Of all the showgrams, I get to hear Norm the least. But I found myself in the car doing some work-avoiding chore or another the other day and was pleased to see that it was Norm time. I tuned in and caught almost all of Norm’s amazing report on his research into the evidence that the Cowboys’ – which is to say, Jerry Jones’s – financial condition may not be entirely healthy. If you did not hear it, the gist of it was this: Norm pointed to a number of pieces of evidence, some of them apparently not previously reported, that the Cowboys/Jones might be having some financial problems – and they might be severe. I won’t go into detail, I’m guessing most of you heard it, or heard about it. He considered both expenses and revenue.
This was an absolutely terrific piece of work by Norm. To the best of my knowledge, it was original reporting, and might even qualify as something of a scoop. I do not regularly read the News or Star-Telegram sports pages, but I do not remember hearing anyone else reporting on the techniques the Cowboys are using to fill the stadium. Nor do I recall anyone putting together pieces of evidence to paint a picture of possible financial unrest in the Jones regime.
I have two thoughts on this, one pretty obvious and the other a little less so.
FIRST: This was a real feather in The Ticket’s cap. If The Ticket becomes known not only for first-rate saloon sports/guy talk but also great reporting – and Norm’s segment actually goes beyond original reporting all the way to what one might even consider investigative reporting – man, there’s no longer any reason not to listen to the station if you’re a sportsy kinda guy or gal. Acquaintances of mine who don’t listen to The Ticket say that the station has too much guy, not enough sport. I would never advocate a diminution in guy talk, but if The Ticket did original sports reporting, there would be no excuse for any North Texas sports fan not to listen to The Little One, because no other local sports-talk station is doing original reporting, at least none that has come to Your Plainsman's attention. You wanna be a sportsy station? Great – hire someone discover news about sports. What The Ticket does now does not qualify as sports reporting. But what Norm threw out this week did. And it was riveting, news-making radio. Don’t send that clip to the Marconi people – send it to the Pulitzer people. (Except . . . there’s no Pulitzer for radio work. I doubt the Nobel people would have a lot of interest either, too bad for them.)
SECOND: OK, so it was great work by Norm, Norm is great, what else is new. As you know, Your Faithful Plainsman is at least as interested in trying to figure out stuff about what goes on behind the scenes as it is in what we hear on the showgrams themselves. And Norm’s great work caused something to happen here that I think we need to applaud.
Someone at The Ticket said: Hey – this is amazing stuff. We need to leverage this within the station. Let’s run Norm’s investigation as a segment on The Musers. And so they did, and it was as interesting there as it was on Norm’s show. (Unfortunately, while I knew the Norm segment was coming up on The Musers, I was not in a position to pay close attention. It is my impression that Norm was a live guest on The Musers, but I could not tell from the snippets I heard whether Norm was on live or whether they were replaying his original report, and I’m too lazy to download the podcast. I think Norm's Muser gig was live, but if anyone can advise I’d be grateful. Whether Norm was live with the Musers or on tape, the analysis is the same.)
I’d love to know how that went down. Was it a Muser who realized the gold Norm had panned out of the bits and pieces of Cowboy news that came his way? Or was it Program Director Jeff Catlin? Or Assistant Program Director Rich Phillips who went to bat for increased exposure for Norm’s hard work? Or someone else who thought that Norm’s insights deserved a drive-time audience? Muser producer Michael Fernandez, maybe?
Not that it matters whose idea it was. But I’d like to give credit where it is due. The decision to give Norm a prominent chunk of The Musers’ time illustrates the fact that even though we all enjoy what appears to be the somewhat ramshackle construction of The Ticket’s broadcast day, someone at The Ticket/Cumulus is on the ball. Someone actually thinks about how to put this product out on the air. It’s not just a buncha white guys (and Donovan) sitting around talking. It’s – all right, I’m going to get a little gooey on you here – an art to throw 13.5 hours of pretty cool programming out there every day, and to keep it on top for ratings period after ratings period. The Ticket is one amazing media property and it’s decisions like this, and the talent of its stars, that keep it going strong.
Of additional interest is the fact that Norm’s investigations were reprised on The Musers and not on The Hardline. Which makes me wonder if Junior or George might have taken an interest in Norm’s discoveries and urged their inclusion on their show. I will say that I didn’t sense the slightest resentment from any Muser in Norm’s cameo appearance.
Whoever it was, both Norm’s original report and the decision to let Norm guest on The Musers is the kind of work that elevates a station like The Ticket from Your Source for Fart and Dick Humor to an essential destination for people who are serious about DFW sports.