HeeHoo is not coming back.
And Mike probably is not going to magically reassert control over the show.
But I invite you to consider whether balance, stronger content, and Mike's interest might be restored by the introduction of another host, someone who could bring to the show something of the same animating spirit that HeeHoo did.
And, most importantly, someone who could be Mike's ally in the same way that HeeHoo was. A more meaty, blue-collar voice to offset the too-cool-for-school smartiness of the two lads. (Again, I like that attitude, but without some leavening it wears you down day after day.) Someone who could lessen the severity of the Corbyward tilt, and might, just might, be able to talk sports in the bargain.
I understand the risk. The show is good now, why upset what chemistry there is? What internal problems would arise by introducing someone who would necessarily cut into Corby's air time? Station politics, which are probably already much hotter than any of us imagines, would be daunting. If it failed, wouldn't it be a public relations disaster? Look what happened when they tried to pair Connie Chung with Dan Rather.
These are all quite legitimate questions, and all reasons why this modest proposal will, to a virtual certainty, live and die in this little blog.
But just for fun, let me invite you to put aside the impossibility of any organic change in The Hardline in the short run, and review for a moment the merits of an individual who is right there on the premises, available for service:
Don't laugh, or snort in derision. Just bear with me for a minute. Consider – he has a lot of HeeHoo's strengths (not all, not yet), some strengths that HeeHoo did not have, and none of his weaknesses. But also some weaknesses that HeeHoo did not have.
-- He is a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy. He sometimes misspeaks in a very charming, engaging kind of way. Sound familiar?
-- Although younger than Corby and Danny, he conveys a general impression of adulthood, stability, maturity. Family man. (Yeah, I know Corby is a family man -- a man with a family.)
-- He is not a slick broadcaster. His voice is not polished; is, in fact, a little coarse. Very matter of fact, but can summon up passion about the things that matter to him. Someone like Followill would not work on aesthetic grounds alone – the voice just doesn't fit with the Hardline. I feel the same way about Rhadigan. Those guys are broadcaster’s broadcasters – they hate dead air, but the pauses and errors of everyday conversation are part of what gives The Ticket its distinctive and appealing sound. Love both Mark and John, and love it when they sit in, but with the exception of Bob Sturm and Danny, there’s not a classic broadcasting voice on the station. You need someone with a little roughness around the edges, and Bacsik fills that bill. Just this morning, George Dunham was making fun of Bacsik’s voice, likening it to Chewbacca’s. There you go – it’s a distinctive, likable sound and not a prefab broadcast sound. (And by the way: George’s timbre is not so far distant from Bacsik’s.)
-- He possesses the distinctive quality of actually knowing something about a variety of sports. Holds his own with Norm.
-- He has broadcast and behind-the-scenes technical experience without being a "professional" broadcaster.
-- He comes across as a nice guy.
-- DISADVANTAGE: He is not a naturally amusing human. For it to work, he would have to loosen up a little. His shows with Rhadigan over the Christmas break were quite good. His weekend show with some guy whose name escapes me right now is also good. But he'd need some time to get into the swing of things on The Hardline.
-- DISADVANTAGE: Might be a little straight-laced for some of the more rambunctious Hardline segments. He would need to get comfortable with pop culture topics, chicks, movies, bad music, and, of course, the occasional bodily discharge. That would come with time. In any event, that seat at the table should be a little, shall we say, uninformed about certain things – like HeeHoo was.
-- DISADVANTAGE: The man likes to talk. He can go on some. Nothing would be worse than The Hardline sounding like Why Today Doesn’t Suck, with a buncha guys talking at once.
-- DISADVANTAGE: Three guys on the show named Michael.
Of course, the most difficult problem is how The Ticket could make this happen in a way that did not make it seem as though the station were concerned about The Hardline. (For all I know, Cumulus and station management have no concern whatsoever about The Hardline. In fact, I may be the only person who does.) Maybe have Bacsik produce a few times if Danny has some time off. If that works for the show, have him sub for Corby a couple times when Corby has a commitment elsewhere. See how it goes.
OK, so maybe you don’t care for Bacsik . Or maybe he’s not the right guy. But what do you think about looking for a structural change in the show that sharpens up the creative tension that used to make that showgram snap? Is Your Plainsman way off base here?
Let’s say a new host were brought in, any new sportsy host: What would happen?
Mike R would be challenged to sharpen up his sports awareness. His interest in the show would revive, as it seemed to do when Rhadigan was on the show last week. Segments would have more substance, would rely less on repetitive inside gags and drops. (But, of course, we still want an appropriate quantity of inside gags and drops.)
It might be perceived as a "demotion" for Corby. (Adding any new host would have this effect.) That would be regrettable, as he certainly doesn’t deserve one. Another host would inevitably cut into his airtime, although it is not beyond imagining that Mike R would be the one reducing his cumulative airtime with a new voice there to talk sports. The whole idea here is to get mike interested again, get him off the defensive, increase the dramatic tension between the two factions of the show, which is what gives it its charm. If Mike R's participation (quantity or quality) were not enhanced by Mike B's arrival, then the strategy will fail.
Crazy? Sure. Just how crazy depends on how you think The Hardline is sounding. If you think its current gestalt is fine just the way it is and for the future, then it’s real crazy. If you don’t enjoy the showgram like you used to – or if, like me, you’re just worried about the damned thing – ask yourself why. If you locate the source of your reaction in the OverCorby (or, perhaps more accurately, the UnderMike) – as much as you may like them both – then a structural solution, while risky, may not be quite as crazy as it seems on first hearing.
Ask yourself this: If you had only known Greg Williams from occasional host appearances and contributions as a producer, and the Hardline were just like it is today, what would you have thought of the suggestion that he be added as an additional host on The Hardline? Could any of us have possibly imagined the legendary powerhouse that show became?
Of course, Norm would need a new producer. I nominate Doyle King.
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