Damon Bruce

Gary Radnich and Damon Bruce: first day after the breakup

Gary Radnich’s best moments on the radio have been when he speaks to the audience like they’re intelligent people. I don’t mean the fake flattery about how Bay Area residents are too smart and their lives are too balanced to really care about sports like all the mouth breathers in the rest of the country — a way of thinking that’s really tired, by the way.

But when he really breaks down the motivations people have and the inner workings of the media business and sports, that’s when Radnich shines. The more honest he is/seems, the better. When he talked at length (at least 45 uninterrupted minutes) after Larry Krueger, Tony Rhein and Bob Agnew were fired back in 2005, it was some of the most riveting talk radio I’ve ever heard. Likewise when the news broke about BALCO and the facility’s connection to Barry Bonds.

Today, Radnich treated his audience as if they haven’t been paying attention. No mention of Damon Bruce until a caller brought his name up during the last hour of the show. (Radnich’s reaction, paraphrased: Are you kiddin’? Don’t worry about Damon, he’s a talented guy. He’ll be fine.) Radnich acted as if the partnership with Krueger wasn’t even worth mentioning. Just another in a long list of shows the two have done together, with Krueger acting as the overwrought foil to Radnich’s “Hey, remember the Giants are on after this show (fake laugh)” persona.

One of my favorite moments: when Radnich said that “we” have been away the last two weeks. Who’s “we”? Krueger guest-hosted in your place with Bruce while you were on a KRON-only diet. Kate Scott didn’t go anywhere. I doubt the producers and interns took a 2-week break.

Another fun moment: walking to AT&T Park this morning while listening to Radnich and Krueger while a plane toting a 95.7 “The Game” sign flew through the sky. At the time, Radnich and Krueger were doing their first show at the Public House. This radio competition is ridiculous, but it sure is amusing.

It isn’t surprising that Radnich didn’t come clean about exactly what happened, or even fashion some sort of feel-good story about “mutual decisions.” He just swept it under the rug, hoping it would blow over like Tony Bruno’s “illegal alien” tweet. I guess that’s what you do in radio when you want to change things up or make people forget what things used to be like — take a week off or two. And if Radnich came out and said, “KNBR didn’t think we worked well together,” it would make the station look bad. If he said something like, “Damon’s a talented guy, but we just don’t fit together,” it looks like he was pulling strings behind the scenes to get Bruce out of there while he was on vacation.

But that’s what he should have done. Tell us something. What, we’re listening for Radnich’s great insight on the sports world? His intimate knowledge of pitchers’ win/loss records? When the Giants were winning weeks ago, his analysis was, “They’re a real team.” On Wednesday, after the Giants’ worst stretch of the year, his analysis was, “They’re not a good team.”

Radnich has his strengths. He’s a great ad-libber. He’s a fantastic interviewer (except for when he’s out of his element or the subject doesn’t watch him on KRON — just ask @GiantsNirvana). And it would have been great radio if he had let the listeners in a little today, but he’s more worried about keeping his job and his ego intact then pushing boundaries. KNBR should take notice, because you don’t get ratings that way.

Sure, Radnich and Krueger had much better chemistry their first day on the job than Radnich and Bruce ever did, but that’s because Krueger is Radnich’s chosen guy. He has to make this work now, and Krueger needed to jump at his first chance at a full-time radio gig in quite some time, so he’ll play along. I’m not blaming him, but a muzzled Krueger kowtowing to Radnich (I caught one of Gary’s old “With great knowledge comes great responsibility…” bumpers that trumpeted “The Gary Radnich Show … with Larry Krueger”) isn’t exactly a recipe for Arbitron success.

For Bruce’s part, he’s handled the lineup reshuffling (Lee Hammer’s like a demented Bruce Bochy these days) like a professional. But he did take a swipe at the Great Radu today…

And of course 95.7 “The Game” had something to say about the KNBR drama from 9-to-noon with a brand new attack ad. They’re going all in on this “Hammer’s a chimp” meme, aren’t they?


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