LIONEL PODCAST: Wonderful Tampa Memories, WMNF, The Legendary 970 WFLA & When Local Radio Was Great, Ballsy And Unapologetic

I was born in Ybor City at El Centro Asturiano Hospital on the date of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s death. I referred to this “hospital” as the roach motel of Tampa. People went in but they didn’t come out. You knew relatives were a goner when they got the death sentence. “Zia Pepina’s in Centro Asturiano.” Which was followed by an immediate sign of the cross. I’m a Tampeño. I’m fluent in West Tampa and can used coño at least 50 times in a sentence, each with a different meaning, reference and inflection. I’m a cracker. I’m from Flawda, not Florida. Tampa. Not Tampa Bay. Tampa. West Coast, fine. But Tampa, get it straight.

Do you want to hear a Florida joke? “I’m from Florida.” Get it?

In this podcast of myriad musings I center in on my love of a local community station in Tampa: WMNF. That’s @WMNF for you Twits. Saturday morning programming is my absolute favorite. Bluegrass and Florida folk. The station’s a treasure. A jewel, a gem. It’s the last hope for real, honest to goodness radio. Not this hyper-commercial, soulless, syndicated slumgullion of sonic egesta.

The Sui Generis Quartet. (L-R Tedd Webb, Gordon Solie, Bobbie Heenan & That Guy)

This was taken at a celebration of Jack Harris’s 50th year in radio. Jack’s approximate age has been approximated to the Æneolithic age. Jack Harris owns Tampa. You can’t kill him. There’s a hologram already constructed for when his spirit ceases. Tedd Webb is beyond legendary. The poster child for sang-froid, the beloved Webb is in a class by himself. In this podcast I describe how this sick bastard lured me, a radio tyro circa ’89, into breaking every radio and FCC law known at the time.

“Them was the days” of conspicuous consumption. It was fun, risky, ribald and unapologetic.

The Walter Cronkite of Wrestling, Gordon Solie, and I involved ourselves in activities that I’d rather not describe in writing. And the great Bobbie Heenan remains one of the most brilliantly funny people I’ve ever known.

Those were the days, a trite refrain that belies its brilliance. Days we shan’t ever see again.

  1. Lionel wfla | Jaivacorp - pingback on March 30, 2012 at 5:41 AM

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