From 7-10 a.m. week days on KNEA Radio in Jonesboro, Arkansas, sports radio personality Bud Schroeppell gets to live out his life long dream, talking sports.
The former Memphis radio personality hosts the popular three hour sports call-in show, "The Front Row with Budro," now in its third year on the airwaves.
"Like everything else I've ever done, I just fell into this," Schroeppell said.
Schroeppell had taken note that northeast Arkansas was without this type of venue when he moved out of Jonesboro. He talked his former boss, Bill Pollack, into starting a sports talk show on his AM station 970. Schroeppell felt Jonesboro and the northeast Arkansas area were starving for a program of this kind.
"It was a way for us to get the word out on not only Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas, but the area high schools as well," Schroeppell said.
The show's format is caller driven. Schroeppell spends the first segment of the show going over the latest sports news, both locally and nationally, and then turns the show over to his listeners.
"The success of the show is due to the callers. I am not an expert, my callers are what makes the show work," Schroeppell said.
Monday's consist of the good, the bad, and the ugly about what went on in sports over the weekend. Tuesday is called toe to toe Tuesday where callers square off and debate over a certain sports subject. Wednesday is trivia day when Bud asks sports questions and the callers receive prizes for correct answers. Thursday is Kiss This day. This is where callers can tell anyone to kiss this whether it is sports related or not. Friday is called I told you so Friday when the callers can talk about anything that went on during the week including trivia.
Although the show touches on numerous subjects, the number one topic for listeners is the Arkansas-Arkansas State great debate.
"I didn't do this to stir up controversy, but this seems to provide the most heated arguments. Personally, I believe any state with two Division I schools should play each other, regardless of whether they are in the same conference or not. But, I do believe University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles' policy of not playing in state schools is what he feels is best for the Razorbacks."
"The "Front Row" started in November of 2000, and is now approaching its three year anniversary.
In the summer of 2002 Pollack Broadcasting sold KNEA to Clear Channel Radio, who cancelled the show. Schroeppell's fans were so outraged they started a petition led by Pizza Chef, a loyal caller, who gathered hundreds of names, convincing Clear Channel to bring the "Front Row" back on the air.
The front row receives calls from all over Northeast Arkansas, as well as some former callers from Memphis such as "Caddy."
"My first caller when I began the "Front Row" was Jason from Piggott," said Schroeppell. "Not long after that, Trent and Riverside Rick joined the show, and my three stooges were born." "These three guys call every day and make life miserable for Arkansas State fans," added the show's host with a laugh. Jason is probably our most hated caller simply because of his anti-ASU stance. Trent is the trivia king and our resident know it all, while Riverside Rick takes things to the edge. I also have a lot of other faithful callers including T.J., Lance, Superhog, Wild Bill and Rocking Ray, just to mention a few. Sometimes things get wild but it's all in good fun.
"I can't wait for football season," Schroeppell said. "It's my favorite time of the year. Again we will have former Colorado football coach Don Freeze to give expert analysis on college football every Wednesday. On Thursday Chad Hooten of Hooten's Football Magazine will be on to talk high school football and former Memphis State basketball coach Dana Kirk will again be with us during basketballs season.
"To be honest, my Razorback fans outnumber the Indian callers, but in the last few months, there seems to be more interest in the ASU program," said the Front Row host.
Schroeppell is not limited to the "Front Row." For the past two years, Schroeppell has been the play by play announcer for both Indian baseball and Lady Indian basketball, as well as sideline reporter for the Arkansas State University football games. Unfortunately, Clear Channel and Arkansas State University could not work out a new contract to broadcast ASU Athletics for a third year, which greatly disappointed Schroeppell, who has made many friends in the ASU athletic department. However, Schroeppell will keep busy this fall and winter as the voice of the Jonesboro Hurricanes during football season in addition to covering the NEA basketball tournament.
Schroeppel raves about high school basketball in this area, saying there is more raw talent in Memphis, but the coaches here do a great job of getting the most out of their players.
"The kids here pay attention to their coaches, and play a more disciplined brand of basketball," said Schroeppell. "The fan support here is much greater than in Memphis. The gyms are full, it's loud and it's fun," added Schroeppell.
Schroeppell said he loves broadcasting, especially play by play. "To me it's not work, it's fun. Hopefully, I'll be doing this for many years to come.
"I want to say thanks to all my callers, supporters, and advertisers who make the show the success it is. I also want to give a special thanks to my producer Rerun Ray who makes the show run smoothly," Schroeppell said.