It seems that nothing else in the Bay Area sports news cycle gets people quite as fired up as “radio wars”does. I am one of those people whose radio presets stay on the sports talk stations. KNBR has been a staple in my life for some time now. It makes sense – when sports consume your life, you enjoy discussing them. If you enjoy discussing sports, you enjoy listening to sports discussion. If that discussion is entertaining, that’s all the better. Maybe that’s why the news of Pablo Sandoval and sexual abuse was merely a tremor on the interweb while the news of Ralph Barbieri being fired nearly broke Twitter.
Back when KNBR was the only game in town (pun intended), it seemed above criticism. The year before Dan Dibley left for what would eventually become 95.7 the Game was a golden age in radio for me. I rarely missed a Radnich show. I would schedule my 10 minute breaks at work so that I could be back in time for the best half hour in radio with Tony Bruno. My fiancé nay-saying a plan became known as “Lee Hammer says no.” I uttered the word “yes” every time something suggestive was said.
Actually, I still do those last two.
Times have changed
I used to be a pretty unapologetic KNBR fanboy. I was crushed when Dibley left for The Game, a radio station that was new and different (therefore weird and icky, right?). Before Dan was a radio personality, he was a counselor at my summer camp growing up (sorry to bust you out, Dan). He was the reason I started listening to KNBR in the first place. My loyalties, it seemed, became torn. What ensued changed my perspective on sports talk radio in the Bay Area, whether I liked it or not.
Converting to The Game
(Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this piece belong to me, Ruthless Sports Guy, and do not reflect those of Bay Area Sports Guy. This is how I see Bay Area radio only, so if you don’t like my opinions, take it out on me, not him.)
If you guys are regular readers then you know the story. KNBR, in an attempt to keep up with the new guy in town, has let its fan base down. Almost every failed experiment, new gimmick or personality that they threw on the station has failed to resonant with me. This (along with a sudden inability to stream KNBR on my work computer) drove me to become a 95.7 The Game listener.
I should make this clear – I haven’t completely abandoned KNBR. I still listen to a great deal of it – as long as the Giants, Warriors* and 49ers games are still broadcasting on “The Sports Leader,” I’ll always have a reason to tune in. The content of their shows, however, simply wore off on me.
The Rise Guys
Although I can’t put a finger on why, The Rise Guys are just plain entertaining. They offer objective opinions, a wide breadth of topics and an engaging line-up of discussions starters. Every show has its gimmicks, and The Rise Guys may have a few too many of them, but the chemistry between Whitey Gleason, Mark Kreidler and Dibley seems genuine. They keep me from changing the station, and that’s what counts. Either that, or maybe I’m just tired of hear excuses being made for the Giants every day. Yeah, that might be it.
The Rise Guys/The Wheelhouse
Again, the FM side just entertains. John Lund seems to have a fresh, objective perspective on the sporting world, and I really enjoy Mychael Urban. The Wheelhouse goes light on listener opinion (I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard a caller get on the Wheelhouse air), whereas other shows carry themselves on caller interactions for what seems like hours sometimes. Part of the reason that sports talk radio stays entertaining is because there is something new to discuss every day. The Game, unlike their couterparts, seem to keep the topics fresh.
The Drive with Tierney and Davis
This is the slot of sports talk that I like to call “commercial switching.” You probably know what I’m talking about – you’re listening to KNBR until Tolbert throws it to commercial, so you switch it over to 95.7, hoping they’re not on a commercial break as well. They are, so you instinctively go to 1050, only to realize that for some reason KNBR broadcasts Tolbert there too. Then he finally returns from break, only to talk for 30 seconds and throw it back to commercial again.
That’s how I treat drive-time sports talk. I can take and leave both shows, especially now that Ralph Barbieri is gone. I like Eric Davis and I like Tom Tolbert. This is a wash. Sometimes this turns into “listen to one of those same 3 CDs in your car” time slot.
Nights and weekends in sports radio
Weekday nights, especially those that aren’t occupied by a Giants game, are times that I turn to music or sometimes even go to whatever nationally syndicated show is playing on 1050.
Weekends all come down to Mychael. Urban’s show, “Inside the Bigs,” is just so engaging. I don’t mind that he talks both Giants and A’s. In fact, I’ve taken to liking the A’s more because of the coverage they get on The Game. There’s a formula to his show, and I like that. Sometimes sports shows can feel like their leisurely wading down the Russian River, meandering without a real point or purpose. Urban’s show feels prepped, intelligent and pointed. He might be the gem of 95.7 The Game.
Look, 95.7 is not perfect, but this is my opinion. In fact, I’m an unapologetic Damon Bruce fan – he’s my favorite radio host in the Bay Area. Bruce’s job is difficult – he carries a 3 hour show in the middle of the weekdays on the redheaded step child station 1050 without a co-host. Still, Damon never lacks in callers. He lands great guests. His opinions stay sharp and witty. He’s good at what he does.
I am entertained and inspired quite frequently when I listen to Damon. Many of my writings have been inspired by Damon’s discussions. It’s not that the Wheelhouse turns me off during its last two hours – it’s just that noon is time to change to Damon, simple as that.
That aside, I was surprised when I realized how much more my dial finds 95.7 The Game now. When the station first started, I chuckled and said to myself that it would never last. I swore by KNBR, and now it clings on to my humble listenership by virtue of Damon Bruce alone. Whether Bay Area Stat Guy’s “ratings wars” are an accurate depiction of each stations following or not are of no consequence to me. I have converted, for the most part, to the FM dial.
You have GOT to be kidding me with Urban! He is the definition of awful. His mush mouth delivery. Half baked thoughts. Poor dictation and delivery. Sensitive skin regarding criticism. Trying to be "hip hop" or "street" or have "street cred". Please. He is a big white lummox from Redwood City. I didn't mind him much as a writer, but boy-oh-boy is this guy ego drunk off of the radio mic. I think a fate worse than death would to be locked in a room with him, Tierney, Marty Lurie and a single microphone. Oh, and a constant loop of "Kars 4 Kids" commercials. If that is what Hell is like, I promise to stop drinking, swearing, looking at porn and will attend mass every Sunday from here on out.
I was watching some of Raddy show today..I think he was waiting for a marriage proposal from Larry. Everything Larry said made Gary soooo happy. Weird.
What the hell happened to Papa on 95.7? Did his paycheck bounce, or were his shoulders hurting from carrying the carpetbagger Lund?...
A few thoughts on KNBR's long commercial breaks and people complaining about the Game's repetitiveness. (Note, never worked for either nor in radio but these are my beliefs) Some of you have stated that KNBR should charge more for spots instead of running more of them. Here's the problem in that. As high as their ratings are, they still need to be competitive in the market place when it comes to ads. Charge too much and the competition can double the amount of spots for the same price. Advertisers want the spot heard as many times as possible. If they pay 1k for a spot an hour, they run the risk that while a bigger audience may hear it, it's only once. Meanwhile if the game says for 1k, I'll run it 3 times. Audience may be smaller, but repetition works. Lastly, the KNBR salaries are so high that they need more spots to pay for talent. Like you I agree that the Game needs to limit the repetitiveness, but the argument is that new listeners tune in every hour so you have to keep them informed. In the Game's defense, they need to build up a following before they stop repeating because they have to hope that the 100 or so new people that find the station for the first time like what they hear and will continue to tune in. KNBR's ratings are high enough and have loyal listeners that they don't have to repeat every hour.
As far as Damon being fake or being an entertainer/actor goes, I don't think you can fake what he does. Are there some things that he says or does where you have to ask yourself if he really feels that way, but I'm sure he is sincere with the way he feels about the sports topics he talk about each weekday. You can't fake that. I do wonder if the feud between him and Gary Radnich is real though,or if that's kind of hoax. It's been almost a year since they were paired together. It's too bad it didn't work out between them, but can they seriouly still resent each other because of that? If they are, they need to move on. As far as Daon saying that he would be a better GM than Sabean, yeah, now that the Giants won the WS, he looks bad for saying that and hasn't said that since, but he said that back when the Giants were bad back in 07 and '08 and when they struggled early on in '09, but at that time, everyone wanted Sabean gone and felt that they could've done a better job than Sabean at the time. Even in 2010 before the Giants went on that great and unbelievable WS run in the 2nd half of that season, pretty much almost everyone wanted Sabean gone.
Great to see the passion about radio.....Thats what I love the most about the post and reactions. outside of Bruce, I pretty much have tuned out KNBR and I really have not latched on to The Game. Mornings and evenings you'll find me on other stations or music playlists. Afternoons belong to Dbruce
I listen in and out throughout the day depending on what's happening at work, but it's usually as follows: 6-9 Rise Guys (way the hell better than M&M) 9-12 Rome (the wheelhouse and radnich suck) 12-3 DBruce (Goose hates him, but I like him so he can go &%#$ himself) 3-whenever Mr. T/the Drive (neither really holds me. Can't stand Tierney, Tolbert is cool but doesn't always talk about stuff I'm interested in)
Judging by the radio ratings, it looks like each and every one of the games' listeners are writing on this post!
Great article... Damon Bruce is the ONLY truly engaging show that I will stay on through the breaks for. There's a reason he's moonlighted for Jim Rome at times. Radnich isn't even on cruise control, he became old over night and a lot of it had to do with the loss of Bruno and Dibley; he clearly doesn't care much for Kate Scott and Larry is like that opinionated guy at the sports bar, that knows everything about everything but in reality is wrong most of the time. Fitz and Brooks are an abomination and frankly so are Tierny and Davis... I miss the Razor but people forget how bad he was getting as well, always interrupting interviews. Tom is just fine on his own but Byrnes is a horrible replacement for Ralph. They need to find someone with some bay area ties, that's not a a former athlete, that has the same level of humor of Tom so he has someone to play off of. It's like KNBR hear's this guy with a surfer voice and thinks he's edgy and we'll all be fooled to as much, but he's not. I could really go on.... #FreeDamonBruce
Funny, trouble with the KNBR stream is what pushed me toward 95.7 more often as well. Only show I obviously prefer on KNBR is Radnich, and like the author I've heavily soured on it since all the changes. Its weird how KNBR tries *so hard* to be robotic and unoriginal, you can tell they hammer the hosts constantly on following the playbook. Ruined the station. Rise Guys fair enough but I don't understand the obsession with gimmicks and segments. Wheelhouse is great when Papa is there, decent with others. The rest of the day I don't really care for.
WTF! Is it April Fools Day? If you all are serious, may your god bless you and peace to you. I'm out. Bye Bye Sincerely Composite Sports Radio Jock (feeling guilty of what has become of the listening public)
Wow man! I could not have said it better. I firmly believe that competition brings out the best. Sadly for KNBR, only D. Bruce has kept his "shine" on. Give The Game a stronger signal and it's game over. I'm more o.k. with hearing Giants talk on the Game because it's not homer talk, it's plain sports talk convo. Go A's!!!!
Being a NYC expatriate, I feel I can be an impartial observer of sorts regarding the 2 sports stations. Driving around San Fran during the week, my iPhone's signal isn't consistently solid enough to let me listen to WFAN & Mike Francesa, so I've sampled both KNBR & The Game quite a bit. I find just about all of KNBR's personalities insufferable, except for Radnich, believe it or not, but he wears thin quickly also. KNBR's homerism & constant hype of the Giants is ridiculous & feels a little like brainwashing - KNBR has helped me actually dislike the Giants even more than I already did! Damon Bruce? No, thanks. So I was ready for an alternative. The Game's "Rise Guys" are pleasant enough, but Lund & Urban are absolutely terrible. Lousy sophomoric humor, and I never get the feeling they know much more than I do about Bay Area sports. I didn't like Tierney in NY, and I certainly don't like him here. The Game is a great concept, but it's just not there yet. And the weekends, plus the Yahoo Sports feeds....ugh. Ultimately, I hope 95.7 makes it, but they're only better than KNBR by default right now. They need some changes, desperately.
Rise Guys for me, good chemistry, 25 minute commercial free for my commute (major kudos.) Tried to stick with 95.7 across the board but just cannot listen to Tierney, what will happen when Davis is gone? Drew Hoffer? Ralph's ouster makes KNBR more viable but Tolbert solo isn't always great. Tolbert/Byrnes are too similar, though it drastically improves Byrnes. More ipod listening mostly.
Good piece RSG. What eventually lead me away from KNBR was the silly and constant sound drops here would hear on Murph and Mac and on Radnich's show. Although, I noticed that the sound drops on Radnich's show have lessen. Listen to Murph and Mac. I sometimes think I am listening to two teenagers trying to come-up each other with one-liners. Who can be cooler. Juvenile humor reins supreme from 5:00am-9:00am. That is why KNBR soured on this listener.
I've noticed that to. It' doesn't seem like they start Damon's show until 12:06. I'm listening to a commercial now. Are they trying to force him out?
Greg Papa still works with Lund on 95.7. He's only on on Mondays and Tuesdays. He might be on vacation too, if he hasn't been on this week. Plus, Greg Papa has his other duties to deal with such as Comcast duties with Giants pre and postgame, and then of course, his Raider duties coming up soon. But yeah, he's probably on vacation right now, if he hasn't been on.
"...the argument is that new listeners tune in every hour so you have to keep them informed. In the Game’s defense, they need to build up a following before they stop repeating because they have to hope that the 100 or so new people that find the station for the first time like what they hear and will continue to tune in." I would actually argue the exact opposite. If a new listener tunes them in at 11:30am, enjoys what they heard, tunes back in at 1pm and hears the same thing, why bother being a listener? Sports and talk stations generally try to cultivate an audience that will listen at length. While you might get away with repetition during commute hours, it doesn't fly 10am-2pm. People stream a lot of radio at work. I will usually bounce from 680 to 1050 to Sirius to Pandora, etc. I would probably start listening to the Game if they stopped repeating everything. I'm not a fan of Lund, Urban, or Papa, but I would give them more of a shot if they covered a wider range of topics. I tried listening 10-noon today and all I heard was wall-to-wall Giants, A's and 49ers. The Quakes are kicking ass and we're looking at a potential NHL lockout and no mention of that whatsoever. But they have no problems regurgitating the same bile about Lincecum and Cain every freaking hour. No thanks... I've moved on to real radio.
But Steve- Cumulus slashed the payroll and eliminated jobs at KNBR. Ralph of course is gone,Raddy was signed for a couple more years at half his peak income at KNBR. And the argument that winning is the sole reason for the ads?..like I said,even in 2010 KNBR wasn't doing long blocks of commercials. KNBR runs so many commercials now,Comcast cant keep up on simulcasts..they need to play elevator music and post standings while waiting for KNBR to come back on air. Its Cumulus, Steve..maximize profit,cut quality. Thank God the Dickeys dont build cars or fire extinguishers..
I have definately struck a cord with the DBruce fans on this board. It was tough for me too when I found out Santa Claus didn't. At least we agree on one thing: Fitzgerald and Brooks should be shown the door.
Glad you bring up Rome as that's who DBruce reminds me of. Little known fact: nearly all of Romes 'takes' and material is written by his writers and producers which he then reads off a Teleprompter. Another 'performer' whose show is soley designed around creating a compelling persona that will drive ratings as opposed to Rome actually saying what he believes. Another little known fact: the Jim Rome/Chrissy Everet incident was later found to be staged between Rome and Rams QB Everett.
Yeah, I agree with you on Radnich. Yeah, he probably doesn't really respect or care for Kate. She's in a sense, underutilized on the Gary and Larry Show. Her sports knowledge is pretty decent, and she is a diehard sports fan. They do too many sexual inuendos (the "Yes" soundbite) with her a little too much, when she wasn't really going for that angle at all in her opinion on a certain sports topic. As far as Krueger goes, yeah, you're probably right, even though I don't mind Krueger. He was better in his Sportsphone days. You mentioned that Krueger is like the guy at the sports bar who is wrong most of the time, remember his old Sportsphone signoff used to be, "Often wrong, seldom in doubt". LOL. Krueger actually has been right about some things recently. He called the Gregor Blanco thing. He said the Giants should play him, and low and behold, they played him, and he's turned into a decent/passable leadoff hitter for the Giants so far this season. He even called Mike Matheny being the new Cardinals manager. Krueger either has good/great sources, or he does a great job of guessing, and it could be a little bit of both. Yes, Krueger has a lot of opinions, and sometimes he is wrong, but the guy is knowledgable and still sharp, and has been right about some things. Krueger does his HW. As far as Fitz and Brooks go, eh, I wouldn't say they're an abomination, but they're not as good as they were. With all that being said, you have to wonder how and why they are still popular though, when you have a better alternative in Damon Bruce in the same timeslot on 1050. Tierney is an abomination, but Eric Davis isn't. It's a shame he's leaving 95.7. Eric Davis makes that show as I've said before, and the guy is smart, and makes Tierney look bad and owns Tierney in their arguments, pretty much every weekday. It's funny to hear Tierney get owned by E.D. (Eric Davis). LOL. I'll miss their epic arguments and back and forth banter. That show seriously won't be the same anymore when Eric Davis leaves, even if Lincoln Kennedy is Eric Davis' replacement. Lorenzo Neal should be Eric Davis' replacement, not Lincoln Kennedy. I'm sorry Raider fans. "Lo Neal" (Lorenzo Neal) does have good/passable knowledge of sports other than football like Eric Davis does, and he's also entertaining like Eric Davis. I wonder if 95.7 will put him on the list of replacments for Eric Davis. I agree with you about what Tolbert's co-host should be. Tolbert can carry that show by himself, but I agree that Byrnes is not a good replacement for Ralph. Byrnes is better as a part-time fill-in host. There are times when Byrnes could be good, but most of the time, he's just not that good. I'm sorry.
Wow! You know Tierney is a total tool when even the New Yorkers can't stand him. I thought it was my West Coast bias pissing me off daily because Bay Area native and informed journalist Rick Tittle rides the pine while this buffoon gets a prime time slot. I guess it wasn't just me after all. Tierney really is THAT BAD! He is on the A's station and his A's knowledge is non-existant. His Giants knowledge isn't much better. Doesn't know Bay Area football. Lazy journalist. Is daddy CEO of the station or does he have racy pics of Jason Barrett?
Brooklyn - like you I am a transplant. The Wheelhouse's issue is that Urban is trying to expand his resume instead of playing the role as analyst. plus, since he knows so many of the players it's hard for him to also rip them. I like it when Steinmatz and Papa is on, but Urban could be better. Agree fully about Tierney. I thought he would be great, but it's been a year and he's yet to realize that being a New Yorker talking about Bay Area sports attitude doesn't work. Also, he worked in a market with 8 teams and yet he can't figure out why A's fans can't stand him? He's also too full of himself to realize he needs to make changes.
You guys are looking too deep into this stuff. The online stream has been screwed up for a whole now. Also, when it does work there is always a delay from real time radio. The geeks at KNBR just aren't doing a good job with the online stream
you are right, maximize profit is the name of the game. You also have to wonder how many of the Giants corporate sponsors have ads built into their contract outside of the regular games. My point was more they can't run fewer commercials and still make the same money. People will shop elsewhere.
Gooselosgatos Do you have links where can read more about the Rome/Everrt staged fight? I was not aware that the Jim Rome/Jim Everrt interview was staged.
Goose; I agree with you on Bruce. I believe you on Rome-Chrissie - but have not heard that one before, could you please tell us more..........besides it'll be instructional to some here who believe in Bruce, Fantasy Theater and the notion that expressing misery on the radio will fix their teams. LOL
"They do too many sexual inuendos (the “Yes” soundbite)" Precisely my point. The silly sound drops and sexual inuendo are for a young crowd. Let's see who can out one-line each other. Giggles all around! Here is a quizz: Who is producing KNBR's programs? Answer: some numbskull.
I concur, and I didn't go into too much detail which is obviously sketchy when you're ripping someone on the internet... and you do it anonymously but Krueger clearly wants to do sports, Gary clearly wants to do, "If Charles Manson was a CF and was hitting well.... your thoughts." Sadly Kate is underutilized, she's totally sharp, very witty, and sadly yet where Dibs's wit and charm could be played up a lot of Kate's doesn't because, well, you fill in the reason. Larry is much better suited to be on his own and sports phone is probably a better venue, I'd even be willing to say the show was better when Ray Woodson and Gary going solo, at least he had someone he could play off of. Bob and Rod I have mixed emotions on, I think clearly listeners have been fed up with the, "Well I'm right and you're wrong," structure of their calls for a long time... Because it's true, but they also have some of the worst callers which isn't something that gets brought up. I do get sick of Rod saying the word, "Exercised" all the time, Clearly Rod isn't going to get "exercised" about it. Byrnes is great as a fill in, segment eater during the baseball season, but he's not a great co-host. He rambles/talks in circles, doesn't get some of the pop culture references Tom throws down and you need someone stirring the pot because Tom's better as the good guy. Doesn't matter who they bring in on Tierney and Davis as long as Tierney is there, guy just doesn't resonate with the Bay Area and I don't think he ever will.
Yeah, I agree. The online stream for KNBR has been screwed up for a while. It seems like the stream on the KNBR website never works now. That's bad business for them. Thank goodness for the tune in stream site! As far as the streamline issues goes, no offense to these guys but, there must be some lazy board ops or "league of dorks" as Damon calls them, on KNBR. LOL. It's like fix the darn problem! Damon said he was going to talk them, and it seemed like the streamline problem was fixed on the tune in website for at least one day, but now it's back to it's regular problems where Damon's show is replaced by the same darn commercials day after day. LOL. A lot of these commercials (Kars 4 Kids, the Raybuck commercials, the State Farm commercials they used to do, et. al) are starting to get old. It's almost like you hear them a million tmes a day if you are a frequent KNBR or 95.7 listener. Both stations have a lot of the same commercials. Yeah, we probably are looking too much into this, but, you hate to be listening to the same tired commercials when you're streamlining a show like Damon's show, or other shows. It's almost like, if you're at work or somewhere else and you try to streamline Damon's show, with these streamline issues, you might as well just wait until the podcast of his show is posted up on the KNBR website a little later.
That's the cat calling the kettle black with your handle Unemployment. Though I do agree with your premise that Fitz needs to be kicked to the curb along with Brooks.
So wait goose. This dude tells you he got his 411 from a Pulitzer writer and you bring back no substance? Dude, I'm so glad you're not a national writer for anything important. Glad to know you're just a fan boy. By the way, Rusty is correct in his post.
Google and a dictionary. I have really short sold your abilities. One of these days you might even work your way up to reading a big boy book. Might I recommend this: http://www.amazon.com/Those-Guys-Have-All-Fun/dp/1609410750/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342195809&sr=8-1&keywords=those+guys+have+all+the+fun+audio PS. Yes, I know I linked to the audio version. You're welcome.
Rusty, By any chance do you live in the basement at your mother's house with the blinds drawn? By the way, I looked up 'areshat' and couldn't find a definition for it. Though I have heard the term 'piehole'. Did the author use those words in the book as well?
Awesome google tip. At first I thought that was a word you invented, but sure enough, the damn thing exists. You are, without question, tremendous at that thing and can not doubt uncover a million internet rumors written by bedwetters living in their mothers basement. In my defense, however, my source is Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Shales and JIM EVERETT! Just read the damn book, in Everett's own words, and shut your piehole.
Type in Jim Rome Chris Everett Staged on Google. Lot of contradictory stuff comes up. Then add 'producer' to that in next check. I'm not a conspiracist per se but neither Rome nor ESPN wants it piblicized as it ruins their credibility. Also, check out Mark Cuban/Skip Bayless on YouTube.