Going to go ahead and borrow this from Ethan Sherwood Strauss for a minute …
Agree with this poster pic.twitter.com/Dou6gfeiap
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) January 5, 2015
Thanks Ethan, I owe you a fountain soda in the Oracle Arena media room tonight. Oh, they’re free? How about a hot dog? Oh, they’re free too? Let me get back to you in a bit.
Anyway, about this Warriors thing. It’s true, there isn’t a whole lot of Warriors chatter on KNBRs 680 or 1050, or 95.7 The Game. It’s not that any of these stations completely ignore the Warriors, but you don’t get entire shows based on the team with the best record in the NBA. You get a mention here, a “Hey, Steph Curry might win MVP this season” there, and that’s about it.
Some shows are clearly better than others when it comes to spreading the NBA message. Fitz and Brooks are probably at the top of the list, for one obvious reason. Even when the Warriors weren’t worth mentioning, Bob Fitzgerald spent several noons-to-threes explaining to the listening audience how the Corey Maggette signing would lead to bigger and better things.
Tom Tolbert calls home games for KNBR, and genuinely loves talking hoop. He and Ray Ratto go back and forth on the Warriors’ issues, but they talk about a wider variety of subjects than just about any radio program. As for the rest of the station, the Warriors are a passing fancy — above the Sharks, A’s, Raiders and Quakes, far below the Giants and 49ers. Which is interesting, because KNBR is the Warriors’ flagship station. Then again, Warriors games are heard on the sister station when the Giants are playing, or sometimes even when their games start at 4 pm after the Giants’ season is over.
The amount of Warriors airtime is similar over at 95.7 The Game, which is more balanced geographically as far as the East Bay teams are concerned, but proudly focuses on football over all of the other sports 365 days a year. The Warriors do come up on the FM side of the dial from time to time, and they’ll probably come up more often as the days go by on all of these stations — long after the 49ers and Raiders announce who’ll coach the team next year, that is.
Oracle Arena will be buzzing tonight when Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder come in with hopes of avenging two earlier losses to the Warriors this season. But the lack of consistent coverage on local sports radio isn’t due to poor fan support, but instead because the current Warriors buzz is built on something that falls on deaf ears (at least when it comes to program directors, hosts and producers): regular season dominance with nary a hint of drama.
The Warriors have played a pretty cushy schedule and squashed just about every team in their path. Steve Kerr and Curry might be perfect human beings. Draymond Green is everything we want professional athletes to be. The players get along. Their personnel moves generally make sense. Besides the brutally honest comments Joe Lacob made to a bunch of VCs about Mark Jackson, no one has said a cross word about anything to anybody. The closest thing the Warriors have to a sports talk caller complaint is Andrew Bogut’s injury-prone-ness.
Throw in a fan base that was whittled down to a tough, loyal few during the Chris Cohan days, and the Warriors are in a position where they have to shout to get noticed. And that just isn’t happening … not until the playoffs, anyway. Instead, they’re signing together in glorious harmony, and that doesn’t play in the negative world of sports talk radio.
The formula isn’t exactly a mystery. What’s gonna rile up the listeners?
That’s why Gary Radnich repeatedly goes after the same subjects: which active quarterback will end up being considered better than Joe Montana someday (he recently moved on from Tom Brady to Russell Wilson), and why he’s either rooting for the Dodgers or can’t take his eyes off Yasiel Puig. It’s also why Damon Bruce needles fans of certain teams (Sharks, Raiders), or at least that’s what he used to do back when I tuned in to his show.
It’s the same in all areas of entertainment: people want candy, not vegetables. And to get past the obvious with the Warriors (score lots, defend good, shoot swish, win gamez) requires actually watching the action and focusing on nuance. In a sports world where candy exists in the form of the region’s most famous sports figure fleeing to Michigan after battling with the owner of an NFL franchise that won a ton of championships in the 1980s and 90s, the Warriors, with their motion offense and defensive switches, are considered a vegetable in radio studios.
What’ll be interesting to see is whether this changes when the overlong regular season ends and the real games start. They’re 3-1 favorites to make the NBA Finals, and we all know how much this area (all areas, really) loves a winner. By the way, I got those odds from Strauss’ most recent ESPN story about Kerr and Curry (which is worth reading). Thanks again, ESS … maybe you can come on our podcast again soon, and we can make up for this lack of Warriors talk on the local airwaves with a half hour of Draymond/Curry/smallball discussion.