Anonymous writes in a comment to my recent post on The Hardline's Dilemma:
"One of the earlier posters alluded to 'the greatness of Mike'. This is what I don't get--why so reverent toward this guy? Obviously, his founding of the station along with his market tenure has earned him a certain amount of veneration, but he sometimes rarely speaks, and when he does, it usually isn't pearls. I've only been listening about two years, so maybe there was a day he used to be great. Greggo certainly isn't great either, so I sometimes wonder how their show was ever entertaining. Isn't it clear to everyone, irrespective of your feelings toward him, Corby is the de facto host? Please, someone tell me, what makes Mike so great? I really do want to know."
Agree, Little Weak Jeremy, and thanks. Thanks also for the reminder of the most sublime moment in DFW radio history, Green Tail Shiner.
I understand Anonymous's perplexity, to a degree. Persons listening over the past couple of years could easily have come to the conclusion from time to time that The Hardline had turned into The Corby Davidson Extravaganza. The earliest articles on this website griped consistently that The Hardline had developed a serious lack of balance -- as talented as Corby is (my opinion), the weight of participation of the principles had fallen noticeably and adversely out of whack. This imbalance comes and goes -- right now, I actually think Mike has made something of a comeback and Corby has dialed back a bit, with the whole precarious platter of unwashed plates being steadied by the increased participation and, dare I say, leadership of Danny B. But yes, there have been times in the last few years when one might well wonder why Mike is such a celebrated figure in DFW radio.
Having said that, to get back to Anonymous's question: I think Mike Rhyner is a broadcast genius, quite aside from his founding of The Ticket. He is the rock upon which DFW sports radio is built. Asking "what's so great about Mike Rhyner," which is a perfectly sound question, is kind of like asking "what was so great about Walter Cronkite?" After all, the guy just read the news. He might have had a minor editing function, but in the years in which he became famous he was basically a guy who sat in front of a camera and read stuff that other people wrote. And yet, he was an utterly compelling broadcast presence, the most trusted man in America.
Mike is like that. LWJeremy has identified a lot of it -- the man has a sound, an authentic Texas sound. It's just flat likable. Despite his curmudgeonly pose, his essential goodwill and humanity can be felt through the speakers. And he's smart as hell. And, yes, there's the don't-give-a-damn attitude that is very distinctive -- as opposed to media figures who claim to offer I-don't-care-what-other-people-think viewpoints but who are obvious poseurs without conviction, Mike truly does not care what happens to him -- no, he's not immune from getting his ass fired, but his ass truly could not care less and truly knows that he's got the Cumulo-Ticket Overlords by their nine-kilowatt balls.
And I suppose it goes without saying at this point that The Hardline was always about Mike. I remember the days of The Great Divorce. I couldn't believe the drivel I read about how Greggo was going to kick The Hardline's ass when he rose again, and how The Hardline would sink without him. That was crap from the instant Greggo missed his last show-start, and the increasing popularity of The Hardline since then should have long since proved it. Corby deserves some credit, as do Danny and Grubes, but this is much, much, more about the enduring appeal of Show-Biz Mike.
The man simply knows how to entertain.
Mike has his detractors -- I'm sure we're about to hear from some of them -- and, of course, no one is immune from criticism. But for my money, I'd rather hear that leisurely growl greeting me on my drive home than almost anything else I can think of.
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