Richmond, Va - It started with a guy yelling at his radio. Now, it's (at times) a guy yelling on the radio.
Al Coleman was a stock broker in downtown Richmond by day, and a die hard sports fan by birth. Back when sports talk radio was in it's infancy, a former sports personality in town had a show on Sunday nights, one that regularly infuriated Coleman enough to spur him into action.
"I called up Mike O'Toole over at WRNL and asked what it would take to get on the air" Coleman recalled. "He told me '$100.'"
Coleman paid his money and started his new career. His gift of gab for predicting the future of the Dow Jones average turned into talking about the R-Braves batting average, and he went from selling futures to selling time on the radio. The one night a week exposure grew into 5 mornings a week in about 13 months.
While there have been some address changes along the way, including his current stop at ESPN 950, Coleman has been on the air ever since that Sunday in January back in 1992. There were numerous doubters in the beginning, but the ride has exceeded even his own expectations.
"It's something I enjoyed from the get go" Coleman said. "There's so many things you can do. You can have fun with people, you can give them a hard time, you can yell and scream on occasion."
Perhaps nothing has caused Coleman to scream more than his beloved Washington Redskins, for both good reasons and bad. Ironically, WXGI is now owned by RedZebra, the broadcasting arm of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.
Coleman has pioneered the geographical nickname for his regular callers, everyone from Elmont Roy to Pittsburgh Willie and the two Chips: Godwin Chip and Chip Not-The-Dentist. His likeability on the air has kept him there, and been a big factor in the related success of his self-titled sports bar and grill in Innsbrook. There, much like on the air, it's the people that get Coleman up in the morning and keep him going throughout the day.
"People have gotten to know each other just by listening" Coleman said. "That's been a lot of fun. If you enjoy what you do for work, then it's not work."