Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's Not Too Early to ask Some Hard(line) Questions -- PART 4(b)

January is Rhynerrific!

In my last installment, I opined that if Mike were to depart a month from now, The Hardline and BaD Radio would stay put and they would try to find a replacement for the OGW. You can still argue about that in the comments if you want, but today's topic is: If The Hardline survives, who might replace Mike on The Hardline?

Get your tomatoes, eggs, and brickbats ready. This is going to take awhile; it's actually three articles in one, so grab a bev and settle in.

And please, trolls: I know Mike's exit is unlikely. We've said it now for weeks. This series is based on the assumption that Mike's contract nonrenewal, however remote the possibility, would be an extremely disruptive event that merits the attention of this single-topic site. So I would be most grateful if you would refrain from advising us on how we're wasting our time. And this article is going to be real, real long, with lots of words, so if that shuts you down as well, this would be an excellent time to click on http://www.grubesismyleader.com/. Sorry to be snarky, but really, trolls -- topic-selection and article-length are off the table for the time being. However, it remains entirely proper to opine that my views are unsound.]

As I also wrote, it is not possible to "replace" Mike if you want The Hardline to march onward sounding exactly as it does now. He's one of a kind so let's just admit to ourselves that The Hardline without Mike will be a different showgram. So when you think about your own candidates to fill that slot, think about who might put on a good presentation with Corby/Danny/Grubes/Ty and not about how to salvage The Hardline's current sound.

And I'm trying to be a little realistic, although you may find my choices so unlikely as to be just the opposite. The candidate has to be someone who is available. I don't care if our candidate comes from The Ticket or elsewhere but he must at least be someone who is on site or hirable.
I have two candidates in mind:

Candidate 1:

Although Mike's seat is a huge prize (and an even bigger challenge to the successful candidate), I don't think it's necessary that it be filled by an established radio bigfoot. There will be a built-in audience for the show, and if consistent quality and interest can be established early on, The Hardline should survive relatively undiminished, especially given the weakness of the competition. So:
I like Scot Harrison. Like him a lot. I know that a significant percentage of Confessors are not crazy about The Soul Patch but since its early days with Jean-Jacques Taylor and through a plus one or so before being teamed with Matt McClearin, Harrison has gotten fairly good reviews. No, not everyone likes him, thinks he's got a bag of nothin', just some generic radio pipes, etc. To my ear, there's a real warmth to those pipes. And they seem to be attached to some brains. Knows enough sports, and if he had a full-time gig he'd probably be even better on that score. (His current full-time gig is with American National Bank of Texas, where he's been for approximately 2 years.) If I'm guessing right from his LinkedIn profile, it looks like he's in his mid-to-late forties. (6-7 years from beginning college at A&M to graduation from UT Arlington in 1989, so if he were say, 24 or 25 when he graduated, he'd be 46-47 now.)

Only Scot Harrison image I could find other than the hat picture
He has a mature sound about him, and to that limited extent he would fill that portion of Mike's function as the stable, guiding host. (Although Mike claims he doesn't want to be viewed in that way.) But he also has a sense of humor and could deal with Corby the Snake and Danny the Merchant of Hip as well as making sure The Hardline occasionally makes its way to some sports topic. I think he could roll with the established spirit of The Hardline.

He's got a solid background in local sports media: Again, according to LinkedIn: From 1989 through 2003, he worked in radio and television production: KWCS, Wise County, Texas; KIKT/KGVL, Hunt County, Texas; KRLD, Dallas/Fort Worth; Jeff Watts Productions, Fort Worth, Texas; Metrosports Communications, Arlington, Texas. From 2003 through 2008, he owned and operated Game Winning Productions, a "broadcast production company engaged in sales, marketing, and production of sporting events on radio."

So we're not talking about elevating an amateur here when it comes to moving him into Mike's chair. Wherever he came from, he's a credible, market-knowledgeable guy with an adult presence who seems to have sports/guy/pop-culture chops and could roll with Corby and Danny. Don't hold those golden pipes against him.

And here we have to detour just a bit to make a point that applies to Candidate 2 as well: I have expressed the thought in the past that Corby is more versatile than he is given credit for. He doesn't have to be The Snake at all times; he can sling a much more responsible but still entertaining radio persona. If I'm right that Harrison might take show prep a little more seriously than Mike now does, I think it would do Corby's game a world of good. I wouldn't worry about Corby chafing under a more disciplined regime. I think he might even welcome it and in my view he has the talent to adapt to it. The same analysis applies to Danny, who is also a more responsible broadcaster than he'd like to let on; runs his own show as a host and it's pretty good. The point is that we don't necessarily need to think about a Hardline where Corby and Danny themselves don't change, adapt, work hard to sustain The Hardline's success.

Candidate 2:

OK, get ready.

First, another detour.

For almost a year I've been teasing the Nation that I have been harboring an incendiary STD about BaD Radio. I'm not just trying to be provocative with the following proposal, even though I acknowledge that it is very unlikely of realization. I truly believe it would be a good solution to the problems created by Mike's departure.

Confessors will recall that I did that three-parter on BaD in August 2010. At that time I concluded that it was a good show, I could listen to it, but that I was having some trouble warming up to Dan McDowell. In addition, it seemed to me that Dan and a lot of the rest of The Ticket somehow held one another at arm's length -- that he was "on, but not of," the Little One. I promised the Nation that I would keep listening since I wanted to be fair to Dan and because I heard and continue to hear from so many Confessors who were and are big fans of Dan and BaD.

So I did try to listen more.

Before I began writing this column, I went back to review everything I'd written about BaD and its hosts. Comparing that to my more recent listening experiences, I stand by all of it, with a major exception I'll describe in a moment. I'm sorry, I really am sorry, but Dan McDowell continues to
make BaD Radio an at-best-average listening experience for me. The interrupting, the tendency to name-call-not-in-a-joshing-way, the belittling of staff. They're bits, you say? Maybe. But they're bad bits.

I have notes from a show on February 28 of last year that sums it up: Bob had packaged a LeBron segment. When he got to it, he started to make the point that maybe LeBron is not a go-to guy at the end of big games, or games in general. You would have thought that Bob was arguing that Dan's mom was on food stamps or something, because Dan interrupted almost immediately with a counter-argument that was (i) to my ear, and to Bob's, completely irrelevant to Bob's point, (ii) really loud, and (iii) intemperately expressed. He called Bob an "idiot" twice, I believe. (Might have been more -- I punched out after two.) Awful. Then there was an episode -- damn, where are those notes? my memory may be slightly off here -- where Ralph Strangis was on the show supposedly to tell the story of some of his rockier times. Well, you could forget that; it turned into a What's-on-Dan's-Mind segment. Complete chaos; what got teased never got broadcast. Ralphie was barely allowed to speak. Punch. Out.

And, as Danny B has said: Dan "bogs crap down." I've punched out on more than one occasion when Dan employed his frequent debate tactic of restating someone's point in an absurdly exaggerated fashion, and then attacking that. The old straw-man tactic. Stops the show in its tracks. Dan's Confessor defenders, for whom I have great respect, have argued that Dan must interrupt and be extreme to keep Bob from droning on for hours on end. Ain't buying it. Dan frequently interrupts before a speaker completes a single sentence.

The above notwithstanding, I am not even close to being a Dan-hater. In one respect, I find that I have gradually become a fairly enthusiastic Dan fan: He's really quite a good sports analyst. He's not Mr. Numbers like Bob, but he's an extremely intelligent guy -- one of the smartest at The Ticket -- and isn't afraid to think originally or to go with the evidence of what he sees before him, however unexpected it might be. And I think he does see things clearly, never drinks the Kool-Aid. When he's sports-talking, I find that I like it and like him. I've heard him call in to shows to talk after some sports event, and always found it very worthwhile, interestingly expressed, with a healthy dose of creative thinking. Dan has one quality that alone makes him a worthwhile listen when he's being serious: He's fearless. That's not a small thing and I've come to admire him for it.

Here's where I come out on Dan: Lots of skills for a sports-radio station, the voice you can get used to, and a much-better-than-average sports talker.

But there is one thing he is not: A Sports Humorist.

Yeah, I know, lots of people like the uber-cynical, sarcastic, smug style of commentary, and if you do then you'll like Dan. That's fine, I'm not going to tell anyone they shouldn't like Dan. And humor has got to be one of the most subjective emotions. For me, the guy's patter has never given rise to sensations of amusement. My problem, then, is not so much with Dan as a sports-talk host, where he's actually quite good; it's Dan's competing unfunnily for attention with Bob and the resulting bog. He's a real good broadcaster; he's just not a real good broadcast partner.

Unfortunately, that leaves us (me) with a problem because Dan is supposed to be the Sports Humorist.

But what has all of this to do with Mike's empty chair?

You probably see where this is going.

I warned you this was going to be wild.

If Mike R leaves The Ticket, it will be time to break up BaD Radio.

Send Bob to The Hardline, create a new afternoon show around Dan with Dan as the alpha sports guy on the show. That is, don't replace Bob with a sports-talker bigfoot, just find someone Dan can tolerate. Or don't replace Bob; I'd be OK with DaD Radio (Dan and Donovan). This would allow Dan to develop and exercise his broadcasting strengths as a principal host, actually elevating his stature at The Ticket. (I told you I wasn't a Dan-hater.) In addition, this would be a way of moving a strong performer to The Hardline without entirely uprooting the afternoon show. I understand that reviews of Dan were mixed during Bob's absence with the adoption. While I missed Bob, in some ways I found those shows more enjoyable than BaD, the bickering and snideness no longer a factor. If he knew the show were his, I expect that some of the tentativeness and insecurity we may have heard during Bob's absence would evaporate. In any event, finding Dan a radio pal is not our job today.

So let's think about a Bob/Corby/Danny show. 

Large sports brain at top of image

Bob is pretty straight-laced; The Hardline would take on a considerably different tone with him at the helm. But it seems to me that he tolerates some fairly blue material on BaD without himself participating much in it. I don't think the Snake would have to be permanently caged. With Bob you have (1) a guy who knows Corby and Danny and, to the best of my knowledge, gets along with them, and they respect him; (2) a mature and strong counterpoint to the scamps Corby and Danny who could maintain that balance I'm always harping on; (3) a Ticket stalwart who is well-known to and well-liked by the P1's; (4) a guy who can bring in the listeners who want to hear serious sports talk, filling a notable Hardline weakness; and (5) a guy with a growing national profile. And, as I have said above, I think Corby and Danny are very capable of dialing back some of the snark, devoting some attention to show prep, and following sportsy things a little more closely. While this would put two guys in love with mic on the same show, I think Bob and Corby could work it out. It's a relatively low-risk move for our hypothetical CTO.

There you have it, my two candidates. Both with risks; both promising a very different Hardline and/or BaD.
So -- what would you do with The Hardline if Mike doesn't re-up? ("Stop listening" is an acceptable, but unhelpful, response.)

Danny and Corby respectfully await Mike's decision

Next and finally: Leveraging Mike.


Anonymous said...

STD!!!!! Your thoughts on Bob and Dan are very interesting. It's such a crazy idea, that I think it works.

Little Weak Jeremy said...

Is there any bigger whipping than the "major station announcement"?

The Plainsman said...

Interesting that MSA's are issued on the Muser show, and not the Hardline show.

Ticketstock, I reckon.

But to answer your question, Little Weak, no, there is no bigger whipping.

Unless you count certain offerings on My Ticket Confession.

The Plainsman said...

NOTICE: Google Blogger has taken it upon itself to reformat this article and to forbid correction. I have had to re-post it and remove the three nice photographs that were illustrating it. It is not permitting me to correct the formatting, with the result that you will see enormous slabs of text that should be broken up into more palatable portions. I will return to this later today to try to fix it and reinsert the illustrations. Apologies for the unattractive presentation.

The Plainsman said...

MORE: Formatting corrected as of 1:55 PM, but no promises it'll stay put. Thanks for your patience.

Anonymous said...
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The Plainsman said...

On this one, I get to decide who's a troll and who isn't.

Anonymous said...
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birq said...

I was stuck on "brickbat" myself, but not because I object to is use; I've never understood why a thrown rock is called a "brickbat". It may or may not be a brick, and it's certainly not a bat. I finally had to break down and go consult Mr. Google for the answer: http://www.word-detective.com/2009/06/02/brickbat/

Scott said...

Interesting thoughts. I would actually be interested in The Hardline with Bob.

And, I totally agree, 95% chance Mike will be back. But, for how long?

I kinda think had the Rangers won, he might have called it good. I think he wants to be on the air if they win.

And, to the most recent Anon, really? You knew what it was about, why read and criticize, especially after the disclaimer? Discussion is good, self promotion, not so much.

ap said...

I'm reminded of an old Bill Parcells mantra when it came to injured offensive linemen. The exact phrase escapes me, but the gist of it was that if Andre Gurode went down due to injury, then the New Jersey Conman had two options:

1) He could have slid Kosier over to center, and used one of his many backup guards to fill in for Kosier's spot. Two positions would have been weakened.

2) He could have found a mediocre backup center, and left the rest of the line intact. Bill always favored this option as it weakened fewer positions.

What I'm getting at here is that by sliding Bob to the Hardline, I believe you'd have chemical imbalances in both shows as opposed to just the Hardline minus the OGW. One other note to consider - could Danny and Corby simply run the show (say, noon-to-three) by themselves?

Finally, I've been reading tweets that indicate Dan's was in an abnormally combative mood today - wonder if he read your STD, Plainsman;)

Anonymous said...

"I was stuck on "brickbat" myself, but not because I object to is use; I've never understood why a thrown rock is called a "brickbat"."

I, too, was surprised to discover a "brickbat" is also a verbal weapon.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

This is the same person who got into it with DinoMex last week. Come on man, leave it alone. Go start your own blog. But please stop this line of critimazidgum. It's like asking Jerry when he's going to fire himself as GM and hire a real football man, it ain't happening. The Plainsman is as the Plainsman does and that's OK with us MTCers.

The Plainsman said...

Illustrative photos restored.

The Plainsman said...

Re: Dan's combativeness today.

I didn't hear the show.

But I will say this: If I thought this site was harming any of The Ticket's offerings in any way, I would shut it down.

The Plainsman said...

Holy crud-o-mighty, I toss out the hottest STD in three years and I get debates on "brickbats."

I don't mind some loyal opposition, and NAT (Not A Troll, he says) isn't vulgar or anything like that, but he's not opposed TO anything except the form of this blog.

So NAT, you may be an OK guy, and your recommendations re improvement of My Ticket Confession may be well-intentioned, but I'm taking you down. I tried to do it before, but for some reason you popped back up. (Blogger misbehaving badly today.) Plenty of commenters take respectful issue with my views, and if you'd care to do that, you're welcome.

But you're mostly a booger in the Chalupa Supreme, so you've gotta go.

The Plainsman said...

Back on-topic:

Did anyone hear Mike talking (briefly, near the beginning of today's show) about retirement?

East Texas P1 said...

Plainsman: I was streaming the Hardline today but just listening with one ear as trying to get work stuff done. Heard Rhyner (he's dead) but could not put a lot of effort into it so not sure what all was said.

I honestly think that Bob leaves before Mike. How does that leave the standing?

I hope your thoughts about Dan holding a show doesn't come true. However, if it happens, call it BaD, Black and Dan

Anonymous said...
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AnonNoLonger said...

I concur with ETP1, Bob leaves before Mike; and I don't see Bob leaving anytime soon. But for the sake of playing the game, I think the best solution would be to give the HL at least a trial run as a Corby/Danny led program. Then again, I could see a scenario where neither Corby nor Danny would feel right about calling themselves the HL and so, would change the name of the show. If that happened, then perhaps the door would be open for a BaD move to pm drive.

By the way, I did hear the Mike retirement "bit." I think it was (a) a bit, and (b) an indication that Mike visits this blog. Recall that Mike has admitted that he reads blogs and comboxes that pertain to The Ticket.

Having said all that, I do think Bob to the HL -while not likely to happen- could be very interesting.

Anonymous said...

So the big announcement this morning was Ticket Stock. I think we all saw that coming. But, did anyone catch Dick Hicks spoiling the "surprise" yesterday during The Hardline? You had to be listening carefully. I'm sure he was horrified at himself after doing it, but he started to talk about this year's Ticket Stock. Only to stop on a dime mid-thought.

The Plainsman said...

The station also ran a TicketStock ad at 6:30.

The Plainsman said...

I don't see The Hardline being maintained as Corby/Danny only. Not enough sports.

Although the position of Danny in any "new" Hardline is interesting to consider. It's not beyond imagining that he might strike out for greener (and better-paying) pastures with his skill set. If it were a Corby/Danny show, it would almost have to involve promoting Danny to full-time on-air duties, which means paying him some host compensation.

Fun to think about -- I like The Orphanage, so I see no reason I wouldn't like a Corby/Danny drive show.

But I really do think they'll bring a sportsy guy in to The Hardline, and I really think they won't move BaD Radio to drive unless Corby entirely leaves The Ticket.

Again, as you say -- this all takes place in a world where the unlikely happens: Mike retires or moves on. Unlikely in February, but a lot less unlikely in February 2015.

So we're always pleased to be of assistance to the CTO in their strategic deliberations.

ScottsMerkin said...

I dont think the CTO would want to chance ruining two shows ratings to move bob to the Hardline. It just doesnt make sense. Someone may get moved into Mikes spot, not neccesarily from the Ticket but I bet they try that first and see how ratings go before them shift the show lineups. Rating rule the world and until rating drop substantially post mike r. itll remain status quo

DRW1961 said...

If Mike left and they decided to continue the Hardline as a Danny/Corby show, I think it's highly likely that it would move to mid-day (12-3)and BaDD would move to the afternoon drive. I could even see the Hardline moving to the spot late morning after the Musers and Norm moving into a 1-3pm slot. I just don't believe that Danny and Corby have the chops to carry a drivetime show in a major market.

I do think that moving Bob to a drivetime Hardline is a probability should Mike decide to leave. Right now, I think that Bob is *the* major personality at the Ticket - even more than Norm. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if other major markets haven't approached him about coming to work for them, but he's comfortable in where he's at right now and he's able to make everything personally and professionally work, so he's not going to make a change.

However, as many others do, I'm thinking that all this discussion is moot. Everyone will continue to be in place for another year or longer, they will finally move to Victory and increase their signal power and maybe pull in some additional listeners in the area.

The Plainsman said...

DRW1961, welcome back.

I don't know if you've been following these articles, but in the prior segment (Part 4(a), I believe) I set out the reasons that I think everyone would stay put and they'd find someone to fill Mike's seat. Completely upending the programming day just doesn't seem like something the CTO would do.

I've been interested in the speculation of a couple of you that Bob is a more likely candidate than Mike to leave. Never thought of it that way. I'll bet his radio comp is so much greater than his (1) author royalties and (2) PBP per-game stipend that he is not a likely candidate to leave. But I don't hear BaD as much as a lot of you (although I listened more this past year) so maybe you've picked up something. Why do you think Bob is a more likely candidate to leave?

AnonNoLonger said...

I think Bob's more likely to leave because he has more to offer-and to a wider audience-than the other hosts. (Excepting perhaps, Norm, who is getting up there and at times, and I hate to say this, seems to be losing it.) He can go deep stats on you; he could do the ESPN thing if need be; he can PBP hockey, soccer, and I'll bet he could do football and basketball if required (with some practice); he has the coveted "pipes"; his voice, while Wisconsin-y, is still accent-free enough to work in any major market; he can do guy-talk; he can write; he's prolific in his tweeting, blogging, and I'll bet you anything he's not done writing books; he's a genuinely good and likeable person; he has a sense of humor about himself and "gets" what goes on around him, even if it's not his thing; and finally (and I could go on) what he says sports-wise is most always compelling. Sure he can be long-winded (especially when asking a question), but even so, his questions and at times circuitous points are worth the wait.

The Plainsman said...

Cannot disagree with any of that, including him being a good guy.

My only question is whether to replace his Ticket income would require him to have a national profile that would have a lot of travel. I'm telling you, the books ain't gonna do it. Maybe a full-time national broadcasting gig, but he's not going to be able to do that full-time out of Dallas.

Anyway, he's a talented man, and other than the personal considerations, I can't fault that analysis.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with you, Nate? You've been placing your pox upon these comboxes for a while now under the noms de plume of Anonymous, Cumulus Employee, and now as Nate (replete with some photo you no doubt copied and pasted from off the interweb). What gives? Move on, sir, and stop wasting your time with something you find wrong on seemingly every level. Oh well, it is your time/life to waste.

Nate Gentle said...
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Nate Gentle said...
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rockyroad said...

Say, Plainsman, I think someone out there is a bit obsessed with you and/or your site. I think we all know who I'm talking about. (Hint: the person whose comments you keep having to erase; even though you left up the "Nate" comment.) Don't let the jerk get on your nerves, he/she/it isn't worth it.

Anonymous said...

Sick of the trolls. Can we ban anonymous comments please.

East Texas P1 said...

"Sick of the trolls. Can we ban anonymous comments please."

Funny. Must be tongue in cheek humor for someone posting as Anonymous to not want anonymous comments.

Dana said...

"The interrupting, the tendency to name-call-not-in-a-joshing-way, the belittling of staff."

VERY well-put, sir. I oftentimes find Bob's talent to be tempered by Dan's lack of people skills (bit or not). He's disrespectful of others, plain and simple.

:soapbox: Speaking of disrespect, hasn't the pr0n bit gotten a little old? I mean, the guy IS still married, right? I don't see how that's easily explained away when he gets home at night, or how his wife explains that away to friends and family who listen to the show, but it's his family, not mine, so rock on I suppose. :end soapbox:

Love the blog!

Mitchell George said...

Did any one go to Barley House and see Petty Theft for NYE?

Little Weak Jeremy said...


I doubt that the porn is a bit, and I doubt there's a need to explain it away (maybe with the wife to her family, but given how comfortable Dan is with talking about it, he and his wife must have some sort of understanding). The times they are a-changin'...