Know Your Local Media: Adam Wexler of Sportstalk 790's The Big Show Dishes on Bad Callers, On-Air Chemistry
It's been a long time coming for Adam Wexler, co-host of The Big Show mornings on 790 AM. Always one of the smartest guys in Houston sports talk, he bounced around to various stations and time slots, from morning to evening and back again. But the magical on-air chemistry he had with Matt Jackson eventually led him to his stint on the most popular morning sports talk show on Houston radio.
Wexler's dry sense of humor and encyclopedic knowledge of sports -- never mind his obviously intense preparation -- make him an excellent foil for Jackson and third co-host Lance Zierlein. The show has rapidly grown to be one of the best listens in town, and Wexler's calm, rational viewpoint is a huge part of that and why I ranked him number three on my list of best sports talk show personalities in Houston a few months ago.
He was nice enough to answer a few questions for the listeners.
5. You bounced around a bit before you finally landed the morning drive time slot. Did you ever consider leaving the radio business? If so, what did you consider doing instead?
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Once I got into the radio business back in 1995, I've never considered leaving the sports media game. Radio gives us the best outlet to interact with fans, more so than TV or print, so I truly enjoy it.
Since 1995, I was only out of radio for a year or two, but stayed busy as the editor of a couple of sports publications, Space City Sports and Houston Sports News, and as the sports producer at KPRC Local 2 Sports. I had a "real job" a long time ago, when I parlayed an internship with the Houston Aeros into a five-year gig as a staff accountant, assistant controller and director of merchandise. Let's just say I'm hoping to steer clear of another 9-to-5 gig.
4. You and Matt Jackson have worked together for a long time. How has that chemistry developed? It developed over time, but not that much time. We immediately became friends when working at the same station, despite not working together. We just loved talking sports then, just like we do now. We covered a lot of games together and welcomed the opportunity to hit the airwaves together when it became available.
He was working evenings and I joined him on the NightShift, and we had a blast doing shows with the evening listeners, with games going on and all the great things that "only come out at night!" One of the reasons why I made the move to 790 to do mornings was specifically to work alongside Matt.
3. If there has been any complaint about The Big Show, it is that sometimes having three people can create some on-air chaos. How do you guys guard against talking over one another? There's no question that is the challenge of the show. Any one of us could easily entertain and inform an audience by ourselves for four hours, but for me, I just try to recognize that talking over one another just is not good radio -- no matter how brilliantly genius the point I'm trying to make might be (ha-ha). We've got four hours every day to say what needs to be said, not to mention 24-hour availability via Twitter and Facebook, etc., so I try to just step back and say what needs to be said when the opening is there.
2. Sports has become a 24/7 business. How do you stay up on everything and how much time do you spend prepping for a show? I keep extremely unhealthy hours, mainly because I don't like to miss anything! I'm constantly watching games, press conferences, interviews and videos of just about anything I can get my hands on. I essentially never turn my computer off because as we all know here in 2012 -- the Internet never stops.
I try to stay in touch with team personnel as much as possible, and really value our close interaction with the teams and the players, which is one of the few remaining things that we have that our listeners still don't. There are many more listeners out there with great knowledge and thought-provoking opinions than ever before, so at the very least I try to keep pace. With so much available online and being made available by teams, our access is still something valuable. One other thing -- I'm completely addicted to Twitter.
1. What is your least favorite type of sports radio caller you have to deal with and why? Irrational and loud. I don't mind a loud caller, but rather an arguing, screaming caller that refuses to take a breath and take a step back to listen. I don't mind a strong opinion, even if I completely disagree, as long as there's a give and take on the air in the conversation. We're in control, obviously, putting a caller on hold until we can have a reasonable back and forth is something I will do rather than just drop the hang-up hammer immediately. The assumption that the louder you yell the more likely you are to win the argument is a philosophy I don't subscribe to. Passion is a must. Irrational yelling is a must-do-without.
Bonus: Who is your all-time favorite interview, famous or otherwise, and why? I covered a lot of Astros baseball when Larry Dierker was the manager and he was so honest with his answers, even immediately after games. I thought he gave us the most useful information. Of course, having interviewed Dierker both before and after that managerial stint, he's always a good interview because he rarely holds back. Great storyteller.
Honestly, one of my all-time moments in radio had nothing to do with an interview. When I was in my first year as Rockets color analyst and studio host, the team was honoring the legendary radio voices of the team, Gene Peterson and Jim Foley. During the second half of the game, Craig Ackerman, the play-by-play voice and I stepped aside and Gene and Jim sat behind the mikes for one final time.
Sharing the broadcast that night with them was just really, really cool since like everyone else here in Houston, we grew up listening to Gene and Jim. (Also, it was memorable because Tracy McGrady had a triple-double in a thrilling win over Denver!!)
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