Super Bowl hype week is underway, and I know that many of you will be consuming sports talk radio this week in an effort to get ready for the big game. (I know many of you won't be, and I understand that as well. I hate me some me sometimes, too. It's okay.)
The general public service announcement that I'm about to give you probably consists of things you already know, but, much like reading the nutritional breakdown on the side of a box of double fudge ice cream, sometimes you need to be reminded that you are about to consume something that just may not be good for you.
I'm not telling you don't consume it, I'm merely doing the noble thing by laying out the facts. So here are my general "sports talk radio" warnings for this week:
4. If you missed Shannon Sharpe on one station, don't worry... I discussed this phenomenon last season in my "Four Myths About Super Bowl Radio Row" post, but it's worth mentioning again -- 98 percent of the non-broadcasters on Radio Row are either former players pimping something, current players pimping something, agents trying to find more players so they can pimp them, and P.R. people who are shuffling former and current players around from show to show so they can pimp things. WHOLE lotta pimpin' goin' on.
So if you are in Houston, this is great news! It means if you missed Brett Keisel selling you on the extra-lathery goodness of Head & Shoulders on one station, you can probably catch him three more times throughout the week. (Honestly, with four sports stations on Radio Row, Houston is practically a Cinemark for these typically awkward and horrific broadcasting experiences, complete with four different showtimes.)
Truth be told, these contrived mini-infomercials are the nature of the beast, and the fault for the lack of compelling material coming from these eight-minute shlep sessions hardly lies with the actual on-air talent doing the interviews. But listeners are more savvy now than they've ever been, so if you're a host, go ahead and do your interview allowing some retired star to encourage everyone to download his iPhone app, just don't brag about getting that guy on your show. Because everyone got him. You don't see any of Kim Kardashian's former boyfriends brag about nailing her, do you?
3. How can we discuss Gronk's ankle, let me count the ways... This is not a radio row issue as much as it is a general sports talk issue, but we've been sitting here with no football for over a week now, which means we had all week last week to discuss the story lines and match-ups leading up to the game this Sunday. Now, unless a player gets caught with a hooker or nailed with his face in a plate of blow, we have five more days to fill with the exact same topics. Neat.
The story lines that have been pounded and will continue to be pounded into the ground, as best I can tell, are:
1. Will Rob Gronkowski's high ankle sprain heal in time for him to be effective in the game? (Walking boot is not a great sign.) 2. If the Patriots win this Super Bowl, are they to be considered a "dynasty?" (Always a popular one, the argument over the definition of a subjective term.) 3. Is there a revenge motive for the Patriots from the Giants dashing their undefeated season in 2007? (Because you need added motivation for the Super Bowl. Riiight.) 4. Is Eli Manning an elite quarterback? (Because if he's not, that changes EVERYTHING! Uh huh.) 5. Robert Kraft's wife passed away before the season started, making this a sentimental game. (Not making light of that, just know that this will be discussed plenty. I'm fine with that, and much more of a sucker for these types of stories than debating what is and isn't a dynasty.) 6. Do you ever, under any circumstances, let Bill Belichick near your wife?
Okay, that last one probably won't get much run. But it should. It would make for much more compelling radio. 2. Radio people hate nearly every city Without fail, unless the Super Bowl takes place in San Diego, New Orleans or Miami, the media will find fault with the host city. The disdain can range anywhere from casual "Meh, I wish we were somewhere exciting..." (Houston, Jacksonville, Phoenix all got varying degrees of this treatment) to "What in the blue hell are we doing here in February??" (Detroit, Dallas last year in the ice storm, and Indianapolis this year).
For a place like Indianapolis, you can almost Mad Lib the thing -- "Man, we got off the airplane and it was (number below 32) degrees, the women look like (farm animals) and our hotel rooms smell like (bodily cavity). God, I really HATE (city name)." Yes, fellow media members, the people get it -- normally, this boondoggle of a working week takes place somewhere warm and fun. This season it doesn't. Turn the page.
1. The "stories about town" will not compel you. By and large, the percentage of radio people who are walking fodder for interesting stories mirrors that of society -- it's like eight percent. To be clear, there are plenty of good people in radio (and some bad ones, too), but not that many who have stories after hours that make for good radio. And having Indianapolis as the backdrop doesn't help (as opposed to, say, New Orleans, where even the most boring radio personality could accidentally get caught in a compromising spot with a tranny, if they're not careful).
This will not stop radio hosts from trying to make their trip to TGIFriday's to watch the Rockets game or the half hour they spent at the Playboy party standing in the corner not talking to anyone sound like the most kick-ass, hilarious, can't-miss time in the world.
I've always thought the threshold for a host's personal experience story should be police involvement. If there weren't any police involved, or if you weren't asking yourself, "Man, what's gonna happen when the cops show up?" then you're telling a story that probably only you, the host, are enjoying.
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And if that's the case, just give us more "Gronk's ankle" talk.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.