MORE FROM J. HOLLAND
My favorite story HAS to be my first real talk show. It was late January 1983.
Although an utterly sad occasion the opportunity it provided proved to be a
milestone in my broadcast career.
Coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant was dying in Tuscaloosa at Druid City Hospital.
Shift change was near and by just a little after 2 p.m. the dreaded but
expected news arrived at the station with five bells on the AP machine.
As Program Director of WGAD-AM in Gadsden, I instantly made the decision.
We could play records any time, so I would take calls for my afternoon
drive shift and let the public grieve. I called up my G.M. and owner, Ed
Carrell, and told him of my decision. He agreed.
What ensued was one of the most memorable events and air shifts of my
life. For over four hours I took calls from sports writers, sports fans,
tons of Alabama and Bear Bryant fans, former players, elected officials,
people of faith; many openly crying some even laughing at the outcome of
an experience with the Bear but all very touched by the passing of this
great man. I reported for nationwide networks, and tried to sum up the
collective feeling in a few words. It was difficult. Likewise, I too
laughed and cried while on the air that day and had several moments of
silence for our loss. It was very wonderful and very sad all at the same
Even though I would be a rock 'n' roll DJ for another seven years, that day
I was hooked on talk radio. Eventually, I would grow to think of real
radio as talk radio and I fell in love all over again. For me, and to
this day, the music formatted stations seem a little lack luster -- just
not as exciting as they used to be. Talk radio, in my mind, has become
the best form of expression for the common man; a passionate outlet to
instantly convey ideas, communicate new information, share in a laugh or
great frustration -- just like on a cold winter afternoon in 1983, when we
all mourned, passed along our sadness, remorse and loss.
Talk has it all! And I was hooked.
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