Just after 3 p.m. Monday, Eddie Van Halen’s iconic synthesizer introduction to “Jump” beamed out from the top of Rutledge Hill, same as it ever was.
It’s Nashville’s Moog-based sports-talk security blanket. “Jump” plays, and then George Plaster greets us: “Hello everyone.”
Except Monday, it was different.
It was longtime Plaster sidekick Willy Daunic giving us the greeting on WGFX 104.5’s Allstate Sports Zone, not the avuncular afternoon staple.
After eight years in the prime slot on The Zone, Plaster had left.
It was a bit of a death foretold. Plaster came to 104.5 in 2003 after a decade at WWTN, a stint that ended acrimoniously — and litigiously — when Cumulus Media purchased WWTN and Plaster tried to change stations. It was a time of breach of contract claims and countersuits, but after two months, Plaster was back on the air.
But then Cumulus bought 104, the sale finalized two weeks ago, and Plaster opted out of working for the new bosses. He says he’s going to explore his options — maybe he’ll end up at new sports-talk launch 102.5 The Game — and take a breather.
In the meantime: Who will give us “about two minutes”? Who will be bold enough to refer to those ubiquitous mobile devices as “car phones”? Who else will extol the virtues of gift-wrapping that’s always free?
Plaster has his fans, no doubt — otherwise those high-dollar advertising partners for big ticket items like diamond rings, home additions, work trucks and mortgages would go elsewhere.
But Plaster is more than that. Plaster is a habit. It’s 3 p.m., flip on the radio and listen to George talk about the Braves with Danny Evans and then do an hour on the NFL and American film with John McClain. Or, it’s 3 p.m., Plaster’s about to blather on about the Braves, and that kooky guy from Houston is going to talk about the time he had dinner with Merlin Olsen and Gina Lollobrigida — time to switch over to NPR.
Like traffic snarls in Hickory Hollow, Plaster is a part of Nashville’s afternoon commute. Plaster and those close to him — Daunic included — say the Doyen will be back on the airwaves, somewhere, eventually.
Like those I-24 back-ups, George Plaster’s going to still be part of our afternoon. Eventually. Just hang up and listen.