Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pep Talk: "Plenty of Admirers"

One of the many things I enjoy about co-hosting three hours of sports talk radio each weekday afternoon is this: Listeners to the Odd Couple on Mile High Sports know Eric Goodman and I get to ask each other, guests and callers tons of questions. We received a wonderful compliment the other day from CU head basketball coach Tad Boyle, a frequent guest, who texted, “You guys are real pros.”  I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked to ask questions. Curious.

I got a question for you. If we could be known as someone who inspires, teaches and befriends others, would that be honorable? These days, please tell me I’m crazy, I think they’re some, for whatever reason, who would find fault in being characterized as a person, community and/or business known for inspiring, teaching and befriending. After all, it is a crazy world in which we live, right?

Anybody want a little piece of that action? I can only speak from personal experience but know it has profoundly effected my life. The teachers and mentors along the way, in good times and bad, who keep, and kept, inspiring, teaching and befriending a dude who often has, or had, no clue. Forever cherished for their positive impact.

This takes us back to the radio show. Recently we had Ron Zappolo on for two segments of conversation about sports, life and other stuff. “Zap” is a Denver television legend. The Boston native was sports anchor at KCNC-TV for many years. It was December 1983, while living in Denver and feeling sorry for myself, I watched Zap flawlessly execute a live shot from the Broncos locker after a come-from-behind win John Elway’s rookie year. An epiphany crashed into cranium at that moment: “I wanna do what that guy’s doing. I wanna be a sportscaster like Ron Zappolo.”

It changed my life. I went back to grad school at Mizzou’s great journalism school, the nation’s first and still the nation’s best, and became a sportscaster. Zap inspired me. The previously stated, “someone who inspires....” 

Just a few years after graduating, luck would have it that a young and impressionable “sports guy” would earn employment, thanks Marv Rockford, at KCNC-TV in Denver. Zappolo’s still the main sports anchor. He taught me so many things about the business from top to bottom, including the best way to tie a tie.

Yep. He showed me one night. I’m sure he doesn’t remember, but here goes: While in New Orleans for the station’s Super Bowl coverage the year San Francisco shellacked Denver in the Montana, Rice and crew years, I visited Zap’s room to discuss something about a story and upon walking into his room, the dapper dresser was tying a tie. I was impressed with his style. It has stuck with me to this day. From becoming a better television sportscaster, person and dresser, the die-hard Red Sox fan continues to teach me, and others, including Goodman. He worked with Zap once the legendary broadcaster switched to news and my radio partner was the weekday sports anchor at Denver’s Fox 31. There’s the previously mentioned, “someone who teaches....”

And finally, Zap has become a darn good friend. We’re older, been kicked around a few times, but still trying, as Zap would say, “Do the best we can.” Amen brother. 

Awarded the Silver Circle Award for excellence in Denver television, Zappolo is retiring from television news at the end of March. He’s not sure, at least publicly hasn’t stated, what the next step looks like other than, “I want to get back into sports.” Anybody reading this musing who has ever seen a live Pep Talk presentation knows we always chat at length about having the guts to go for it. Ya know, those moments where you feel the “vibration of the iron string within” and just have to be, as buddy Jerry Gibson would say, “A turtle.” Yep. We gotta stick our necks out. So here goes. I know Goodman’s okay with this, but we’d love to invite Zap to join our afternoon show in a way he thinks might fit. We’d be honored to have the man who mentored us become part of us. Who knows, maybe he’ll say yes!

What we’re first and foremost talking about here is a man, who, over the years has inspired, taught and befriended your correspondent and many others who have crossed his path. Which takes us to the nuts and bolts of it all: Never underestimate the impact, hopefully for good, we can have on someone’s life.

A confused, lonely and downtrodden dude - me - saw Zap perform a live shot and it changed his life. 30 years later, the man continues to influence. Inspire. Teach. Befriend.

I know, simple not easy. What the heck, this week let’s give it a try. I dunno, been called a lot of things in life, smart rarely one, but if Zap’s any indication, focusing on inspiring, teaching and befriending others seems to draw plenty of admirers.

Have a good one!

1 comment:

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