he doesn’t know sports anymore.  He knows a lot still.  I was amazed at the stuff he could pull out.

RL —  Did you like doing the morning show right away?

DF — Yeah, I think so.  I’ve always been a morning guy, so the 6am start was good for me.  I didn’t really know what I was doing back then, technically, so I’m sure it sounded pretty awful in 2002.  Some of my critics think it still sounds awful today.

RL —  Come on, you can’t have critics now, 10 years later.

DF — You’re nuts.  I have plenty of them.  But I always borrow that Deion Sanders line — “my critics have critics”.  That’s how I try to justify them.  We all have critics of some sort.

RL —  I’ve always wondered if you have a philosophy you lean on for your job.  You know, is there a common theme or set of rules you try to follow?

DF — That’s a good question.  I think we all have a style that’s our own.  I’ve always loved radio because it’s the one medium where you really need to use your imagination, both as the host and the listener.  When you read the newspaper or something on a blog or on the internet, the written word is right there, leaving you with little room for your own interpretation.  Same with TV. It’s visual.  You watch it. With radio, particularly in talk radio that’s dominated by guests from the field and callers, it’s up to the person listening to picture what’s going on, what’s being said, what the person who’s talking looks like, and so on. (Please see next page)