Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Lifetime Contract To Suck On Sports Radio

One aspect of the NYC metro area that exceeds anything around DC is in sports radio. Outside of Tony Kornheiser, WTEM (could its website be any busier?) offers a horrendous selection of sports personalities. Tony's show is excellent and it's not just because of what's around here for comparison. His humor, guests (especially Bob Ryan), and pop culture talk make for a nice combination. Though a little more sports knowledge would be nice, it's not a deal breaker.

Outside of Tony, WTEM airs ESPN Radio for the morning drive which was already documented in this blog entry. Dan Patrick gets on the mic after Tony, but he just tries too hard in creating conflict with his guests when there is none. There's also lots of Redskins talk and some guys who host after 5, but I never turn on AM for the drive home so I can't say for them.

I can't believe they pay me to suck so bad.

Despite these unlistenable (just go with it) hosts, the worst sports radio host in history (and the future) is John Thompson. The former G'town coach can coach ball, but he can't host a show to save his life. I don't have any issues with the sound of his voice. I just have an issue with what I hear out of it. Just to avoid any sound of his voice, even for a second, I won't even go by the 980 preset when he's on. Instead, I'll just go back the other way because it's just not worth the risk of wasting any of my life. And the worst part of WTEM and John Thompson is that he just signed a freakin' lifetime contract - to presumably stop any legit sports radio from airing between 3 and 5 PM. I know PR tends to stretch the truth, but this release must have been written by someone who doesn't have ears.

While he knows the game of basketball, he's not good at talking about it. When he tries talking about other sports it's just awful because he knows so little and forces us to listen to a rambling man. He asks questions to his guests that insult them and the listeners. Here's a paraphrased transcript that you'd typically hear on his show - in this case he's talking to, oh, I don't know, MD head football coach Ralph Friedgen.

I'm laughing all the way to the bank.

John Thompson (JT): Welcome back to the John Thompson show. I'm your host, John Thompson. Oh really? I wasn't sure if a show named after you would be hosted by you or that you'd actually speak on your own show or that people in the DC area wouldn't know the sound of your voice. I'm here with Rick "Doc" Walker and Smokin' Al Koken getting ready to talk a little Maryland Football.

(On a side note, I feel bad for Walker and Koken who have to answer Thompson's elementary questions and put up with his dumbing-down of topics. I don't listen enough to know if they're any good on the show, but I do know that Walker tries to overspeak during football game broadcasts.)

I hope nobody realizes how bad this show is. And yes, I'm getting by on my nickname.

Rick Walker (RW): I'm ready to go coach.

Al Koken (AK): It was a rough year so let's see what he has to say.

JT: And now we've got the head coach of the Maryland football program, Mr. Ralph Friedgen, the Fridge. Welcome to the show. I almost forgot to mention that JT speaks so slowly, it's as if he tries doing a 2-hour broadcast by stretching 45 minutes worth of content.

Ralph Friedgen (RF): Thanks coach for having me.

JT: Now coach Friedgen, your team didn't win all of its games last year. What do you think will happen next year? Ummm, coach, only one team won all of its games last years. Do you know anything about good questions?

RF: (generic coach speak)

JT: This is John Thompson and we're here with the head coach of the football team out there in College Park, the Fridge, Ralph Friedgen. JT has a most enjoyable habit of giving a programming ID every 3 minutes. Now coach, tell me about your recruits. What do you think they'll do for you this year? I'm giving JT a little too much credit for even asking these questions.

RF: (generic coach speak)

JT: You're listening to the John Thompson show, here on sportstalk 980. We're talking to the main man at Maryland, Ralph "the fridge" Friedgen.

Has it already been a whole 3 minutes since I last told you what you're listening too?

RW: Hey coach, this is Doc Walker, I'm a painfully average host of any TV or radio shows and never tell the viewer something that isn't already known, but somehow I'm on lots of different outlets. How will losing Vernon Davis hurt you this year? It was Walker who, in the middle of a great play by Davis this year, interrupted the play-by-play and just kept saying "Cyborg, cyborg, cyborg". It really sounded as strange as it reads.

RF: (generic coach speak)

JT: Well thanks coach Friedgen for joining us here today on WTEM sportstalk 980. Now it's time to talk a little baseball. The ol'pastime. Now tell me Al, we've got the Nationals here in Washington D.C. and the Orioles in Baltimore. Are they looking good this year? Explain to me this whole Sammy Sosa deal. Is he a good player? DC is having some trouble with the stadium so what's the latest with that? In the game of baseball, what does it mean when someone hits a triple?

AK: (does his best to answer the elementary school questions with elementary school answers so JT doesn't get overwhelmed)

JT: This is John Thompson, on sportstalk 980, WTEM. Here in Washington D.C. I'm here with Smokin' Al Koken and Doc Walker and we're talking a little baseball here.

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