Friday, October 29, 2010

Compare and Contrast: The Hardline in New York -- The Musers in San Francisco

Celebrity Confessor AP from The (incomparable) UnTicket has requested that I comment on the visits of the respective drive-time programs to New York and San Francisco.   (See his comment no. 6 to my prior post on my Ron Washington theories.)   It is AP's feeling that as the Ticket's "baseball show of record," perhaps The Hardline should have been sent to San Francisco instead of The Musers.

I guess the first thing we have to consider in this particular case is that this was probably not a radio station decision -- I'm guessing it was a sponsor decision because the sponsor (StubHub) actually footed the bill for the trip and provided the tickets, if I understood the hosts of both shows correctly.  They chatted with the nice lady who runs StubHub a couple of times on each showgram.   StubHub might well have thought that it would get more bang for the buck by spreading the stubs around a little.

Let's put that aside and examine these road trips from the listeners' perspective. 

A couple of thoughts:

(1)  These are radio talk shows.   They're not The Amazing Race where one's physical surroundings are a significant part of the actual broadcast.  So the value of a road trip can only be discerned in the difference between what we hear every day on the air and what we hear when they broadcast from the road. 

I was struck by this during Cowboys training camp this year.  I always think that it's going to be cool to hear them broadcast from training camp, and then  .  .  .  I can't recall a single Cowboy insight from any of the showgrams this year (in fairness, I seldom heard Norm or BaD) that resulted from their presence at the training camp.  Now there were some bits -- Corby's hit-and-run interviews of Cowboys after practice and various hangers-on, the Musers' encounters on the street at night.  Both of those can be very entertaining.  Were they worth it to The Ticket sending the broadcast teams and technical crews down to San Antonio for however long it was?  Don't know.  Doubt that Cumulus gets more ad revenue from road trips.  Or maybe it's a promotional thing, they do it so they can say they did it.  A goodwill thing, point of pride.  Did it result in significantly enhanced (1) radio broadcasting or (2) Cowboys insight?   Maybe a little bit.  Little tiny bit. 

Point is -- road trips don't do much for me one way or the other. 

In fact, now that I think about it -- this year I don't evem remember the drive shows doing any sit-down player interviews with the hosts.  I may be misremembering this, but in years past I seem to recall that they had players and coaches lined up to do a bunch of interviews but it's not coming to mind this time around.  (Not that I miss player/coach interviews -- they seldom have much of interest to say, and when they do say something interesting, there's always the risk they'll get in some trouble.  So who cares about player/coach interviews and, for that matter press conferences?)   So if you're not going to interact significantly with the activity that has brought you on the road trip, what exactly is the point?

(2) Turning to AP's thoughts on the Hardline/Musers:

I agree with AP that the Hardline is more Rangeriffic.  Even Danny arises from his cynical cultural torpor to show some enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, baseball.   And, of course, Mike is Baseball Jeebus.

I'm not sure that the relatively greater advertised fondness of The Hardline for the Rangers translates into a better experience for the listener.  Hard to say.  I'm not sure the stories of the hard partying when the Hardline boys go out of town is of great interest to the listener.  Sounds kind of like guys whose minds might not entirely be on The Great Game.  We do get an account of their travels to Yankee Stadium and their time at the game, and that's interesting to listen to.  But we didn't get much man-on-the-street this time around.  I will say that I did like Danny's brief reports from Yankee Stadium on the day when they sent him on ahead because the game conflicted with their broadcast.  I know Danny isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for some reason the jamoke just tickles me.  But The Hardline's presence in New York City really didn't leave much of an impression that was a result of them being there. 

The Musers, of course, are broadcasting in the dead of night in San Francisco, so other than their game account, -- which, like The Hardline's was interesting -- we get recorded audio of their encounters.  Which, it must be said, are greater in number than the Hardline.  And pretty well done.  Each guy collected some tape. 

I don't want to say that I like The Musers in San Fran better than I liked The Hardline in New York, or the other way around either.  I will say that each show exhibited their characteristics with about the same vividness as they do in the studio -- the ramshackle, not-much-show-prep Hardline, and the more buttoned-down, spread-the-duties Musers.   Liked 'em both.  Not hearing a whole lot of gee-whiz arising out of their proximity to the Rangers post-season, but maybe some marginal sizzle.  They're both great in their own way.

But neither is a whole lot greater on road trips.

So to answer your question, AP -- I can't say that The Hardline's baseballphilia earns them any greater entitlement to post-season ball on location.   I might feel differently if they had used their their enthusiasm -- and their media contacts -- to more colorful effect in NYC, but they didn't line up much beyond the New-York-is-Cool stuff.  So I'm OK with the Musers in the City by the Bay.


ap said...

Your post is much appreciated, Plainsman - I believe I may have been guilty listening to the Hardline with my Ranger-distorted headphones on.

I wholeheartedly agree with your points on Big Dumb Danny - when he gives an eff about something, his level of broadcasting goes through the roof and I'm locked in. This tends to happen for subjects that wouldn't normally don't hold my interests, for example, world cup soccer, country music, and going to Fenway with his newfound sister are all topics he's explored in-depth on the Orphanage, and done a fantastic job in doing so.

The enthusiasm in "Ramrod's" voice is evident during this World Series run, and I believe it adds tremendously to the Hardline presentation - heck, I'm listening to him whisper station ID's (*the ticket!*) over top of Ron Washington's press conference at the moment, and his gusto is apparent even in that simple task. Perhaps that's what I'm noticing - a reinvigorated member of the normally-aloof Hardline, versus the usual Musers emanating from a different location.

Thanks as always for your time and thoughts - cheers!

ap said...

Oh, one other thing - The show that benefits the most from being out in Oxnard for Cowboy Training Camp is by far Norm Hitzges. Going from memory, I believe he usually has a different player per day, as well as a significant member of the coaching staff (Hud Houck, Joe DeCamillis, Joe Juracsek*, etc) every few days. Norm had also earned the trust of the refreshingly-honest-to-a-fault Patrick Crayton, and Jerry Jones would also sit down with Norm once per camp despite his radio affiliations.

For "man on the street" interviews, I thought Donny Doo was able to reap the benefits of (a) being around during the day, and (b) being able to approach the players in a much more informal manner (McDowell correctly points out that Donny's dialect also changes slightly). Perhaps not as witty as Gordo nor as abrasive as Corby, but nevertheless Donny is consistently able to land recurring interviews with players that might otherwise be unapproachable.

I think I'm rambling at this point...

The Plainsman said...

AP, you never ramble.

Yeah, I wondered whether the two sandwich shows (Norm and BaD) might benefit more from those trips during training camp because they're out and about when the practices and other things are going on.

Also: I appreciate the suggestion for a topic. I run dry from time to time.

Finally -- I had a big spike in hits to the site yesterday, and it didn't look like people looking for Alexis/Barb stuff. A lot of peple looking for "my ticket confession" on Google. Did the site get a mention somewhere? If you know. Thanks again, AP.

Scott said...

Interesting topic. From my perspective, the road trip to sporting events is just that.

I get a kick out of the bits and the interviews and the perspective. I travel about 30% of my business life, but when it comes to sporting events, I am a TV guy. That isn't because I want to be, but games are expensive and crowds make me nervous. (Boy, talk about crowds, anyone go to the Air Show Sat?)

So, for me it is fun to hear what they are seeing, I relate to most of the Ticket guys, so they are my eyes on the ground, or my nose on the ground when it comes to Giants home games and pot. Tidbits like that are interesting to me.

It would be hard for me to say which showgram covered better or worse, they are so different, yet similar. Does that make sense.....

AND, BTW, Where is the f'ing stream this morning!!

P1 Steven said...

I would say the road trips are totally worth the Corby, Gordo interviews. Remember when Gordo found a woman w/ a "Not my bitch Tatoo"? & Then asked Wade if he had the same interview... How often do you get to hear the personalities talk about their night life? Rarely. It is essentially a road trip. A chance for the guys to bring new material & tell the stories. Im always more willing to listen to the shows when they are on the road. In addition, I would say the HARDLINE crew seems jaded at times. I remember a while back when Mike, Danny, & Corby were discussing Mikes general disdain for attending sporting events. I think that NY series might have been refreshing for him.

Christy said...

Random thoughts:
- I agree with most of The Plainsman's view on roadtrips
- I'm surprised the whole station didn't go to New York/San Francisco for such a major sporting event since they make such a big deal about going to the Super Bowl, Cowboys training camp, etc. I thought in years past all the shows - if not the cornerstone ones for sure - went to the Championship Game if a Dallas team was in it. But I guess play "A Cumulus Station" drop here.
- I enjoyed The Musers in San Francisco more because I prefer show prep and because I felt like The Musers made more use of their time in San Francisco than The Hardline did in New York, which goes back to The Plainsman's point of how does roadtrips reward the listeners? While it was interesting - but nothing no one else has already said over and over again - to hear the good ole Southern boys' take on New York, The Musers actually had audio from their location, which to me, makes for quality broadcasting - more on this later
- However, I am happy for Mike Rhyner and Danny Balis as life-long suffering Texas Rangers fan to watch the team spank the Yankees at their ballpark
- I'm a little surprised The Musers didn't get an in-studio guest while in San Francisco since their producer Mike Fernandez books tons of guests for their show...but then again it is extremely early over there when The Musers are broadcasting
- I find Corby/Gordo/Donovan's interviews with the players/coaches after/before practice to be hit or miss, and this year, it seemed to be extremely miss. But I guess you gotta sit through all those misses to have that one moment of awesome radio gold.
- One good thing about roadtrips - the video cam!

Here's a side topic:
- Sometimes I get tired of The Hardline talking too much. What I mean is, I need outside audio to break up all the talking or else it's just the same ole droning over and over again. Not everything that comes out of The Hardline's mouths is the greatest thing, ya know? Does that make sense? And no, drops don't count as interesting audio - sorry, Grubes.

I brought up a similar point in my epic defense of Bad Radio about all the outside audio content that Dan brings in as one reason why I enjoy their show so much.

Although I am enjoying The Hardline's ranting on the Dallas Cowboys right's the other talk that sometimes boggs me down.

But all that talking might be part of its charm and why they have the ratings that they do.

Another side topic since we're so Texas Rangers happy at the moment:
What are ya'lls thoughts on Sean Bass? My first real exposure to him was through Diamond Talk this year, and I enjoyed his work on that. But as the season wore on, my thoughts on him has shifted. I think he has the same negative qualities as Bob Sturm - the ones you, Mr. Plainsman, pointed out - sports bullyish, not much of a sense of humor, "thin-skinned[,] and peevish." He talks over his usual Diamond Talk co-host David Newbury or undermines David's points. He always has the last word. It's an unappealing trait.

At the same time, I wonder why he hasn't been featured on those station promos for the Texas Rangers these last few weeks. Danny Balis, David Newbury, and even Stewart Cedar when he filled in when the Rangers clinched to go to the World Series, have all had solid soundbytes on those promos. It's odd that the host of Diamond Talk doesn't get air time on those.