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VOL. 127 | NO. 219 | Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sports Connection

The ‘Jon & Don Show’ brings insight to local, national sports landscape

By Sarah Baker

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Between Jon Albright and Don Wade, hosts of the newly launched the “Jon & Don Show” on WHBQ Sports 56 AM 560/87.7 FM, any topic a sports fan could want to talk about is conceivable.

The “Jon and Don” show on Sports 56 is hosted by The Daily News sports contributor Don Wade, right, and commercial real estate broker/former University of Memphis basketball player Jon Albright.  

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

That’s because Wade, as a 25-year sports journalist, and Albright, as a former basketball player for the University of Memphis and color commentator for outlets such as ESPN, have either played or covered the game.

“Some of the best moments on the show are when I’ve kind of got on my sports writer hat and I’m putting my two cents in,” Wade said, “but then, I throw it right back to him and say, ‘Jon, what’s it like when a coach says this to a player, what’s the effect on team morale in the locker room?’”

The show, produced by John Hardin and managed by Chris Coats, airs Tuesdays through Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. That gives Wade time for his day job as freelance journalist, sports columnist for The Daily News and The Memphis News, and media consultant for the Memphis Area Association of Realtors. Meanwhile, Albright’s main gig is managing director of Sperry Van Ness/Investec Realty Services.

The duo met while playing racquetball at the Germantown Athletic Club in the late 1990s. They caught up again in the mid-2000s when Wade wrote a piece on Albright’s brother, Ethan, who at the time was playing as long snapper for the Washington Redskins.

But they didn’t start to collaborate for the “Jon & Don Show” until earlier this year. Albright, a Certified Commercial Investment Member and Society of Industrial and Office Realtors designee, has sold commercial real estate for nearly three decades in Memphis and was looking to reach new demographics.

“When you get to doing things as long as I’ve been doing it, not all of it is still relevant,” Albright said. “The younger generation, they look at things differently, they get their information from different sources. One of the things I was thinking about was, ‘How do I do something a little bit different from what I do? How do I market a little bit differently?’ Well, sports has been a huge part of my background, particularly in this town. I listen to sports talk and talk radio all of the time when I’m in the car, so it kind of made some sense.”

What makes their program stand out from similar sports talk radio formats is the approach. Instead of focusing on just one topic, such as recruiting, Albright and Wade dig into the broader economic ramifications of baseball, basketball, football and the like.

“Sports is interwoven in all aspects of society,” Albright said. “Most everybody you know has got some type of sports connection – whether that’s playing, coaching, parenting, whatever it is – we’ve all touched sports in some fashion. We spend a lot of time talking about how influential sports is, not only just in popularity, but also financially.”

The “Jon & Don Show” also makes a point to bring on experienced professionals from around the country to weigh in on topics from television contracts to bowl participation. They’re contacts that both Albright and Wade have made along the way in their respective careers, and so far, it’s been well-received.

“We’re happy to give you opinion, that’s part of what we do, but we also spend a lot of time trying to get pertinent, relevant experts to come on the show,” Albright said. “Sometimes we struggle with allowing all of the callers.”

For instance, one of their weekly guests is George Schroeder, former president of the Football Writers Association of America and national college football writer at USA Today.

“He’s perfect for our show because he understands the whole SEC mentality and how crazy everybody is, but he’s also been away from it for a long time,” Wade said. “He’s got a really good view from 30,000 feet, but yet, he’s been down here in the trenches and he knows what makes people tick here.”

Other guests have included Lee Fowler, an athletic administrator and consultant and former U of M assistant basketball coach, and John Wilfong, who played for the Tigers with Albright in the 1980s and now serves as a financial adviser at UBS Financial Services Inc., where he works with professional athletes on investments.

Also joining the show as a sponsor is Dr. Laura Lendermon of Lendermon Sports Medicine in Collierville. She will have a regular segment on the show discussing sports injuries and answering questions from listeners.

“It’s kind of where local meets regional and regional meets national,” Wade said.

The show’s segments are also an atypical feel than others in town. There’s “The Do Over,” which Wade says is “the second guess that sports fans do every single day.” Then there’s “The Generation Gap,” where Albright’s son, Doug, and Wade’s son, Stephen, “banter back and forth on sports and culture,” Albright said.

“It’s pretty neat, two dads, having your sons who each love sports, but they each approach it differently,” Albright said.

What’s more, the “Jon & Don Show” is working on a “Sports Grub” segment, which ties back into the over-arching sports culture theme.

“People are very funny about their teams and where they eat, drink and watch the games,” Albright said. “They wear the same uniform, they’ve got the same seats, they’ve got the same table. It’s huge.”

Albright and Wade hope to eventually take the “Jon & Don Show” to two-hour spots five days a week. Because there’s just not enough time in a one-hour slot to tackle every area of a subject that’s influenced both of their lives in different yet dramatic ways.

“It’s rare that you get to do something that’s had an inspirational impact on your life,” Albright said. “I’m the sizzle, Don’s the substance. It’s fun.”

Follow the “Jon & Don Show” on Twitter @JonAndDonShow. The Daily News supports the “Jon & Don Show.”

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