Pensacola, Florida
Friday July 19th 2019


Outtakes—A Fantastic Ride

By Rick Outzen

After three years and over 600 broadcasts, I decided to end my afternoon drive-time radio show, “Pensacola Speaks,” on 1370 WCOA. There wasn’t any dispute with Cumulus, the mega-corporation that owns the station. The ratings for the show were solid, and I enjoyed connecting with an audience that might not have been familiar with our newspaper.

However, the time was right to take on new challenges.

“Pensacola Speaks” and its host Luke McCoy had dominated the local talk radio market for 15 years until he retired in 2008. But the show had been around for three decades with various hosts before McCoy took the reins. Listeners would read the daily newspaper in the morning and wait to hear what was said on “Pensacola Speaks” every afternoon.

In 2006, Inweekly faced off against McCoy on the referendum for the Community Maritime Park. The leaders of Save Our City, the political action committee formed to fight the park, were given unfettered access to “Pensacola Speaks” to push their agenda. Our newspaper regularly challenged the statements made on the show.

It was a classic battle of the old guard versus the new kids on the block. The referendum passed, 9,684-7,701. The political influence of McCoy and “Pensacola Speaks” began to wane.

In February 2015, I was approached by Jim Sanborn and Don Parker, hosts of WCOA’s “Good Morning Pensacola,” to bring back “Pensacola Speaks.”  I had filled in for Jim and Don several times and had a regular spot on Thursday mornings to discuss Inweekly’s latest issue. Initially, Cumulus wasn’t excited about giving up an hour of the syndicated “Phil Valentine’s Show,” but the station manager agreed to a six-month trial.

I did the show for free. Don ran the board during the trial period and served as my chaperone and mentor. However, I had complete control over the show’s content and booked my guests. I told the station manager to be prepared for complaints from elected officials and some the station’s most conservative listeners, but I assured her people would listen to the show.

And they did. Not every show was a home run, but we had an impressive list of guests, such as Donald Trump, Jr., Lara Trump, Jennifer Palmieri, Sen. Marco Rubio, Alfre Woodard, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Congressmen Jeff Miller, Matt Gaetz, David Jolly and Ron DeSantis, and Quint Studer.

Most of all the show was fun and informative. We broke on the air several big stories, such as the Newpoint charter school scandal, the rise of deaths in the county jail, and the health issues in the Wedgewood community.

It was a fantastic ride. Thank you for listening.