High school sports: Rick Shaw going strong as 'retired' radio voice

mfields@herald-leader.comFebruary 11, 2013 

Rick Shaw, foreground, hosts the Kentucky High School Scoreboard Show on Friday nights on WLAP AM-630. Shaw, who retired as a sales representative last year, works with Bill Whitaker.

Rick Shaw, foreground, hosts the Kentucky High School Scoreboard Show on Friday nights on WLAP AM-630. Shaw, who retired as a sales representative last year, works with Bill Whitaker.

MIKE FIELDS | STAFF — Herald-Leader

Long before Forest Richard Pope was on the radio, he was into radio.

As a 10-year-old kid growing up in Ashland, Pope listened to Claude Sullivan calling University of Kentucky basketball games and heard his own calling.

"I knew at that time that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be on the radio," Pope said. "That was my goal."

Forty-eight years after getting into the business, Pope — better known as Rick Shaw, his radio moniker for more than four decades — retired at the end of 2012 as a sales representative for Clear Channel in Lexington.

But he has stayed on the air as host of the Kentucky High School Scoreboard Show on Friday nights on WLAP AM-630 and a statewide network of 33 stations.

Even after he is retired from radio, Rick Shaw is still on the radio.

"I can't just quit," he said.

Forest Richard Pope's story has something of a Forrest Gump quality to it. He has been tied to a lot of interesting stories and crossed paths with a lot of interesting people.

Pope was on the Ashland Tomcats' 1961 state championship basketball team that featured stars Larry Conley and Harold Sergent.

Pope was a junior reserve who didn't get much playing time, but he was on the court at the end of the title-game victory over Lexington Dunbar in UK's Memorial Coliseum. Just before the final horn sounded, Pope got the ball and flung it into the stands.

"The referee got in my face and said, 'Why'd you throw it up there?' I told him, 'I was shooting!'" he said, laughing at the memory.

The first time Pope got to lend his voice to a big crowd was when he accompanied the Ashland Tomcats marching band to a Cleveland Browns game and did the public address announcing for the band's halftime show.

Not long after that, in January 1964, he was hired by Ashland radio station WCMI-AM 1340.

Only 19, he soon became a popular disc jockey who went by the name of Tricky Ricky Kool. He spun the "stacks of wax" of top 40 hits.

"The timing couldn't have been more perfect, with the Beatles and the British Invasion," Pope said, noting that his Tricky Ricky persona drew an unheard of 69 percent audience share in the 6 p.m.-to-midnight slot.

As much fun as that was, Pope felt drawn to sports. He wanted to be a sports guy. He got that opportunity later that year.

The name Tricky Ricky wasn't suitable for a sports guy, so Pope went by Richard Kay. He did mostly Greenup County and Russell football games that fall for WCMI's FM station. He eventually got on the Ashland broadcasts, highlighted by the Tomcats' 1967 state football championship victory over Elizabethtown.

He also worked some McKell games. Pope said he was there the night McKell's Don Gullett set a state record (that still stands) by scoring 72 points (11 touchdowns, six extra points) in a win over Wurtland in 1968.

Gullett went on to star as a major league pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees.

Pope moved to Lexington to work for WVLK late in 1968, and he took the name Rick Shaw. He was on the air from noon to 6 p.m. weekdays, and he was involved in sports broadcasts.

He would help out with UK games, doing pre-game and post-game work. He remembers when Iona played at UK in 1978, he was interviewing Gaels Coach Jim Valvano before the game when Valvano asked a favor.

"He wanted me to introduce him to Cawood Ledford," Shaw said.

Shaw got to know Adolph Rupp in his last years as UK coach well enough to stop by the Baron's office to chat.

Shaw did some UK freshmen games, including the Super Kittens of Kevin Grevey, Jimmy Dan Conner and Co.

He also did packed-house high school games in the Coliseum, and state tournament games involving greats including Jack Givens and Darrell Griffith, and Cinderella teams like Edmonson County in 1976.

During his time at WVLK, Shaw got former players and coaches involved in broadcasting. Jock Sutherland, Al Prewitt, Kyle Macy, Jim Master and Givens all helped him out on high school games.

By then, Shaw had set another goal for himself — to become the general manager of a radio station. In the late 1980s, he moved to Charlotte, N.C., to work for Raycom radio sports. After a couple years there, he left to become general manager of two Hopkinsville stations, and then he moved on to Kokomo, Ind.

Ten years away from Kentucky was long enough.

In 1998, Ralph Hacker offered Shaw a job at WVLK as general sales manager.

He took it. He was back in Lexington, with the bonus of living in the same town as his grandkids.

Two years later, when UK basketball and football moved from WVLK to WLAP (from Cumulus to Clear Channel), Shaw made the move, too. He was in charge of advertising for UK broadcasts.

Soon after that, Shaw started talking to then-KHSAA commissioner Louis Stout about starting a high school sports scoreboard show.

It became a reality in 2001, with Shaw and Stout as the hosts.

"The whole idea was to connect the dots, from Pikeville to Mayfield, to inform people across the state about high school sports," Shaw said. "We had no idea it'd get this big."

Stout died in 2012. Bill Whitaker has taken over as Shaw's sidekick on the show, which runs on Fridays from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Those are late hours for a guy who's supposed to be retired, but Rick Shaw doesn't consider it work.

"This is the fun stuff," he said. "I've got to have something to do, and why not radio? I've always loved it and always will."

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337 Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes Blog: Fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

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