You've seen the title, so you know where this is going. So let's plow right in.
Ever since I started listening to The Ticket I've been struck by the number of black callers to the station.(1) Nothing surprised me about it -- any sports guy or guy guy would enjoy The Ticket, regardless of race. There were also Latino callers, Middle Eastern callers, even the odd Asian caller. Female callers. Mostly the white male demo. But I noticed it because I've listened to other sports-talk stations around the country and they didn't have nearly this high a percentage of black callers. Nice tribute to the broad appeal of The Little One.
(1) I don't mind the term "African-American," but I don't think it adds much to the racial dialogue. It's clumsy, and at this point it's not even very accurate. Scholars and politicians like it, but it's so obviously PC that it's already falling out of favor among the general public and, I think, blacks themselves. If the Musers can have a Black Guy Round Table, that's approval enough for me to continue to use the term.
Then I noticed -- there were actually quite a number of black callers. (Not even counting Sports Shaniqua.) Which, if callers are at all representative of the P1 Nation, would indicate that The Ticket had a large black following. And, as I say, why not?
In fact . . . wouldn't the black audience for sports-talk be huge? Don't need to cite statistics to prove the dominance of black athletes in almost every sport (except maybe the one broadcast on The Ticket). Now let's be clear: Black athletes are admired by whites as well. And black sports fans root for the success of white athletes playing for the teams they favor.
But I'm not talking about the black public rooting for black athletes. I'm talking about the black public making listening choices when they have one.
OK, now let's tread lightly here. Am I out of line to observe that it is fairly widely acknowledged that entertainment can be racially targeted with success? That racial groups are interested in entertainment relating to their own experience, ideas, language? (Whites, too.) Implied answer: Not out of line. Consider radio itself -- the "urban" segment is the code for "black hosts playing music by contemporary black artists." Nothing wrong with it. A fact of our society.
Thus: my hypothesis is that black sports fans and black-male-culture guys would listen to a quality sport/guy-talk-radio station with mostly -- possibly all -- black hosts. They're not going to listen to garbage, or anything that is patronizing. But if it's good radio, and if it reflects the concerns and enthusiasms of the young-to-early-middle-aged black male listener (remember -- it's not just sports) -- they're going to tune in.
So -- with a huge potential audience in major cities, why do we not see anyone tapping into it? Why has no one tried to create a black Ticket? And should someone do so?
Well, let's think about this:
Has anyone tried it before? I've tried doing some research on this, and I cannot find any Internet reference to a black-dominated sports/guy-talk station. I would love to hear from anyone who knows of one. Satellite maybe?
Maybe someone has, and it has flopped. Again, anyone know?
Now there is one well-known black sports-talk showgram, the famous "2 Live Stews" of WQXI-AM 790 the Zone in Atlanta. You can hear them very early on weekend mornings on The Ticket sometimes, where the station will run a segment or two of 2 Live Stews. They show up on Radio Row on Super Bowl week. I have no idea what black listeners think about 2 Live Stews.
|2 Live Stews|
And this brings us to our first reason that maybe no one has tried it:
It Is Difficult to Build a Quality Sports/Guy Talk Radio Station of Any Kind, Much Less One of the Greatness of The Ticket. We've got two vanilla stations here in DFW trying to copy The Ticket's success, and, from all accounts, not doing a great job. It would be even more difficult to build a black sports-guy-talker from scratch.
But it seems to me that that is not a good reason for a media entrepreneur not to give it a try in some metro market. Sure, you'd have to go find talent. I guess I'd start with the local newspaper sports guys. (By the way -- Whatever happened to Jean-Jacques Taylor on The Ticket? After Mark Elfenbein departed, he showed up on Sunday mornings and I thought he was pretty good, and I also thought he and Norm made a formidable team.) Maybe I'd poach a talented black broadcaster from a white station (like Donovan). Maybe I'd grab a popular black local TV sports broadcaster (like Newy), or, if I were in New York or Los Angeles, a national black sports anchor. Maybe I'd find retired black athletes who had shown some talent for the microphone. (I think Jason Terry has a career in broadcasting when his playing days have concluded; Terence Newman, maybe, too.) Maybe I'd find experienced black DJs who have a strong interest in sports. I cannot believe that there isn't a lot of black-guy talent out there. And by that I mean black men who are "guys" in a black-culture sense the same way that The Ticket guys are are appealing hang-out "guys" to The Ticket demo. Guys capable of talking in their own voices, and not some overamped radio voice.
Also -- there are tons of white sports-guy-talkers, but no black ones -- there has got to be a large pool of untapped black talent out there.
And maybe I'd do it the same way that white sports-talk got started -- put an evening sports show on an urban station and see what happens. (Actually, I'd probably jump in with both feet and just put the damned station on the air with drive-to-drive sports-guy-talk programming, but I've always had a gift for spending other people's dough.)
Established Media Companies Don't Want to Cannibalize Existing Programs. So should Cumulus try this in Dallas? Well, if it's the case that a lot of black guys listen to The Ticket, why would you introduce a competitor of any kind, much less one that would poach an identifable group of listeners? And you'd probably find the same situation with other media companies in other markets. Now maybe if I were Cumulus and I had no sports-talk presence in a big urban center, I might give it a try. But I have a feeling that if this concept is ever to be risked it will be by an independent media company -- quite possibly minority-owned -- or a single-station owner in a major market at what has fondly come to be known as the enchilada end of the dial. There's a lot of them.
By the way -- there's a lesson from The Ticket: You don't need a gold-plated signal to succeed. A light-bulb AM could string this together (although maybe not with the high-profile talent I've hypothesized above).
Why Would Anyone Switch Allegiance from a Great Station Like The Ticket? If The Ticket is serving the needs of the black listener, why start another station? My concern here is not with service to the black listener -- it's with the company that is trying to come up with a money-making idea who, incidentally, will put on programming that is even more appealing to a target demo. And, as noted, we're not necessarly talking just about DFW, but any city with a large black population.
How About a Brown Ticket? Absolutely. Same opportunity for targeting the Latino (or is it "Hispanic" these days? -- cue Bacsik giggle) listeners. Possibly (likely) Spanish-language. (I have not researched whether there might already be such stations. If there are, that only supports my point that someone should try this with the urban audience, too.)
Conclusion. Someone should do this thing. Might be tough here because The Ticket is such an 860-pound gorilla -- but, on the other hand, the greatness of The Ticket might have conditioned core black listeners to the appeal of sports-guy-talk radio.
If I had some walking-around money, I might throw in with that myself.
PS to Confessor commenters: No censorship here, but I would really prefer that this comment thread not be about Donovan, although it seems to me that The Ticket's appeal to and attitude toward black listeners (and that of its local competitors) is fair game. I'm more interested in what you think about the idea, though, than I am about The Ticket's attitude toward racial matters. Future article, maybe.
And please, keep the sensitivity of this issue in mind in framing your comments.
And no "Race Week" jokes.