By Bob Andelman
(Originally published in Sports Arena, October 1987)
Got a question about sports? Tedd Webb is the answer.
There are days when it seems like this familiar face and radio voice knows every sports player, team, scouting report and statistic on the books. He also has an opinion on every sports situation and is not shy about sharing it.
Most amazing about Webb is that he seems to know everybody in town. He remembers their names, faces, jobs – even telephone numbers.
“I know prosecutors, public defenders, cops, burglars, cocaine dealers,” he says with a touch of irony. “The section of town where I grew up – it was either saints or sinners. We had lawyers come out, and a lot of people doing time at Raiford.
“I used to cultivate relationships with people media guys don’t want to know,” he adds. “Those guys generally only want to know the presidents of big corporations. You’re better off knowing the janitor – he cleans everybody’s office.”
As for his widely admired memory, even he describes it as amazing.
“I don’t know how it happens. I remember phone numbers because of football players’ jerseys. An example is 229-8963 – I always remember that as 229, then Kevin House (#89) followed by Lee Roy Selmon (#63). I was great in school. The rest of the stuff I can’t explain. I also remember voices really well.”
Since getting out of the Air Force in 1969, he has worked on every radio station in town – from the original Q-Zoo on WRBQ to WPLP and WWBA – “some three, some four times.”
He never wanted to work at WFLA (970 AM) and yet it’s been his steadiest gig – four years in November.
The years at WFLA have been a time of increasing popularity for the 38-year old native Tampan, a graduate of Jefferson High School. His hour-long “Sports Huddle” show, a collection of scores, commentary, guests and listener calls, was highly rated and completely sold out in advertising terms.
When the station changed hands this year, though, someone looked at Webb and said he should be doing more. To capitalize on his popularity, “Sports Huddle” was canceled in mid- summer and replaced with three hours of Webb as a general interest talk show host.
Reviews to date have been mixed. Some enjoy hearing Webb speak out on everything; others wish he’d shut up and stick to jock topics.
“When I was told ‘Sports Huddle’ was canceled and they wanted me to do talk, the only thing to do was go with the flow,” says Webb. “But, it wasn’t like I was bored with sports and ready to move on.
“The transition to general interest has been tough for me,” he continued. ”Every day is something different. I get more hate mail than ever before.”
Sports still make up a portion of Webb’s new show and they’re still big part of his personal life. In order, he loves football, baseball and basketball “during the playoffs.”
Wrestling is also a favorite – in the late 1970’s he managed Black Samson, the Scorpions, Colt Brothers and Colonel Karl von Stroheim.
For football, Webb visits his nephew on Sundays for an afternoon of television contests, warming up with NBC’s pre-game show because he hates CBS’s Brent Musberger.
In Tampa, Webb is more likely to be catching a game on the tube rather than in person.
“I don’t go to the stadium because I’m not a Bucs fan,” he said. “I’m a Dolphin fan. They were the first (NFL) team in the state and I’m a loyal person. “I hope the Bucs do well, I pull for them, but I’d rather stay home and watch the other games on television.”
As for his second favorite sport, Webb believes baseball is destined for Tampa Bay. He doesn’t care which side of the big water it comes to, either – to a point.
“It’s coming. Baseball can’t stay away. I don’t think it’ll be expansion. It’ll be relocation – preferably an American League team so I can see the Yankees; and, I can’t wait.”
“I would go no matter where it was (played),” he says. “I would go less to St. Petersburg. But, not because of St. Petersburg, but where they’re building (the stadium) is ridiculous.”
But, what does he think about the groups trying to bring baseball to the Tampa Bay area?
“They’re split whether they even want it in Pinellas. The Tampa groups, though, have it all together.”
As for other sports, Webb faults a lack of promotion for the demise of the Rowdies, Thrillers, Flash and Stars.
“This area expects a winner,” he said. “Promotion is a big factor. What was the last Thrillers commercial you heard or saw (for the Thrillers)? A great team doesn’t means … You have to promote them. You have to sell them.
“The Rowdies – when they first came on – had great advertising. You have to tell people you’re exciting, remind them that you’re exciting and then you have to be exciting. The Rowdies simply lost track of excitement.
Ever the optimist, Webb thinks the new Arena Football League would succeed in Tampa Bay.
“There’s enough fans that would pack the Bayfront. I think it would fly and I’d like to be part of that ownership,” he says.
Also on his wish list for Bay area sports: Professional boxing, an NFL Governor’s Cup and the Pan Am Games.
“I would like to see the Bucs and Dolphins play every year in pre-season for a Governor’s Cup. And, I would like to see them bring the Pan Am Games, or something similar. That would make this area big league.
Webb ponders his last wish and laughs.
“You print that,” he said. “And, St. Petersburg will try and lure the Winter Olympic Games… And now, folks, the slalom in Largo…”