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Wally wows a new audience

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ON THE AIR: Wally Hall.
  • ON THE AIR: Wally Hall.

The first word out of Wally Hall’s mouth when he learned Arkansas Times readers had voted him best columnist was a kid-like “wow.”

So, while he’s been regularly voted among his peers as the state’s top sportswriter and regarded among media experts as perhaps the most widely read columnist the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette offers — in any of its sections — a sheepish Hall said, “That’s got to be the first time I’ve ever led a poll in the Arkansas Times.”

Hall has a quick wit and a good sense of humor that have become more obvious since he joined fun-loving morning drive-time talk-show host Tommy Smith on and sidekick David Bazzel on KABZ-FM, 103.7, about 18 months ago. Hall has his own TV show broadcast by Comcast Cable Mondays on Channel 18 during football and basketball season, but on the radio — where Hall doesn’t call the shots — listeners hear a sometimes surprisingly candid Hall three mornings a week. Most of the time he’s in the studio, but often he calls in from road trips with the Razorbacks.

“I think the show has been a vehicle that has allowed people to get to know me as more than just a picture in the paper,” he says. “That picture is my job, but it’s not me.”

The formula works. The 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. show, called “The Show With No Name,” is a ratings blockbuster among men ages 18 to 24 and ages 25 to 54, according to Nielsen surveys.

“I don’t think my opinion varies,” Hall says of the differences between what he says on air compared with what he writes, “but I will admit Tommy has a way of making you share personal stuff you don’t think you’d share.

“I’ll tell you this. It has been more fun than I have every imagined. Tommy and David both bring so much to the table that it’s just something I look forward to doing, being part of it.”

Getting up for those crack-of-dawn starts took some adjustment, Hall said, “but I don’t hate it anymore.”

He’s been writing his D-G sports column for 27 years. A minor stroke a couple of years back served as a “wake-up,” he said, and “I’m probably healthier now than I was before I had the stroke.” Approaching the mid-50s mark, he hasn’t thought about when he’ll put the pen down.

As for his readers’ favorite subject, the Razorbacks, Hall said, “I think they’re on the verge of some very exciting years, especially with these running backs they have now.”

With what he calls a great staff at the newspaper, TV and a solid radio show, Hall happily notes, “I’ve got the trifecta working.”

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