Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Hardline's Dilemma

First, let me say that I think the Hardline has undergone something of a renaissance over the past six months or so.  Can't put my finger on it.  Show has just seemed on an upswing.  Mike's been engaged, takes charge of more segments, his attention seems to wander less often.  Whenever that happens, the show gets some of its old balance back and it's good. 

Way back when when I started this site, one of the things on my (pretty short) Ticket wish list was that The Hardline were not so vulgar.  Profanity, explicit sexual references.  I don't think much of anyone else cared about that -- never got much reaction -- so after a couple of gripes I let it go.  I didn't like, it, still don't, but it's not a big deal.  I still listen.

Then, a few days ago, a Confessor made note of what seemed to him to be an increasing number of dumps.  He complained that whatever it was that was so amusing The Hardline was seldom, if ever, explained.  Another Confessor picked up on the theme and said that he felt left out when that happened.

I've noticed the same thing.  There do seem to be more dumps.  But it's not only the dumps -- there seems to be a lot of inside stuff going on during the segments that distracts them, they laugh, and we have no idea what's going on.  Sometimes they're watching TV and reacting to that, and the P1 has no idea what's going on.

At first I thought I'd write kind of a critical piece.  But Your Plainsman tries to see all sides when there's something that's getting under his skin.   After mulling it over, I came around to thinking that in some ways, The Hardline is in a no-win situation.

On the one hand, The Hardline's appeal is that it is a bunch of guys who enjoy each other's company and like to talk about guy stuff and pop culture stuff and now and then some sports.   It's like they say on the ad, isn't it?  Just a bunch of guys we like to hang out with on the radio.   And, like almost any group of guy friends, in the course of their chit-chat, there's going to be a certain degree of profanity.  And a certain degree of wandering and not paying attention and ninety-degree turns in topics that someone listening from outside isn't always going to pick up on.   The Musers aren't vulgar, BaD isn't vulgar, The Hardline is.  Not all buddy groups are the same, and the dynamic of this one is, well, naughtier than some others.

On the other -- well, it is annoying, as our Confessors have noticed.  It can seem disrespectful -- The Hardline invites us to join the party, but sometimes things just get too inside or dirty or private or something, and they have to snicker behind their hands for a few seconds -- no P1s allowed.  And, I'll go back to my old point -- even when they're not dumping themselves, there's an awful lot of cussing on the show.  A lot of "f"s.  I think it cheapens the show and the station, a lot of it sounds gratuitous and forced, and I'm mildly surprised that Cumulus hasn't tried to regulate it.  Is there a more profane show in DFW radio?

So, we want The Hardline to be themselves, but not too much.   I guess with The Hardline, like with any social group, you gotta take the real good (a very cool trio, plus the Most Famous Man in Radio, Grubes) with the bad (too cool, sometimes).

But either way, you gotta take it.

*     *     *

Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:  @Plainsman1310


Anonymous said...

Oh, for "f's" sake, get the "f" over it.

The Plainsman said...

No, I actually meant use of the spoken letter "f" to stand in for "fuck" or variations. It's excessive and it's lowlifey. The talent's better, more sophisticated than that.

Having said that, I pretty much have gotten over it. I mean, I still listen and, as I said, show seems to me to have freshened up over the past few months. I haven't griped about HL vulgarity in months and wouldn't have posted this if I hadn't heard from a couple of P1's noting the increased dumps.

Phil K. said...

Had a lawyer buddy who out-and-out quit listening about 5 years ago because he thought it was getting too vulgar. I'm not as sensitive to it. There are times when I just wish they would explain "what just happened" though.

charlie0712 said...

The language doesn't bother me as most of my conversations are much more vulgar as a whole. My gripe is that they don't explain what was so funny. I love to laugh and get to when listening to the Little Ticket often but if it's something that cracked them up so bad they can't talk for 20 seconds, I want in!

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take much talent to use vulgarity and then have a good laugh about it. I punched out of the Hardline a while back for that very reason and others. Sorry to see that things haven't changed.

birq said...

I've been getting more annoyed lately by their over-use of the letter f and s as a substitute for the real words. None of the other shows use that as a crutch. Sure, George will throw out a "Mother Hubbard" or some other dad-ism now and then, and Dan is fond of "bullsh", but no other hosts throw out the "f" and "s" like Corby and Danny do. And the thing that bugs me the most is that it's totally superfluous. It's just a lazy shortcut. But that's been the signature of The Hardline lately anyway.

ap said...

Well, I can't really comment on this thread, seeing as how I just reposted the "tampon dog" story from Monday.

I will say this though - there is a reason I don't listen to the Hardline among strangers. Whenever I play BaD Radio, people (non-P1's) are drawn in, and they tend to get a chuckle out of most Gordo segments. The Hardline, unfortunately, usually elicits dirty looks in my direction.

Anonymous said...

I think you are being hilariously disingenuous trying to pass off the Musers as not "vulgar".

Gordan is the king of vulgar. Yeah, he may not say "F" or "S" as much, but that is hardly the sole definition of vulgarity.

So the Plainsman is a big Norm fan and can't stand the F word. No coincidence I'm sure. Which nursing home are you a resident of?

Anonymous said...

As far as feeling left out, Corby is usually the one who gets dumped. He's not a very good radio host if you haven't noticed already. Between his constant over exaggerations, to his increasingly condescending attitude (Which I believe is NOT a bit, although they try hard to pass it off as one), he is the worst part of the Hardline. But I sit through it because of the greatness of Mike.

The Plainsman said...

Well put, AP. Interesting comments from the Nation. Thought I was in a very small minority of people who find the profanity low-rent for a show of The Hardline's merits.

What bothers me more than the profanity is the borderline misogynistic references to women and parts of women. Probably needs its own post, maybe six months from now. Don't want to hammer -- oops -- criticize The Hardline to excess, since on balance it's an amazing production featuring five very talented men. And Alexis and sometimes Doyle.

But returning to your point, AP: Yeah, I can't really share The Hardline with acquaintances anymore, especially family members and especially female family members. I know that the HL has its female fans -- most seem disgruntled and tattooed, however -- but the (admittedly few) Ticket-aware females I know do not like The Hardline.

I heard Junior say this morning that the station had its highest ratings ever, so I'm thinking the Cumulo-Ticket Overlords are unlikely to suggest any corrections in The Hardline's style. No one seems to be filing any complaints with the FCC and they probably wouldn't get anywhere if there were any, so, as noted in the post, we're probably going to have to accept this characteristic of this particular male cohort if we want to experience the essential Hardline goodness.

The Plainsman said...

Do agree with the Anonymous comment above re Gordon. I'm a Gordon admirer, but must agree that it's time for him to bring his act into line with his years. Way too much third-tier fraternity sniggling stuff for the Musers showgram. And he drags the usually classy Craig and George into it.

No Marconi nomination for them this year. Probably the endless stream of gay and vagina and amputee jokes.

ap said...

I thought they were nominated for a Marconi, Plainsman...the 'snub' they were complaining about was for the category of 'best show personality' or some-such. I'll bet that was a pretty big blow to the ego of one Gordon Keith.

One of the nominees for the latter category was Funkmaster Flex, who the Musers thoroughly ridiculed. I thought it was a little unfortunate that the Musers seemed to dismiss the notion that Flex may actually be deserving of the nomination, instead letting his admittedly ridiculous DJ name speak for his work. I've seen Funk Flex's name on very popular hip-hop mixtapes going back over a decade, but one only needs to listen to a few 'biggest show coming to town' segments to understand the Muser's reaction.

The Plainsman said...

Whoa, thanks for the correction, AP. I had to tune out just after they started talking about the Marconis yesterday.

Apologies for the error.

BTS said...

Admittedly, the Hardline objectifies women, but I'll be damned if the Musers don't treat them like some lower subspecies of human. You will occasionally hear at least the three hosts actually acknowledging and respecting women's accomplishments (usually in the realm of music), and they will actually book women as guests. Gordo and Junior are completely dismissive of women; JubJub's a little better, but he generally lets the other two set the tone of the show. Rhyner talking about Kim Kardashian shows lack of self-control, but if you want misogeny, listen to Junior Miller talk about Michelle Wei.

The Plainsman said...

There is some of that, BTS. Any show aimed at guys and starring exclusively guys is going to exhibit the occasional disrespect for women. (I myself do not count myself as one of them-there "male feminists" and I find a lot of the current celebration of women to border on fetishism -- truth is, they're as dumb/smart as men, current advertising campaigns to the contrary.) I don't think Junior's attitude is at the "misogyny" level (and Michelle is objectionable in any event), but you're on to something with the show overall. I still think generally it starts with Gordon on that presentation.

Jonaessa said...

I'm neither disgruntled nor tatted up, but I very seldom find the Hardline that offensive. Yes, the guys cross the line at times. Yes, they say things that make me think, "Did they really just say that? ON AIR?!" But I don't take myself too seriously, so I don't take them too seriously, either. I recognize that these guys are there to push the envelope, evoke reaction, and drive up ratings. If they want to talk about women as bitches and men as the superior beings, I don't really care as long as it's funny.

What does bother me, however, is the vulgarity just for the sake of vulgarity. We all have that one friend who uses the f word entirely too much and it brings no value to the conversation whatsoever. He (or she) uses it just because the word is there and the person thinks it will shock others. Similar to the way Gordon takes about genitalia--to shock people. The f word can be very empowering and--when used in the correct context--can really drive a point home. But is it necessary in every other sentence?

Also, I don't like being out of the joke. Has anyone heard Danny stopping down to explain some of the older Ticket jokes? "No, wait, Mike. We have to explain to the little P1 who Hong Kong Paul is because not everyone was here when he came up." It's so condescending and douche-y. The reason you exist, dear Danny, is because we, the listeners and devoted P1's, continue to listen to your little program. Please don't alienate your fan base.

The Plainsman said...

Jonaessa: Clarificaton: Are you saying you don't want Danny to explain the jokes, or you do? I thought your point was that you were feeling left out when you didn't get the jokes and you wanted them explained, but the rest of the paragraph gave the opposite impression.

Also: Would you drop me a line at so I could respond privately? Thanks, and thanks for your contribution.

Little Weak Jeremy said...

I think Jonaessa brings up an interesting point re: the explanation of old Ticket lore. I love the segments explaining the origins of drops, but sometimes these discussions are tinged with disdain for the newbie P1 who has dared to insinuate themselves into this legacy, almost like some of the guys take it as a sign of disrespect that we're not intimately conversant with every aspect of their extremely small, insular subculture.

Off the top of my head, the biggest offenders seem to be those who've come up through being fans themselves, not the hosts who are making the big money. Danny is one, and I think it was Jake Z who went so far as to say, "Do your research!" on an episode of IJB.

Jonaessa said...

Clarification: I want to have the joke explained so long as the person explaining it isn't talking to me as if I'm a kindergartner trying to understand how two plus two make four. Sometimes we as newbie listeners don't understand a certain joke (ya-wall, Jim-JIM!, etc. You did a whole blog on that.) but part of the fun is trying to figure it out. When we do send an email (as I assume someone must have or Danny wouldn't have brought it up) I think we just hope to have it explained as best as possible in a reply, not mocked as though we can't get through page one of the orientation manual at the Chinese House of Learning. (That's something my dad always said--is it racist, Daniel Tosh?)

And great points, Little Weak Jeremy. You broke it down in a way I just couldn't put words to. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

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.

Little Weak Jeremy said...


I'm sure my answer won't speak for everybody, but I'll take a stab at answering your question about the greatness of Rhynes.

I'm not sure he's more knowledgeable than anyone else at the station about anything, even with his "Baseball Jesus" tag, but he does have a great voice and there's just ...SOMETHING... about him that makes him very entertaining to listen to. Even stale sports points sound more entertaining when heaerd in Rhynes' lofty, long-winded style; he never attempts to cover up having been a total dork in his formative years; he has a different perspective, being older, than anyone else at the station about the beginnings of the Rangers, Mavericks, and Cowboys (Norm's older, of course, but he never seems to really reminisce about being a fan in the early days the way Rhynes does); he has funny, totally random thoughts such as the "green-tail shiner" thing from a couple months ago; and he's utterly unafraid of saying something that will become embarrassing in drop form later.

As much as I can put it into words, that's what I think is great about Mike.

Anonymous said...

I find it odd that "The Plainsman" referring to "disgruntled and tattooed women" in the same post he is taking misogynists to task. Let me show you a mirror, pal.

Is there something wrong with being either "disgruntled" or "tattooed?" Or perhaps only if you're a woman.

Stay classy

"Hollywood" Matt Shannon said...

Plainsman, after seeing the recent Anon comments, you might want to consider making it where people have to stop hiding behind a computer/fake name and state their opinion. Just a thought.

The Plainsman said...

Hollywood, thanks for the concern but:

Nah. Unless a commenter is really, really nasty or threatening or way out of line -- admittedly, a pretty subjective standard -- I don't really mind. The "nursing home" and "mirror" comments above are well within acceptable limits of discourse here. Sure, I'd prefer not to see any ad hominem stuff, but at least as applied to me, it comes with the territory.

I look at it like this: First, if one is going to do a site on a topic about which people care deeply, like The Little One, one is going to make people mad once in awhile, and sometimes that unhappiness with an article slops over into something that might be considered a personal slight. If you don't let those comments stand (again, unless they're way out there) then the site loses some credibility and I look thin-skinned and wussy.

Second: People could make up a name and post any picture they want, and I'd never know the difference between them and a Grumponymous.

So thanks for your note, Hollywood, but I think The Confessor Nation is better off policing itself. Extreme cases aside.

"Hollywood" Matt Shannon said...

Fair enough. And reading over the comments again, I'd have to agree. I think my post may have been a bit skewed with bias from having to deal with more than my fair share of those types. You know, the ones who are like that lady that wrote that scathing review about Danny's "King Bucks" band in the Observer. The ones who want to poke and poke and poke, then when the person they're poking finally snaps and calls them on their crap, they throw their hands up in the air and cry that they're the victim.

The Plainsman said...

Met a guy yesterday, a fairly high-flying professional type. Not an old guy. He's a Bob-and-Dan fan. He volunteered that he finally had to stop listening to The Hardline, and while he does listen to the Musers, Gordon was too often over-the-line for him.

I'd be interested in a further breakdown of the demographics on the listeners to these programs. Obviously, lots of us are listening to all the programs, but I'm wondering if the shows differ in the gender, age, and affluence of their core audience.