History

The Reel Talk Pro Staff consists of some of the finest Captains and Fishermen in the area. Each week the members of the Pro Staff call in with reports, tips and hints to help you land the big one!

REEL Talk - History ...

Reel Talk Radio made its first broadcast in December of 2001 on 770AM, the ESPN station for the Fort Myers - Naples, Florida market. It ran for one hour on Saturday mornings from 7am to 8am. The original studio was small with one desk, two broadcast mics and a mixing board manned by producer Roger Speheger. Host Dean Hicks (known as Deano by his friends) fondly referred to the studio as ‘the closet.’

It didn’t take long for word to get out to local fisherman about Reel Talk. Deano’s good sense of humor, his amazing fishing knowledge and his pirate-like voice quickly attracted listeners. He had captains from every corner of Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties call in with fishing reports. There was also a bevy of regular characters that made the show interesting.

Listeners became familiar with Big Tuna, Frankie-the-Yankee, Barry Cuda, Captain Cowboy, Snook Terry and many more. Soon the show was extended to two and then three hours. Even though Reel Talk Radio was all Deano, and named for his very successful tackle shop, Reels Inc., that never stopped him from including any and all tackle dealers in the local area. If they had something he didn’t, he’d let listeners know. There were no lines of competition when it came to fishing businesses in and around Fort Myers.

He had a knack for building lasting relationships and for his support of the marine industry and the environment. One of the best examples is Mr. Dave Westra of Lehr’s Economy Tackle. Dave has been a nonstop regular on the show thanks to the friendship he and Deano shared through the early years. It continues even today.

Unfortunately Deano lost a battle with cancer in May of 2007. During the fight the host chair was manned by Capt. Chris Wittman, Capt. Rob Modys, magazine editor Jim Griffiths, and local businessman and fisherman, Wally Thomas. All were determined to keep the popular show on the air.

After Deano’s passing the hosting job of Reel Talk was given to Wally Thomas. He had some big shoes to fill. He grabbed the reins, added sidekick Capt. Mike Gavala, and the two of them headed up the show for the next two years. In April of 2009 Wally decided he needed to spend Saturdays with his growing family and passed the helm over to Capt. Rob Modys.

With the support of family and friends, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners agreed to rename the Causeway West Artificial Reef Site to the Dean Hicks Reef in Memoriam to Dean Tod Hicks. The GPS numbers for the Dean Hicks Reef are 26. 22.199N, 82.17. 282W and the site is located approximately 15 nautical miles from the Sanibel Lighthouse in 45 feet of water.

The show moved to a larger studio and the ESPN broadcast was switched from 770AM to 99.3FM, a move that proved good for the local ESPN affiliate and for Reel Talk Radio. Because of greater coverage it opened the door to more listeners that today covers and area from Sarasota to Florida Bay and east to Lake Okeechobee.

Capt Rob Modys hosted Reel Talk until January 2020, when he and JoNell relocated to Fort Lauderdale, and passed the mic over to Capt. Debbie Hanson who currently hosts the show today, along with producer Rick Church.

Captain Debbie Hanson

Captain Debbie Hanson in studio

 

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