But I don't think Mike Rhyner will like the next set of articles -- and, alas, probably Your Plainsman -- much at all. Not because they will be critical of him -- quite the opposite. It's because he judges his employment relations with Cumulus/The Ticket -- because that is what we are going to be considering -- to be none of anyone's business but his.
And why shouldn't he feel that way? Would you want your employment issues to be the subject of a public website? Of course not.
But he's kind of brought this on himself, a little.
First, his contracts, if not their details, are the stuff of news reports. It was a big deal when he re-upped in February 2009.
Second, there was that little matter of the alco-fueled speculation on the verdant shores of Lake Mingus back in March, where he suggested he might disappear after February. If you want a refresher on this episode, you might want to review this article.
Third, he (and the Hardline generally) allude to their somewhat adversarial relationship with their employers as a recurring bit on the showgram.
Finally, The Ticket as a whole has cultivated a highly personalized relationship between the hosts and the P1. Mike's welfare is naturally of widespread interest to the largest and most loyal listenership in the metro.
So, at the risk of aggravating a gent of whom most of us are extremely fond, we're going to have a look at what might be in store for him, The Hardline, and the P1.
NOTE: Other than what Confessors suggest in comments, which may or may not be credible, I have zero inside information on any of what you're about to read. I don't even know for a certainty that his deal is up in February. However, circumstantial evidence and at least one knowledgeable-sounding Anonymous suggest that it is.
The first question is an easy one: Do we want Mike to re-up?
That answer is very easy for me: Absolutely. And it has nothing to do with him being the founder, blah blah blah. He is simply the most listenable guy on the radio. I'm going to cheap out and quote myself from an article last spring:
"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. * * * 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."
In upcoming posts I'll back off on a little of that, but not my regard for Mike.
Some of you may recall that among the motivations for my founding this site was the impression that the Hardline was in trouble -- very out of balance, with Mike seemingly losing interest and focus on the showgram. I wasn't the only one who observed that. Lots of comments on Mike "phoning it in."
That tendency of the show, it seems to me, has decisively reversed itself. It's been a long time since I thought the OverCorby had escaped his cage. Mike has been much more present on the show, his attention seems only seldom to wander. I think I've expressed the thought that Danny's increased role has something to do with keeping the show in equilibrium. I don't think it's a salary drive -- it feels real to me. Reason doesn't matter -- the Rangers' ascendancy; Mavs greatness; feeling good about life for reasons that are truly none of our business -- dunno, maybe none of those things. I've found myself laughing out loud at the show more the last few months than I have in a long time.
His talent really is unique. He may be baseball Jesus, but he's not noted for profound sports expertise. In fact, he parodies that fact, sometimes picking the Cowboys to win all their games and go on to win the SuperBowl. When he's on pre- or post-game duty, he's almost invisible. In fact, he's not really all that comfortable in segments with other hosts. Nope, he's a star, but a star with his own rhythms and cadences and lyrics and tempo and it works best when he's the conductor.
And on The Hardline it works very well indeed.
So, as I say, the answer for me is easy. But not everyone is a big Mike Rhyner fan. I don't know how the P1 breaks down on the subject of Mike. In fact, the above excerpt was from an article responding to a Confessor who was wondering "What's So Great About Mike?" So let me ask you this: Knowing the alternatives in DFW drive radio, if Mike were to disappear and not be replaced -- The Hardline becoming the Corby/Danny/Ty/Grubes show -- would you continue to listen?
Let's hold the speculation on who might replace Mike. We'll come back to that, promise. I want to gauge your interest in whether Mike stays on or not.
We'll explore other issues surrounding the enigmatic Mike R in following articles.
Unless he finds me and beats me up first.
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