by Michael Merino
At 68, Tedd Webb still shines
bright, co-hosting ‘AM
Tampa Bay’ with Jack Harris,
weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m.
on 970 WFLA AM radio.
Amidst the sea of countless music and talk show personalities that permeate that magical box on the dashboard of our cars and home stereo systems, few have stood the test of time as successfully as WFLA 970 radio host Tedd Webb. This seasoned talent, now 68, has had a long and illustrious career in radio, and there`s no glimpse of retirement in his future. I sat down with Tedd to talk about his career and the state of radio`s future.
Why did you choose a career in radio?
I was singing with a band for two years, but they kicked me out when I was 14. Then I heard that WALT radio station was having a “contest” to be a weekend disc jockey. I didn’t get the job, but while I was there I saw the guy on the air working in an air-conditioned room (we didn’t have AC at the time) who had 10 phones loaded with young ladies calling
in requests. BINGO! I found my life’s calling. I hung around the station and Paige Kinsey, one of the weekend guys, took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. Before long, I became a high school correspondent and here I am 53 years later.
What’s been your most significant radio accomplishment?
In 1986 I was awarded the Toastmasters International Communicator of the Year. I took a nun, Sister Rosalie, as my date to receive the award. She had inspired me to be a public speaker by forcing me to give five-minute speeches. I owe everything to her!
Who was the craziest celebrity you ever interviewed? What did he/she do that was so memorable?
National Football League bad boy John Matuzak, who is now deceased but was 6’8” and 275 pounds, showed up at the radio station with a girl whom my mom used to babysit. When he found out we knew each other he got jealous and threatened to kick my rear end – he thought she was an ex-girlfriend. We went to commercial break for eight minutes
before the situation was settled.
Has social media changed radio?
It has become the focus of what we do now; the on-air stuff is secondary. Our streaming numbers are through the roof and we utilize the Internet as much as possible. We use Twitter and Facebook a lot too.
Where do you see radio in 20 years?
I think radio is shrinking in influence. Young kids decide what is hip through social media and other sources. They download their music from the Internet; they don’t sit around waiting for the same seven songs to be played every 63 minutes. Then you have syndicated talk show hosts like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity that dominate the airwaves.
When Rush Limbaugh is heard on 600- plus radio stations, it means he’s put 600- plus announcers out of work. The same with voice-over DJs.
What is your advice for young people entering the industry?
I tell them not to get in the business. It’s like pro athletes — only a handful of the many who try are going to make it. Go to school. Earn a degree in a profitable field with a future.