When Stan Nawalaniec and Mark Haney first started working together, they were playing tunes from magnetic tape. The talk radio mavericks have laughed their way through early mornings, station format overhauls and monumental life changes.
The well-known duo met at a Melbourne, Fla., station in 1987, where they worked on separate shows. The stint was brief, as the station soon transitioned from Top 40 to Oldies, and they both found themselves out of work. The early 90’s not only brought the genesis of CDs but also the emergence of radio’s corporate era, making longevity in the business scarce.
They reunited in 1993, bringing the Stan and Haney Show to local airwaves and starting what has been a dominant reign in ratings for the last 20 years. The irreverent duo will celebrate their 5,000th show the week of November 8.
“Five thousand shows is unprecedented,” Stan muses. “All the higher ups at the radio stations told us from day one this would fail. They said, ‘They’re poison; they’ll ruin the station.’ There was only one other station in Boston that had a personality-based talk/music afternoon show. Haney and I were only the second radio station to do that, and within two years, everybody was doing it.”
They’ve now been at it so long, the Stan and Haney Show has third generation listeners.
“Because of our longevity, we have an opportunity to really have an impact, and it’s really humbling,” says Haney, who started his brand of “Haney’s News” the second year of the show.
While the duo doesn’t give inspirational quotes or spiritual advice, they offer up a hefty dose of daily laughter.
“We hear stories of people seriously ill who look forward to our show coming on, to feel normal for a couple hours,” Haney says.
It’s not only listeners who benefit from the zany antics of the Stan and Haney Show. The duo has been on-air through major historical events — like the Challenger explosion and the aftermath of 9/11 — as well as their own personal triumphs and tragedies.
“When my daughter was born, we were on the air; when I was handed divorce papers, we were on the air,” Stan recalls. “We went in to do the show during some of the worst times in our lives, and it actually can be very therapeutic to do it.”
Listeners have come to expect Haney’s quirky character voices and the duo’s unique spin on the day’s news. Many local commuters tune into K-Rock each day to let go of the day’s stress and unwind with Stan and Haney on the drive home.
“It’s almost like two guys sitting in a restaurant at the bar, and everybody else gets to eavesdrop,” Stan says.
“We always figured if we’re interested, or something makes us laugh, that’s what we bring to the radio,” Haney adds. “As long as we’re laughing, we’re doing something right.”
Preparation for the show is constant. Stan and Haney read as many news articles and watch as much television as they can to stay current and find nuggets for the show. They’ve been best friends for decades, so the on-air exchange is authentic. The two are in daily communication with each other and often vacation together.
“Our normal conversation sounds just like what we do on the air,” Haney says.
Their chemistry continues to draw new listeners. Most are male, but the number of female listeners is growing. Their faithful listeners come from all walks of life, from truck drivers to former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp.
Last year, Stan and Haney managed to get a road named in their honor. The private access road to Beasley Broadcasting off of U.S. 41 was changed from Q96 Boulevard (named after a now defunct station) to “Stan and Haney Boulevard.”
The duo has enjoyed a good relationship with the Beasley family, which has owned the station since 1986. Stable leadership has allowed Stan and Haney to stay in one market for more than two decades.
Through their show, Stan and Haney have had an opportunity to meet and form relationships with many celebrities, including Don Shula, the legendary former coach of the Miami Dolphins. They’ve interviewed Richard Petty, Bill Cosby, Rosa Parks and Dr. Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine. They’ve sung “Rhinestone Cowboy” with Glenn Campbell, hung out backstage with Wayne Newton, and made a tradition of calling Buddy Ebsen, who played Jed Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbilly’s,” every year on his birthday.
When they’re not on the air, Haney relaxes by playing in a band, and Stan hits the links. “When I’m on the golf course, I am not thinking about another thing,” he says.
The friends also took over an ailing bowling league at Gator Lanes one year, logging a come-from-behind, second-place finish. They got a private lesson from Johnny Petraglia when he was at the Pro Am Tournament in Naples, but they gave up the game when local lanes went smoke-free.
Through the years, the duo has weathered format changes — from Classic Rock to Talk to Modern Rock — and schedule changes (they were relieved to return to afternoons in 2009 after a brutal two-year stint in the mornings).
Stan and Haney started working together in their 20’s and are now solidly middle aged, but still clearly having fun.
“Radio, when we got into it, was truly an art, a theatre of the mind,” Stan says. While audio formats and business tactics have changed, the show still offers the duo a daily opportunity to kick back and create. “All of the life’s troubles are lost for four hours a day.”