Sports Talk Radio – Time For A Nap

An article by posted on October 27, 2009

Sports talk radio has gotten so boring in New York, that I rarely listen anymore.  Five minutes of Mike Francesa is too much.  Believe it or not, I’d rather listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

As history has recorded, July 1, 1987 marked the birth of WFAN and 24 hour sports talk radio.  At 3:00 PM on 1050 AM radio, Suzyn Waldman signed on and was the first voice heard.  Other “originals”, included Greg Gumbel, Jim Lampley, Art Shamsky, Howie Rose, and Steve Somers.  Of course, sports talk radio has a much longer history than 1987.

I can remember as a 13 year old, in 1969, listening to WMCA (after it had changed from “The Good Guys -top 40 music). Jack Spector, Ed Baer, and John Sterling (yes, the Yankee broadcaster) had shows.  I remember calling in to Ed Baer, one Saturday afternoon, and talking about the Cazzie Russell/Dave Stallworth controversy as to who should start for Knicks.  After I made my witty and profound argument for Stallworth, I closed with “and the Jets and Giants in the Super Bowl this year”.

All time great broadcasters, Bill Mazer (WHN) and Marty Glickman (WNEW), also had late night shows.  Remember Art Rust Jr. on WABC?  When he talked about the Yankees, he would preface his remarks by saying “In the big ball yard in the Bronx”.  Rust Jr., a black man born in Harlem, also was an accomplished author.  His first book, published in 1976, controversially titled “Get That Nigger Off The Field”, explored the rocky beginnings of blacks in baseball.

Many of the people named above, whom younger fans have never heard of, were icons in the sports media world back in the 1960′s and 70′s. Now it’s all about Mike Francesa, and Joe Benigno, and their unbearable, repetitive rants.  It’s bad enough to listen to three hours of Benigno and Roberts in the morning, but to follow that up with five hours of Mike Francesa is downright exhausting.

The only person I can listen to is Steve Somers, aka the Schmoozer.  When he is on the air, during a rain delay, or following a Mets game, it is a pleasure and so entertaining to hear his long monologue about the “Metropolitans”.  He has longer conversations with the callers than anyone else, mostly because there are personal stories behind the drudgery of the same news being repeated.  And Somers, has a subtle sarcasm that if you understand it, makes it hilarious.

Here is my suggestion to WFAN.  Clean house.  Fire virtually everyone except for Steve Somers and a few others (like the traffic girl).  Find some new, fresh voices.  Be more creative and innovative, like bringing in different fans for a daily show.  Run a trial for the overnight show, and if it works, implement it during the 10 AM show.

Please; I’m already tired of Limbaugh and Hannity.

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