They disagree on a number of things, but two longtime radio callers found common ground through their stomachs Tuesday.

They disagree on a number of things, but two longtime radio callers found common ground through their stomachs Tuesday at a Norwich park.

Charles Snurkowski, 73, of Norwich loves sports, including fishing. Sharon “Sam” Long, 52, of Voluntown detests both.

Yet in their first face-to-face meeting, the occasional antagonists who have communicated through WICH 1310 AM discovered they’re both Polish-Americans, sharing a love of similar ethnic foods.

“This is what brought us together,” said Long, brandishing a large green pepper on a skewer.

Snurkowski is a connoisseur of stuffed peppers, often making 15 to 18 at a time for his family and scouring newspaper fliers for bargain prices. His tirade last year against what he saw as exorbitant prices caught Long’s attention. The two of have been regularly interacting on Stu Bryer’s “Potpourri” show ever since.

Snurkowski soon became “Mr. Grumpy Pants” to WICH listeners.

“He’s (Snurkowski) a bit opinionated but he really has a great sense of humor,” said Bryer, good-naturedly attempting to play referee.

WICH, with its theme of “personality radio,” connects outgoing and gregarious people like Long and Snurkowski, said Bryer, who’s been hosting “Potpourri” since 1970. Yet face-to-face meetings are arranged by the callers exclusively, he said.

“They completely instigated this themselves,” the host said. “People have made some wonderful friendships through the show.”

Making friends through radio is a good way to keep spirits up amid a down economy, Snurkowski said.

“We’re in a depressed situation, here in Norwich and nationally,” he said.

Long and Snurkowski have been calling “Potpourri” regularly for about 10 years, Bryer said.

Long and Snurkowski have on-air allies and sidekicks such as Sherry Gere of Preston, Long’s friend who reportedly gave Snurkowski his nickname, and Greeneville resident Jerry Mulvey, a tax critic and friend of Snurkowski who debates his pal on subjects including the police and medical marijuana.

Besides peppers, Snurkowski’s favorite subject is Brown Park and the slow pace of its wharf renovations. Bryer has promised to do a show live from there upon rededication. Long recommended Tuesday’s vegetable theme be made part of the event.

Despite Long’s ominous pepper-topped skewer, she and Snurkowski greeted each other warmly in the afternoon harborside chill. Conversation was lively and perked up when Long revealed her Polish ancestry, relating that her maiden name is Maciejewski.

Talk centered on cabbage, pierogies and “Polish lasagna” for several minutes before coming back to green peppers. Long admitted to preferring sautéed to stuffed. Undeterred and smiling, Snurkowski plowed on, showing that difference is the spice of friendship.

Norwich Bulletin