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Raider Radio Host Refuses to Run

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"I was alive, anyway."

He spent no more than two minutes dwelling on defeat. Then he and his colleagues, Nick Papajohn and Charles Tinsley, sped on to discuss next year's certain victory. His counseling strategy seemed to work. "If y'all can suck it up, so can I," said one female caller, resignedly.

You'd think the pain would be lessened on this coast. But, according to Atkinson, Virginia boasts a surprising number of die-hard black-and-silver fans. The state booster club has 150 members, many of whom meet at Mulligan's Sports Grille in Mechanicsville to watch games together.

Atkinson, a Richmond native, was only 6 when he pledged allegiance to the Raiders after watching the Oakland-Miami playoff game in 1974. He was drawn by their colors, their longhaired quarterback, and most of all, the fierce pirate logo.

Now, he owns enough Raiders T-shirts to dress loyally without doing laundry for six weeks straight. Even his dress suit is black and silver. The license plate on his white Chevy truck reads "R8R4LYF."

Atkinson began hosting his 8 to 9 p.m. show Sept. 5. Sports talk radio relies on passionate callers to argue, talk smack and trade rumors about teams. Thanks to WXGI's broadcast on the Internet, Atkinson received calls from California the very first night on the air.

Now he has a host of callers from across the country; some zealous and well-informed, some drunken and quarrelsome. "They get the flush, if we don't like 'em," Atkinson says, referring to the sound effect he often employs.

His success thus far has gotten him thinking about going national, perhaps in partnership with the Oakland-based "Raider Fan Radio," the only other all-Raiders radio show. But for now, he'll continue his Thursday forums, even though the season's over: "If you're a Raider fan, you're a Raider fan year-round," he says.

— Melissa Scott

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