In a very funny Saturday Night Live skit from the `80s, Frank Sinatra played by Joe Piscopo was singing a duet with Stevie Wonder played by Eddie Murphy. Since Wonder had recently had a hit with Paul McCartney ("Ebony and Ivory"), it was theorized by Sinatra that they could have a hit as well, but after consulting songwriter Sammy Cahn, Sinatra suggested a song title change to "Chocolate and Vanilla: Let's Take a Bite."
Last week began the great Charlie Pallilo and Lance Zierlein experiment weekday afternoons on 790 KBME, with Pallilo describing it as his peanut butter to Zierlein's chocolate (or vice versa). As two of the most respected sports talk hosts in Houston, the idea of taking Zierlein off the crowded morning Big Show and adding him to Pallilo's solo afternoon drive spot left a lot of onlookers wondering if it could work.
So, has it? Well, it's only been about 10 days, but here are five reasons I think it is going to be a success.
5. They are both experienced. In the first week on the air, both have been careful not to step on the other or get in the way, but that isn't just a feeling-out period, that's professionalism from two veterans in the business. Both have been on the air long enough to know that things like this don't come easy and they need time to develop. Surprisingly, Pallilo has sounded more like the guy who wants to see this work in the long haul -- at least from his on-air banter -- but both of them have the experience to assert themselves while still leaving room for the other.
4. Their knowledge is not only expansive, but complementary. What I hadn't really considered when I first read about this new pairing was the fact that they really are focused on very different areas of sport. Zierlein knows tons, but he specializes in fantasy sports (something Pallilo hates), gambling and the hard core x's and o's of football. Pallilo is more a straight stats nerd with a truly deep knowledge of baseball. That is a balance I wasn't really expecting.
3. Diverging knowledge brings new audiences. While some might suggest that Zierlein's offbeat humor and character voices could be off-putting for some of Pallilo's more stodgy audience, it appears that Zierlein has been cautious and introduced some of his personality slowly. It has helped bring things along without rocking the boat. Eventually, if a good balance can be attained, it has the potential to appeal to a very wide audience. And with Zierlein's social media presence -- Pallilo has avoided Twitter like the plague and jokingly mocked the station's Facebook page -- it will help keep the show relevant for a new generation of listeners. 2. They hold their own with one another. No one would ever accuse either of being short on information and both have strong enough opinions that they are willing to stand their ground. More importantly, they both respect one another as evidenced by rumors that Pallilo said if he had to have a co-host, the only guy he would accept would be Zierlein.
1. Zierlien personalizes Pallilo. Slowly but surely, Zierlein is forcing Pallilo to open up about his personal life. He keeps threatening to do a "Getting to know Charlie" segment regularly and has introduced all kinds of topics, from Pallilo's favorite cities to visit to his favorite hip hop music of the `80s. It makes Pallilo, a guy who has lived off of a serious sports geek persona for many years, seem more down to earth.
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Parodie Eddie Murphy & Joe Piscopoby PeteRock