By CAPT. MEL BERMAN, 970-WFLA
July marked my 28th anniversary with 970-WFLA. It all started in the 1980s when then sports talk host Tedd Webb asked me to do a weekly Friday evening fishing report for his popular “Sports Huddle.” Not only was it a blast teaming up with the zany Tedd, but it provided an opportunity for me to get back into my life-long profession of broadcasting. The Friday reports led to more appearances with Tedd on the “Sports Huddle” and three years later, Jed DuVall, 970-WFLA program director at that time, approached me to do a Saturday morning fishing show. It would air from 5 to 7 AM, and be called “Tampa Bay Outdoors.”
”What can you possibly talk about fishing for two hours,” my wife Ginny asked incredulously. “And who will call at that ungodly hour?”
As things turned out, it was an immediate hit with many area residents, longing for just such a fishing program to satisfy their keen interest in our popular local sport.
It wasn’t long before an extra hour was added to the show, a time change to its current 6 to 9 AM slot, and a name change to “The Capt. Mel Berman Show.”
Since that early beginning, our show has been a sort of “community fishing forum” for thousands of Saturday morning listeners. And for me, Capt. Mel, it has provided the opportunity to dabble in many aspects of fishing, broadcasting and community involvement.
Then, in 1989, Channel 8’s news director John Butte, looking to add a fishing segment to their popular “Newschannel-8 Morning Edition” called me in for an interview. Butte determined though I had a “face for radio” I looked a typical old salt and would fit in just fine. And a few days later, I was on the set “live” doing my thing with the then anchor team of Bill Ratliff and Barbara Callahan.
This increased exposure, along with the popularity of our 970-WFLA radio show further heightened the fishing community’s awareness of the persona we’ve all come to know as “Capt. Mel.” And I must confess, the ride has been exhilarating.
Over the last several years, I have had the extraordinary pleasure and opportunity of experiencing virtually every kind of Florida fishing venue; field testing any new lure that showed up on the market; and fishing with an awesome variety of great guides all across the Sunshine State.
All of which leads to the most often asked question of 970-WFLA management types – “How do you get a job like Capt. Mel?” I often speak jocularly about the urgent necessity of doing a great deal of “research” (fishing trips.) But that’s my job and I am assiduous about shoving off at least two and three times a week in my quest for fishing knowledge.
It’s now been 25 years that I have had the pleasure of hosting the 970-WFLA “Capt. Mel Radio Show.” — In that time I’ve been exposed to a pantheon of fishing experts from all over the state. To say it’s been a good fishing education for me is a gross understatement. It has been highly enlightening and provided me with just enough fishing knowledge for my radio show and my various outdoor writing assignments to be dangerous.
Seriously though, I have thoroughly enjoyed the ride. And I look forward to many more years completely and passionately performing “my job as Capt. Mel.”