As it turns out, talking basketball might be the next best thing to coaching basketball for Randy Ward and Charles Baker.
Ward and Baker are back behind the WLGC radio microphones for a second straight season. They’ll co-host “Thursday Night Hoops Talk” every week through the NCAA Final Four. The hour-long show is set to air from inside the WLGC studio in Ashland at 6 p.m., beginning today.
Good friends and a contrast of personalities, Baker and Ward have meshed well on the air. Both are opinionated, with Ward being the most outspoken of the duo.
“We usually have a lot of the same opinions, but sometimes we disagree,” Ward said. “Sometimes we disagree just to be disagreeing!”
As much as they love to talk, they’re eager to listen, too.
“I enjoy people calling in and chatting with them, hearing their opinion,” Baker said. “They don’t have to have a question. Just make a comment! And if they have information, let us know about it.”
Last year, they received calls from listeners in places as distant as Wyoming.
Ward and Baker are known in the area for guiding local high school teams to great success during long stints as coaches.
Ward won four 16th Region titles at Greenup County, the most recent in 1997, and has also coached at Clay High School in Portsmouth and Coal Grove. Baker led East Carter to its first region championship in 1986. He’s the winningest coach in Raiders history. Currently, Brandon Baker, Charles’ son, coaches at East Carter.
While high school is a frequent talking point — the broad range includes southern Ohio and West Virginia schools as well as 10th, 14th, 15th and 16th Region Kentucky schools — the radio show focuses primarily on college basketball conversation.
Guests included former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall, West Virginia’s Bob Huggins, Marshall’s Tom Herrion and Donnie Tyndall, former Morehead State and current Southern Mississippi coach, among others during the first year.
Morehead State first-year coach Sean Woods is slated to call into the show tonight.
According to the co-hosts, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford and Pikeville coach Kelly Wells could be possible guests this season. Ward said he hoped they could get Ohio State coach Thad Matta and Michigan’s John Beilein on the show at some point.
Several recruiting services from around the state were also guests and are expected to return this season.
With the large number of prominent college basketball programs in this part of the country, Baker and Ward have to constantly stay up to date on their research.
“We’ve got Louisville in the Big East, West Virginia Big 12, Marshall Conference USA, Morehead and Eastern (Kentucky) OVC and Kentucky SEC,” Ward said with a chuckle. “We have to know what we’re saying.”
“It’s about three to five hours (each week) gathering all the information,” said Baker.
Emphasized Baker: “This is for the public, to get their input and just talk basketball.”
The show will also air on wlgcradio.com.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.