Whittle: Sports talk, news at all-time high

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If you were a farm boy of the 1940-50's era in Middle and East Tennessee, chances were likely you listened to St. Louis Cardinal's baseball on the radio.

Being a Missouri farm boy, Cardinal baseball was in our DNA.

Not much else to do, actually, except field work and talk sports in the "Bootheel" agrarian region there beside the Mississippi River.

On those last long, hot and sultry cotton rows of the day, talking baseball helped pass the time.

There were no radio sports talk shows then, but Cardinal game broadcasters Harry Carey and Jack Buck (both deceased) were already broadcast legends.

Alvie Jones was the Southeast Missouri region's foremost newspaper sports writer of my youth. Radio/TV legend Mike Shain was our best local sports broadcaster. Both remain among my best media friends back in Missouri.

When beginning my own news career, that first winter I covered 52 basketball games.

That's a lot of driving on icy roads and sitting on splinters at high school gymnasiums.

After covering 52 basketball games for my first newspaper it was 25 years before I sat through another basketball game. MTSU's mighty Blue Raiders, male and female teams, ended that drought.

Those college basketball teams and Blue Raider baseball have carried Big Blue colors to national acclaim in our new century.

Add the professional sports teams of nearby Nashville and we're now major league in regional sports diversity.

And area media outlets have kept pace, covering big-time sports in big-time ways.

For example, modern-day WGNS Radio is being "plastered" (pun intended) with sports talk, especially with this past year's addition of Nashville sports talk host George Plaster.

It's one Dan's opinion that Plaster reigns supreme of all Middle Tennessee sports talk pros. And Plaster is better at sports talk than broadcasting actual games.

Plaster's most recent truly high-caliber guest was former MTSU star Kelly Holcomb, the football flash from little Fayetteville who went on to a big-time NFL quarterbacking career.

I've repeatedly tried listening to Nashville sports talk shows the past two years, but one station in the afternoon drive-time particularly leaves me with severe vomitosis.

Symptoms began a few months ago. The alleged sports' subject that afternoon: Why do females like being with good-looking men?

A month later, while waiting in my car for an afternoon meeting in Smyrna, I tuned in that station again

This time, they were debating which side of a coin is best to decide what football team gets the choice of receiving or defending to start the game.

Seriously, the so-called professional sports talkers were bantering tails or heads of coin tosses back and forth. I'll not tune them in again…more "vomitosis."

As a sports enthusiast, I want to know about the players, team trends, game plans and who's playing hurt and who's healthy. Give me professionals who don't come across as juvenile.

Middle Tennessee is a hot-bed of sports' interest, dating back a long time. Just check the files of area newspapers or the old tapes from radio stations.

Former broadcaster/now Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick recalls the 1960s era when high school basketball interest may have peaked in Cannon and Rutherford counties.

"In the 1960s, we all followed the exploits of the region's great basketball teams in the small high schools that dotted the region, especially when (the late) Jimmy "Monk" Montgomery starred for Kittrell High," Patrick traced back in time.

Montgomery, at last check, still holds America's high school scoring record, and that was before three-point shots.

"Many Cannon Countians would drive to Peaks Hill, just over the line into Rutherford County, so we could pick up Murfreesboro's WGNS Radio, that broadcast Kittrell games," Patrick noted. "That was before FM radio."

Fast forward to the present! One no longer has to tune in a Nashville station to keep up with sports, local or national.

I enjoy "All Sports" as broadcast on WGNS by Monte (Give 'em) Hale and Tim Tackett, for example.

Murfreesboro Post Sports Editor/WGNS Broadcaster Jeff Jordan is Rutherford County's reigning sports intelligencer. If Jordan doesn't know it, it's probably not worth knowing, speaking of all things sports!!

Plaster's afternoon slot on WGNS is followed by gifted broadcaster Bryan Barrett's "Prime Time Sports Scene." I especially enjoy listening to Bryan's basketball games' coverage.

Murfreesboro Post sports scribe David Hunter recently penned a fascinating article about an area family split in their allegiances to different high schools.

Cannon Courier sports man Tony Stinnett has an all-time record amount of local sports coverage in the historic Woodbury newspaper that dates back to the 1800s.

I rate former Rutherford County sports writer David Boclair as the best sports writer in Tennessee. He now writes for Nashville's "City Paper."

Play ball!!! Go Cardinals!!

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Dan Whittle
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