Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some Props for the CTO

This one's a little late, sorry.  I had it slated for a few weeks ago, but then Greggo erupted a couple of times and it slipped.

Confessors will recall a very interesting dialogue I stitched together out of some comments from Little Weak Jeremy and Anonymous.  They're about ten years apart in age, but come to The Little One looking for different things and, in general, find them.  Here are the links to the posts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

I won't repeat their positions in detail; suffice it to stay that they each enjoy different things about The Ticket, don't enjoy some of the other things quite so much, but find enough of what they're looking for that they remain committed P1's. 

What struck me about this dialogue, and about running this site generally and reading all of the great comments that Confessors favor us with, is that the "demo" that we hear so much about with The Ticket is actually quite diverse.

And I thought:  It's remarkable that The Ticket has grabbed all of us for many years and is doing nothing but getting more popular.

I think the Cumulo-Ticket Overlords deserve some credit -- actually, quite a lot of credit -- for this success.

Several Confessors have used the phrase "lightning in a bottle" to describe the mix of talents we have heard every day for lo these many years.  I agree with this characterization for the most part.  Junior, George, Mike, the anchors of the Good Ship Ticket since the beginning. Greggo for many years.  Incredible talents and they're still there, save the Hammer.  But BaD was as acquisition; so was Norm.  Corby's gradual ascension through the ranks was not inevitable.  I happen to be a Rich Phillips fan, and he's a hire.  The constant augmentation and improvement of weekend and nighttime offerings are also management initiatives.  It may be "lightning in a bottle," but the voltage of that original inspired team has been considerably juiced as the years have passed.

Of course, the current CTO are not responsible for all of these decisions, but the current lineup has been more-or-less in place through the current administration.  They'll be dealing with Mike's and Corby's future shortly. 

I have no pipeline to the ruminations of the CTO.  But I would be quite surprised if our on-air heroes don't get some nudging with respect to the variety of material they offer.  There are the young listeners who are probably more interested in the entertainment stuff; there are old-timers who prefer the sportsy-talk; and those extremes are stitched together by the overall dosage of generalized guy-talk.  I don't think that's an accident of the unsupervised preferences of the hosts.  I think the CTO manage these egos with great skill to get a mix of broadcast content that appeals to guys in all their variety.  And to a large (and, I suspect, growing) audience of chicks as well.

The CTO are facing a real challenge over the next several years.  Am I correct in thinking that all of the weekday hosts/yuks are over 40?  Mike over 60.  Norm is 67.  (I haven't found any birth info on Donovan.)   So far that collection is doing an admirable job of grabbing and holding the younger listeners.  (See the Little Weak/Anon dialogue.)   I think a lot of this is a tribute to The Ticket's success in making listeners feel like they belong to a kind of exclusive club, the P1.  (I know, I've written that the plural of P1 is "P1's" under rules for making plurals out of words ending in numbers, but "the P1" is kind of a synecdoche, too.)   The remotes and special events have done a lot to foster this feeling among listeners, and that's a function of the integration of marketing, sales, and the Talent.  (The UnTicket has a role in this, as does grubesismyleader and, to a microscopic extent, MTC as well.  As I  have suggested, the UnTicket is probably allowed to repost proprietary content wholesale through the CTO's good graces.)

They can probably keep it up for a long time, but not indefinitely.  Off-hours shows are tryouts for up-and-coming talent:  The Sirois brothers, Scot Harrison, Matt McClearin, Sean Bass, Ty Walker (another 40+, but a fresh voice as a host), and The Next Generation:  Jake Kemp, David Newberry, Mike Bacsik (RIP), Casey Millen, Michael Krenek, and, of course, human lightning rod T.C. Fleming.  Some encouraging talent there, if not all of them can currently be imagined as full-time weekday daylight hosts.  But  the CTO deserve some credit for giving these guys some time to stretch out and turn on the mic once in awhile.

And I'm guessing that Jeff Catlin and his colleagues are pretty clued in to broadcasters in other markets who might fit in here when the time comes.  Guys who can talk in normal tones, in measured cadences, about sports, pop culture, and babes.  (May be some babes on that list, too.)

Don't get me wrong -- The Ticket's gold is in the performance of its broadcast teams.  My point is that management has an unsung role in maintaining that level of performance and the stability of these teams, and we should sing about it a little.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, changes comes February with Mike's and Corby's contracts.  My guess is that the current lineup is going to be around for awhile.  My point is that the CTO aren't sitting around waiting for the next ratings book when it comes to Ticket programming.

Of course, we give the CTO grief in these pages.  Signal; promotion; syndication; hockey.  So I think fairness requires us to give some credit where it is due.

Can I get a witness?

*     *     *

Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:  @Plainsman1310


Shaggy said...

I'm not sure radio as we know it will exist 10 years from now, so those "up and comers" may never get a shot. I think the only current non-hosts to have a shot in the next 10 years will be the Sirois brothers and Sean Bass. Possibly Ty.

Those others have no shot at long-term on-air Ticket employment, IMO.

The Plainsman said...

Disagree re radio, Shaggy. We've had this debate among Confessors before and I have to side with those who think that broadcast radio will be with us a long time. Witness the companies (Cumulus, among others) that are paying top dollar for radio holding companies, and there's a lively market for sales of medium-market stations. Like sports teams and restaurants -- hard to make a profit, but there are people lined up to try.

Y'all are welcome to comment on the JV, but my preference would be a focus on the CTO on this thread. (For the record, I'd add Jake to your list as a voice to watch. Huh?) I will say, however, that even getting 3-4 guys for the future out of a dozen or so is a pretty fair average, considering how difficult it is to please the P1.

The Plainsman said...

While we're on the subject of loyal P1s, let me sling a big MTC thanks to the Nation. Hits are up significantly over the past two months and we've already matched last October's totals. My gratitude.

Keep spreadin' the news . . . .

Mitchell George said...

Hey Plainsman, what about Grubes as an up-and-comer? Is he at higher level than Jake Z/TC? Or lower?

I could see Shoopy as the little devil behind the curtain for the rest of his life, he seems content back there. Pretty sweet gig if you ask me, make the Hardline laugh all shift then go play at the Barley House.

Shaggy said...

Except he seems to make about minimum wage...

The Plainsman said...

Mitchell: No slight to Grubes intended nor even possible. He is the jewel in The Ticket's crown. I left him off the list because he has not evidenced any ambition to be a host-y type of guy. I may be wrong about that, but I don't recall hearing him sit in for anyone, ever. (Come to think of it, I don't think I've heard Michael Krenek do a show, either.)

In fact, Grubes's influence on the building of the P1 Cohort is enormous. His perfection of the science of dropology sustains interest in the entire history of The Ticket -- more, it creates a Ticket mythology which adds almost a mysterious element to the station.

His dropology isn't just some kind of speeedfingers technique -- it owes everything to his (1) ear for for taking what he hears and carving it down to a drop, including phrases one would never guess as candidates, and (2) amazing memory for memorable Ticket moments.

What this tells me is that he's a very smart guy. If he were interested in management, that might be a good place for him. In the short run, however, he seems more interested in The Barlely House, and who can blame him?

Michael reportedly is of independent means -- his father is a noted trial lawyer, they tease him about Dirk N having bought his childhood home, etc. I don't know if this has any influence on his career desires, but I do hope he keeps doing what he does for a good long time.

Anonymous said...

God, I hate it when you try to push your ridiculous memes, such as "CTO" and "STD" and "Nice Young Man," etc. It's unnecessary and illustrates your raging ego. I've been reading your site (and commenting) for a long time, but this really makes me want to punch out.

Now give me some vacation tips, or you've lost a reader!

birq said...

I don't disagree that the Cumulus brass deserve a tip of the cap, but I'd argue that it would be more for doing what they can to stay hands-off with the Ticket. My perception is admittedly skewed, but it seems to me that the parent companies in the past have had a pretty big hand in trying to screw with something that was working pretty damned well, and while Cumulus hasn't stayed completely out of the fray, it appears that they haven't done very much to actively micromanage this station. The problems with Cumulus appear to be more with what they haven't done for the Ticket.

I don't think you're far off base, Mr. P., I just think 99.9% of the credit belongs with the T of the CTO: Bennett, Cat and the people in their places previously. Yes, I do think they deserve a large quantity of props for finding chemistry and synergy and just letting things work themselves out, except in the extremely rare cases where they have had to intervene swiftly and decisively for the good of the station.

DinosaurMex said...

To the last Anon criticizing the Plainsman's use of acronyms: Go away, troll.

The Plainsman said...

Yeah, wot the heck was that all about?

(1) Does The Ticket's extensive use of invented words and proprietary phrases which are then repeated in a very meme-like way mean they all have "raging egos"? If so, do you "punch out" on them?

(2) How does a "raging ego" disqualify one as a blogger?

Probably best if you carried out your threat to depart this site.

But we both know you'll be back.

Anonymous said...

STD: Bob Sturm will take over Razor's color position with the Stars after Razor goes all national all the time (either sometime this season or during the next offseason). And from there, Bob leaves the Ticket not only because he's now a fulltime Stars employee, but he also (partly due to his soon to be released book about the Mavs championship run)becomes a national media voice that specializes in hockey, but is also respected in the 3 other major sports. Mark it down. Sturm's bigger than the little Ticket. And he's about to bust open.

Shaggy said...

Mike Modano tweeted that he is going to be working some Stars broadcasts with Ralphie.

Anonymous said...

Razor told the Musers yesterday the Bob was working the broadcast. Maybe Mo will make an appearance or be a third man in the booth? I can't see him being the primary color man. Actually, there's no way he will be. You're talking about a simulcast (t.v. and radio) being done by someone who has never broadcasted a day in his life.

Anonymous said...

Brad Gardner
DefendingBigD Brad Gardner
Morning Skate Update: Pardy in For Fistric; Bob Sturm in For Razor
33 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

Shaggy said...

I wonder if there will even be 1000 people at the Stars game tonight.

Anonymous said...

I'll be shocked if the ACTUAL attendance figure passes the 3,500 mark. They'll announce it as 8 or 9k. I feel bad for the Stars in some degree. Yes they've been mediocre and disappointing for a handful of years now; but a lot of that falls onto Hicks's lap. And let's face it, game 5 of the season in a marginally interested hockey town isn't going to draw, at all, when the baseball team is in the ALCS, at home, and playing to go to the World Series. The Stars don't stand a chance. Hell, I was there opening night, and while there was a good crowd, it wasn't sold out. And there wasn't a Ranger game being played either.

Shaggy said...

Wow, 1000 might be stretching it

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to the Rangers! Did anyone catch any of Bob's color job on the Stars broadcast? He was very good. He'll only get better.

The Plainsman said...

Now THAT's the way to do an STD, Anonymous (about 6-7 posts back).

It's funny you posted that -- I have had a nagging feeling that Bob might be ready to jump, and I mentioned it in an article a couple of weeks back. I didn't have any of your detail, but there's something about this extended absence, as admirable as it was and as admirable as The Ticket was for giving him the time, that had an odd feel to it. Like maybe Bob's been loose in the socket for awhile and the CTO thought it might be a good way to see how Dan would be as a "main" host. (Jury seems to be out, but reviews generally positive.)

I'd hate to see Bob go. Would toiling in the fever swamps of hockey be a better gig than The Ticket? Could he cross over to other sports as an on-air guy?

Well, you've given us some interesting information, some of which I hadn't heard before, and I also thank follow-up posters who have filled in some of what's up with Bob.

We will follow it up with interest. Question before the house: Would Bob's departure have resonance beyond BaD?

Shaggy said...

Why on earth would Bob leave for a job with so much travel, with a much smaller audience...and for less money?

He's not going anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Shaggy, with all due respect, I'm not sure you understand the pull of such a job. As much as a dream job being a Ticket host is, being an actual color or play by play announcer for a professional team...being the voice of a THE dream of many if not most people in the business. Followill could have been living the Ticket dream. But he opted for the Mavs radio (and then promoted to the t.v.) broadcast. Why? He's now a part of sports history.

birq said...

The travel would be a big downside, but I have to agree with Anon, I think Bob would lunge at the chance to be a hockey color guy. Everyone has his own brass ring, and for Sturm, I believe there are a few: NHL TV color analyst; anything on the Packers broadcast; EPL TV analyst.

Packers broadcasts would only be preseason TV or pre- and regular season radio, so I don't think that has the allure to pull him from the Ticket. EPL has no need for American announcers, so that's out. That leaves an NHL TV position, and it's an actual possibility. He might even be able to work out something like Josh Lewin has with The Fan, except that there are too many hockey games in a season.

That said, I don't think it'll happen.

Anonymous said...

Look at Rhadigan. The guy was willing to give everything up for a shot at being a voice of the Rangers. These positions are what guys like this dream of. Even more so than being a host on sports talk radio.

R. Roma said...

I don't work at the Ticket anymore, but I had some insight into the front office.

Corby and Mike are not on the same contract time. Corby signed a 5 years deal. Mike was only offered a shorter one. In my time there it was certainly clear that the Cumulus overlords thought as much of Mike as Mike thought of them. He was almost shown the door several times! Mike spun it in the media that their was bidding war for his services. But there wasn't as i was told. I think Corby is obligated until April or May of 2014. Mike will have to renegotiate soon. I think Februrary is correct.

By the way i don't think Bob won't ever leave the Ticket. He told me that one time on remote when i brought up another job and he looked pretty serious. I think Bad radio is the best show. They should take the Hardline! Ha!

The Plainsman said...

Well, R. Roma, that was pretty tasty.

But first, a sincere welcome to My Ticket Confession.

Obviously, I have no way of evaluating your bona fides or your accuracy, but I will say this -- I do have some circumstantial reason to believe that Corby and Mike are not simultaneous sign-ups, so that has the ring of truth.

As for the rest of it -- mainly management's distaste for Mike -- I will simply remind Confessors that as tasty as these morsels are, I (we) have no way to vouch for them. I am assuming that "R. Roma" is a nom de blog and does not correspond to an identifiable former affiliate of The Ticket, so there's no way to verify the information.

Please bear this in mind as you mull this one over. I haven't decided yet whether to spotlight this. It's not all that shocking to suppose that Mike and the CTO are at frequent loggerheads, but the suggestions that things were close in 2008 and resulted in a deal of lesser duration than it might have been should give those of us who are fond of The Hard Ones considerable pause as February approaches.

R. Roma, I don't mean to impugn your integrity and I'm glad to have the info whatever its value -- just trying to keep things on an even keel here around the old sod house.

The Plainsman said...

PS: Isn't it about time for a wife swap?

The next one could be more interesting than usual.

Shaggy said...

Hey R.--

you said "By the way i don't think Bob won't ever leave the Ticket. He told me that one time on remote when i brought up another job and he looked pretty serious. "

you don't think Bob WILL ever leave?

I (also?) don't think he will. I'm pretty sure Bob and Dan have had some discussions on-air about each of them growing up dreaming of being play-by-play guys, but now that they've had their current jobs, and seeing what kind of life the pbp guys have, that they would never do that now.

Shaggy said...

The white elephant day/wife swap is usually around Dec 8-10.

From what I remember it was really terrible last year, so it will be interesting to see if they stick with it (or mgmt preselcts the swap)

Anonymous said...

Shaggy, I think R. Roma meant that h/she thinks Bob would leave The Ticket. I know, the phrasing of it is odd--reminds me of reading Kant!

Anonymous said...

White Elephant Day was weird last year because every host had to do at least one hour of tickers.

ap said...

@Last Anon - I agree, forcing hosts to do tickers for an hour (thus freeing them from awkward hosting chemistry) seemed to kill the bit.

Personally, I'd like to hear an hour or so of a producer on air (Fernando, Mike, Tom, Danny)...Mike and Danny will breeze through it, but the Fernando and Tom chaos would be fantastic. I'd also enjoy hearing some mandated white-elephant on-air time for Big Strong and Grubes...but a P1 can only dream.

White Elephant Day is still a month and a half away though, as another confessor pointed out already.

The Plainsman said...

AP, congratulations on your major props on the Musers, who reran the CJ/Corby greatest hits brag-off the other day.

ap said...

Thanks! I just cut up the original drops - DP spliced up the brag-off. I have yet to hear it though...willdo soon!