Sports talk radio is my preferred source of entertainment. As a regular New York radio listener (WFAN) of over 20 years, I think I can differentiate good radio from a snooze fest. The following are a list of traits that make for a really crappy call. I’m sure I missed a few, so add them in the comments.
1. Don’t tell us what you are going to do. Example: “I’m going to make a short point about the Mets then I’m going to hang up and listen to your answer”. Old men always start calls in this fashion, as if any sudden moves might startle the audience. Imagine if a comedian stepped on stage and the first thing he said is “I’ll tell a few jokes, then I’ll listen for your laughter”. Why not break it down further and describe your itinerary for the next two days? Yes, Seinfeld mentioned this point on air years ago.
2. Nobody cares who the hell you are. The fact you are a long time listener, first time caller, season ticket holder, or fan of a team is irrelevant. Your opinion means jack, so spit it out already. If there’s a reason for asking, the host will ask. Playing or coaching high school baseball does not mean you know a damn thing about pro sports.
3. Don’t call in with “news”. So your friend’s cousin who’s a waiter in the Catskills claims he overheard the manager of the Yankees say he won’t be back next year. That doesn’t make it true even if it really did happen. I’m not famous, but I give jerky answers to strangers all the time. Learn to mind your own business.
4. Don’t produce the show. Wow, did you really talk to a call screener off the air? Fantastic! You da man now, dog. Just don’t tell us about it. Don’t commend him/her on a good job. Please make believe it never happened. Can you really hear an unedited version of the show in the background? Does the host know he has to take a commercial break soon? Just ask your stupid question and blog about the experience later you Rupert Pupkin wannabe.
5. Don’t be an attention whore. So you ignored point #4 and proceeded to tell the host all about your conversation with the call screener. “As I was telling Joe your screener a few minutes ago, if the Cowboys win this week, I’ll run across the Brooklyn Bridge naked tomorrow.” Really dude? This includes any lame bet you offer the show, even if it’s for charity. The show isn’t about you; it isn’t even about the lame ass morning hosts who bet each other. What starts with shitty bets ends up with some “fat guy from Jersey” (right Norman?) running on the field during play. Let’s enjoy the big game for a change.
6. Don’t call back to remind us. “Hey Steve, Remember me? I’m the guy who called and said the Padres would win the division this year”. What if the host did remember, do you think the millions of listeners remember? Once again, it’s not about you. Each team has it’s fans. Your team winning once in the last 20 years doesn’t make you some great prognosticator. Every fan in every sport has a “feeling”. It’s called “hope” and is what sells tickets, sells coke, and fills out betting slips.
7. Kick the Coke habit. Drunks snore when it’s their time to talk. That’s funny stuff. Cokeheads blabbering away with their 4 A.M post nasal drip aren’t funny. Everyone except the naive overnight call screener knows your coked up. Go ramble to some help line and get the treatment you need.
8. Your gambling addiction is not good radio. The fix is not IN because your team didn’t cover the spread. The fact that you can’t enjoy a game without calling your bookie makes you a loser. Bet your money on the stock market where the fix really is IN.
9. Don’t continue the conversation from another show. Every host comes up with a few filler topics for a slow news day. Discussing the 6 greatest Yankee outfielders of all time sure was exciting during afternoon drive time. Now drop the subject. If you didn’t get on air to read your list, tough noogies. Same goes if another host disagreed with you and cut you off. What happens in midday stays in midday. Don’t call the overnight guy talking crap about another host.
10. Don’t talk crap about other callers. News for you chief, you suck too. A talk show has millions of listeners. Every minute 10,000 radios are turned on or off. You bitching about another caller is worse than dead air for ratings. If you really are a good call you’ll get on the air almost immediately. But most callers suck, such is life on the radio. That’s why the pecking order goes as follows:
- Interviews with athletes.
- Interview with other sports reporters.
- Witty banter with the producer or update guy.
- Safe chat with regular callers as filler.
- Taking a chance on some new caller who waited 3 hours just to shout profanities once they hear themselves on the air. (Duh, what’s a delay?)
11. Bring something to the table that isn’t a turd. By “turd” I mean any shitty agenda you are pushing. It taints your cause, even if what you say is true. Be upfront and tell the screener what your agenda is. Let him/her make the call to allow your feces on air. Some common agenda examples:
- Attacking the opposing team out of context to try and get a rise from their fans: Derek Jeter wouldn’t even start on any other major league team. The Mets ownership doesn’t want to win.
- Defending the undefendable : People called Michael Vick a bad guy because they’re racist. Isiah Thomas did a good job until he was framed in court.
- Promoting websites, competing radio stations, or restaurants: We all recognize spammers, even on the radio.
- Inside jokes: Asking if the Jets drafted your friend is lame. So is anything from mikefrancesa.com. I find the site funny too, but let’s keep it there.
- Ambushing the host with 10 pages of stats to prove they know less than you: Asking the host if he knows the lifetime on base percentage of some mediocre player doesn’t win your argument. It makes you an a-hole who would be better off reading names out of the phone book to the few remaining listeners.
- Any political manure: We all know the “teabaggers” are just the same old republicans trying to stir up some bogus grassroots support in an attempt to reinvent themselves. False patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. I too have a list of old men I’d love to see tarred and feathered in G.O.B.P oil. But putting down Obama, Bush, or any other political figure won’t change my vote and hopefully your vote either. Political talk radio is down the dial, let’s keep it there please.