Radio: Familiar voice anchors the morning GOAT
Florida Sports Talk is now Gainesville Ocala All Talk with Chip Morris, Adam Reardon and Buddy Martin
A familiar voice greeted Ocala radio listeners on the morning commute Monday. Chip Morris — a longtime broadcaster who also is a staple on local stages — returned to radio amid changes to the local Florida Sports Talk network.
The new show is part of a larger rebranding effort that will stress community issues and include local callers talking about more than just sports. In fact, Florida Sports Talk is now called Gainesville Ocala All Talk — or, if you will, The GOAT FM. Morris co-hosts the new morning show with Adam Reardon. GOAT programming airs on WMOP and WGGG — 100.1 FM, 900 AM and 1230 AM in Ocala and 92.1-FM in Gainesville.
The move is, the network contends, a “response to its growing voice in the region pertaining to news and social events.”
On Monday, for example. Morris interviewed U.S. Rep, Ted Yoho, a Republican whose district reaches into Marion and Alachua counties. Yoho started the interview by telling Morris he had been missed; Morris has not been on the air since 2013, when WOCA-FM ended his talk show for a larger slate of syndicated shows.
As many listeners recall from his days on WOCA, Morris is outspoken and not afraid to stir the pot amid discussions. But he also would host non-politicos on the show, from local business people to musicians. He, and The GOAT itself, plan to keep that emphasis on local.
The rebranding is an indirect result of National Football League players who opt to take a knee during the national anthem, said Don DePew Jr., THE GOAT’s operations manager. Locals wanted to discuss the controversy, but not exactly as a sports story.
“We were thrilled to see our voice and impact grow as we provided a voice of calm and grace through recent social issues that crossed from sports to everyday life,” DePew noted in a statement. “Our adjustment in brand to this new reality is a step forward in this regard. We are further excited to have Chip Morris bring his experience and influence in our region to our team.”
“In case you haven’t noticed” Morris added, “sports in our culture is ubiquitous and redundant. In an era where everyone seems to have a difference of opinion on what the First Amendment to our Constitution actually means, it seems like a good time to offer more free speech.”
Shifting the focus to local issues, DePew said, gives local listeners “the flexibility to talk.”
So far, Morris and Reardon’s show is the only new local content, as the radio network will continue to offer its syndicated shows. Buddy Martin’s local sports show — “The Buddy Martin Show” on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network — also will remain on the rebranded network from 6 to 7 p.m. weekdays. A longtime sports and news journalist, Martin said he originally named the network “Florida Sports Talk,” so the change, he said, is “a little bittersweet” for him.
Martin added that his radio show also has become a huge hit when streamed on Facebook Live. Morris’ morning program also is streamed, and Depew said they are in the process of building a new studio in the existing Ocala building to enhance their online streaming presence.