Recent alum to replace MSU radio legend
Editor’s note: This article’s headline has been changed.
A giant in the local media industry finally has hung up his microphone.
After being hired by WKAR in 1974 and taking over WKAR’s “Sportstalk/870” in 1985, it’s been the soft and welcoming tone of Earle Robinson’s voice coming across the airwaves, always polite and eager to discuss the most pressing local sports news.
Few in the area are more universally respected and appreciated by media and officials alike than Robinson.
However, following a 39-year career that spanned the full spectrum of Michigan sports, Robinson officially retired from the position in January, announcing it once more at MSU’s Spartan Sports Journalism Classic event last week.
“I just really wasn’t feeling well, and I was taking some medication and things so I just figured it was time for me to go,” Robinson said, discussing his departure. “I wanted to retire healthy at least and move on to the next phase of my life. I wanted to be in fairly good health and I wasn’t at the time.”
WLNS Channel 6-TV reporter Al Martin will attempt to fill some of the largest shoes in local media.
A 2012 MSU graduate with a degree in journalism and a Detroit native, Martin will join the WKAR team April 29.
Martin’s first day on the air along with the logistics of the new show remain undetermined, but Martin said he will take over the “Sportstalk/870” show as well as contribute to WKAR’s television programming on a weekly basis. Looking to bring more feature-type stories to the air, Martin said he would like it to feel like HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” but on the radio.
“I was just blessed to meet the right people to even be in this position at 22 years old, not even a year out of college,” Martin said of the move. “It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m humble beyond imagination and I’m going to approach this with an open mind and I want to be great at this.”
Obviously, Martin’s task is a daunting one in replacing one of the most well-respected radio personalities in the state.
Earlier in the year, MSU basketball head coach Tom Izzo concluded his weekly press conference by publicly thanking Robinson, who was in attendance, for his years of service, making a note that Robinson always will have a seat and a parking pass at MSU as long as both men are alive.
“I don’t care if it was a wrestling event or a hockey event or high school basketball,” Izzo said at the time. “Whatever he did, he went to them.
“I appreciate what you’ve given to Michigan State, what you’ve given to the community and maybe most of all, just the time you spent coming over in the summers and talking about things that you saw with your eyes instead of things you heard with your ears.”
As a new era dawns on sports radio at WKAR, Martin said he plans to continue talking to Robinson and others — including WLNS reporter Fred Heumann and Big Ten Network reporter Lisa Byington — as his new job approaches.
Ever grateful of the impact Robinson has had in the area, Martin said he’s thankful for the opportunity and is ready to get started at the end of the month.
“I could never, ever, ever fill the shoes of Earle Robinson,” Martin said. “Those shoes are the only shoes that only Earle can fill — those aren’t shoes, they’re boots. All I can do is go in there, be me, be Al Martin and attack it with the mindset that ‘Hey, I want to be the best I can be at this.’ I’m going to try my hardest to do that.”