Gordon was born Jonard Frank Labak in 1929. When he was nine, his name changed to Jonard Pierre Sjoblom after he was adopted. During his high school years at Southwest High in Minneapolis, he majored in radio, did some high school stage and radio productions, and picked up the nickname, “Josie.”
After high school graduation in 1947, Gordon joined the U.S. Army Air Force and served with the 7th Geodetic Squadron as a VHF radio tech on P51s. While stationed in Shreveport, Louisiana, he picked up a weekend job at KWKH and its “Louisiana Hayride” show. When his military obligation was over in 1950, he moved to Tampa and, using the on-air name “Gordon Solie,” went to work under the G.I. Bill at WEBK, a tiny AM station in Ybor City, Tampa’s Latin Quarter. It was there he hosted “Long Gone,” a rhythm & blues program, and did his own 15-minute sports show interviewing professional athletes.
In 1952, Gordon moved to WFLA to co-host a show with sports director Milt Spencer. Then a year later he joined WPLA in Plant City. During the second half of the decade, after leaving WPLA, he became station manager at the University of Tampa’s WTUN-FM and worked in news for St. Petersburg’s WSUN and WTSP (where he hosted the popular show, “A Salute to Havana”). From 1969 to 1974 he was news and sports director for Art Reuben’s WYOU, winning two prestigious Florida Bar Editorial Awards for his news writing efforts.
But Gordon had other interests outside radio. His passion for stock car racing pushed him to garner publicity for that sport by writing press releases and newspaper stories. His track announcing for Speedway Park in Tampa and the IMCA races at the old Florida State Fairgrounds lasted through the 1960’s. He went on to become president of St. Petersburg’s Sunshine Speedway and part owner, general manager, and track announcer at Tampa’s Golden Gate Speedway until it was forced to close down in the 1980’s.
In the early 50’s, Gordon met Tampa wrestling promoter Clarence P. “Cowboy” Luttrall who hired him as his ring announcer and public relations man. In 1959, he teamed (again) with WFLA sports director Milt Spencer to share commentary for WFLA-TV’s studio wrestling. The following year, and for 27 consecutive years, he hosted “Championship Wrestling from Florida” and then “Championship Wrestling from Georgia” for Ted Turner’s WTBS Superstation. He was dubbed “The Dean of Wrestling Announcers” and it’s no wonder. Over the years he worked with all the big names and became personal friends with many of them. After retiring from the wrestling business in the late 1990’s, he was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame.
Gordon had his name legally changed to Gordon T. Solie in 1961. His daughter, Pam, says her dad came up with that name from his grandmother’s maiden name (Gordon) and his mother’s maiden name (Solie). He liked the sound of them together, so he legally made it so.
In 2000, at the age of 71, Gordon passed away from cancer.
1953 - 1956 WPLA (On Air Personality)