Wednesday, September 9, 2009

J. Starr's Forced Media Embargo

So, I've finished my first week back at college in nine years. Yay me. Unfortunately, there's some collateral damage. Namely, my sports media "research" opportunities have dwindled pitifully.

I had a nice routine happening, shows that I found worthwhile and others not so much. Now that my days are spent enjoying a class on American Media and Cultural Institutions (Dr. Bob Pondillo is a pimp among professors, straight up) and being forced to endure ones on biology and "The Experience of Literature," (fuck off, I've been ordered to read "A Rose for Emily" FOUR TIMES NOW, find some new material) it's made me a bit nostalgic for the old media blitz. So, if I may, a brief discussion of the drill.

7:05 AM--"Mike and Mike in the Morning"
After seeing the wife off to work, it'd be onto the computer to look for work and write whilst Mike and Mike provided background. Honestly, I find these guys pleasant enough, even if they are the typical "fat guy/skinny guy" caricatures that are usually prevalent in our sporting discourse.

The funny thing is that, for a skinny metrosexual, Mike Greenberg is almost always portrayed as a guy with very remedial social skills who can't understand why people get up in arms when he does stupid shit. A recent discussion on cell-phone etiquette served as a prime example.

Greeny and another Little League parent were showing each other pictures of their children, and he simply takes it upon himself to begin rifling through the rest of the pics on her phone. And he was aghast that anyone would take offense to this.


I don't take pictures with my phone. (I barely have enough people willing to talk to me to bother MAKING CALLS with my phone, but that's another story.) If I did, however, I think I'd be making it very clear if I was allowing someone unfettered access to look at whatever they wanted. You'd think that it'd be the "fat oaf," Golic, who'd be this socially retarded, but no. Golic seems to have a little bit of a clue on how to deal with people.

You may be asking, what does this have to do with sports? The answer is, not much, and that's the big downfall of this show. Lots of times, discussions like this drag on for half an hour and recur throughout the show, especially on slow news days (which, these days at ESPN, are code for "Brett Favre hasn't taken his morning dump yet").

I used to listen to Mike and Mike until their signoff at 9 Central, until I found something else to enjoy starting at 8.

8:00 AM--The Dan Patrick Show

What really kicked off my interest in posting on this today was a phone call to 104.5 The Zone, the local sports station here in the Nashville area. The caller was telling Mark and Kevin, two of the three morning hosts (along with ex-Titan TE Frank Wycheck...more on him in a moment), that the Zone needed to dump Dan Patrick, whose show airs on a one-hour delay right after the Wakeup Zone. The caller called Dan "self-absorbed," which he may very well be. Never met him, can't testify.

But, honestly, Dan's show is exactly the kind of show I would love to do for a living. It's an ensemble piece. It's much more of a discussion between Dan and his staff (or the "Dan-ettes," as they're called by the boss). Three hours of one schmuck airing his opinions and rants gets boring really fast, especially if he wants to rehash the old stuff for people just tuning in. The back-and-forth between Dan, Seton, Paulie, Fritzy, and McLovin is occasionally thought-provoking and frequently funny.

That's the fun part about sports talk, being able to cut up with friends and co-workers and air divergent opinions without anyone taking it as a personal affront. Radio seems like a much easier medium on which to do that than the Internet, which serves as a haven for angry trolls emboldened by the anonymity of the keyboard. EWB and Bleacher Report, the other places on which I've talked sports, are essentially worthless, because most have hard-ons for their specific teams, and Lord help anyone with dissenting opinions.

And if you have DirecTV, by all means, get on The 101 and check out the new TV simulcast, especially during a commercial break. The recent day where Brooklyn Decker was in studio with the guys was well worth the price of admission, both for her sheer hotness and the obvious nervousness of the Dan-ettes.

(Oh, and back to Wycheck for a second. Great player...veeeeeeeeeeery iffy broadcaster. I heard him try to read a promo yesterday, and I seriously had to ask if he was drunk, he was stuttering so damn much. And today, not on the show. Hmmmm....)

12:00 PM--The Jim Rome Show
Usually, I'd only catch Rome if I was driving around and was listening to the Zone. And occasionally, he'd drive me to put on a CD.

I've discussed Rome before, and he's the guy I meant when I said that one guy talking to himself for three hours gets boring. His show is to radio what "Night at the Roxbury" and "The Ladies' Man" were to movies. A few minutes' worth of good material streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetched out to multiple hours.

And if Patrick is some of what is good about talk radio, Rome is a lot of what's bad about it. Much of the show is him reading e-mails and fielding phone calls from people who only want to complain. Ripping on players, coaches, other fans, other Rome callers and e-mailers, it's all fair game, and Rome won't let you on if you don't have something to bitch about. If you think sports talk radio is totally populated by angry trolls who'd rather kill the opposing team's quarterback than put their kids through college, you won't find much to refute that claim here.

Just today, Rome spent a good fifteen minutes reacting to an e-mail from an angry Detroiter who wanted to call Steve Perry (yes, Steve Perry of Journey) a "jackhole" for using the term "South Detroit" in the song "Don't Stop Believin'." Apparently, no one in "the D" uses the term "South Detroit," unless they're talking about Windsor, Ontario.

Granted, I agree with Rome for defending Perry, who's got one of the most bad-ass voices in music history. Detroit was getting big-upped in song, get over it. I was born in Lafayette, Indiana, and the closest we ever got to being name-checked was when my fellow Lafayette native Axl Rose compared the town to Auschwitz in an interview. Besides, Detroit's been relevant for two things in the last century: Motown and cars. Berry Gordy yanked Motown to L.A. in 1972, and the auto industry's on welfare. Just sayin'.

These are the kinds of people who get time in "The Jungle." These are Rome's people. Scary.

3:30 PM--Jim Rome is Burning, ESPN

If Rome's radio show is the "Ladies' Man" movie, his TV show is the original skit. Tight, focused, to the point, and still opinionated without being hateful.

Rome's not going as full-frontal snark on people as he once did to one Jim Everett (see picture above), and his interviewing, both on radio and TV, is better for it. Here, he lets the guests have as much say as they can in the time available. He usually has commentators on The Forum who have interesting takes (and also entertaining loons like Vincent Thomas), and during his Burns, he says what he needs to say and gets out, without feeling the need to fill three hours repeating everything at least thrice.

4:00 PM--Around the Horn, ESPN

I want Tony Reali's job. Seriously.

He gets paid to be a douche to a bunch of pompous sportswriters. Now, if someone would please remind Woody Paige that he is, in fact, not Gallagher, the show would be even more watchable.

From some articles I've read, it seems that back in its early Max Kellerman-hosted days, ATH had a bit more in the way of "intellectual" discussion, or what passes for it in the sports realm. I could dig that, but somehow I doubt ESPN will let many programs veer that way anymore. Well, unless they're hosted by Jeremy Schaap or Bob Ley.

4:30 PM--Pardon the Interruption
I love PTI's format. Covers a lot of topics, and doesn't linger on any one long enough to run it into the ground. When Mike and Tony are on together (which seems to happen about 23 times per year lately), you get a great rapport between the two.

The one nag that I have is that their ever-more-frequent guest hosts veer toward the older-than-Kornheiser demographic (Bob Ryan) or the terminally buffoonish (Dan LeRetard). Are there no sportswriters under the age of 50 who can put opinions together without seeming like they're auditioning for a sitcom?

Actually, that's a serious question. Sometimes it seems like ATH could use some too. Well, except Kevin Blackistone. He's the man.

Classes eat my morning, actual studying eats my afternoons. But, as I post this, maybe I can go catch ATH and see if Plaschke's on there to big up everything Los Angeles. Excuse me.

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