10 years ago this week, I signed The Shootaround off the air at WZON for the last time

Ten years ago this week, I proclaimed for the last time that “This is The Shootaround on AM 620 WZON Bangor.” That is the way I ended every hour. The Shootaround has been off the air for a decade? WTH? Let me be the first to say “time flies.”

The “Fabulous Voice Babe,” who did the recorded audio for the show, used to proclaim that it was “The most listened to daily local afternoon sports talk show on AM radio in eastern Maine.” Factual. Of course it was the only such show at the time.

But it’s that kind of self deprecating humor I tried to bring to sports listeners daily for almost 6 years on the Shootaround.

When I came to WZON I followed in the big footprints of Dan Hannigan, the long time host of Hang Time. I knew long before I opened the mic for the first time for the Shootaround I had no chance of filling Dan’s very talented shoes. His show was very cerebral. He wrote custom songs and often played jazz music in and out of commercial breaks.

He was a legit talent. I was a sports fan. And I knew that I needed a show that sounded more like guys sitting around in a locker room or in a bar talking sports.

No jazz for me. I played almost only 80’s rock for my bump music. “Sports talk that rocks” was one of my mantras. Co-host Pat Spekhardt and I focused on energy, opinions, humor, listener games and sometimes silliness. Like when I did the show live beside Broadway in a Teletubby costume. Or when a Buffalo Bills fan fried us wings in studio after a Pats win.

We once even lit a Tampa Bay Rays jersey on fire in the parking lot. Yup. HR meeting followed.

Pat and I also had something going for us that Dan did not. He was a Yankees fan. We were diehard Sox fans. And in the fall of 2004 that became the most important ingredient to any radio show in Bangor, in Maine or in New England.

A trained monkey with a walkie-talkie could gather hundreds of listeners during those Sox glory days. It was the height of Red Sox popularity and we proudly rode Wally’s coattails all the way to ratings glory.

I did the Shootraround live from Red Sox spring training in Florida. In fact while interviewing legend Johnny Pesky one day before a game he dozed off mid interview. I’d like to think he was the only person I put to sleep but I doubt it.

WZON sold out Funride to Fenway bustrips in minutes. We packed the Bangor Civic Center for hot stove baseball nights. We filled the Ground Round for House of The Fenway Faithful broadcasts. We did Sox opening day cookouts.

Plus the Patriots were playing in Superbowls. The Celtics won their first title since 1986. UMaine hockey was fading, but still a power. UMaine women’s basketball was the best in the conference. WZON aired the games, and we talked about them.

Even ESPN radio was stronger in this days. And of course we didn’t have to compete as much with streaming and podcasts etc.

WZON was truly Maine’s Sports Leader (A moniker blatantly ripped off today at 92.9 The Ticket, and somewhat sarcastically borrowed by the Chowdah)

The Shootaorund was a tiny cog in that wheel. But I’m sure glad I was along for that ride that ended 10 short years ago.

Jeff Solari

(Here’s the BDN Maine Story when I left and ventured into the legal world)


Jeff Solari

About Jeff Solari

Jeff Solari is the president and founder of the Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports e mail newsletter. Recently, the Mount Desert Island native was the co-host of "The Drive" on 92.9 FM in Bangor.