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Don Mahler: Back On the Air; Rich and Woody Return to Radio

The boys are back in town.

That’s right: Rich Parker and Rob Woodward are back on the air. And as Parker puts it, “Nothing has changed but the channel.”

Starting Saturday, Parker, the Dartmouth College golf coach who played in the U.S. Open, and Woodward, a former member of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff, will be broadcasting their local sports and talk show on WUVR 98.9 FM and 1490 AM in the familiar 10 a.m.-noon time slot.

It was back in early December that the original talk show — the Sports Buzz — was canceled by WTSL after nearly six years on the air. Since that time, local reaction has been loud and long.

First, everyone wanted to know what happened and why?

Then, they wanted to know, when the guys were coming back?

That’s where Matt Cross comes in. The general manager of WUVR saw an opportunity to fill a void in his programming as well as in the Upper Valley’s radio psyche.

“I contacted Rich and Woody a few weeks after their cancellation to discuss the potential to bring them back to the airwaves with WUVR, feeling that the locally focused and driven orientation of the show was something that listeners would ultimately appreciate and enjoy,” Cross wrote in an email.

“After meeting Rich, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this was a program by the Upper Valley, and for the Upper Valley, and one that should continue forward.”

Cross didn’t have to ask the guys twice.

“There are no do-overs in life,” said Parker, “But here we are getting a second chance.

“Look, we’re not radio guys. I’m an old golfer; Woody’s an old pitcher. But somehow, we made a connection with the people — and we didn’t even know it until it was over.”

But now it’s back. The Spelling Bee, the joke of the day, the singing intros, the lake report and the local as well as national guests. And don’t forget the most important component of all — the callers.

“This isn’t about us,” Parker said. “It’s about the people who take time to listen and call in. We just try and give the people what they want.”

The approach must have been successful because all the old sponsors plus a number of newbies have signed up in support of the show. And that has caught Cross’ attention.

“As natives to the area,” Cross wrote in the email, “Rich and Woody provide a knowledgeable insight to the Upper Valley, frequently have local listeners call in to discuss what matters to them, and bring a sense of community to the listeners, while doing so in an informative and humorous manner.”

Woody has turned into a talk show monster, his signature call: “Who is it?” is now legendary among hardcore viewers. His enjoyment behind the microphone is apparent.

As the show grew, so did Woodward’s mastery of the job.

“I never talked when I was a ballplayer,” he said. “One word answers: ‘Yes, ‘No.’ But Bill Murphy helped me. Now I just feel like I’m talking to friends.”

But beside all the jokes and banter with friends, there is also a critical local edge to the show, where neither host will avoid nor sugarcoat issues of the day — be it about sports or local government.

“So many people were disappointed when we were taken off the air,” Woodward said. “Now we’ll have the opportunity to put a little happiness in their lives while they are going to the dump.”

Long-time listeners will find most of the old favorites still a part of the show, with perhaps, a little alteration.

According to Parker, the show’s new name may come from a caller consensus over the next few weeks, while Woodward may vote to change the Spelling Bee to a game of caller participation, like Hangman.

One thing you can count on though: You never know what will happen next.

But for right now, the plan is for the show to run for 10 months and then evaluate where they are.

“We’re excited,” Parker said. “I’ve never been a part of something that has this type of reaction. Can’t wait for the first show.”

For you potential callers out there, the phone number is 888-299-3151.

Don Mahler can be reached at dmahler@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.