I'm a native Houstonian. I grew up a fan of Houston sports teams, and I spent a lot of time as a kid listening to sports talk radio. There were no sports-only stations in the 1970s and 1980s. Multiple stations aired games (am I the only person who remembers the Astos games once being on 104 KRBE). And most sports talk radio was limited to weekends and for a few hours in the evening.
One of the top sports hosts, and the one I listed to the most, was Anita Martini, and I followed her from station to station -- 790 and 950 being the primary radio stations I remember her at. She also worked as a weekend sports anchor at Channels 2, 11, and 26 at various times. Martini was quite the trailblazer. She was the first female sports reporter allowed inside a MLB locker room when Dodger manager Walter Alston opened his locker room to her following a game at the Astrodome.
I didn't listen to Martini because she was breaking down doors. I was a kid. I didn't care about any of that. I listened because I enjoyed her shows, I learned a lot, and I didn't get treated like I was an idiot.
I seem to remember most sports talk shows being this way -- it's possible that I'm suffering from old man's disease where everything was better when I was young. It just seemed they figured you listened because you were a sports fan and wanted to talk about and learn about sports. If you wanted celebrity gossip, you went somewhere else because it was a sports show.
That's not the case nowadays. Even the best sports talk hosts have had to dumb down their shows and move their discussions to the so-called guy talk format. So it's not sports. It's a combination of sports and music and television and attractive women, especially attractive women named Kate Upton.
There have been multiple indignities visited upon Houston's sports radio fans in recent months. Most prominent have been the Josh Innes/Stephanie Stradley battle, the so-called "fat" Thunder cheerleader, and the sexist questions directed toward Lamar's softball coach. The only punishment so far has been the supposed firing of 610 blogger Claire Crawford a.k.a. Anna-Megan Raley in response to the cheerleader post.
And all of this just points to the de-evolution of sports talk radio. I've heard it said that it's hard and boring talking about real sports 24/7, especially in this Internet age where all information is supposedly available by way of Google. But this doesn't account for why sports talk has geared itself toward sexist morons who get bored talking about actual sports.
How did we get from smart, intelligent sports talk hosted by a trailblazing female to mysogynist radio hosted by what often appears to be high-schooled aged teen age boys? Is this what the likes of Martini strove for when they were busting through barriers?
I enjoy Kate Upton's boobs as much as any heterosexual male. But I don't enjoy talk about Kate Upton's boobs on a station that's supposed to be giving me sports analysis. Then again, on certain of these stations, I'm not sure the hosts could even explain how a pitcher's earned run average is derived, much less be able to offer up sentences on WHIP, unless they were talking about locking whip cream off of Kate Upton.
Maybe I am nothing more than an old man. Maybe I'm not the chosen demographic and I'm no longer able to appreciate the idiocy of sports talk radio. But it's hard to believe that programmers want to rid themselves of the female population of sports fans. They do exist, and lots of the female sports fans I know are lots smarter than the average Houston sports caller - they're also smarter than most of the hosts.
But as someone who grew up listening to and appreciating the work of a pioneer female sports broadcaster, I think I can be excused for disliking what sports radio have devolved into. And who knows, maybe someday soon, one of Houston's 5,000 sports talk radio stations will give a woman a chance to host an intelligent sports talk show instead of some frat boy Syracuse reject.
I'm not expecting that to happen anytime soon though.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.