Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Everyone Should Pretend Nothing (was said), and Local Sports Talk Grades

Its been just over a week since Mike Greenberg subconsciously referred to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as Martin Luther Coon, Jr. Day, and still no suspension from ESPN. Real shocker.

In light of the way they’ve dealt with controversy in the past, don’t hold your breath waiting for that little twerp to be kicked off the air; he’s white and he’s Jewish-apparently the prerequisites at ESPN for having carte blanche with your mouth.

It took the hypocritical network almost two weeks to suspend Barbaro Jacobson (white and Jewish) after her drunken tirade, ironically enough, at a Mike and Mike Roast, where they were celebrating 8 years of horseshit, vanilla radio.

Only after intense pressure from some of the religious right, did ESPN put their horse in the stable for a week, for her "Fuck Notre Dame, Fuck Jesus" performance in Atlantic City two years ago.

ESPN, however, acts more swiftly when you’re just one of their peons, and/or one of their ‘dumb, white’ ex-athletes, and not one of their squeaky-clean morning drive hosts. Take for instance, Bob Griese, who responded to a NASCAR promo of the Top 5 drivers, and the whereabouts of Juan Pablo Montoya by answering, “He’s out having a taco.”

Griese was suspended two days later, forced to apologize twice, and didn’t work his scheduled game the following weekend. All because he jokingly said that a Columbian born NASCAR driver might’ve been out having a taco. You know, sort of like Jeff Gordon might’ve been out having a cheeseburger and fries.

Black journalist Jemele Hill was suspended in 2008 for writing a column in which she compared rooting for the Boston Celtics to rooting for Hitler. Not that we understand the analogy, nor do we agree with whatever the fuck she was trying to say, but nevertheless, ESPN dropped the hammer on her immediately.

The real problem with Greenberg from our point of view is that there is NO WAY you can accidentally say Coon instead of King, unless of course you’ve jokingly said it before, and/or it’s in your subconscious. There is no doubt that he did not mean to say what he did, but that expression, Martin Luther Coon Jr, had to have been in his head for sometime, and that’s the problem as far as we’re concerned, when it comes to ESPN’s sweeping it under the rug.

Funny too, is the deafening silence emitted from all of ESPN’s employees. Especially that of Greenberg’s fellow Northwestern graduate Michael Wilbon. A lightning rod for racial inequalities, who has been extremely vocal about his opinion of the Rooney Rule, among other things. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/10/AR2007041001891.html

Maybe like the rest of the hypocrites at the 24 hour sports network, Wilbon is colorblind when it comes to critiquing one of his own. Especially if PTI contract negotiations are around the corner.

Someone who has not been silent is former ESPN employee Jason Whitlock, who has never been one to tow the company line. His opinion piece on this story is the type of journalism that led ESPN to fire him in the first place. You know, the “truth hurts” type of reporting.

Whitlock wrote, It's mind blowing that ESPN's Mike Greenberg could accidentally say "Martin Luther Coon" on national radio and TV on Martin Luther King's national holiday and ESPN take no punitive action.

I don't have any doubt that Greenberg regrets his mistake. I don't think his error necessarily paints Greenberg as a bigot. I don't think Greenberg should lose his job. But he should be required to do more than offer up a weak written apology. A short, paid suspension was warranted.

My tongue slips all the time. It's hard for me to fathom the King to Coon slip. King to Queen, King to Ding, King to Bling and King to Ring I totally get. King to Coon is off the table.

Greenberg has no discernible talent as a radio talk show host. ESPN pays him to say nothing and keep the "Mike and Mike" brand as non-controversial as humanly possible. He screwed up. “

We couldn’t have put it better.

Local sports talk 1067 The Fan is about 6 months into their all sports format, and it will be interesting to see how some of their new programming will fair moving forward without the luxury of talking football and/or Redskins non-stop.

The Sports Junkies, who continue to carry their own and actually sound like they’ve been there before, are the backbone for a station that appears to be searching for an identity. The additions of both the Mike Wise and Lavar Arrington Shows, leaves one to wonder at times if you’re listening to sports talk radio, or an audition for Revenge of The Nerds Part 3.

The Sports Junkies- who are basically veterans to this game, and who got into this business via a grass roots effort of local cable TV, audition tapes, and “team” unity- Chad Dukes, cough-cough-listen up, pass the torch each day to Mike Wise, a poster boy for guys who should remain behind the keyboard, and away from a microphone.

Trust me when I tell you, that once you subject your ears to the pabulum of talentless nouns, verbs, and adjectives that spew out of this stuttering and stammering fool’s mouth, you’re going to want to drive your car over a bridge, and into a watery grave.

Speaking of Ted Kennedy, sports fans in DC were subjected to 45 minutes of “Teddy Radio” the day the late Senator had to make his case to Saint Peter. Yeah, that’s right. Barely a month as “Washington’s New Sports Talk Radio!” The Mike Wise Show listeners were forced to listen to Mr. Wise go on and on and on, about what a great guy that dead senator was.

Nothing gets us more fired up for the upcoming NFL season, than turning on our sports talk radio station, and listening to “Billy Bleeding Heart” ramble on about what a pillar for morality that asshole Senator was. We’d rather be held down, and forced to listen to some PC conversation between two douche bag radio hosts, talking about what a horrible team name ‘Redskins’ is. Oh, that’s right. We heard that here too.

Besides the fact that he does interject his political views a little too much for ours and the rest of the 25-54 year old male sports fan audience he’s trying to capture, there are plenty of show moments that require us to talk our eardrums down off the ledge.

For starters, the chemistry between Wise and his co-host Bill Rowland is about as dynamic as OJ and Nicole, circa June 1994. You can almost see through your radio- the veins bulging in Rowland’s head, when Wise goes into one of his like clockwork absurdities.

Rowland, unlike his bald counterpart, seems to have somewhat of a grasp on the “keep it moving” philosophy of talk radio. At times its as if Rowland is a train conductor attempting to keep the train on the track, which has been hijacked by some drunk guy you’d see at a sporting event, running around looking for a camera with the “Hi Mom” sign held above his head.

From Wise’s show opening, in which he attempts to channel Bono from U2, only to come off sounding like Bono from Sonny and Cher- right before Sonny hit the tree, to his off timing, loss for words moments, just prior to when the show goes to break, the show’s “flow” leaves little to be desired.

We will say that Wise’s show has gotten better over the past couple months, and it sounds that maybe he is starting to get a little bit more comfortable in this medium. Wise gets major props for the aggressiveness in which he pursued (and broke) the Gilbert Arenas story, and some of his interviews, including that of the late George Michael, John Kent Cooke, and Redskin lawyer and Dan Snyder defender, David Donovan, have been the equivalent of radio gold. Mid season grade: C+

The other “new” show at The Fan is not going to receive as good of a grade, and if their show were a student, to go along with this analogy, they would be riding the short bus.

The Fan’s employment of former Redskin Lavar Arrington has become apparent to us that it was simply a name recognition move, based on the fact that, well, Lavar doesn’t have anything to say! And that’s not too oss-sum (as Lavar would put it) for sports talk radio.

Paired up with radio hack Chad Dukes- a Don Geronimo wanna be who’d be better suited talking about local theatre renovations, the show has all the makings of a late night drunken encounter involving a dirty magazine and a cheese grater.

Its no secret that The Fan was CBS’s answer to the Snyder empire led by ESPN 980, and that the talk would be primarily Redskins, but it became apparent early on that Arrington and Dukes- when it came to sports talk, were definitely one trick ponies.

Arrington and Dukes’ hand was exposed fairly early. Just prior to the Nationals signing Stephen Strasburg, Dukes eloquently predicted that if they did not do so, the team would soon become a candidate for contraction or relocation, despite just completing their second year in a brand new $800 million stadium, that was largely funded by public dollars. Sure, buddy. Whatever you say.

When talking about the scandal involving former ESPN baseball analyst Steve Phillips, Dukes and Arrington took the very vocal stand that Phillips got “screwed” by ESPN, and should have never lost his job. The conversation seemed to come to an abrupt end, when a caller informed these two knuckleheads, that this was Phillips' second brush with ‘shitting where he eats’, so to speak- having been fired from the New York Mets for essentially doing the same thing.

When they’re not fielding calls from Redskin fans telling Lavar what a great Redskin he was (which he was not), and how oss-sum it was that he ended Troy Aikman’s career (which he didn’t-it was a culmination of hits), they rehash Redskin related topics, until they’re forced to be exposed for their lack of substance, with regard to other sports related topics.

What makes it all the more aggravating is the arrogant style in which Dukes conducts himself over the air. If you didn’t know the facts about Dukes’ radio “career”, you’d think you were listening to a guy that has seen and done it all in the world of sports. In reality, you’re listening to a fat, non-athletic, video game playing, cheetos and booger eating thespian, whose latest role (after jettisoning “Big-O”) is that of an unknowledgeable sports talk radio host. Mid season grade: D-

Early ratings for both Wise’s and Arrington’s shows have been good. But don’t let the numbers fool you. Today’s terrestrial radio market offers very few options to the consumer. Both of these shows also have the luxury of virtually having no competition in their time slots, or at least any that’s worth a shit. As of this posting, sports talk show giants Colin Cowherd and Jim Rome don’t even have a DC affiliate. Boasting about a ratings victory over the likes of Wash FM’s elevator music and whatever John Thompson is saying, is not going to get you laid.

The Junkies will continue to entertain, give opinions that make sense, and be secure in their seats in the morning drive. Unfortunately for the other programming, the luxury of talking football will all be moot in two weeks. Lets hope the casual fill-ins like B. Mitch and Al Koken are a sign of future programming to come. And if not, we can only hope that the powers that be at CBS radio are currently scouting other “talent”, better than lets say, Vinny Cerrato did.

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  1. Considered from a phonetic perspective, it is possible that he just combined syllables. King + Joon = Koon. It's a mistake people make all the time.

  2. I think the King + Junior = coon explanation is far more likely than Mike Greenberg actually using the racial slur. What I find far more alarming is your misogynistic references to Dana Jacobsen as a horse. I don't really find anything offensive in her Notre Dame comments, sure they were off color but it was in a "roast" atmosphere where people are expected to push the boundaries. If you are so sensitive about imagined racism, I would think that you would be less likely to lash out with discriminatory language yourself but maybe you are just a hypocrite.


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