Monday, September 10, 2012

Sports talk radio leaves a lot to be desired

I like sports and when I listen to the radio, I listen to a lot of sports talk radio. And boy, I sure do hate a lot of it. Specifically, I hate the shows that in their effort to stand out from the crowd end up sounding like every other show.
The kind that starts with some old heavy meatal music (think of songs like "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne; nine times out of ten, it is "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne). Then the host introduces himself and announces that his show is "hard-hitting" and "edgy". That makes me imagine something like a Mike Wallace investigative report produced by David Lynch but what he's trying to do is give you the impression that listening to his show is like participating in an actual sports activity. He drives this home by telling prospective callers to "bring it!" and "get after it!". Nobody ever says exactly what "it" is, but the implication is that "it" is good and always needs to be brung and gotten after. Really, "it" doesn't mean anything at all and this is the equivalent of a musical artist constantly telling the crowd to "make some noise".
Hey, you're the one with the professional
sound system. We bought tickets to
sit here and watch YOU make the noise.
Often, the shows themselves will have a sports-centric name like "The Huddle"or "The Dugout" or "The Penalty Box". The host of the show sometimes has a hard-hitting and edgy nickname, like "Rock" or "Brick". Here in Tampa Bay, we have "The Big Dog", who proves his hard-hittingness and edginess by yelling a lot and then hanging up on people who disagree with his opinions.
After all the introductions are out of the way, discussion usually revolves around the same three topics, at least here in Tampa Bay:
  1. What about the Buccaneers? - Depending on their last game, they're either hopeless (if the last game was a loss) or the sky is the limit (if the last game was a win). This even applies to pre-season games, when the starters spend most of the game on the sidelines watching young men who are more likely to make a bigger impact in the car washing industry than the NFL. The callers "bring it", establishing their credibility by informing the host that they've been "watching film", which means they record the games on tv and watch them again. If training camp is still going on, they go out to watch the players playing catch in shorts and t-shirts and call in to report that "(Insert player name here) looks really good out there." It should be noted that about the only people who wouldn't look "really good out there" under those conditions are either already washing cars or calling into sports talk radio stations.
  2. The Rays attendance - What to do about the Rays problems drawing fans to games at Tropicana Field is a seemingly endless topic of discussion, which is ridiculous since the answer is simple: all they need to do is build a new ballpark that is so huge that it is within a 15 minute drive of everyone who lives in the Tampa Bay area. Granted, that wouldn't solve the issue overnight as it currently takes at least a half hour to drive between any two points in Tampa Bay regardless of distance, but I'm sure the local government could resolve that by eliminating 400 or so of their least essential traffic signals.
  3. College Football (I) - There should or should not be a playoff system to determine a champion and (II) you're biased on behalf of the (Gators/Seminoles) at the expense of the (Seminoles/Gators) and therefor, have no idea what the hell you're talking about.
That's not to say there isn't entertainment value in listening to the discussion of these topics; there is! But the purveyors shouldn't attempt to present it as more than what it is, which is a show like this...

The opening notes of Yoko Ono's "O'Wind (Body Is the Scar of Your Mind)" play before being spoken over by an announcer
ANNOUNCER: Okay, sports freaks! It's time for hard hitting and edgy sports talk, so get after it and bring it. This is "The Shower Drain"! And now here's your host, Crispin Glover!
CRISPIN GLOVER: (47 seconds of silence)
ANNOUNCER: Uh, "The Shower Drain" is sponsored by The Wing...
CRISPIN GLOVER: (Screams) SPOOOOORRRRRRRTS! I am the host of this program and here is my co-host, a blind dwarf midget named Duncan who speaks backward.
DUNCAN: Strops ekil I.
CRISPIN GLOVER: Let's open the phone lines. Call in and share your opinion about our topic: Do you like my necklace made of real human baby skulls that I purchased from the great-great grandson of an 18th century Gypsy conjurer?
DUNCAN: Cipot s'yadretsey saw tahT.
CRIPSIN GLOVER: Duncan, I will rend you of your spleen! Is the caller there?
CALLER: Hello? First time caller and I'm psyched about the Bucs! I want to talk about Josh Freeman. Do you think this is a make-or-break year for him?
CRISPIN GLOVER: I think you will find the answer to your query in a short film I made titled "Atrophy", which is 45 minutes long and consists of black and white footage of an ant crawling in concentric circles across the eyeball of a cadaver.
CALLER: Uhhhh...what?
CRISPIN GLOVER: (Sighs) Obviously the statement I'm making with this film is that this is Freeman's third season and he needs to show improvement in the form of consistent play if he's to be the long-term answer for the Bucs at quarterback, and that all hinges on how quickly he assimilates offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan's schemes. COME ON!!!!
DUNCAN: Taht swonk ydobyreve, huD.
CALLER: Oh. Um, thanks.

I will continue to listen to sports talk radio and I will continue to frequently be annoyed and disappointed by what I hear, but I would never miss a single episode of that show.

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