Monday, February 27, 2012

Top 10 (+1) Local Sports Radio Programs

I have spent too many hours listening to this stuff.  If they even breathe the words Cardinals I sit in my truck after I've parked in my driveway and squeeze every bit of details I can get out of 'em.  Its sad, but some of these shows I've been more faithful to follow than T.V. shows.  So I felt the need to sit down and rank each of them.  First of all, I ranked each by their show's listenability (just made that word up).  Then I rated each broadcaster by their talent level on a scale of 100 which appears in ( ) right after their name. 

11.  The Bertrand Berry Show on 1060: Bertrand Berry (12)  I love Bert.  The dude revived his career here.  But this show is dreadful.   A vast majority of his monologue is empty air.  I have yet to hear him say anything of value, and that includes when he talks about the Cards. The only reason he made the list is because there are only 11 shows to talk about.  This one bites hard.

10.  Doug and Wolf on 620: Doug Franz (32) and Ron Wolfley (52).  I really hate this show.  Between Franz's rediculous interview questions and Wolf's constant nonsensical chatter I actually am persuaded to listen to political talk radio.  I'm not kidding.  I can't listen to the show for longer than 60 seconds.  Franz has to be the worst radio broadcaster I've ever heard.  Yes, he's professional and yes he works hard.  I'm not condemning him for not trying or for being a jerk, which he's not.  I'm saying that the producers at 620 have no clue how to evaluate talent.  How many times after Doug has asked a question to a guest has there been an awkward silence immediately following because the poor guy is so perplexed by the stupidity of the question that he has no idea what to do with it?  Many times they will just one-word Doug and leave him looking rediculous.  It's so pitiful to hear.  He also has a condition which apparently forces him to constantly splinter apart what someone says to the point that Wolf has to call him an idiot for looking too deep into something.  Its like he's one of "those" reporters who has to get to the bottom of the story.  The problem is 9 times out of 10 there is no story.   You should understand that I actually love Wolf.  I think he’s a good icon in the community.  I just think he's great in small doses .  The problem is that there's just way too much of him.  If you listen to him for 10 minutes you might amass 30 seconds of good information.  The rest is just idioms and stories about gladiators.  (Remember, this is the show that replaced Gambo and Ash.  Great job 620.)

9.  Calling All Sports with Roc and Manuch on 1060: Mike Muraco (50) and Dan Manucci (50).  You ever hear the song "Blah Blah Blah" by Ke$ha?  Yeah, well this show has nothing to do with that song.  However, they could rename the show Blah blah blah.  This show isn't terrible.  It's not good either.  It's just meh. 

8.  Brad Cesmat (75)  The show is fine.  He has good stuff to say.  I’m not a huge fan, but when he’s on I listen and am mildly interested.

7.  The Fantasy Forum on 910: Barry Markson (60) and Chris Lewis (76).  Barry's okay.  He has the quality of the guy you can sit with and talk sports in the bar.  I don't hear him say a ton of high intellect stuff, but I'm not always looking for that.  He has a good radio voice though.  Chris is easily the more talented of the two.  He has great opinions and seems to see through the story to find the deeper meaning.  His only problem is that he doesn't have the voice for radio.  (Neither do I) That never bothers me that much as long as he has something to say and Chris usually does.  They let him sit in for Bickley from time to time and I think he does a good job. 

6.  Chuck Powell (and Vince) on nowhere:  Chuck Powell (85) and Vince something or other (aka. Ed McMahon) (18)  The show got canned and replaced by a really bad national radio show.  Chuck is easily the funniest dude I've ever heard on radio.  I couldn't see while I was driving sometimes, because I had tears building up from laughing so hard.  I almost ran off the road when he said, "Norv Turner?  That guy looks like his face caught fire and someone put it out with a track shoe!"  Okay, so maybe that's a tad mean, but I had to pull over to clear my eyes.  I still laugh hard when I think about it.  So maybe Chuck is a little too much to take for 3 hours.  I say, get him a one hour stint and let him go off.  It would rock.

5.  Bickley and MJ on 910: Dan Bickley (74) and Mike Jurecki (82).  Let’s face it, when you want to hear about the Cardinals there’s no better place to go than MJ.  He knows and talks to every one of the players, coaches, and members of management and does an amazing job of  reporting what he hears.  If I rated him for just Cards he’d be a 95.  He doesn’t quite have good solid footing on what they need to do as much as just stating where they are.  But that’s not a major factor.  He’s weak when it comes to other sports though.  As for Bickley, well, he’s a good sports writer and has a hell of a radio voice.  He smartly rides MJ’s coattails on the Cards, he does a very good job on the DBacks, but he is absolutely dreadful commenting on the Suns.  I don’t know what it is about him and the Suns, but he berates them to no end.  And that’s even when they’re doing great.  When they made that run through the playoffs in Amare’s last year, he was still dogging them.  Granted, they haven’t made great moves in forever.  But he has no balance when he talks about them.  I can’t listen to the show when they talk Suns.  It’s like he has some agenda against them rather than talking sensible. 

4.  Gambo and Burns on 620:  John Gambadoro (93) and Dave Burns (81).   The other half of the greatest sports talk show in Arizona history, Gambo is an icon.  There’s no one way to describe him.  Despite what many people misread about him, he has a great opinion.  He takes risks which no one else does.  Even if it means he gets into trouble with fans.  I love how he says exactly what he thinks.  Sure, there’s times when he goes waaaaaay out on a limb.  But that’s what Burns is there for, to real him in.  He’s matured a ton over the long years he’s been doing AZ sports.  His mixed metaphors have to be in the Arizona radio hall of fame.  “Throw the baby under the bus,” may be his greatest stroke of accidental genius.  And even when he says something dumb, he doesn’t take himself serious enough to try to defend himself.  He’s the guy everyone loves to argue with.  Burns is the guy that tries too hard.  When he’s calm and just talks sports, he’s pretty good.  When he tries to push a point, its hard to listen to.  Still, the guy is one of the better broadcasters on sports radio.  They make a good team.

3.  Bob Kemp on 1060: Bob Kemp (90).  If… no, when I become the owner of the Cards, one of my first hires is going to be Bob Kemp.  He is hands down the best opinioned guy in sports radio.  Nationally, I’d rank him just below Colin Cowherd.  His analysis of football is above MJ’s.  He can actually assess the problem and give two or three points of fixing it.  He’s a baseball genius.  He has a solid stance on the Suns.  His one glaring weakness is that he’s so dang cranky.  Have you ever listened to callers on his show?  Its like watching some poor schmuck walk right in front of the firing squad completely unawares.  For years I’ve wondered what poor saps would call into that show to actually try to add something.  The problem is Bob can’t stand anyone who is less intelligent than he is which leaves 97% of the population in trouble.  I’ll never understand why he takes callers.  It’s painful to listen to.  They’ve tried to put somebody with him to try to buffer his rough edges, but to little avail.  He’s just a loner broadcaster and they should leave him alone.  And not let anyone call in.

2.  Russ Bliss and the Red Zone on 1060:  Russ Bliss (94).   For the life of me I can’t figure out why this guy doesn’t have a full time show.  If you think this guy is a one trick pony with fantasy football you are gravely mistaken.  I’ve heard him talk about many subjects on the side and his opinion ranks right up there with Bob Kemp.  The problem is that his show is strictly fantasy football so you don’t get to hear him talk about it.  As for his show, it’s easily the best fantasy football one on local or national.  I challenge anyone to find a guy that has his stuff together better than Russ.  Every week he has each of the players ranked by position and he’s usually nails with his predictions.  Speaking as a guy who’s first draft pick ever was Chris Warren (yeah, that’s right.  Look him up) I can tell you this guy is the best.  He’s patient with his callers.  He’s extremely generous with his insight.  And he’s just a freaking nice guy.  I can’t recall a single minute of his show that was wasted on frivolous chatter.  He runs a flawless show.  I wish someone would give him a full time shot. 

1.  Gambo and Ash formerly on 620 and 910:  John Gambadoro (93) and Mark Asher (92).  Those rankings don’t quite speak to how good this show actually was.  When they were together the show was a 97.  Its one of those shows that the parts don’t add up to the sum.  They just had that perfect mix of chemistry.  The shows greatest asset was that they stayed away from all the dumb radio gimmicks.  It was like you were sitting in a bar and talking sports with some of the guys.  Only these guys actually talked to Larry Fitzgerald that morning.  Or interviewed Steve Nash after a big win.  They had strong opinions, but they guarded each other well from going too far with it.  You could say Gambo was the storm and Ash was the calm.  They were also extremely good at interviews.  I remember the day they interviewed Pete Rose and talked baseball forever.  I sat in the parking lot of some abandoned shopping mall and just soaked it all up.  They later took heat for not asking him if he cheated on baseball.  I was furious, because everyone was missing the fact that it was one of the better interviews I’ve heard.  Another time Bob Costas came on and raved about their preparation for their show.  I didn’t know how much a part of my life they’d become until they killed the show.  Talk radio after three blows hard now.  620 gave some weak reason for firing Ash.  They said they wanted to “mix things up”.  Well if by “mixing things up” they meant “killing the best sports talk show in Arizona history” then I’d say mission accomplished. 

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