When George Costanza was looking for a job, he said that he might like to be a color commentator for baseball to which Jerry Seinfeld responded, "Well, they tend to give those jobs to ex-ballplayers and people that are, you know, in broadcasting." While this may not have seemed fair to George, it is accurate. Former athletes hold numerous positions of note in sports media, but recently a number of former NFL players have begun to not just join Houston sports media, but dominated it like their days on the field. The Koch/Kalu mid mornings show on 790 KBME is the number one sports show in the market.
In the case of the Houston sports radio landscape, a city that probably can handle two such stations but has four, the success of these former players is as much owed to their insight as their personalities. Here's a breakdown.
Show: Triple Threat, 610 KILT afternoon drive Former Team(s): New England Patriots Position: Linebacker Houston Tie: Grew up here.
Johnson grew up in Houston and made his fame as a member of the three-time champion New England Patriots. He also speaks out on concussions in the NFL as someone who has suffered issues since his days in the NFL. Johnson adds an insightful voice to a show that features veteran Rich Lord and our own Sean Pendergast. Three-man shows are not always easy to blend, but Johnson picks his spots and his experience with a dynasty is unique. Johnson cut his teeth on nighttime shows and post game call-in shows and it has paid off. When it comes to life inside the locker room, particularly one with such a storied history and winning culture, Johnson is unrivaled in the market.
Show: In the Trenches, 790 KBME mid mornings Former Team(s): Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans Position: Defensive Lineman Houston Tie: Rice grad
As half of the most popular show on sports radio at the moment, ND Kalu brings a wealth of intelligence and natural chemistry match with his on-air partner, Greg Koch. It is certainly possible that the duo is better together than they would be separately, but there is no question Kalu has an interesting take on pro football. The fact that their show is exclusively football based makes it easier on them, but Kalu is good on air and I imagine he would be comfortable discussing about anything sports related. Greg Koch Show: In the Trenches, 790 KBME mid mornings Former Team(s): Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings Position: Offensive Line Houston Tie: Native
The regular Uncle Greg segments of the show are without a doubt some of the most entertaining segments on any radio show, nevermind the behind the curtain look it provides for what NFL players do in their off time. Koch is engaging and funny. He is also opinionated and outspoken. That combination makes for a damn good radio host, former player or otherwise.
Show: Mad Radio, 610 KILT lunchtime Former Team(s): Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars Position: Defensive Line Houston Tie: Former Texans who settled here post playing career.
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What makes Payne so successful on radio isn't necessarily his intimate knowledge of football, but his everyman honesty when it comes to sports in general. He has something that is difficult for anyone on air to accomplish and nearly impossible to cultivate: the sense he is at ease with being himself. It helps that he is also just as engaging on social media, a key component of all forms of media these days. He and co-host Mike Meltzer have one of the more underrated shows on Houston sports radio right now.
Show: Prime Cut, 1560 KGOW afternoon drive Former Team(s): Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Oilers, San Diego Chargers Position: Quarterback Houston Tie: Brief stint with the Oilers.
When Pendergast left 1560 for 610, it left a complicated void next to John Granato, a guy that grew in popularity first at 610 and later at 1560 with Lance Zierlein. It appears he has met his match in Salisbury, one of numerous former journeymen quarterbacks who have found post-football success in broadcast media. Salisbury ended up with the flagship for Yahoo! sports radio after doing a show with former host and now Texans commentator John Harris. Salisbury's knowledge of the game is impeccable and his attitude brash without being bombastic, which fits nicely with Granato's sarcastic, dry sense of humor.