I didn't hear the entire Hardline program on Friday (October 2) with Mark Followill filling in for Corby, only a couple of segments. But those segments absolutely rocketed through the car radio. Just Followill and Mike, talking sports and other topics. No Corby overtalking; no Danny needing to step in to keep the show moving (Danny does not overtalk, generally); no self-referential banter about the particular failings of that day's show; no humiliation of Mike; none of the things that can make you cringe about the Hardline.
In fact, Followill's performance left Mike somewhat exposed. It has been some time since the Hardline sounded like a show for which the hosts actually prepare. My sense is that Mike at least, has lost interest in sports and Corby hasn't expanded his sports interests beyond college football, golf, and maybe tennis, to fit his expanded role in the program after Greggo's fadeout. So Mike ended up sounding a little like the junior partner on his own show. But even at that, it was a pleasure to listen to.
I don't advocate Followill as a permanent host on the Hardline. All-show, every day, his metallic baritone (terrific for play-by-play) would tire the ear. (By the way, it sounded like Mark and Mike were broadcasting from different studios altogether, which happens a lot even on Ticket programs with the usual on-air talent – Cumulus needs to invest in some new and matching hardware.) And in general I'm a large Hardline fan with the current format and personnel. But the jolt of energy and expertise that Followill brought to Friday's show suggests that with a little attention to restoring the balance between hosts and actual sports knowledge the Hardline can soar again.
As I have mentioned, I think I have an answer for what disappoints me about the Hardline. I don't mean to be coy, but I want to take the time to introduce it properly, since improving the Hardline is so very important to us all.