Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Living La Vida Ticket -- PART 1

I’ve been kicking this one around for awhile.  It’s still not well formed so  it will meander somewhat more than is my custom, and that's some meandering.     I’ll leave you with a question which I hope will provoke some comments, and I’ll bounce off those comments for Part 2.
Most of the people who visit this site like The Ticket.   There is the occasional naysayer with a grudge of one kind or another, either against this site or a Ticket personality, or, on occasion, with The Little One itself.   Once in awhile, a commenter will take me or the Confessor Nation to task for taking it all too seriously, for, in effect, caring too much about what is, after all, just a sports/guy-talk radio station.
I blather on a lot about fairness in these articles, so let’s be fair to these critics:  Are they right?  What does it mean to be a P1?  Does it materially affect our lives?  Would we really miss it if it disappeared tomorrow?   Certainly the station encourages its listeners to listen every moment of every day.  Mike daily requires listeners to mill about the premises making sure that every radio is turned to The Ticket.
So I invite you to join me in an informal exploration of the impact of The Ticket on our daily lives; whether it is a positive or negative influence; and if your relationship with the station has changed over the years.
I believe that almost without exception – and perhaps without any exception – Ticket personalities deeply and sincerely appreciate the loyalty and enthusiasm of the P1.  They express it on the air.  Most pay some attention to email and Twitter exchanges.   The station spends an enormous amount of energy and cash staging free events that the P1 enjoys.  This site occasionally hears from station personnel, and on very rare occasions I’ll get a private email of comment, correction, or appreciation.
And yet, do you sometimes get the feeling that even they are overwhelmed with the obsession that some listeners exhibit?  Don’t you sometimes hear jeez, give it a rest in their voices?  I’m going to explore the relationship between the P1 and the hosts as human beings in an upcoming post, but the point I want to make here is that it’s not just grumpy commenters that exhibit occasional impatience with the intensity of some listeners’ enthusiasm for 1310 AM/104.1 FM.
The Ticket does play a big role in my life, and I would have said that even if I’ve never started this site.   It is the case that keeping this this site going has changed that role.   My need to come up with topics of interest to The Nation means I listen with greater care, scribble down things that strike me, and get by the channel during times when in my pre-MTC life I might have been spending my time in that most idyllic of states -- quiet burger reflection.
But for guys like me and AP and maybe a couple of others we hear from, following The Ticket has turned into a fairly time-consuming hobby.  This site started in 2009, and after a slow start where I was talking mainly to myself, I’ve averaged around 15-20 posts a month.   (I’ll never forget the Confessor who, after I’d been blog-silent for awhile and maybe would get a handful of hits a day, wrote to say how much he liked the site and how I should write more.  Got me going.)  I keep a list of potential topics.  Looked at it the other day.   Got about forty items on it right now.  A lot of them are stale; others look less interesting to me now than they did when I wrote them down.  Others are gigantic topics that would take me chunks of time I haven’t had the last few months.  (By the way – I do a general-interest blog that I neglect and that I have more than once thought of emphasizing at the expense of this one – to date, it’s decidedly the other way around.)    Others I realize I’ve done already.  For example, among my recent favorite moments on The Hardline are the Mike/Corby live spots for GumOut – but I did a piece on that last July [LINK]..     (But wait!   I just noticed something interesting in rereading that article.  Ooo, I’m going to save this one.  The only thing I can promise is that it will be another one of my Listening Too Hard entries.)  
A typical gathering of P1's
But let’s put aside my extra Ticket obligations, since they are atypical.  Here’s the extent of my devotion to The Ticket:   I begin listening right around 5:30 am, as Rich is finishing up his pre-Musers Ticker.  Mrs. Plainsman indulges my listening while we share the bathroom, as long as I turn on cable news before I leave.  I have a fairly long commute, and I get to my workplace almost two hours before the place starts hopping.   So I listen to The Musers from the beginning of the show until the 8:40 bit, which I’m going to hear the next morning anyway.  I’ll miss the last hour and change.   If I’m on the road during the day I listen to Norm and BaD, but unfortunately those opportunities are limited.  If I’m paying attention to the clock, I’ll flip on The Hardline sometime between 3:30 and 4, and listen as much as I can for the balance of the work day, on the drive home, and at home until I hear Mrs. Plainsman putting the oxen back in the shed.  I am fortunate to have an employer who lets me have a radio on in my work area. 
I should listen to the Top Ten to get some notion of what Norm and BaD are up to, but family duties, the other blog, and even writing these pieces invariably intrude.   I’ll strap on a radio and headset if I’m off for a jog or bike ride (although in general, I think it’s dangerous to listen to the radio whilst biking and I’ve pretty much quit that).   I listen as much as I can on weekends.  I don’t listen to podcasts; alas, I rarely even listen to clips on The (Incomparable) UnTicket unless it’s a big deal that a site like this should know about or something that AP has commended.  I don’t follow anyone on Twitter.   I only very rarely ever stream the station if I’m not in range of the sputtering terrestrial signal.
I’ve only been to a couple of remotes, and then only briefly to check in.  (Remotes are on my article-to-do list.)  Never been to a Ticket event.  Never called a show.  Never spoken to a Ticket employee other than once at a remote just to say a brief “thanks” before I left, which the host politely acknowledged.  Wait, I think I asked a Ticket Chick for a T-shirt once.  Don’t have any buddies or relatives who listen much at all. 
So there you have the extent of my average-guy devotion to The Ticket.  Four to six hours a day during the week, and probably two to four hours over the entire weekend.
That doesn’t strike me as a crazy Ticket-listening schedule.  I listen when I can and when the time is otherwise unchallenged by much of any other activity.    I’d like to know how you guys (and Jonaessa, and Christie, and all distaff Confessors) listen to The Ticket.  I’d also be interested in your thoughts not on The Ticket’s content, but on how you feel about the time you spend with it. 
I’ll conclude next time with some thoughts on how the P1 relates to The Ticket, and whether the Ticket-geek accusation has some truth to it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Worthy Selection for the Trifecta


(1) Apologies.  This is a pretty un-Tickety post, but it relates to the Trifecta, so I'm claiming it.

(2) This is my 300th post.  Thanks to the Confessor Nation for continuing to check in, even when I'm not able to get off as many blasts as usual.  We pick up a few, we lose a few.  But I'll tell you, just having you guys around to fill in some info and call attention to stuff has increased my listening pleasure, I tell you what.


I was very surprised after a couple of years of listening to discover that Mike R's favorites and mine were precisely congruent:  Steely Dan and Jeff Beck.

I was therefore delighted that Mike recognized Roger Nichols, Steely Dan's engineer nonpareil, for inclusion in that Three Bedroom Apartment in the Sky.  Well deserved -- those albums are crystaline.  So in my estimation, well-deserved.  When I went to test some audio equipment once, the album I took with me was "Aja."

His tribute had a lot of information I wasn't aware of.  But there were two notable omissions I'll take a moment to bring to your attention.

First -- and of interest to the Trifecta analysis -- his nickname was "the Immortal."  In fact, he was credited that way on albums.  Partly because he survived Fagen and Becker's man-killing sessions for album after album, and partly because he seemed to have an immunity to electrical shock.

Second, while Mike was correct that he was pictured on the back of "Katy Lied," that was not his first appearance on a Steely Dan album cover.  Here is the back of "Countdown to Ecstasy":

If you click on the image, you can make it bigger.  If you will examine it carefully, you will see a random hand reaching up from beneath the board to manipulate the faders.  That's Roger (the Immortal) Nichols.



Not much Ticket interest there, but I had exactly ten minutes to throw something up.  I'll post an open thread in a couple of days with a suggested (and non-binding) topic.  Hoping that things slow down for me in the realm of actual employment in the next week or so.  Thanks for your patience.

Hope you will stick with me for the next 300.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This is a Sincere Question

Should I be paying attention to TC (or is it T.C.) Fleming?   Is he going to be a long-term Ticket guy?  Or is he already a long-term Ticket guy?   

Fill me in, someone.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Is Richie Whitt Good for Greggo?

My last RaGE meanderings for awhile, I promise.

Every time I do an article that touches on Greggo the Hammer or RaGE, I receive comments or emails that express the view that Richie Whitt is "enabling" Greg's, shall we say, questionable lifestyle choices.

My current view is to the contrary. There are probably Confessors who know more about the history here than I do, but I find that judgment harsh and, based solely on what I know about the history of Whitt and RaGE – concededly, I am not a profound scholar of those relationships -- not supported.

Preliminary question, not too interesting:  Have we concluded that Greg's absences, laryngitis, current voice troubles, bicycle mishap are in fact the result of the same kind of irresponsible substance use and other bad behavior that landed him in trouble with (a) The Ticket, (b) John Clay Wolfe, (c) RJ Choppy, (d) Richard Hunter?  I've phrased the question prejudicially, begging the answer "yes," but in fact I really don't know.

The reason I'm hesitant to conclude that Greg hasn't learned anything is that for all his current physical issues, I've never heard him incoherent or out of it on the air since he's been with 105.3.  I've heard him sling out some pretty good HSO's from time to time.  He doesn't sound impaired to me, just tired and rough.   Maybe his absences suggest a different answer, but again, I’m reluctant to conclude that Greg is continuing his historical behavior in the absence of evidence.   Anyone have a different listening experience? 

Actual question, much more interesting:  Is it fair to accuse Richie Whitt of "enabling" Greg?

I've read Whitt in The Observer for a long time and have always thought his journalism was pretty good.  I’m not one of those who found “The Hard Lie,” his cover story in The Observer, slanted.  In fact, I thought it was fair and when I finished it I didn’t think The Hardline or The Ticket had been maligned.  It more-or-less supported my previous view that things happened just about the way they should have.  

I am not aware that Whitt has a reputation as someone who is exploitive of others.  (I have heard that about other local media figures, but not Whitt.)   It is undoubtedly true that he has wanted a radio gig for a long time, but I would hope that we are not holding mere ambition against him.  I'd take an opportunity to get into show biz myself if I had (i) the chance and (ii) a molecule of show-biz talent.  Commenters have also expressed the view that he was angry that he didn't get a full-time Hardline gig after his plus-one tryouts, but I don't know what evidence there is for that, either.  (Again, anyone with knowledge, drop me a line.)

But let's put those aside and simply ask about his relationship with Greg Williams.  Let's assume that (1) in reporting on The Ticket and Greg’s travails, Whitt put aside reportorial objectivity and developed a friendship with perhaps even sympathy for the man; (2) that that friendship and sympathy might possibly have had as an element the possibility that he could vault himself into an on-air position; and (3) that he actively promoted the idea of a Richie-Greggo partnership to Fan management.  Now let me stress:  I have no idea if any of these things is true – I am solely interested in the issue of enabling, not whether Richie or Greggo was “using” the other to get to the spotlight (or, in Greg’s case, to get back to it).

But even if we make these somewhat accusatory assumptions:  Isn’t the result here that instead of Greg sitting at home feeling sorry for himself with lots of time to get into mischief and play with his guns and listen to questionable advice, he’s working?  Working hard, in fact, the famous face of a major-network prime-time five-hour program?  Isn’t the conclusion here that, whatever Whitt’s motivations and his true relationship with Greg, what he’s done has been beneficial for Greg?  Again – while the voice issues, the motorcycle accident, the absences are all somewhat puzzling, there has been (to my knowledge) no recurrence of any broadcast disasters.  Almost a year into the RaGE onslaught, he’s still broadcasting, struggling through the voice issues, not causing any internal issues at 105.3 (again, that I’ve heard).  He seems prepared to discuss the topics at hand, more or less.  If you didn’t know his history, would you think he was something other than a (somewhat fragile) Texas-bred sports-talk guy who’s  an interesting listen from time to time?

We may find Richie Whitt a not-terribly-compelling broadcaster; we may find Greggo a shadow of the old Greggo; we may find the role he has been asked to play unsuited to his talents.  But I think it’s going too far to accuse Richie of enabling the kind of behavior that has gotten Greg into trouble in the past.  I'd actually go a step further and say that those who remember Good Greggo and continue to wish for his recovery -- quite a lot of us, I would reckon -- owe Mr. Whitt some thanks.

I am certain that Confessors will take me to task for naiveté, and maybe I deserve it.  But I have a hard time concluding that Whitt is guilty of much more than helping himself by helping a man he regards, truly, as a friend.


Commenters:  This is a sensitive topic.  If you have information to share, please make sure it is credible, sourced (if possible – for example, reporting on something you heard on the air), and respectfully expressed.  I’m interested in all points of view, but I’m extremely reluctant to air anonymous reports that sound only malicious.

If you think you have something valuable but a little hot to handle, please feel free to email me and I'll review it and post if it passes.

Of course, you’re entirely welcome to disagree with me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Some Interim RaGE Thoughts

This is not the Richie-Greggo post I promised last time out.  It'll be up soon, I promise.


Commenter Anon D posted a comparison of the Hardline and RaGE ratings for the last little while.  I'm cutting and pasting his stuff:

They haven't made ANY dent in the Hardline's ratings. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.
Here's the monthlies, Men 25-54, 3-7p.
July Ticket 7.7 #1, Fan 1.8, 27th
Aug Ticket 7.9 #1, Fan 2.3 18th
Sep Ticket 8.9,#1, Fan 2.6,17th
Oct Ticket 9.7 #1, Fan 3.3, 12th
Nov Ticket 9.2 #1, Fan 4.3 6th
Dec Ticket 7.7 #1, fan 2.9 13th
Jan Ticket 8.4 #1, Fan 1.8, 27th
Feb Ticket 7.7 #1, Fan 1.7 22nd

As you can see, even the Fan's increase due to the playoffs and WS didn't hurt KTCK, due to the overall increase in sports listening (in other words, to paraphrase Rhyner, even the marginal p-3 found themselves listening to more sportsradio at that time)

And if you want a fun game- name 21 other stations that appeal more to men 25-54 than the Fan. Ticket and ESPN, 4 rock stations, a couple of country stations, a couple urban, 4 hispanic stations, you're still only at 14. Couple of news or talk, couple odds and ends (KERA? KEOM?), you're still only at 18. That's because stations like KISS and i93 (that appeal to teens) and KVIL (that appears to soccer moms) are more popular with men aged 25-54 than KRLD-FM.

The Fan thought they'd come in and take some of that big Ticket audience. And all they've managned to do is erode ESPN's numbers. (Down from a 4.1 Tie for 8th in July to a 2.6 and 17th in Feb for 3-7p. Down from a 3.7 to a 3.0 in M-F 6a-Mid

Thanks once again to Anon D, this was absolutely terrific information, nicely digested.  Amazing stuff, astounding that RaGE, for all its publicity and presence of Greg Williams, has done absolutely nothing in almost a year.  (I have no idea whether it's doing better than what it replaced, which would at least be something -- I'm sure Anon D or some other hip commenter can enlighten us.)

Several readers have suggested that RaGE can't last long in its current configuration.

Here's my view -- it will last at least until February 2012, when,, we have surmised and Mike Rhyner has hinted, his Ticket future will be set.  If he departs (I think this unlikely, but the possibility has been floated), RaGE will soldier on, because the calculus of drive competition would have pretty drastically changed.  105.3 knows that Corby has a love/hate relationship with the P1 and might well have the RaGE hang on to see if Mike R's absence might shake loose some listeners.



Since we're on a RaGE roll here, I've tried to tune in.  Today wasn't a bad day to do so, as I'd already heard the Cubs fan thing on Gordon's segment on The Musers and there was too much hockey talk.  When I spent some time on RaGE, I listened closely to see if I could identifiy what it was that was so frackin' weird about it.

I found it.

Whenever anyone other than Greggo is talking -- usually Richie -- that person uses the word "Greggo" constantly in his or her own remarks.  This gives the impression that the speaker is (1) calling for Greggo to pay attention and (2)to  respond to the speaker.

I never noticed it before.  I invite you to tune into RaGE and listen to it for 10 minutes and count the number of times you heard the word "Greggo."  Compare that to normal human conversation, including conversations you hear on The Ticket; listen to how often (seldom) a speaker uses the names of the other people in the conversation.

It's disconcerting.  It's uncomfortable to listen to. It has to be some program regulation that is designed to remind us all that good old Greggo is present -- which would be helpful for flyby listeners, of which there are probably a lot -- and will be heard from soon. 

It absolutely has to be intentional.  Otherwise, it's just goofy.  Or pathological  Actually, it's goofy and pathological anyway.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

RaGE -- One Year In (Almost)

I’m jumping the gun a little here, but after the last article, had RaGE on my mind.  The article you’re reading now started out in an entirely different direction, so I’ve hacked that out and will run it as the next article in a few days, also RaGE-related.

It seems impossible that RaGE has been on the air for almost a year, but it began its assault on The Hardline (and the last hour of BaD, not to mention WTDS) in May 2010.  The consensus among correspondents to this site seems to be that it has not been a success, at least by comparison to our heroes on The Hardline.  I have not checked the ratings, but I gather it has not made a significant dent in The Hard One's popularity. 

(Can anyone give us a report on whether RaGE and The Hardline are up or down?  I gather that The Hardline is still number one by a mile in the target demo in PM drive, but is there any evidence of even slight RaGE impact?)

I have heard some good things on RaGE and noted them from time to time, but on the whole I would have to agree with most Confessors that it's just not a very good presentation.   Confessors have suggested numerous issues, and I've got a few more:

          (1) Richie Whitt just isn't a compelling radio voice or personality.  He’s knowledgeable, but his voice is flat and dry and he is not particularly droll.   I don’t find him an offensive radio presence, just a colorless one.

          (2) The show spends too much time jabbing Greg, and not enough talking sports, which means that the only reason for Whitt to be on the show -- his sports knowledge -- goes to waste.  I don’t listen enough to know if there’s much in the way of interesting guy talk or pop-culture talk.  Whenever I turn in, there seems to be a sports theme, but it develops the Ben-and-Skin Disease of self-referring asides and conversational loops.  By at least attempting to talk sports, perhaps they’re trying to address a criticism one hears (but not from me) about The Ticket from time to time -- not enough sports.  Fine -- but get on with it.

          (3) Greg too often sounds pretty unhealthy.

          (4) RaGE tries to make Greg bear the weight of the presentation, and he just doesn't have the chops for it.   PS:  Could it be that his voice troubles are a result of doing a five hour show where he's expected to do quite a bit of the talking?

          (5) The other hosts patronize Greg, and it shows.

          (6) Attempts to copy The Hardline are doomed to failure, and the hosts know it, so the attempts are without conviction and fall flat.

          (7) Three persons with not-terribly-distinctive radio characters (Richie, Armen, Sybil) plus one distinctive radio character (Greg) does not add up to two distinctive characters.  Instead, they try to generate interest by frenetic talking and patently artificial jollity.  A Confessor or two mentioned this in comments to the last article, and I think this is the show’s biggest problem.

Sybil Summers.  Hey, why not?

Having said all this, I personally don't find RaGE all that horrible to listen to, and I've noted segments that I thought were very good.  But since there's a choice to listen to something much more interesting from start to finish, RaGE barely gets any of my listening minutes.  I don't doubt that should The Hardline disappear tomorrow (and not replaced by something good), I'd probably tune in to RaGE, or maybe 88.1 The One KNTU-FM, Little Steven's Underground Garage on Sirius-XM 25, or maybe road noise.

If I had to offer one piece of advice to RaGE -- and you know how much my advice is treasured in the DFW radio community -- it would be:  calm down and speak to one another like normal human beings having an ordinary conversation.  You don’t challenge The Hardline by doing the same things that The Hardline does.  That would be easy, and, as we have seen, it hasn’t worked in the past.  The Hardline succeeds (in addition to the innate talent and personalities of its hosts) because the shows present themselves as conversations between guys – not as shows that are scared to death of dead air and unplanned content.  That takes a special kind of talent and experience.  Greg might have had the knack at one time and I suspect he still does, but until they stop treating the poor guy like a Chatty Kathy doll who must be constantly goosed to keep the whole thing afloat, they’ll continue to sound ordinary, and The Hardline will steamroll them in every book.


As always, no limits on the subject matter of comments.  However, the next article will focus solely on the Richie-Greggo relationship, so if you want to remark on that, why don’t you hold those thoughts for a couple of days.   Focus on the show overall – if you can’t wait, no problem.  Blast away.

And, as always, contrary views appropriately expressed are welcome.  I’d love to hear from some RaGE fans.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Can I Get a Witness?

I haven't listened to RaGE in quite a long time.  Since the beginning of the year, I've had only one punch-out moment on The Hardline and haven't been inspired to switch over during commercials.  Don't know what possessed me to do so today as I sat in traffic.  But I briefly switched over.

Greggo's voice sounded terrible.  He didn't sound addled, the content of his remarks made sense (but were not of particular interest).  His voice was terribly hoarse and -- I can hardly describe how it sounded -- just beat-up somehow.  A couple of times he simply could not finish sentences because his voice trailed off into crackly air.  Richie and Sybil, the latter apparently having some gig at the Texas Motor Speedway where RaGE was doing a remote (although I only listened for a few minutes -- if I've got this wrong, apologies), made occasional reference to it. 

Then, just before they went to break, Richie invited people at the remote to stop by and say hello to him and "punch Greggo in his other eye," or WTTE.  Suggesting that Greggo had some unfortunate encounter that caused some injury to one of his eyes.

Does anyone know what, if anything, is going on with Greggo, these days?  Is this another laryngitis flareup?  What's the poop? 

(PS:  I must have heard three ads where they talk about The Fan not sucking as much as it used to, and at least one of them talked about how Hammer screwed up at The Ticket and is now not sucking at The Fan.  On the one hand, it's clever to be modest in a hip kind of way.  On the other hand, too many reminders of past suckitude makes overall station decisionmaking seem deeply flawed.  So I dunno whether it's a risky attention-getting strategy that works (because it makes me think about The Fan), or whether it's a pathetic and failed effort at charming self-effacement (because it makes you think that sucking is their customary mode of broadcasting).  On balance, I think it's very slightly cool that they admit that they formerly sucked and invite you to determine whether they still do.)

Anyway, if we have any regular RaGE listeners out there, Your Plainsman would be grateful for a report.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Corby Has a Real Sweet Stroke

Have the Rangers energized the Hardline?  I have no idea.  But I think the show has been especially good recently.

I was reading with the showgram on today, and was only half-listening.  Even without my full attention, I caught enough to feel that it had the spirit of The Hardline at its hardest.

One segment made me put down my book and listen.

It was Corby's analysis of The Masters.  I don't know much of anything about golf (surprise), so one who does might cavil at one or another of his analyses or predictions.  But just listening to him play it straight and produce a thoughtful and, to my untrained ear, authoritative report on what was coming up was interesting and entertaining.  Corby at his non-yuk best.

I believe I heard a promo teasing that Corby's going to be on the Tee Box this Saturday morning, 8-10.  He and Rick Arnett should put out some interesting radio.  Might should give it a spin.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You're Unlikely to Hear It on" Why Today Doesn't Suck" . . .

.   .   .   but today is Your Plainsman's birfday. 

Keep posting on the prior Norm post, probably won't be up with anything new for a couple more days.

Thanks to all Confessors for their continued support and observing the spirit of the site.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What Does the Heavy-Duty Sports Fan Think About Norm?

I'm trying to accommodate Confessors who get to hear more ot The Ticket than I do, or perhaps listen at different times.  We did a BaD segment a couple of weeks ago, so now I'd like to give Norm's show some attention.

I am not a heavy-duty sports fan, so I don't have an answer to the question posed in today's headline.  I got to Dallas in 2004 and began listening to The Ticket shortly thereafter.  I was under the impression that Norm was a fairly revered sports broadcaster in DFW.

In recent weeks, I've been surprised by some comments and other Internet postings I've happened onto that treat Norm with something less than sportsy respect.    One blogger has offered three articles in 2007 and 2008 positing that Norm is, in fact, an asshole, mainly based on the way he treats callers and colleagues.  (Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3)

Personally, I have always liked his show, and from time to time he'll have some original reporting or sports theory that at a minimum shows that he thinks about the subjects on which he broadcasts.   He seems like a pretty good sport about pranks and, despite his age and infirmities, hangs in there pretty well with the Compound and Campout stuff.  But I've also heard that he's a difficult colleague, death on interns, and the like.  (The Norm/Dan dynamic is of particular interest.)   His short fuse with certain callers is the stuff of legend, of course. 

But the product that emerges during his two hours has always struck me as pretty darned good personality-driven radio.  The Ticket has even managed to make show-biz hay out of his grandiosity -- they've turned him into a drop Vesuvius and, to his credit, he doesn't seem to mind.

The one thing I've always wondered about Norm is whether he is actually much of a sports analyst.  It seems to me that despite his repuration for grand pronouncements, he has a hard time taking a position on some fairly clear-cut issues -- the one that comes to mind is Wade Phillips's competence, where he was all over the lot. 

And for all his analytical efforts, his skill as a prognosticator would seem to be in considerable question.  When I pondered this before, I heard from a commenter who said that he'd been with Norm at a horse race where Norm gave out his tips, and the commenter came out ahead, so maybe racing's his thing.  But didn't I hear this week that Norm's brackets were almost dead last in the pool, and that that is usually the case?

As I say -- I like Norm's show a lot and I think he brings a lot to The Ticket.  He's a first-rate radio broadcaster. 

But what do people in the know about sports think about Norm as a sportsy guy?