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
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
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
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
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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