Sports radio's airwaves are often filled up by hours of complaining, criticizing, and griping. In these days of COVID, the sports landscape can be bleaker than normal. Without inspiring athletic achievements to applaud, and a drumbeat of worry that sports won't be able to return this year, the discussion can be gloomy. This is why Thursday night on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore was staggeringly wonderful. The positivity, gratitude, and unwavering love was so overwhelming it made you realize we had perhaps never heard anything like it.
Mo Gaba is a civic icon in Baltimore. Put him up there with Johnny Unitas, Frank Robinson, and Edgar Allan Poe. This was never more evident than for four-and-a-half hours, as phone lines were jammed with callers and celebrities wanting to tell Mo just how much he means to them. The 14-year-old affectionately nicknamed "Lil' Mo" was finally co-hosting his own sports radio show with the help of longtime 105.7 broadcaster Jeremy Conn. For Mo, this was a culmination of years of passion and personality pouring over the radio waves. Mo has dealt with multiple battles with cancer throughout his life, including the first as a baby leaving him permanently blind. Sports radio was his playground as a diehard Ravens and Orioles fan that listened and called and offered his take on his favorite teams.
Mo began calling my show when he was just 8 years old. During our years as the night show on CBS Sports Radio, we were always delighted when "Lil' Mo in Baltimore" was on hold. We knew we were in for a few minutes of fun and smiles. Mo's enthusiasm is infectious, and his laugh is so uplifting. He's always been amazing radio, the type of segment that puts a permanent smile on your face. Recently, I got choked up when talking about how much he means to me.
Mo's dedication to calling sports radio shows, specifically his hometown station of 105.7, made him a familiar voice throughout the city. By sheer force of personality, he developed into a local celebrity. Listeners were drawn to his incredible sports passion. Those around him were inspired by his courageous health battles. Soon enough everyone understood both parts of Mo, that this otherwordly positivity and charisma were happening during a neverending struggle with a deadly disease. Mo is awe-inspiring.
The Orioles invited Mo to be the guest of honor at Fan Fest. The Ravens asked Mo to announce their draft pick in braille. He threw out the first pitch at Camden Yards. He called a play in training camp at the Ravens facility. When Mo graduated eighth grade in June, there were two parades thrown for him, both right outside his apartment complex. Professional athletes, media celebrities, and people from Mo's life have come far and wide to celebrate his accomplishment.
Thursday night Jeremy was by Gaba's side for "The Big Mo Show," as 105.7 signed him to a "one-day contract" to broadcast the show from his bedroom. Mo was splendid taking the audience in and out of commercial break, while asking his guests pertinent and fun questions. The chemistry between Jeremy and Mo was perfect, and it was so clear how close their friendship has grown over the years.
The phones were lit the entire night. The most amazing dynamic was listening to a nonstop parade of callers who had never met Mo telling him how much he meant to them personally. These callers and guests could finally talk to their hero, a 14-year-old boy who never intended to be famous. But Mo's unwavering optimism is just so magnetic he has attracted legions of fans, including myself. He has taught us that staying positive is a choice, a state of mind. He is a living, breathing reminder that we can be better, that we don't have to be overwhelmed or defeated no matter what the world presents. He has provided us with the most valuable lesson in life. Positivity wins. Always. And it's a choice.
The names that lined up to talk to Mo were astounding. Ravens coach John Harbaugh. Former Orioles manager Buck Showalter. WWE star Roman Reigns. Multiple Orioles players. Pro football legend Ray Lewis. They wrapped up the show at 10:30p.m., four-and-a-half hours after they signed on. They likely could've gone all night long and never had an empty phone line. The adoration that was evident from young and old, male and female, people of all backgrounds was unlike anything I've ever heard on sportstalk radio. It was the most authentically beautiful positivity the medium may have ever had. You get what you give. And Mo has given so much positivity, so much enthusiasm, that he received it in return by the truckload. There's only so many Mo Gaba's in this world, the embodiment of light, heart and love we are all inspired by. Mo encourages us to be a better version of ourselves. The Mo Gaba's of this world show us a way to elevate personally. On Thursday night, everyone told the one Mo Gaba that they knew, thank you.
Thank you, Mo. For everything.