Sports Talk Radio: Why do They Sound Like Tabloids?

I do a lot of driving. Lately more than usual. All this time on the road allows me to become intimate with my Satellite radio subscription, specially with the ESPN channel. I have found it increasingly difficult to listen to sports talk on ESPN Radio.

Out of all of their nationally syndicated shows, I would say that Mike and Mike is probably the worst to listen to. Granted, I complain about it and still tune in because I can’t stand to listen to the same Top 30 pop songs on a loop or the same songs that get played throughout SiriusXM. I actually get a laugh out of listening to Mike and Mike because they pretend to take a strong opinionated stand on issues, but they are probably the safest and least controversial show and hosts on the network. I find that baffling because Mike Greenberg is a legitimate journalist. The format of the show doesn’t seem to affect the ratings as they seem to be doing well and at 5 am I guess it’s better than nothing.

The Herd is a step up and for a while it was my favorite show to listen to, but after a while you realize that Colin thinks he’s right 99.99% of the time and he loves to listen to himself talk. The comparison that Le Batard made on his show regarding Cowherd is probably accurate: He’s the guy that likes to look at himself in the mirror during sex (more so than worrying about his partner). I got a chuckle out of that.

I still enjoy listening to SVP and Russillo, but I heard something today that kind of annoyed me. It was regarding Johnny Football and his rehab stint. They were discussing the possible reasons for his stint in rehab and happened to mention that pictures of someone with a rolled up dollar bill coming out of a bathroom should be a sign of the drugs with which he is struggling. OK, maybe he’s a coke head. I don’t care. He checked himself into rehab (or was forced). Are you a journalist or are you running a tabloid and want to create topics on speculation. He is a public figure, but that does not give me or you the right to badger him about his private life. Sure, as a reporter you are allowed to ask him about private issues that have come into public view. Guess what? He can tell you that it’s no one’s business and that would be a perfectly good answer. It isn’t the answer reporters like, but just as you have the right to ask the question so too does Manziel have the right to not comment.

This brings me to Dan Le Batard and Stugotz. I laugh hysterically during their broadcast. Sometimes I don’t laugh, but instead become introspective. Dan and Stu broach subjects that have nothing to do with sports and everything to do with sports. The one thing they have in common is relevance. Most of their listeners call or text to let them know what a horrible show they run and to badger them about the fact that they are a sports talk radio show that puts “sports talk” on the back burner. And for all their great topics of conversation, they’ll bring up something ridiculous (usually Stu) that makes you scratch your head. I have to say though, even those moments don’t detract from the quality of the show. I may just be do exhausted to notice as the show comes on in the afternoons. I also enjoy when Bomani Jones joins them on Wednesdays. I enjoy the show because many a time they’ll touch on social issues that manifest themselves through sports. Issues that the other shows won’t touch because those shows would rather speculate on whether Johnny Manziel checked into rehab for coke… or is it alcohol? Maybe he was smoking a little weed with Ricky Williams. The show discusses race, sex and anything under the sun. Why? These are important topics that become public events when they involve a professional athlete. Why not cover them? I understand your passion about X’s and O’s, but listen up Joey, you are a balding 45 year old with a bad comb over and a beer gut you’ve been nursing since your mid 20’s. You never were remotely close to being an athlete, so quit it with the X’s and O’s argument. Oh, you were an athlete? My argument still stands. Life and sports are more than just drawing up plays or discussing a missed field goal when instead your team should have gone for it on 4th and 2 inside the Red zone. how about the more pressing issues, such as the smoke and mirrors known as the “student-athlete” defense used by the NCAA in order to keep from paying their cash cows? How about domestic violence and drug abuse and TBI and homophobia? All these topics are not “sports” topics, but they are part of the fabric of this country and of the sports we watch. Le Batard and Stugotz is more of a variety show that sometimes discusses sports. And when they do discuss sports, their views tend to be more controversial than most. I think this one has a bit of everything. Hopefully they won’t change the format and force me to find something else to listen to.

OK, well, Sweet 16 starts today (its past midnight)! I expect the play to be horrible, but close, competitive games make it worth watching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *