Almost 30 years ago to the day, an eager 16-year-old walked into a radio station in Waycross, Georgia. The general manager’s office door was open, so the teenager walked in.
“I’m Bill Shanks,” he said.
“I’m busy,” said Tommy Tucker, the man behind the desk.
That didn’t deter me, for some reason. I went on to tell this man, who already had let me know he had no time for me, that I wanted to be on the radio. I had done high school football the previous year, as a color commentator. But I wanted to do something more, regardless of my age.
“I’d like to host a talk show,” I told the GM. I had an idea, something that had not been done in my hometown before. I wanted to talk sports, once per week.
For some reason, Tucker was good to me and let me do that. On June 16, 1986, I hosted “Sports Monday with Bill Shanks” on WWUF-FM for the first time. I had the show for about 18 months.
Television led me to Macon a little more than 20 years ago, and for the past nine-plus years, I’ve been on the radio with a show much like I did as a kid. This one is on every weekday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
I’ve been very blessed in my career. I’m able to talk and write about the teams I love. I never wanted to go anywhere else, really. This state is home, so why go away when this is where I wanted to be?
Now, it’s time for a new chapter in my broadcast career. Wednesday there will be a new radio station on the air in Middle Georgia, two as a matter of fact. I will not only be a broadcaster who is on the air each day talking sports. I’ll also be a radio station owner.
I have joined forces with Chris Murray, a man with tremendous experience in sports radio, and his partner Claudell Price, of the Macon Radio Alliance. Together, we are forming “Middle Georgia’s ESPN.” The new stations will be on 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins.
Yes, we’re going back to FM, and yes, ESPN Radio is coming back to Middle Georgia.
You can also hear us on AM 1150 in Fort Valley, and if you have HD in your vehicle, you can hear us all across Middle Georgia on 107.1 HD 4 and 107.5 HD 2.
We’re still waiting for approval for full power on the Warner Robins FM station, so it might not be strong in the beginning. Just stick with us. We’ll likely sound better in week two than week one and even better in month three than day one. But soon you’ll be able to hear sports on two new FM stations from Perry to Forsyth and everywhere else in between.
We’ve been very successful on our show for the past nine years, thanks to the listeners and sponsors. I’m grateful to our previous station for the chance to continue the program when we were unceremoniously dropped off FM in 2009. But we need to be back on FM, and this is our chance.
Nothing really will change on my show. We’ll still be on each weekday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Russ Brown will still be with me, and occasionally Skip Seda will drop by to talk. Wade likely will still call once or twice per week, and to make Les from Macon happy, I’ll still sing with Kenny Rogers on Thursday and Johnny Cash on Friday.
With “Mike and Mike” being ESPN Radio’s best show, we’re switching Russ and Telegraph sports editor Daniel Shirley from mornings to a show at lunch. “The Midday Sports Zone” will air from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. each weekday.
We will have Atlanta Falcons football and Atlanta Hawks basketball on next season, along with more play-by-play along the way.
Again, be patient with us. These are brand new stations. We have a lot of work to do, but we are excited to bring sports talk to FM. Plus, I’m having a dream come true by owning a radio station.
So we invite you to join us as we begin this new venture. We start Wednesday. We hope you’ll listen as we continue to provide local sports talk for middle Georgia on our new FM sports stations.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” — 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@