I listen to the radio occasionally on my way to/from work. Usually my radio listening is a very narrow scope – either 96.9 MIX FM, 98.7 The Peak FM, Sports 620 KTAR AM, or Xtra Sports 910 AM.
Now, obviously the first two are music stations, while the latter two are sports-talk – the focus of this post.
It’s just a shame that the Valley has a dearth of sports-talk stations. 620, 910, and “The Fan” 1060 are the only three out there. 620 is the ESPN affiliate, 910 is the Fox Sports affiliate, and 1060 is the Sporting News affiliate (“who?” you ask… yeah, yeah, I know.)
Now, I used to love getting up in the early morning driving to work and listening to Mike and Mike in the morning on Sports 620. (Now I have to get up early and turn on ESPN2 on TV…) At the beginning of the year, Sports 620 instead brought in two guys who are “passable” – Doug Franz and Ron Wolfley. And after listening to them for most of the year (albeit only about 30-45 min worth each weekday), I think they’re ok. I have more respect for Wolfley because he was an All-Pro NFL player for many years, and because the chemistry between the two co-hosts is pretty remarkable.
I love to listen after 9am for Colin Cowherd – this is an actual (tape delayed) feed from ESPN directly for the next four hours. Colin is astounding. He’s good, he doesn’t hold back, and he’s very, very knowledgeable. He “gets it” on many levels.
Then Sports 620 follows that class act up with … whatever you want to call them – these two hosts jumped ship from Xtra Sports 910 to Sports 620 at the beginning of the year as well, Jon Gambadoro and Mark Asher. Neither of them really played any professional sports, though Gambo actually played high school baseball. (Asher admitted earlier in the year to being a professional model when he was younger… you can extrapolate from there.) The tag line for their show is “Everyone has opinions, theirs just mean something.”
The difficultly in listening to these two mouthpieces for the Cardinals/Diamondbacks/Suns is that even though they’ve got a pretty loyal following here in the Valley, their opinions aren’t actually all that meaningful – many times it’s hard to tell if what they say is really their own or just PR feed from one of the big three (Cards/Dbacks/Suns) instead. Good examples of this are when they do their predictions of things like the NCAA March Madness, NBA games, or talking player trades. Their failures on all these are out for anyone to see at any time on the radio’s website blogs. Gambo has recently stopped predicting trades because he’s been getting inside information from the big three, so he doesn’t want to get his source in trouble.
Mark Asher by himself (when Gambadoro is on vacation or traveling) is actually the worse of the two hosts. I honestly believe that Gambadoro carries Asher on many a day in the show, because Asher is just relatively boring. Gambadoro, at least, brings an energy to the show that Asher lacks – this is probably due to his New York upbringing, of which he is not ashamed of mentioning. But both hosts have a specific disdain for any college not named “ASU” (even Asher’s alma mater NAU gets the “suck” treatment), which completely plays to the Valley radio. So, they get props for “knowing their audience”, but they also alienate listeners on almost a daily basis.
Between 1pm and 3pm though, if I’m listening to the radio, though, I switch over to Xtra Sports 910. Why? Because Dan Patrick has his show during that time frame. Dan Patrick, formerly of ESPN Radio and ESPN itself, is now going solo. His radio show during the afternoons was THE program to listen to and – here’s the fun part – he used to regularly BEAT Gambo and Ash in the afternoon ratings when 620 had his syndicated radio on at the same time as Xtra Sports 910’s Gambo and Ash. Maybe it’s because he’s just good. Or maybe it’s because he’s really knowledgeable about sports on a National level, not just the ASU-hype that 620 likes to pride itself in.
But the Idiot that takes the cake is “Sportsline 620’s” Dave Burns. His show follows the Gambo and Ash show daily, but people also know that Burns also has to do the sports updates every 20 minutes DURING the Gambo and Ash show. (Gambo has mentioned several times on air of what he thinks of Burns, especially when Burns, in the span of the one minute he has to make the updates, manages to mangle player names, mispronounce locations, or completely be off base with scores. Usually Gambo says this in jest, but the listeners out there really do get tired of Burns’ half-hearted, lazy reporting.)
Usually I turn this self-proclaimed “expert” off when he comes on. It’s not hard. The CD button is easily accessible. To say that this guy is annoying is being generous. If you listen to him talk for the first 5-10 minutes of his show, you can tell right off several things:
- He likes to hear himself talk
- He rephrases his major topic (or two, if he’s lucky to have two) at least four times while still managing not to add anything new to it
- He sounds authoritative on all subjects, but his words betray him
- He mentions the name of his radio show at least 10 times in the first 10 minutes in shameless self-promotion.
- He likes to hear himself talk
Normally, this is just enough to either turn him off or listen in order to mock him (a la Rocky Horror Picture Show). However, last night was exceptionally bad enough that I have now declared Dave Burns to officially be an idiot. Here’s why:
- He claimed that the Olympics were like watching the Transformers movie – “It was great, but you can’t remember anything 15 minutes after watching it.”
- He believes that the idea of more kids signing up for swimming due to Michael Phelps’ performance is “laughable”.
- He has distilled the Olympics into a generic ratings stunt – he claims that they are a ratings hit because “a) There’s nothing else on TV due to the NFL not being in season, the NBA not being in season, and MLB not having drama until September, and b) Men and women watch together because men want to watch someone win and lose while women just want to watch” gymnastics, diving, and those kind of sports. (I paraphrase the examples – I wasn’t writing down his exact words fast enough, but he did go through some examples.)
- Burns admits on the radio that he is “good friends” with Dan Bickley, the idiot columnist for the Arizona Republic.
I beg to differ – the average joe can watch any number of movies and will remember SOMETHING about those movies, for better or worse, 15 minutes after watching them. The Olympics always leaves a bigger impression, again for better or worse, than a movie does, and the average joe will remember SOMETHING about the Olympics.
Not a couple of hours earlier on the same radio station, a caller in to Gambo and Ash’s show identified himself as a former member of USA Swimming in California. He said that after the ’04 Olympics, participation in USA Swimming jumped over 100% in California alone, and across the country participation was extremely high. And that’s just USA Swimming. Who knows about all the private, YMCA, or school clubs as well.
Certainly not The Idiot.
Wow, if that’s not a sexist comment, I don’t know what is. Men don’t just want to watch someone win and someone lose, and women don’t just tune in to watch gymnastics.
Now, for some people across the country – yes, they watch because there is nothing else more compelling on (CNN? no thanks…). For others, maybe this IS more compelling TV to watch – nation vs. nation, the world vs. the U.S.A. How can drama get more down to earth than the Russian (from Russia) and Georgian (who hail from Brazil) beach volleyball teams going at it first on the court, then in the post-game press conference afterwards? How about the judo match between Russian and Georgia athletes, where people are getting tossed around and punched?
Burns fails miserably to realise that the Olympics are not JUST about sport, but also about DRAMA. And that’s why the ratings are so high, and that’s why it’s Must Watch TV.
I’ve ranted about Bickley’s uninformed, lackadaisical, inciteful, poorly written journalism before. He’s just been moved to Idiot #2 for now. Or maybe #1A.
The only thankful part of Dave Burns is that his show is the one that gets pre-empted for Dbacks baseball games, or Suns games if it’s that season. There have been many a time where I’ll tune in to 620 and he’ll have exactly 15 minutes before they cut to the pre-game warmup show for the Dbacks or the Suns. That’s when it’s humorous to hear him try to cram some important topic of the day into the 8 or so minutes he actually has in between the top-of-the-hour sports update and the commercial break that has to take place around 12-13 minutes after the hour. 🙂
Overall, though, that 15 minutes of humor on a less-than-regular basis is not enough to overcome the fact that he’s a boorish, self-serving radio host in a timeslot that is close to the death knell of time slots (only the overnight 1am-4am slot is worse). There’s a reason why he’s stuck in that time slot, he just hasn’t figured it out yet.