When asked how it all started for me and golf, it’s always an interesting story to tell. I never even liked golf when I was a kid, and although I was a “jock” through my childhood, golf was far off the radar for me. Now I wish I started to play when I started to walk.
Back in 1997, I retired from professional baseball umpiring and went into a full time co-ownership of a pizza restaurant in Chicago. In the winter of 1998, there was a bad snow storm in Chicago (how ironic, huh), and many businesses were shutting down early, and any restaurants offering delivery were either canceling that service or were overloaded and delivery time was up to a 2 hour wait. We were one of those that remained open and attempted to get our customers their food in a timely manner. As I was helping our drivers by getting out there myself, I heard a Radio DJ on the air saying he was stuck in the studio for a while and I had the idea to take him a pizza. We did take that DJ named Ken Cocker a pizza that night, and I was invited into the radio studio to be thanked on the air and talk about my business. I was invited to hang out with him and we discovered that we knew each other from baseball umpiring. This visit turned out to be a discussion on the air about the weather, sports, and what was happening that night in Chicago. After that night was over, we exchanged personal information and from that moment I knew we would remain friends. About a week later, I got a call from Ken and he was telling me that he heard from the program director and he really liked the banter that Ken and I had on the air. Ken hosted a show called “All Request Saturday Night” and the program director was interested in hiring me to be a part of that show with Ken. There was one thing though, the program director loved to golf and preferred to hold interviews on the golf course. I found myself wanting to impress him for this opportunity, so I asked Ken for advice and he said to meet him at St. Andrews Country Club in West Chicago, Illinois where he would help teach me to golf. I rented a set of left handed clubs, purchased a golf glove and a dozen of golf balls and to the 1st tee we went. Ken showed me the basic grip of the club and it only took a few holes before I realized that I was addicted. I played every day for 2 weeks leading up to my meeting with the program director. The meeting finally happened and I was offered a deal to become a producer on “Saturday Night” with Ken. I accepted the offer and broke the news to family and friends that I was starting a new chapter in my life in broadcasting. I continued to play golf while establishing myself in my new career…I love this sport! I even got to play in a pro-am as a celebrity for the Catholic Charities and that is where I really enjoyed the charity side of my job. Golf is therapy for me. It is my way to get away from everyday life. It’s the only sport I know of that you can play with a total stranger for 4.5 hours or so and can walk away with a new friend. That is special to me.
In 2003, the station switched formats and I was let go, but was able to find another job in broadcasting at another station in the Chicago area.
In 2004, I was asked to volunteer at a Low Powered FM radio station in Round Lake Heights, Illinois. It was at this station that BiGGs Golf Talk was born. BGT started off as a 15 minute segment to talk about the local area golf scene on my Friday morning show. After 1 year of doing this segment, it became popular and the decision was made to make it a 30 minute segment. I always wanted to give the “Little Guys” (Golf Courses, Products, Services, and Charities) a platform to tell the listeners about what they had to offer. Before I knew it, BGT became nationally recognized and was getting many e-mails from the “Little Guys” to be a guest on the show. In 2008, we interviewed Bridgestone Golf. After the show, I spoke with them and decided that I wanted to partner up with them because I believed in what they were doing regarding ball fitting and trying to help the everyday golfer play better. Although they are a big corporation and I leaned to the “Small Guy,” Bridgestone Golf had that small guy mentality with the amateur golfer in mind.
In 2009, I departed from the volunteer position at the LPFM station, but knew that I wanted to continue BiGGs Golf Talk so I decided to start a podcast. I didn’t have any sponsors except for Bridgestone, so I had to find ways to fund this podcast on my own. Shortly after starting the podcast, I was contacted by a station that wanted to carry BGT. I then was contacted by a local Sports Network and they asked to air BiGGs Golf Talk. They suggested that I should do an hour show. I asked around to friends and associates in the broadcasting business to take a listen to BGT and be honest with their thoughts. With some tweaks here and there, talking to potential sponsors and after receiving more feedback, I decided to move forward and really push BiGGs Golf Talk out there globally. I spoke with my co-host Dennis Whiton from the Morning Show and he co-hosted the BGT segment with me. I then asked him if he was interested in taking this ride with me.
Dennis has a passion for golf as much as I do and believes in giving the little guy a chance as well. BGT was only seasonal and 2 stations really encouraged us to go year round. I decided that this was a great idea that we would be one of the only golf radio shows in the Midwest to be on for the whole year. I never imagined that BGT would be where we are today. It’s because of you all that are reading this that BGT is where we are today. For that I THANK YOU!! I have made many friends that I have yet to meet in person from Social Networking and they have been very supportive of what we offer on BGT. I hope someday I can meet every single one of you and play some golf.
Over the years, we have had thousands of guests on the show and some we have developed lasting relationships with. One of those is Folds Of Honor. The very 1st year of Patriot Golf Day, we interviewed Major Dan Rooney. After that interview, I made a promise to him. I told him that I will always support the Folds Of Honor Foundation and 8 years later, we continue to do just that and will always do so. It was again, after that interview with Major Rooney that I took a stronger stand than ever before to show my support for more charities on BiGGs Golf Talk. It’s not just on the show that I support many charities – I volunteer to emcee many golf related and non-golf related events. We have done many LIVE shows at charity events without charging a dime.
I often get asked how much I charge companies to be a guest on the show or people sometimes say that I only say good things about productions because they pay me to. From day 1, BGT has never charged money to any guest to be on our show, nor do I get paid to say good things about any certain company. Do I have sponsors?? Yes…they help with the cost of doing BiGGs Golf Talk. We are very selective with the sponsors we have and who we will sign. BGT must believe in the product or service offered by the sponsor. Every supporter we have, we believe in what they offer. So if there is anything, or anyone you think should be a guest on the show, send us an e-mail with all of the details. We never charge a fee to any guests to be on the show. BiGGs Golf Talk is for YOU!! BGT will always put an emphasis on charity exposure.
To close this out, BiGGs Golf Talk would not be around if it wasn’t for our listeners and our supporters – I really wanted to thank all them for the years of support and just say – from the bottom of our hearts – we APPRECIATE ALL OF YOU!! Tune in every Saturday on Full Gamut Radio at 7am CT and on The Lake County Sports Network at 9am CT. Both can be heard on the TuneIn App on your mobile device. BGT is on demand ANYTIME on Stitcher Radio.
Follow on Twitter: @BiGGsGolfTalk
Google+ : +BiGGsGolfTalk
Thank You Herb for asking me to write this. I hope everyone enjoys it.
Very interesting, well done! It is nice that they get to share their story!
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fantastic insight into BJV from the man himself. Thanks for the look Herb, keep up the good work BiggJon