Photo by Bill Roseberry
Seated, from left, are Larry Nickel, Andy Hanselman and Joe Roderick during a Monday broadcast of “Prime Time with Joe Roderick” on CBS Sports Radio 920 AM at Mac’s Timeout in Alton on Nov. 3.
Setting up in the beer garden at Mac’s Timeout in Alton for his nightly radio show, Joe Roderick is back at home.
Roderick, 29, a 2003 graduate of Alton High School, where he also played baseball, does a nightly sports talk show from 6-8 p.m. on CBS Sports Radio 920 called “Prime Time with Joe Roderick,” presented by the DD Homes Network. On Mondays the show comes back to his old stomping grounds in Alton at Mac’s.
While Roderick prepares for his show, which also includes co-host and 1995 Edwardsville grad Andy Hanselmann, another Alton native waits patiently for it to begin. On Mondays Larry Nickel, 40, a 1992 Alton High grad, visits Mac’s and sits in on the show.
John Marecek also works as a co-host for the show on certain days.
Roderick and Nickel’s paths to radio stardom have traveled down very different roads, but nonetheless, they’re happy about where those roads have taken them.
Roderick is a graduate of Western Illinois University, where he worked his way through school and various radio jobs, following his dream.
“I went to Western Illinois and graduated there in 2007 and wanted to get into radio,” Roderick said. “I knew I wanted to get into radio for awhile, even going back to high school. It was just something that always interested me as a kid. I grew up in Chicago until I was 12 and going to bed at night as a kid listening to Ed Farmer and John Rooney call White Sox games and listening to and enjoying radio when I was a kid, it was something I wanted to do.”
Nickel, on the other hand, is an avid wrestling fanatic who simply made a phone call into the morning show broadcast to correct a wrestling report and the rest is history.
“Larry can tell you he got in touch with the station back at 590 (AM), and they do a wrestling segment every Tuesday and Larry is one of the biggest wrestling fans you will ever meet,” Roderick said. “Larry called up one day to correct them. They were misinformed on something they were talking about during the wrestling segment and Larry let them know about it and they asked him to be a weekly part of it. He started doing that every week.”
Nickel added, “I wasn’t expecting all this. I just wanted to call in one Tuesday and correct them on a couple things they were wrong about and Tim (McKernan) asked me if I’d do the recaps on Tuesdays.”
Since then Nickel has become a staple on the radio and with wrestling coverage. He’s got to interview plenty of World Wrestling Entertainment stars, including Daniel Bryan, Mick Foley, Sheamus, the Bella Twins and others. Roderick even helped set him up with another wrestling legend recently.
“TNA Wrestling was in town and I contacted them and asked if they’d have anyone they could send to our studio who we could interview and they give us Hulk Hogan, so Larry got to do a sit-down with Hulk Hogan,” Roderick said, shaking his head, while Nickel smiled ear to ear.
The pair have found a home at 920. With the struggles of sports talk radio on 590 and 1380 AM, McKernan took his successful website www.insidestl.com and partnered with CBS Sports Radio to kickstart 920 in 2013. He took much of the talent from the other stations with him, including Roderick and Nickel. Other local sports celebrities to supply their talents to 920 are: Jim Hayes, Doug Vaughn, Frank Cusumano, Bryan Burwell, Bob Ramsey, former Cardinal Jim Edmonds and former Mizzou football player T.J. Moe, to name a few.
“My main job, at least the way I look at it, is doing this show 6-8 at night,” Roderick said. “This month it will be five years that I’ve had this time slot in St. Louis. I started back on 1380 (AM) in November of 2009 and then when all the well-documented stuff went down over at 590 and 1380 in the spring and Tim McKernan started up this station, I took over the 6-8 slot here.
“Along with the show I started up as an insidestl.com employee in May of 2013, and that carried over to doing production work and now working mainly with onsite remotes with the Edmonds, McKernan and Moe Show on 920 from 4-6.”
Nickel showers the 920 and insidestl.com staff with appreciation for his rise on the radio.
“It’s pretty awesome because not only am I on the radio on Monday night, but I’m also on Tuesdays with the wrestling recap and then I’m on twice on Friday, once in the morning and once at night,” he said. “I’m on Friday mornings with the ‘Ask Lawrence’ segment and on Friday night I’m on another show called ‘The Daily Wrap’ and I do the weekend weather.”
For Roderick, he feels like he’s arrived. Segments vary from sports subjects like the Rams and Cardinals to gluttonous eating, to the hotness level of famous women, to TV and movies and random discussions like recently wanting to dress Roderick’s son up in Bill Murray-themed Halloween costumes.
He’s come a long way from his days doing morning shows at Western and later in Galesburg.
“I was 23 years old doing a news talk/sports show in Galesburg in the mornings, where the average audience was probably around 40 or 50 years old,” Roderick said. “The guy following me was a local legend who was 86, 87 years old and would play vinyl records for three hours after me. There was 60-plus years difference between us.”
Now he’s prime time and back around his friends and family. Mac’s makes the perfect vehicle on Mondays.
“I love being down here,” Roderick said. “You talk about Alton, Mac’s is one of my sponsors, St. Peters Hardware is also another sponsor here in Alton. A buddy of mine tends bar here on the weekends, and leading up to last year he mentioned doing a fantasy football draft out here at Mac’s and introduced me to Mac. It turned into an every Monday thing that we do. It’s not always pretty, but we kind of focus on the Rams’ game from the past week.”
It makes for a long night for Nickel, who enjoys double jalapeño pizzas for Mac’s Monday pizza special and throws in his two cents on the broadcast. Afterward, he has to rush home and watch “Monday Night Raw” for his WWE recap on McKernan’s morning show, “The Ryan Kelly Morning After,” on Tuesday morning.
But the veritable Nickel isn’t too worried about it.
Nickel simply admitted, “I record it at home.”