Hooper: Former radio host Ian Beckles embraces new challenge

Former radio host Ian Beckles will launch a webcast, “Flavor of Tampa Bay.”
Former radio host Ian Beckles will launch a webcast, “Flavor of Tampa Bay.”
Published Jan. 7, 2016

Like a tightrope walker, Ian Beckles always balances his life between various pursuits and interests: sports, fitness, fashion, food, music, business and his foundation.

People have never been able to define him solely as a former Bucs offensive lineman and sports nut. But now, Beckles will perform his balancing act without the financial safety net of his sports talk job at WDAE-AM 620.

Beckles, 48, walked away from his WDAE role last month after 14 years with the station, 12 spent as co-host of the midday show with Ron Diaz.

"It got to a point where I needed a change," Beckles said. "I'm not going to lie, money had something to do with it, but I think I'm just ready to start a new chapter."

Beckles says you will see the beginning of his new chapter this month when he launches a webcast with the help of Tampa Bay Multimedia called "Flavor of Tampa Bay." The title will sound familiar to those who have listened to Beckles' weekend show that featured various area restaurants, but he assures this product will go beyond food.

"It's going to expose people to all the happening things in Tampa Bay whether its art or fashion or jewelry or venues or music," Beckles said. "I want to focus on local. I want some of the smaller companies that need some help."

The show will reflect the passion the Montreal native has developed for Tampa Bay since moving here in 1990. He notes that in the last 25 years, the area has grown substantially to the point where major events take place every weekend. The show will aim to promote those activities while showcasing the significant increase in locally-owned restaurants.

Beckles expects this new venture to get a boost from the sponsors of his old radio show, but he's quick to note the deals he's held with companies such as the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Jaguar of Tampa and the Gold and Diamond Source are more than just sponsors.

"These are relationships," Beckles said. "These are people who have been to my house, met my family and eaten my food.

"I'm just trying to create a community of like-minded people who are doing some good things."

Of course, Beckles will not stray completely away from sports. He wants to showcase the interests of other athletes.

"There will still be a sports-aspect, but maybe in a more flavorful way," Beckles said.

As a former sports writer who made the transition to news columnist, I've always held an appreciation for Beckles' diverse outlook on the world. I like to call him Tampa Bay's "Renaissance Man" and my appreciation grows deeper now that he's taking on a new challenge.

"Having a successful webcast is not harder than … staying in the NFL in the nine years, it's probably not going to be harder than having a successful radio show for 12 years," Beckles said. "It's just the next challenge. I've failed before. If I fail, it just wasn't meant to be, but I'm going to grind, that's for sure."

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Beckles says he doesn't do fear, he does work. Clearly, it takes courage to assess your value to a company and then walk away because you don't believe you're being fairly compensated.

So many people maintain the draining pace of their workplace treadmills, trading joy for security. But those who jump off embrace the freedom to take their life in new directions.

Walking without a safety net should be admired.

That's all I'm saying.