They talked the talk

The recent passing of local sports talk legend Les Levine got me thinking about many of the area sports talkers I’ve listened to, from the early ‘60s all the way through today. (Yes, folks, if you do the math, that’s 60 years of listening to others talk sports).

Ironically, I never caught Les Levine that often. It wasn’t an intentional omission, but it always seemed his show would air while I was unable to listen, like during Indians, Cavs and Browns games, or he was up against a show I already had taken a liking to, or I was at work.

I thought I’d make a list of those whom I remember the best, and why I ranked them in the order I did …

1. Pete Franklin. Undoubtedly because he is the earliest memory I have listening to sports talkers, I was fascinated by his propensity to insult callers, guests, and the world in general. Yet he had a likable quality about him. (It didn’t hurt that his show came in the best on the “limited range” transistor radio I snuck into bed with me on school nights – which might explain my limited skill set at, well, most anything). He hated the New York Yankees (which, of course, he kind of had to) and obviously was pro-Cleveland in everything – but wasn’t afraid to bash those guilty of making stupid trades, draft picks, and the like. He had a quick wit, a sharp tongue, and could be very funny at times. I hated it when he moved on to New York in the late ‘80s. If I could get my hands on some of his broadcasts from the glory years, I’d eagerly listen to them again. Seriously.

2. Bill Needle. A daytime sports jock when I listened to him in the ’80s, he – ironically – was the antithesis of Pete Franklin: relatively soft-spoken, was courteous to all, and delivered more calculated, insightful commentary than Peter J. Franklin did. Maybe I found the drastic change in personalities refreshing. Maybe – on a much deeper psychological level – I was mad at Franklin for deserting me and my (dreadful) Indians. Or maybe Needle was the only guy I could pick up at that time of day (come to think of it, I think that was the reason). So much for psychological insight.

3. Geoff Sindelar – Here was a guy who made his initial impact on the area with his knowledge of sports collectibles and their value. “The Professor” proved to be far more than that, however, as he knew his sports and didn’t mind having a lengthy debate with a caller (a radio sin) if Geoff felt the topic was worthy of the time. He had the persona of one with sage, grandfatherly wisdom (I’m still waiting for mine to show up – any day now, I’m sure) and you at times felt as if he were addressing you personally.

Due to space (as well as boredom) limitations, we’ll leave it at three for this column, and perhaps we can visit other favorites somewhere down the road.

Oh, and if you’re wondering if I intentionally left out Mike Trivisonno, then you are 100 percent correct. I couldn’t find a good thing to say about that guy, even with the Hubble telescope.

Kind of like the never-ending search for my loyal fan(s).

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 9:46 AM, 03.02.2021