The return of a local sports talk radio legend comes to "1510 the Zone"

Eddie Andelman came jumping out of the gate, March 4, 2002, on WWZN (1510 the Zone), sounding much like he did as a sports talk radio legend during the 1970s and 1980s.

During his debut 12 noon to 3 p.m. show, the 65-year-old Andelman -- he of the thick Boston accent and lover of Chinese food -- instantly brought back the "fun" in sports talk radio, so obviously lacking with rival WEEI's nasty, crude, locker room sports talk style (or lack of).

Andelman talked about salvation in Boston sports, fervently asking each caller to put their hand on the radio, yell out "brother!" and find spiritualism in the local sports scene. He vowed to take his show on the road because he "loves people." He pledged to start a movement called Fans Against Idiot Radio (FAIR) as an antidote to the venomous WEEI. He made Chinese food restaurant references and cracked his tradmark one-liners. In response to a caller from Peabody, Mass., he said, "Except for the Carribean, there is no place more beautiful than Peabody."

Pure classic Andelman, no doubt. A little Boston humor, a Jewish Catskill comedic approach, and great originality, perhaps a concern since Concord resident Doris Kearns Goodwin lives in the "Zone" listening area.

Welcome back, Eddie. We missed you dearly after all those years away.

Actually, Andelman never went away. For the past several years, Andelman seemed to be on the decline at WEEI as a co-host of the "A" team with Dale Arnold (an anomolie at WEEI, since he is intelligent and thoughtful). Frequently, Andelman uncharacteristically put down callers (in a hostile way as opposed to his past approach of joyfully putting them down). In his debates with Arnold, he seemed to be a sports talk radio version of Ted Kennedy --that is, not always making sense while stumbling along.

Andelman just wasn't himself, and it made us sad. He seemed clearly disinterested in the "yell, interrupt and put people down" WEEI format. Somewhere lurking in him was a cry to express his creative style that made him such a popular fixture for so many years. The radio consultants, however, wanted no part of it.

To the avid Boston sports talk radio fan, this was a tragedy, for we all had our favorite Eddie Andelman moment during his true heydey as the ringmaster of the Sunday night Sports Huddle (most prominently remembered here on the old WHDH AM 850). Eddie, Marc Witkin and Jim McCarthy brought joy to the sports fans of New England who wanted to talk sports, but also have fun in the process. From the "big top" circus music leading into the trio announcing phony sports news with bad puns and jokes to the sign off with Gene Autry singing "Happy Trails," and Donald Duck giving the station identification, the Sports Huddle quickly became a household name by appealing to all members of the household. Dads loved the lively sports talk and kids enjoyed the child-like enthusiasm of Eddie and the gang. Mom liked the good clean fun and noticeable absence of loud rock music.




My favorite Eddie Andelman moment was when Eddie called a hotel in San Diego, which hosted the Winter baseball meetings, in hopes of getting groundbreaking information. When told no one was available to talk, Andelman picked up on a background voice saying "There's no hot water in Room 313." Andelman called that room and told the woman that he was the hotel manager. He also told her that he couldn't help her and that she basically had a lot of nerve asking for hot water. When she demanded to talk with Eddie's manager, he refused, and a verbal war broke out to the point of hilarity.

The Sports Huddle also featured great caller (or as Andelman says in his classic Boston accent , "callah") interaction with the warm and loving sports fan, Violet, the hotshot Tony from Everett and the very odd "Paul the Poet who doesn't know it ( he always gave a poem that never quite rhymed)."

I will never forget the rides back from my grandmother's house in Lynn, listening to these men who made sports fun for me. I remember my Mom and Dad laughing at Eddie, and my younger brother and I wanting to be like him. By bedtime, I would look out my parents Arlington home at the Boston skyline, wondering where Eddie was broadcasting from, and how I might be able to do what he did someday. As I brought my little Zenith transistor radio to bed, I put aside top 40 WRKO and WMEX and listened to the Sports Huddle until the 11 p.m. hour, brave stuff for an 11 year old.

Despite those classic radio days, it should be noted that Boston radio sports fans are not necessarily in pursuit of the "good old days" of sports talk radio. Rather, they are interested in sports stations that actually talk sports. The "Zone" just might deliver the goods with Andelman, afternoon drive host the great Sean McDonough (the voice of the Boston Red Sox), a plethora of Boston Globe beat reporters, an up-and-coming star in Dave Jaggler, and more planned on the way.

So while WEEI's Dennis and Callahan theorize about Manny Ramirez piercing a private body part and Glenn Ordway shouting over his callers, "1510 the Zone" is prepared to inform and entertain, but not at a gutter level. If Andelman's joyous debut is any indication of things to come, the Boston sports talk radio scene will indeed come jumping out of the gate and give sports fans something to cheer about.

Eddie, we salute you with a Kowloon pu-pu platter, a hope for a Red Sox World Series you've been waiting so long for and the temerity to leave the bowels of sports talk radio en route to a station with no constipation at all. You can now be yourself, and , that, in itself, is a reason for all real sports fans in New England to rejoice.

Welcome back, Eddie. You are indeed a Boston radio idol to many of us. It is an honor to hear you again.


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