Shawn Arnell Will Be Missed By Fans, Even More By Those He Worked With

Nate Olson Bio Page
Shawn Arnell and I hosted a morning sports radio talk show together. Of course you didn’t know that because A) It only lasted a month, and B) the signal was barely strong enough to circulate through Pulaski County.

That was in 2004. I was a sportswriter a the Pine Bluff Commercial in pursuit of radio experience at ESPN 1380 AM in Sherwood, and Shawn was sent by business partners from Northwest Arkansas to run the station. I quit the show because I was spending more money on gas than I was earning to get up at 6 a.m. after putting a paper to bed at midnight the night before in Pine Bluff.

Shawn didn’t last much longer either, as he headed to Memphis to host the syndicated radio show SEC Conference Call. We had a good time during our short stint in that little studio. I just wished it had lasted a little longer. I doubted I would ever see Shawn, let a lone work with him again.

However, I got my chance to share the airwaves with him a few years ago. After a brief time out of the business, Shawn landed at KARN and took over the statewide Arkansas Radio Network time slot Chuck Barrett vacated when he became the “Voice of the Razorbacks.” It wasn’t until he was comfortably in the host chair of the Shawn and Wally Show (with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sports editor Wally Hall) that we reunited.

Shawn Arnell will be missed

Shawn Arnell will be missed by everyone.
Except Carlos Mencia, who is very short.

I was working with VYPE magazine and Shawn agreed to bring me on weekly to break down high school football games and promote the magazine. After the first season in 2009, I kept appearing even when football season ended. Then, over the last couple of years my guest hosting gig became more than once a week. When Shawn endured a serious surgery last year he asked me to sit in often with Hall.

I quit appearing on the show last spring after I left the magazine. However, once football season began this year Shawn invited me back, and I began co-hosting with him once a week along with longtime guest hosts Richard Davenport and Bill Ingram as Hall departed leaving Shawn as the only full-time host. This fall also marked the first time I hosted the show solo, as Shawn endured some more tests.

My appearances over the past three years have become the highlights of my week. I don’t fish, hunt or golf. I willingly trade nights out with the fellas for nights in with my boys (ages 4 and 16 months) eating corn dogs, playing outside and watching Sponge Bob. So, the hours spent talking sports with Shawn and the crew and listeners statewide is my down time — my release and hobby. It’s like hanging out at the sports bar minus the hot wings and adult beverages, and I can still get home in time to enjoy a quick dinner and tuck my kids in.

I rarely laugh as much during the week as I did during the hours I was in the KARN studios. I tried not to howl on the air, but inevitably Shawn would disguise his voice or make a joke, and I would be cackling.

I nearly peed my pants when former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski made an appearance in the fall of 2011. ‘Romo’, as he is known, was supposed to call weekly to talk NFL and hawk his nutritional supplements. More times than not he forgot or called in at the wrong time. One day he was in rare form. He discussed how Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had a great game while playing with broken ribs. “What someone should do each week is hit him with a baseball bat and break his ribs, so he will play better,” the standout former linebacker said. We all laughed a bit. Then he said, “No I’m serious, somebody should break his ribs every week.”

Then the bizarre interview went off the charts when ‘Romo’ read the letter he had addressed to “fat.” The short letter chronicled how his supplements were going to defeat the stubborn gelatinous mass. The contents of the voice, and ‘Romo’s’ tone sent me over the edge — I laughed uncontrollably. I don’t know if it was my laugh or “Romo’s” bizarre behavior, but Shawn couldn’t contain himself, either. Soon I had tears rolling down my cheeks. We held it together briefly, long enough, for Shawn to end the interview and head to the break. We laughed for the entire break and continued into the next segment. It is one of the show’s funniest moments and was heard often on tape long after the incident.

As fun as it was sharing sports takes (we rarely disagreed) it was even more fun swapping stories and telling bad jokes (Shawn and Richard told them, and I listened.) during the break. Like Shawn says, if you love the show you’d love the breaks even more. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience, and I looked forward to doing it for a long time.

However, recently it became apparent Shawn might be moving on. The day finally came last Friday when he made it official and resigned his post. He ended his five-and-a-half year run with Richard and Bill by his side. As I listened in the car I laughed as Bill and Richard traded barbs and Shawn laughed at both of them. It was a fitting way to end it.

When I got home I read Shawn’s farewell on his blog. He thanked those that had worked with him. Below was his message for me.

Nate – One of my biggest regrets is not getting you on the air sooner. All you need is a shot, hopefully you get it soon. You are an honest man with a great heart. I wish you the best.

That’s one of the best compliments I’ve received. The feeling of admiration is mutual. Shawn is going to be missed on the air (I predict he will be back very soon) by an army of loyal fans, but those that shared a studio with him, including me, will miss him more.

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