Friday, June 3, 2011

MEMO TO CTO: Stop Making Our Musers Uncomfortable!!

I have to admit, I don't entirely get it.  In fact, I don't get it at all.  But I'll bet there's a Confessor out there who does.

Junior Miller, George Dunham, a couple of the smoothest, smartest hosts of any kind on any kind of program I've ever heard.  Entirely deserving of their tippy-top ratings on the tippy-top station.

Michael Lombardi, Peter Gammons, also smart, also smooth, not scary, knowledgeable about things that The Musers are also very knowledgeable about.

And yet, the segments The Musers do with these guys are extremely awkward.   They're so awkward that they (Those Musers) acknowledge it on the air.  I've only heard them acknowledge it with Gammons, but the whole feel of the Lombardi interviews during football season is very similar.  (I'm throwing out the last Gammons interview, which had the additional awkwardness of an artificial delay caused by The Ticket's remote technology.  Forget that one -- they're all awkward.)

It can't be that The Musers are intimidated.  They interview Troy Aikman on a regular basis, and their star-turn interviews with other notable figures -- show-biz figures, other sports figures, celebs of all stripes -- don't sound nearly as awkward.  And what's to be intimidated about with Gammons and Lombardi?  They're sportswriters.  Gammons has been around for awhile, but he's less notable than other sports guys that they chat with without nearly the same stressful tone. 

Adding to my don't-getted-ness is what The Musers have said on a couple of occasions about the Gammons interviews.  They have said that Gammons merely "tolerates" them (in a joshing way, but they clearly wish to convey the thought that Gammons would rather be somewhere else at the time, broadcast-wise).   I forget the words the used the last time they were self-critiquing their Gammons chat, but it was similar in intendment.  What I don't get is that Gammons (and Lombardi), to my driving-to-work ears, sounds entirely happy to be talking to them.  He's responsive; he throws in additional interesting observations; he's in good spirits when he comes on the line.   Lombardi -- entirely lively during his interview segments.  I don't get the slightest tone of condescension or irritation from either one of those guys.

No.   It's The Musers themselves that render these interviews an agonizing listening experience. 

I refuse to believe that it's lack of preparedness.  Even though there do seem to be awkward pauses between answers and the next Muser question (even when they're in-studio), not being prepared is not a hallmark of The Musers.

So what is it?  Not intimidation; not lack of preparation.   Here's the only thing I can think of:

They hate being made to do these interviews.  It's almost like they're insulted by having to devote a segment to these big-deal national sportswriter guys. 

As with most of my speculations -- all of them, actually -- I have no idea if I'm within whiffing distance of the truth.  But I try to put myself in their place.  I'm thinking:  We talk about the Rangers.  We know more about them than Gammons does.  Nobody who listens to us cares much about anything baseball except the Rangers.   We are the highest-rated show on the highest-rated station.  What more does this guy bring?    Is the P1 clamoring for outsider commentary?   Is he going to bring in one additional listener, even though his puss is splashed all over our showgram's page on the website, in an image larger than any of ours?  

So it's not that they're intimidated or unprepared, or even that they dislike Gammons, who, as noted, is entirely pleasant.  It's that they resent the fact that the Cumulo-Ticket Overlords seem to think that the Muser showgram needs some national star-power and celebrity-talking-head pizazz.  Like it needs some class, ya know?  Hell, The frackin' Hardline doesn't get treated this way.

So -- I don't think it's so much that Gammons just tolerates The Musers, as they say.  I think it's that The Musers are hostile to the whole concept of having these hotshot national guys forced down their throats when their showgram is damned near perfect without them.   Now when I hear George call him "the great Peter Gammons," I'm starting to hear that as a moment of shared sarcasm.  Not because Gammons isn't "great," but because George doesn't in fact feel that his interview adds any noticeable quantum of greatness to the show.

So some CTO thinks getting a once-a-week Gammons or Lombardi interview would really snazz up The Musers.  The result, however, is eight minutes of misery for Our Guys.  Our Guys should not be miserable, so I call upon the CTO to call off these thrashings -- better still, schedule them with Norm, who would positively jubilate over being able to run his theories by these national guys. 

Hey, Gammons can't be cheap.  Save that dough and put up a billboard, why doncha?

Or put an extra hamster-wheel on the transmitter.


Anonymous said...

Interesting take.

Side note: How much do you think they pay Gammons per interview? Eight minutes of a "big" name is worth what? I have no ties to the radio industry so I may be way off on my guess: $500. It's picking up the phone and talking for goodness sake.

Aikman would be more, wouldn't he?

The Plainsman said...

Anonymous, I wondered that myself. I don't think that's a bad guess.

I'll bet there's someone out there who knows how this stuff works. It may not even e a cash deal, but some kind of back-scratching type of thing with Cumulus. But I have no idea.

I am trying to remember whether that segment is sponsored. I'll try to listen next Thursday.

I mean, I'll bet Junior's blood boils when he goes to The Musers' Ticket page and sees Gammons's gigantic crooked puss off to the right there smiling out at the P1.

Anonymous said...

Gammons works for Sporting News Radio now. The Ticket's network during overnights is still Sporting News Radio, right? I know it used to be when they had that boring guy on right before the morning top 10

ap said...

Confession: Of *all* the ticket programming I have at my disposal, the only segment that I regularly skip past is the Peter Gammons interview.

My uninformed take is that the Musers don't feel like they are on the same level as him, so they just let him preach baseball and try not to anger him.

The Lombardi interviews evolved from a painful timekill (the Musers would salvage some comedy by counting how many times Michael would say 'ultimately' during his football monolog) to cordial, to friendly (after the Musers met him face-to-face) to genuinely entertaining (after Gordo and Lombardi 'bonded' over their dissenting JFK views). I don't know if Gammons will get to that level though.

Segments like Gammons and Lombardi (or those with Grieve, Grant, Moore, and to a lesser extent Aikman and Followill) seem like they're designed to fulfill the station's legitimate sports quota. It was an eye (ear?)-opening experience on Thursday when Danny's producer channel was accidentally aired while Evan Grant was delivering a report -- "Get rid of him, now.....cut him loose....." were Danny's stern clock-driven orders -- and that's for someone that the Hardline has a good relationship with!

The Plainsman said...

Oh, wow. Didn't catch that. Hilarious.

So you're more in line with the "intimidation" theory. Could be. That's certainly the way they talk about Gammons, but I just have a hard time believing that they really feel that way about themselves.

The difference between Gammons and the other guys you mention is that they're all local jamokes. Whereas I used to get the feeling with the Hardline that they could do without Mickey Spagnola and that they eventually came to feel the same way about Todd Archer (after what seemed like a promising beginning), things seem to be going better with David Moore.

The Musers don't mind talking to local guys about local sports where everyone knows the in-jokes about the station and the teams and the broadcasts and the like. The feel with Gammons is entirely different. You may be right about them feeling "not on the same level" as Gammons, but man, it would be disappointing if they weren't rising to the occasion for that reason.

Sounds like we both regard the Gammons segment as a giant pothole in the otherwise seamless Muser broadcast week.

One more thing -- I do agree that the Lombardi segments improved with time, but I recall them as more awkward than the typical Muser interview even as the season was concluding.

Anonymous said...

I think the Musers don't really like baseball and also don't know much about it or care about it and that is what makes the segment seem uninteresting.

The Plainsman said...

That is a very interesting observation, Anonymous. I hadn't considered that possibility.

I wonder if other Confessors have a similar impression about the Musers. I haven't noticed -- do they not spend much time on baseball during baseball season?

But if you're right about their not being very attached to baseball, it would certainly follow that the Gammons segment would suffer.

Thanks for a notable commment, Anon.

P1 Steven said...

I get the impression of awkwardness during the Gammons interview myself. I enjoy the Lombardi interviews. My favorite Lombardi moment occured when he panted through the ENTIRE phone interview because he had just raced up a flight of stairs.

Anonymous said...

Sounds about right. I've always wondered what those "National" guys are doing on the show. They're not needed, and all they do is spout the same stale talking points you hear from every national figure on every national program. I don't need that on The Ticket.

I can only imagine it's some kind of attempt to address the charges that The Ticket doesn't do "hard sports."

-Anon B

T4 In Rockwall said...

@ the 2nd Anonymous comment: That's Dan Patrick, basically promoing his show that is picked up by the Ticket after the Top Ten. I laughed at the "boring guy" comment. En fuego!

Anonymous said...

i'm familiar with dan patrick. i was talking about before the early morning top ten

cancer monkey said...

My impression was that the show-specific recurring guests are booked by the show (TomTom Grieve, Razor, Aikman, etc) and the few station-wide recurring guests/updates are forced on the shows (The Ranch Report and Masters/Colonial/Nelson updates are the only ones that come to mind). It seems to me that the Musers are the masters of their own fate when it comes to guests. Maybe there's some mandate there, but I don't think so.

As for Gammons, it's never seemed e-brake-quality awkwardness, it just sounds like they don't mesh. Lombardi has come along way, like AP mentioned. He actually interacts with them now and they seem to have some chemistry.

Anonymous said...

i luv the musers but face it, they've always been bad interviewers.
its just not their strong suit.

the only guest they do a good job with is feherty and its all b/c of feherty.

The Plainsman said...

Did you guys hear the Gammons interview this morning (6-9)? Huge improvement. They started out joshing about his music and invited him to join the Ticket Timewasters at Summer Bash tomorrow. Too bad he was broadcasting on a cell phone while apparently fleeing from a tsunami, but the whole thing was a huge improvement. The CTO must have sat them down.

P1 Steven said...

Good interview? That might be obe of the most wheels off interviews I have ever heard. Where in the hell was he?