Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Good Morning, Folks! May I Have Your Attention...
It is indeed a new and beautiful day in sports radioland.
After an 8 month hiatus from the nationally syndicated sports radio airwaves, I am back. And the boys are coming with me. Scotty, Solly, and the dearly departed Al are all back from the radio dead.
See? That wasn't so bad, was it?
Sporting News Radio, as a subsidiary of Mission Media Group of Scottsdale, Arizona, has hired me to host their morning drive shift from 6-9 a.m. from our Washington D.C. area studios.
Oh yeah, football season is going to be fun again kids.
I'd like to say that I just knew it all along. That I was certain this would happen within a year's time, and that the show was just "too good" to not get snapped up by somebody.
But I didn't know that. And I had to assume, that perhaps my run had simply ended.
You guys did have faith, however. Yes faith in me, with perhaps a splash of naivete in how ridiculously stupid the sports radio industry can be sometimes.
As you know, I don't preen at myself in the radio mirror much. I take sports seriously, not myself. I know I am good, but lately I have wondered if "good" really matters any more in our industry.
So when the programming genius at FSR decided 7 years of unmitigated success from me and the guys was all he could handle, I wasn't all that heartbroken. It's the business, what can you do? I did my best. I was proud of the show, and our run lasted a pretty good long while. So truth be told, I was looking for a new lifestyle, and some new opportunities.
Then, I got everybody's emails. That's when things changed.
It wasn't just the sheer volume of emails from you listeners, it was their staggering depth. I am talking about 1500-word-plus emails describing just what it was that made the show so meaningful to them.
You guys remembered a billion more details of segments we did, or moments we had, than I ever could.
The scope of people who wrote to me, was amazing. Age ranges all the way up to 80, and a surprising number of people who claimed they were not even sports fans in the least!
It certainly changed my mind a bit. This wasn't just about me losing a job. Millions of YOU were losing their ride-to-work buddies. It was truly traumatic to many of you.
I was even shocked by some industry calls I got as well. The great Steve Sabol of NFL Films called personally. As I had missed his original call, I returned his call on a break. It rang through to his assistant. I waited on hold. Then, the booming voice of NFL films came bursting through. "Czabe! What the HELL is going on down there!?"
He said he had heard they canceled the show, but just NEEDED to find out directly from the source. I had a chat that bordered on un-seemly manlove because of how much I admire Sabol's work and genius. He concluded the call, by saying matter of factly that I won't be off the air very long. It was very kind.
But I also thought: "Yeah, but what the hell does HE know? I work in this business! He doesn't!"
So as I settled in to being a morning sports radio consumer myself, I quickly began to appreciate how dreadful the national landscape is in that regard. The guy who replaced me is, well, how shall I put this: he's there... for now. And that's all I'm going to say.
And the two other guys on the Disney Sports Channel? Holy regurgitated sports facts, Batman!
I would listen and think: "Do these guys realize, that NOBODY TALKS LIKE THIS when they are talking about sports?"
Which is my only core philosophy about the medium. Good sports radio, is a CONVERSATION. And the more honest, probing, funny, interesting, lively, and no-bullshit you can make that conversation, the better.
That's it. It's that simple.
When I broadcast, I just try to talk to my guys, and talk to the audience, and let the microphones melt away into nothing. Like they aren't even there.
So here we go again. I am so, so, so pumped for this chance. The fellas are equally charged up. They are my faithful engines of creative brilliance. And we're going to do all of what we did before, and then some.
As you may know, Sporting News Radio was once upon a time, One On One Sports Network based out of Chicago.
I got my national radio start there. I remember it like it was yesterday. I rolled into Chicago on August 12, 1994. The day of the F'ING BASEBALL STRIKE that would kill the World Series.
I didn't know a SINGLE PERSON in the city of 6 million. I was rooming temporarily with a friend of a friend I had never before met. My Honda Accord was stuffed to the ceiling with all the crap I owned and could drive in from my parents place in DC.
And it was raining.
Welcome to the big city, kid.
At the time, One On One Sports was the only real "network" doing 24/7 sports programming. ESPN Radio did nights and weekends, but hadn't yet ramped up fully into a round the clock deal.
Over the years, ESPN grew into the beast that it is, and then Fox Sports Radio appeared around 2000. One On One got marginalized a bit, and sold to Sporting News. I think it's fair to say, they became the 3rd horse in the national network race.
Recently, however, long time radio executive Clancy Woods got some investors together to purchase the radio portion of Sporting News. His clarity for the industry, and appreciation for talent is tremendous. I couldn't be luckier to work for a guy like this, because I know he "gets it" like you and I "get it."
This network is going to be a force. You can book that one.
Clancy likes to say that he is "distribution agnostic" about the network and its properties, of which I am now one. By this, he means he'd like to get the longform spoken word product out there in as many ways as possible.
Of course, terrestrial radio affiliates are primary, as is satellite radio, but other distribution channels are here and growing. Things like internet radio and direct audio streaming from websites like, well, www.sportingnewsradio.com.
I can't say for sure, where my show will be heard right away, but suffice to say I will be keeping you posted on all that stuff as I get my facts straight.
On satellite, a bizarre twist remains from the XM/Sirius merger. Apparently - and don't take my word for it, because I may be wrong - if you have an original XM receiver and buy the "Best of Sirius" package, you STILL can't get Sporting News Radio. However, if you have a Sirius package, you CAN get Sporting News Radio on Channel 127.
What does that mean for those of you like me, who have an Acura TL with a WELDED IN XM brand receiver? I don't know, but it doesn't look good right now. Maybe it means I'll have to buy a new car with Sirius installed, and one that doesn't have deer guts all up in its radiator.
I'll have to do more legwork on how and when you could get SNR on an XM unit.
If you have a Sirius receiver and kept it - like I said you should back in January - congrats. We'll see ya'll in September.
In the meantime, we hope to loop back and try to scoop up as many of our excellent market partners we had under the "old" mothership. And I'm talking Richmond, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, et al. We want you back. We're going to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
I even hear rumblings that we might add the show in the DC market. It might just be scurrilous rumors, but then again it may be happening. Stay tuned on that one too.
Thanks again for your most genuine letters and thoughts, and bear with us as we get everything ramped up at our new home.
Like Jack Buck said: "Go crazy folks, go crazy!"