Thanks for the vine, as they say on the Jim Rome Show. Do you guys go to a lot of the games? Do you go into the locker rooms to face the players you've been slagging (in Houston terms) on the air all day?

In a word, no.

Daniel Kramer
KBME's Charlie Pallilo is the best host in town.
Daniel Kramer
KBME's Charlie Pallilo is the best host in town.

Most of the hosts prattling on and on all day about the athletes and teams? They're not doing much digging on their own.

One who does is Granato.

"One of the problems I have with a lot of the radio guys — they're never at the games, they're never in the locker rooms," he says. "You've got a license with your media credentials to go out there and get as much information as you can, and to me if you don't use it, that to me is ridiculous. Anyone can turn on a computer and watch a game and do a show talking about sports, but you're not differentiating yourself from anybody."

Going into locker rooms or watching practices would, you think, provide some insight into team dynamics that might be worthwhile for listeners to hear. But most hosts don't view the job that way.

"I rarely go out to games anymore," Zierlein says. "Number one, since I got remarried I just enjoy spending time with my wife and kids and it just gets tougher to go out and do all that...I really prefer to watch on television with my Tivo so I can slow-mo some things, I can pause it."

"I don't go to nearly as many games as I used to and I kind of regret that," Rich Lord says. "But my day is anywhere from three to four hours at home watching games I might have taped the night before, watching highlight shows, on the Internet reading out-of-town newspapers...If you've ever talked to someone who's worked with me, they'll tell you that I am a little ridiculous sometimes when it comes to preparation. I probably over-prepare for each show because it gives me a comfort zone."

Even Pallilo, who regularly attends games, doesn't go into the locker room. Among print reporters and columnists, it can be a badge of honor to show up in the locker room after criticizing a player, making yourself available for his complaints. Pallilo doesn't see it that way.

"If I'm critical of Craig Biggio being in the lead-off spot as often as he is, I don't think it's incumbent on me to wander around the locker room," he says. "If Bidge wants to object, I'm not that hard to find — I'm at games, the teams have media departments and if there's any objection, I'm fine with discussing anything with anybody."

Another longtime, first-time here. I wanted to ask: I'm hearing about all this "guy talk" as being the new coming thing on sports talk. What's up with that?

Some embrace the term "guy talk," some object to it; they all, however, are increasingly doing it to some extent.

When you hear cohosts talking about the latest Maxim cover girl, that's guy talk. So is talk about movies, old TV shows and rock music.

When it's done well, it's entertaining and engaging and you don't even realize you've not been hearing anything about sports for a while. When it's done badly — when management forces it on hosts who aren't really able to handle it — it can be painful to listen to.

Take "Davies & Dukes," KBME's morning show with Brad Davies and Carl Dukes. Recently a long stretch of the morning was taken up with talking about "guy movies."

Defining them as "movies where the typical woman will walk out of the room if it's on TV," the duo energetically listed the usual suspects of the genre. "Death Wish — I mean, he starts killing everyone — he's going into crack dens and they all look up at him and he just starts blowing them away. It's an awesome movie," one said in full frat-boy tones.

The next day there were plenty of chortles over whether one of them wore "tightie-whities." ("I can't use them — I need the room, if you know what I mean," one said.)

The Davies & Dukes show provides the most recognizable red flag that you're going to be hearing bad sports radio: There's a giggling female cohost. Chronicle columnist John McClain, who's usually excellent on the radio — and who is, by the way, part of a growing contingent of Chron writers providing cheap labor for local stations — isn't exactly suited to the strained semi-flirting he does with his female cohost on his one-hour show.

Some hosts, even if they are relatively loose off the air, just possess the kind of stentorian pipes that make the repartee sound strained.

"I hate it when guys come on the air and say, 'We're going to have some laughs along the way.' No we're not. No we're not," says Granato. "When it doesn't work, nothing sounds more contrived."

"I'm fine with irreverence and occasional silliness in a show, [but] our culture has been dumbed down so much that for me, doing a show that caters to the lowest common denominator is a bad show," says Pallilo, speaking of "guy talk" in general.

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