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Musings about 'Painting 'em Purple'

From the Booth
Tuesday, August 20, 2002
By Jeff Charles
Voice of the Pirates


The life and times of a Goldwing speed demon


I’ve resurfaced. Football season must be right around the corner.

No, I really don’t drop off the face of the earth during the summer. Quite frankly, it’s a busy time marketing the radio and television networks.

But now I hope you are looking forward to inviting me back into your living rooms, car radios and the audio system on your Internet-connected computer. Kind of like an old friend dropping by again to talk about the Pirates.

This is my fifteenth season as “The Voice” and when you’ve been around that long it’s tough to hide.

When I meet people for the first time they often say, “I feel like I know you.” Well you might know me, but you really don “know” me, so as we kick this column off today, here are some notes about “The Voice” I bet you didn’t know.

My last name is not Charles. Charles is my middle name. I can’t reveal my real identity.

Seriously, my proper last name is difficult to pronounce and a veteran radio announcer who broke me into the business said, “You shouldn’t use it on the air.” He said, “What’s your middle name?” I said “Charles.” He said, “Jeff Charles!” I said OK.

Sure, I’ve been in Greenville a long time now, but I used to move around a lot. We’ve lived in eight states: Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia and of course North Carolina. That’s a lot of different drivers licenses and a lot of speeding tickets.

My driving exploits are legendary. Probably missed my calling. I should have been behind the wheel of a greyhound or big rig. A few years ago I did get in a stock car at the Richard Petty driving experience in Charlotte. Eight laps around gave me great appreciation for what those guys do every weekend.

Not only do I drive cars, I also ride motorcycles. You might see me on a Honda Goldwing but you won’t recognize me. It’s the helmet, you know.

I’ve had four motorcycles. Motorcycle number three, a Yamaha 1100, was a victim of Floyd. They don’t run very well after being submerged in five feet of water.

Speaking of water, we live on the water, the Pamlico River in Washington. No boats at this time — kayaks are much simpler, no engine problems and on those days when I give my ‘ol legs a break from running, it’s a good cardiovascular workout.

I run, but I’m not a runner. In Celina, Ohio, last month I ran in a 5k race and about a half mile from the finish line a 74-year-old guy passed me. Believe me, I wasn’t the only one he zipped by. He’s my hero... I hope at 74.

Yes, I do lift weights regularly and seriously. No excuses to not work out with the great facilities right outside my office door. You’ll see me in the new Strength and Conditioning Center most days at twelve noon. I’m not much of a lunch guy.

Okay, since you asked, the bench press max is 330. The goal is 350 but father time is a tough opponent. The rep count is 225 pounds eighteen times. I’m ready for the combine.

In another life, I played sports like most of you. Sportscasters and sportswriters are frustrated athletes, and I had plenty to be frustrated about.

Baseball was my top priority. Our high school program competed in the big school division in Ohio and was always pretty good. I played in summer leagues, too, one year playing in two leagues with a game virtually every night. Our coach approached every game as if it were the seventh game of the World Series. We hit a losing streak and the next thing I know he goes out and recruits the big guys from Dayton. I automatically became a utility player.

Great memories, though, and I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. Life was a lot simpler then.

My work is my passion. My passion is my work. Rick Pitino’s book is “Born to Coach.” I guess I was “Born to Announce.” Radio and television is all I’ve ever done in my adult life and all I’ve ever wanted to do.

The broadcasting industry is fascinating and I still am amazed at how on a clear summer night you can pick up baseball games from all over the country on an AM radio. My dream was to work at one of those 50,000-watt clear channel stations, and I did — at WSB in Atlanta in 1980 and 1981.

It’s a “trip” to sit behind a microphone and know that thirty-eight states and a portion of Canada can hear you. I remember doing my talk show sitting in Atlanta and getting a call from Toronto, Ontario, and the caller saying, “We hear you clear at night.”

By now, I’ve probably bored you to death. The Pirates are much more interesting and that’s what we’ll concentrate on in the coming weeks. Till next time, “Keep Painting ’em Purple.”

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02/23/2007 10:23:36 AM

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