95.7 FM The Game

What does Damon Bruce’s departure mean for KNBR?

Well, well, well. It looks like these here Radio Wars just got a little more interesting!

Tuesday morning, our fearless leader sent shockwaves through the sports talk radio community (meh) and effectively brought Twitter to its knees in the process (not really) when he broke the news of a huge shakeup at 95.7 The Game.

You’ve probably read all about it by now, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the Reader’s Digest version of what happened:

  • Damon Bruce quit KNBR 1050 (and presumably his national weekend show on CBS Sports Radio as well) and will take over the coveted 3-7:00 p.m. “drive time” slot at 95.7 The Game, beginning March 31.
  • To make room for Bruce, The Game’s current drive time hosts, Ric Bucher and Chris Townsend, shift to the 6-10:00 a.m. time slot.
  • The Rise Guys morning show is gone, along with hosts Dan Dibley, Mark Kreidler, and Whitey Gleason.

My immediate reaction wasn’t so much surprise at the move to acquire Bruce – the embattled host had no real future at KNBR anyway after his misogynistic comments got the station in hot water last November – but at The Game’s unexpected dismissal of The Rise Guys. Though they might not have been getting the ratings, The Rise Guys was a quality morning show with a comfortable chemistry and a loyal fan following. Needless to say, Rise Guys fans are understandably fired up.

Who knows what went on behind the scenes at The Game, as PD Jason Barrett wrestled with how to jam Damon Bruce into the lineup. Were the Rise Guys’ ratings really that bad? Was there a HarBaalkeian clash of personalities? What was going on inside the building? Does Barrett literally have incentives built into his contract around changing the lineup every three months? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Hmmmmm…

Nope. Sorry. I got nothing.

Look, honestly, I have very little interest in 95.7 The Game. After all, the name is LOL KNBR Callers, not, well, you get the idea …

So, enough about 95.7 The Game. We already know what their new lineup looks like anyway. It’s old news! Let’s turn our focus towards the bigger fish in the market and figure out what all this could mean for The Sports Leader!

***

The way I see the future of the noon-to-three spot on 1050, KNBR PD Lee Hammer has three scenarios to choose from. Scenario one is predictable and boring. Scenario two is somewhat less predictable, but still pretty boring. And the third scenario is highly unlikely, not boring at all, and based purely on rampant speculation and irresponsible conjecture!

Okay, so here’s how this is gonna go down. I’m about to throw a bunch of crap against the wall, but I’m going to give you a short description and a likelihood score to make it all sound semi-legit. The likelihood score is based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being Most Likely to Happen and 1 being Are You INSANE There is No Way in HELL That Would Ever Happen.

Feel free to rip my ideas in the comment section, or interject your own crazy ideas about what Lee Hammer should do, so we can all rip you. YEAH! RIP FEST!

***

First Scenario – Do Nothing

Option #1More CBS Sports Radio

Ugh. CBS Sports Radio. They’ve already blessed us with the likes of Scott Ferrall, Brandon Tierney, Amy What’s-her-name, and … Tiki Barber? (wait, that can’t be right, can it … nevermind, yes it is, wow). This is totally going to happen. Might as well get used to it. Hey, people seem to enjoy the Jim Rome Show. They’ll learn to love Doug Gottlieb too, right? Right!

Likelihood Score: 9 – Uninspiring. Predictable. Safe. Cheap. Lee Hammer says yes to all of the above.

 

Option #2 – Dead air

That’s right, no sound. None whatsoever. Complete silence. Just you and your thoughts. For three hours. Hey, it’s either this or Doug Gottlieb. Pick your poison.

Likelihood Score: 1.5 – Dammit. Really wish this one was higher.

***

Second Scenario – KNBR 1050: The Farm System

Option #1 – Kate Scott

If KNBR 1050 really is, as Gary Radnich put it, the “farm system” for KNBR, then morning anchor Kate Scott is the station’s #1 prospect. After a couple of years mixing it up with Gary & Larry and the morning show guys, I think Scott is ready to make the jump to the host chair. I’m just not sure she’s ready for a solo gig. I’d rather see her (and the other minor leaguers on the list below) paired with a co-host to start.

Likelihood Score: 6.5 – Is this Kate Scott’s big break? Is it the best move for her? Lee Hammer says … maybe.

 

Option #2 – Ted Ramey

Ramey was the KNBR 1050 anchor before Damon Bruce jumped ship. Now he’s (temporarily) in the big seat, hosting “The Show” as they’re now calling it. Ramey has served admirably as a short-term fill-in host on several occasions (including this week), but like anyone else thrust unexpectedly into the role of host, he hasn’t really had the chance to establish a rhythm on the air, or much of an identity.

Likelihood Score: 3.5 – Lack of familiarity with the audience hurts his chances.

 

Option #3 – Matt Kolsky

Matt Ramey? Ted Kolsky? Do we know the difference between these guys yet? Not really. Kolsky is the update/traffic anchor for Fitz & Brooks and the Mr. T Show. Like Ramey, he’s had a few chances to host, filling in occasionally on Sportsphone 680. He has some NBA knowledge, but again, he hasn’t made a name for himself quite yet.

Likelihood Score: 3.5 – These minor leaguers aren’t going to move the needle.

 

Option #4 – Revolving Door of Guest Hosts

If he’s feeling wishy-washy about the whole thing, Hammer can always just schedule a string of guest hosts and see how it all shakes out. He has plenty of options. Names like Jim Kozimor, Patrick Connor, Kevin Lynch, Ted Robinson and Dave Flemming come to mind, but Hammer could get pretty creative with this option, mixing and matching familiar voices with some newbies. How about Ahmed Fareed? Peter Hartlaub, anyone?

Likelihood Score: 7 – A few of the individual names are obviously long shots to appear on KNBR, but the concept isn’t far-fetched.

***

eric byrnesx-largeThird Scenario – Scorched Earth

Option #1 – The Kreidler Effect

I’ve always liked Mark Kreidler. He’s the kind of host who thinks before he speaks and doesn’t have to yell to get his point across. I could see him doing a solo show on 1050 or … fitting in somewhere on 680. This is where the Scorched Earth scenario comes in, because any injection of new talent into the 680 lineup means dominos start to fall. For instance, if they paired Kreidler with Tolbert, could that free up Ratto to team with Woodson for another show? What time slot would they take? Would this mean the end of Fitz & Brooks?? Who would take over Sportsphone 680?? WILL ERIC BYRNES RETURN? GAHHHH! NOOOOO! CHAOS! SEEK SHELTER! THE END IS NIGH! Ahh … The Kreidler Effect.

Likelihood Score: 4.5 – Hammer’s head just exploded.

 

Option #2 – The Triumphant Return of Dan Dibley

The degree to which Dan Dibley burned his bridges at KNBR is the stuff of legend. In fact, to take a page out of his book, if there was a Mount Rushmore of Burned Bridges, Dibley would be George Washington. But never underestimate the power of familiarity in this business. Familiar voices make listeners comfortable and the bottom line is ratings. Personal matters aside, if Hammer thinks Dibley can get ratings – and bringing back Dibs would certainly generate buzz – he might just take a flier. The question is, would Dibley take a solo gig on KNBR’s minor league station or worse yet, come crawling back to his old job at 680?

Likelihood Score: 1.5 – Dibley doesn’t strike me as the hat-in-hand type. He’ll most likely catch on in another region and work his way back to the Bay Area eventually.

 

Option #3 – Talkin’ Basketball with Marty Lurie

In his relatively short time at KNBR, Marty Lurie has become something of a cult hero. He takes his time with guests and callers, and he sticks to what he knows: baseball. Lurie’s style plays well with the more laid back KNBR weekend audience, but could he crossover to a daily show on 1050 (or Sportsphone 680) and see the same success? That depends. Lurie is great on baseball, sure, but how would he handle 49ers and Warriors topics? Could he keep an audience with a Giants-centric show year round? “Hey, that’s hockey.”

Likelihood Score: 7.5 – Hammer will love the fact that Lurie brings his own cavalcade of built-in sponsors to 1050. The rest of the details can be worked out later.

 

Option #4 – The Gary Radnich Show (without Larry Krueger?)

Much has been made of the Gary/Damon/Larry drama that’s played out over the last few years, but it’s really exactly that: played out. With Damon gone, and Gary gushing to listeners five times a day about how happy he is sharing the spotlight (with Larry Krueger), everything seems peachy from nine-to-noon. /cue dramatic music… OR IS IT?? Krueger landed in a great spot when he joined Radnich, but nobody would blame him for being a little annoyed his name still gets second billing after almost three years. [WARNING: IRRESPONSIBLE CONJECTURE ALERT] Maybe Larry’s convinced himself he really has been Gary’s savior and he wants more than just fluffy praise. Maybe after three years he’s fed up with the nine-to-noon schtick and he’s ready to get back to his roots. Maybe he thinks Gary is holding him back. If that’s the case, he could see Damon’s departure as an opportunity to shake things up and make a play for his own show on 680. Hey, crazier things have happened.

Likelihood Score: -2 – Right now, Krueger leaving The Gary Radnich Show sounds about as plausible as Jim Harbaugh leaving the 49ers to coach the Cleveland Browns. Check back next year.

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