Wednesday, April 25, 2012


[For new readers:  STD = Scorching Ticket Disquisition.]

Your Plainsman attempts to keep a moistened finger in the air, but one doesn't have to be terribly perceptive to realize that The Hardline, and especially one Mr. Corbett Davidson, has been  much on the mind of the Confessor Nation over the past couple of weeks, even though I'm not writing a whole lot about them.  Let's review:

T4 in Rockwall, a frequent Confessor, writes:

"Don't mean to switch gears, but every since Barry Switzer said the other day that they (the Hardline had him on) were shock jocks, I've been listening extra hard (no pun intended)and do notice that it seems to be all that Corby knows. That is to act like a shock jock probably 70% of the time. I think that's where he's failed since Greggo left and he's had to fill in on a full time basis. I personally thought he was very good when he was a yuck monkey full time. Since then, nothing but down hill."

Anonymous picks up the thread:

"I think T4 is on to something. The Hardline is a lazy show. It's only getting lazier. I was hoping that the return of the Russ Martin Show and RaGE would kick it in the ass and help it return to its former greatness. It hasn't. One of its "competitors" (RMS) barely has a pulse and seems to lose listeners with each ratings period, while the other (RaGE) is so far away from being a threat that it might as well not exist. Hell, without the infinitely deep pockets of CBS, RaGE wouldn't have made it this far. Yes, like the rest of The FAN's programming, it's that bad to mediocre.

"The Hardline has become nothing more than a somewhat less puerile audio version of The Dallas Observer. It's all fluff and baseless, highly slanted opinion. I for one don't miss Greggo. He became a caricature of himself. He became Triple Fake Greggo. But what I do miss is the days prior to bands, constant music talk, E and Community News, and "she's a pig" talk. Talk that takes up damn near the entire 4 hours. It's just lazy."

Oh, my treasured Confessors, the piling on is just beginning, starting with another blast from T4:

"A bit [referring, I think, to Corby's general Corbiness] or not, he was nearly unlistenable yesterday. I want to totally punch out when he's doing that crap. Wouldn't it be sad if the likes of Corby types were the end of the Ticket as we know it? I know they're still #1 in the ratings, but I believe they turn more listeners off with their shock jock rants than they bring in.

"I know Rhyner adapts to what's around him, and could and would change to whoever's working with him, but I believe that's all Corby has."

blergoyen considers the reasons for Corby's ascension to co-host:

"I suspect it was two fold: (1) he did a good job endearing himself to Mike by playing the entertaining, "up for-any-gag-nephew" to Mike's "dirty uncle," and (2)given corby's instinctual need to dominate every conversation, Mike knew he could talk as much, or as little as he wanted, sit back and enjoy semi-retirement with a large pay check as long as he wanted. I think I saw someone comment on this blog and make that 2nd point a while back."

Anonymous -- who knows whether it's a different one or not -- has an interesting perspective:

"I wish they would cut way back on the blue. They don't need it; they are (well, at least at one time were) better than that. Don't know if anyone here is still watching The Office, but if you are, you see the same thing occurring: a program and a showgram that's run out of ideas and has now devolved into one over the top blue scene or segment after another. The overall quality of the each show suffers greatly. But both shows are ratings monsters (though not as much as they once were), and so I don't see where or how improvement implemented. Much like The Office, I think we are watching the final couple of seasons of The Hardline (at least in its current configuration)."

T4 is on a roll:  

"As far as the topic here, it used to be ok working blue when it was occasional. Now, like I said in the previous thread, it seems it's all they have. Corby being immature and Danny giving in to him. I believe if they replaced Corby with any number of people, The Hardline would be total greatness again. "

The always sensitive and astute duckandcover observes:

"I would like to think that sooner rather than later there will be a reconfiguration of The HL. I feel the same as some of the Anons and T4. It's grown stale, lazy, and I think they're better than where the show is now/what it's become. What's the answer? Dunno. But maybe it involves Danny sliding over into a fulltime host position, allowing Jake to take the producer helm with TC manning the board. Or maybe the other way round, with Jake remaining on the board while TC produces. The thing is, for all of you/us that wish Corby wasn't a part of the show, he's not going anywhere. So the only way I see it being revamped is by the scenario above. Maybe, just maybe, a serious Danny influence would muffle Corby's influence and right the ship, somewhat. Yes Danny will play into Mike and to some extent Corby's fascination with music talk, but he also is very sportsy. Something needs to happen. If there was any program even half way decent running against them, I have a feeling we'd see changes ASAP. Because the show has sunk pretty low."

DRW1961, an MTC stalwart, writes:

"It's just another manifestation of the "overCorbyization" of the Hardline. He doesn't have enough talent to do his job the way it should be done, so he resorts to high school humor. 

"I'll take it another step further and say that I wish they wouldn't rely so much on the "ass"es and the "son of a bitch"es as well. And, I cringe when I hear a station spot with "bullsh" in it. I'm not a prude, but I think they lower themselves to a level that they really shouldn't lower themselves to with all that nonsense."

*     *     *

All of this -- plus constant harping from Confessors looking for more interesting original Plainsman content -- inspires me to cut loose with what may well be my all-time most controversial STD, yes, even more controversial than my multi-part analysis of BaD Radio, and here it is:

I like Corby Davidson.

You want some more of this?

I like The Hardline.

Yes, much of what The Nation says is true:  I could do with a less vulgar showgram, as I have written on many occasions; I could do with some show prep; I could do with greater attention to reigning in the OverCorby who sometimes appears; I've noted the salutary effect of Danny's increased participation on several occasions.  I could do with less Wire, showbiz, and comment on the same half-dozen musical acts.  In general, I could do with a more mature approach to pretty much everything about The Hardline, including Corby's contributions.

But as I sit back and consider The Hardline and alternative radio offerings as a whole, I can come to only one conclusion:

Corby Davidson is a notable and unique radio talent.  No one on the Philco sounds anything like him. I would say that of my laugh-out-loud moments from all programs on The Little One over the past several years, more than half of them are accounted for by Corby.  He's got native intelligence; he can be witty (not in Danny's galaxy, but he can surprise you); he's one of The Ticket's best serious interviewers, if not the very best.  He complements Mike.

If Corby disappeared from The Hardline tomorrow, I'll bet that even those of you who are weary of him for all of the reasons set forth above would miss him terribly.

That's not to say that The Hardline doesn't need to step up its game.  When I started this site in 2009, I thought The Hardline was in trouble.  Mike was seriously disengaged, there was too much Corby.  The showgram was way out of whack.  I thought it started to right itself in late 2010, and to my way of hearing -- while the show does suffer from the problems identified above -- it's continued pretty strong.  I'll confess (of course) it's seemed lazier than normal the past month or so, but nothing alarming and nothing that leads me to want a huge change in the showgram (except more Danny).  

But I just don't find it the mess that some of our faithful Confessors do.  

So right now, although I give it to them from time to time and will continue to do so, I'm pretty on board with Mike, Corby, Danny, Ty, and Jake.

I know the last two posts have already prompted extensive comments on Corby and The Hardline, but I hope you will continue to offer your thoughts on this most unusual, and, to my mind, entertaining of shows and its very singularly gifted broadcasters.

*     *     *

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for your courage Plainsman.

I tend to agree with you. Despite his shortcomings, The Cobra brings many laughs, which I think is really why most of us are listening. I'd take Corby over Greggo 10 out of 10 times.

The ultra casual approach of the Hardline in general really appeals to me. I have an innate contempt for anyone or anything that takes itself too seriously and The Corby Hardline most definitely does not. So while I acknowledge and agree with the faults many commenters point out, I don't really want it to be "fixed".

Anonymous said...

80% of your post was putting up comments from T4, a person who has been upfront in his disdain of Corby. The P1's that have issues with Corby are usually the older demographic who were there from the very start. I've been listening since Day 1 and it took me a long time to warm up to the snake but i've grown to love him. I recently had a conversation with my 20 year old son about how many of his friends listened to the station and what their listening preferences were. He said the hardline was the favorite show among he and his friends, and that Corby was by far the favorite personality.

The purists may have issues with Corby but I think the college crowd really likes him.

Scott said...

I also tend to agree with the Plainsman. Corby and I are the same age, and I do tend to cringe at times. And, there are times, like the interview with Steve yesterday, that began punching every button I could find and landed on Eric Nadel on 103.3 talking Rangers...

It is still good, but could be better. I think Corby has the talent, but is lazy. As the Ranger season progresses, and Danny engages, I think it will get better...

And, I am still of the opinion, if the Rangers can win the Series, Mike will finish that out, and retire...

The Plainsman said...

Yes, I did give space to the Corby skeptics, including faithful Confessor T4 in Rockwall. Fact is, I tend to hear this point of view much more often than the one I expressed.

Besides, I had to set up the hotness of my STD.

East Texas P1 said...

What is the deal with dogpiling on TC? Although there were a few pokes in the past it seems like the ball started rolling when Jake was named board op.

I think this is bullying of the worst sort and yesterday was the worst. Corby went on and on about the "weird" habits of TC and then covered it up by "...but I like the kid".

Jumping on a guy ON AIR(!)when he doesn't have a chance to defend himself is not right (as opposed to the hosts insulting each other).

Corby has shown, to me at least, that he can be a bully of the worst sort.

gunnertec said...

All of this comes back to one mantra:

"We can do what 'they' do. 'They' can't do what we do."

Fact of the matter is that if you want hardcore Cowboys every show, tune into Grandpa Urine. If you want a mix that fluctuates between sports and schtick, Hardline will abide. Sometimes that mix is heavier on Sports than other days but, for the most part, it probably falls out fairly even.

I think there are a few Confessors who target some particularly irksome moments and think that defines the whole. Well, it doesn't.

The Plainsman said...

Welcome to gunnertec. Loved that "abide."

birq said...

I'm glad you subtitled the post with the definition of STD, lest new readers think this is turning out to be a very different kind of blog than they were expecting.

ScottsMerkin said...

they cant please everyone all the time from 530a to 7p. I like every show, but some days different things annoy me. maybe its my mood that Im in that cuases this. One day I can like over the top Gordon and his antics or songs and the next, i just have to take the earbud out bc i cant take it. Its the same with each show. At some point they make me turn the radio to kiss fm (mainly bc I still cant stand Greggos voice and Urine is unlistenable. Stay Hard Corbles, you got where you are being the way you are, dont stop now

Anonymous said...

Many interesting perspectives going on here. Count me as a listener who is right between Danny and Corby in the age department. Like Scott, I also cringe at some of the crap that comes out of Corby's mouth. I too think he's pretty lazy. There's something to be said for The Hardline being a lazy show. That's what happens when you've been on top for so long. Maybe sliding Danny into a third host position would inject some fire into the presentation. Or maybe some real competition would. Or could it be having a parent company-management that actually supported them and gave a damn. Something inside tells me that nothing is going to happen. Perhaps the Anon who compared The Hardline to The Office is right: maybe we are hearing the last years of what was once pure greatness?

@East Texas P1

I agree with you about Corby's bullying. If you've noticed, anyone that doesn't possess "looks" seems to fall into Corby's crosshairs. I guess you can't take the frat out of the boy, or some-such? He follows the lead of his leader, the ultimate Ticket Bully, Gordon Keith.

The Plainsman said...

I should have mentioned what a couple of you have remarked on: Corby's belittling of staff is one of his less attractive traits. Considering that he rose from overnight BO to his current exalted position, one might think he would have some empathy for the underpaid toilers in the trenches.

The Plainsman said...

Yesterday provided a good example of why I maintain that Corby is a real broadcast talent.

The segment on the couple that caught the fly ball next to the yowling kid: I thought Corby was 100% wrong about it. But his presentation was over-the-top hilarious -- I laughed out loud at his absurdly hyperbolic vituperation in describing the happy couple who caught the ball (who, we learned this morning from Gordon, will be married tomorrow). It was grossly unfair, thoroughly rude, and it completely cracked me up.

Not everyone could pull this off. There are Ticket hosts who can't. But Corby's just got this reptilian gift about him: While I found his viewpoint appalling, his tantrum entertained the bejeebers out of me just the same.

I think this is what Mike R recognizes in Corby. Whenever Corby launches into one of his exaggerated rants, Mike will say, usually just a little under his breath: "Now THERE's The Snake." Indeed.

Anonymous said...

For the life of me, Plainsman, I can't understand why -especially after your last comment- deem Corby a real talent? It's a bit like saying: "Sure, we all know the Nazis were evil, but MAN they had kick ass uniforms!" Okay, that analogy is a bit over the top, I admit it. But I still think it drives home the point. If you have a problem with his belittling of underlings, then why don't you take issue with his bully pulpit (that's what having a radio show is, in effect), at times self-righteous, unfair treatment toward others? How is that both funny and a display of great talent? It's not as if the particular incident you described is isolated. It occurs more often than not.

TheDude said...

Yesterday's Captain Cialis rant was right up there with the Cowboys Stadium doucher-fan rant from that last Cowboys game. I disagreed with him on this latest one, but totally agreed with him on the original one.

Both were genius, and both times Corby recognized that he was playing a part and being ridiculously over-the-top.

Anonymous said...

If by genius you mean the castigating of a couple who, if you've followed the story, have now been vindicated by not only their own story but also the little boy's mother, without any thought or reflection...then yes, he is genius. I guess it's alright to attack others without knowing the facts if they are perceived to be "douchers." What's that old adage? Oh yeah, "it takes one to know one."

The "genius" of Corby. You've got to be kidding me. Junes and Gordon are right, we are on the fast track to Idiocracy.

The Plainsman said...

Well, hold on here. One doesn't have to agree on the merits with what is being said to recognize that the speaker has a particular talent. I don't subscribe to Sam Kinison's (RIP) attitude towards women, but I fall down laughing at his routines on the subject.

I'm not claiming that Corby is a genius or on the "right side" of every issue (I thought he was on the wrong side of the baseball issue) -- I am claiming that he's a very talented guy who, on balance and with the usual reservations one might have about any entertainer working live as much as a Ticket host is required to do, does a very fine job day in and day out as a co-host of The Hardline, and, on occasion, a spectacular job.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if Rhyner's childish display during last night's draft coverage was going to be discussed. I was dumbstruck last night as I kept waiting for him to say something, anything. What a joke. What exactly was he trying to prove? That he can do whatever he pleases? That he can stick his thumb in Norm's eye? That he doesn't feel the need to participate while the rest of his co workers do--co workers who probably have other things they'd rather be doing? Such a jerky, puerile thing to do. Okay, Rhyner, you're one bad mother. Man, whoa, that dude doesn't give a f! Wow! Yeah, "yuck" is more like it. I guess, finally, in late middle age / early old age, Mike Rhyner has become a "cool kid." He's the bleepin' Fonz. What a jerk off.

The Plainsman said...

I did not hear the "childish display" (what was it?) but this site has noted on several occasions that Mike does not do well -- does poorly -- beyond the confines of The Hardline. He's of no value on Cowboys pre-game and they've stopped asking him to fill in there. Every year he's on at least one draft show, and he might as well off rehearsing Petty Theft.

But I'll say this: Mike's value to The Ticket has nothing to do with his sports knowledge, which is probably the least of any non-yuk-monkey host, except for baseball, and I'm not entirely sure about that. He's a personality, pure and simple, and a great one. But a sports wonk he's not, and draft coverage is no place for a non-wonk.

You'd think the CTO would have noticed this over the years and avoided foisting him on the draft teams.

Unless they do it just to make him uncomfortable because he's such a burr under their saddles.

Anonymous said...

Mike actually sat there for nearly 4 hours and said nothing. And I mean nothing. Well he did respond to one question right before the actual draft began, and I paraphrase here: Norm-"What do you think the Cowboys need" Mike-"Pass rusher, offensive line, and defensive line." His response was THAT terse. Afterward, complete silence. He didn't even sign off. It was plain silly. His behavior had nothing to do with sports acumen or interest. It was a man entering into his old age behaving like a spoiled brat who knows he can get away with it.

Anonymous said...

I didn't listen to any of the draft coverage but that sounds pretty funny to me. The whole draft thing is so over the top ridiculous that I support him treating it like the joke it is. Norm doesn't need Mike to help him through; he'd probably prefer to do the whole thing by himself. I'm pretty sure Norm and, to a much lesser extent, Bob are the only ones at the station even slightly interested.

Also, I'm curious if the 1:11PM anonymous supports Gordon? As others have pointed out, he's every bit the bully Corby is and probably much more.

The Plainsman said...

Mike Rhyner: The Lamar Odom of The Ticket?

The Plainsman said...

Did anyone catch that now-you-hear-it-now-you-don't Corby-and-Danny impression of Junior Miller yesterday around 4:30 or so?

I can't describe it, except to say that it consisted solely of breathy mumbling sounds. They made him sound like Floyd Lawson the Mayberry barber (Howard McNear).

Anonymous said...

This is the first time you've ever noticed this? They, including Mike, have been doing it for years. Years. "Eeeewwwwww" is the tip off. Once you hear that, the Fake Junes is in the house. You really don't get to listen all that much, do you.

I know you've explained yourself before where this is concerned, so I'm not asking you to do so...

But for someone who seems to have, at best a P2's (really more like a marginal P3's) grasp of actual day to day content, you sure have a lot of deeply held and thought out opinions. I love having the forum to both express my own and hear others' views on The Little One. So while I find you to be a bit of a strange bird, by all means, keep it up.

The Plainsman said...

I listen to The Hardline 2-3 hours a day almost every day, sometimes the whole show. It's possible I've heard that before, but never associated it with a Junior impression.

As for being a strange bird:

You have no idea.

The Plainsman said...

By the way: I think being a P1 -- or a "P1 of The Ticket," as some branding genius has them saying more often than you would expect -- is a state of mind.

No doubt I am ignorant of many things that more avid or careful listeners are aware. But I think that puts me firmly in the mainstream of the average Ticket listener, a chap of demo-friendly years who loves The Damned Little One, listens when he (or she -- Hi, Jonaessa!) can, who doesn't listen with a scanning electron audiometer, who doesn't have the time to listen to podcasts or even catch up with The (Incomparable) UnTicket, but who, yep, has opinions about the joint.

I'm here to share mine, unenlightened though they may be, and learn from yours. So, Anonymous, please keep firing away.

Anonymous said...

Will do, Plainsman.

Now I shall go hang my head in shame while downing an 18 pack of Budweiser. It's the only manly way of coping with a tough, shoulda won it, Mavs playoff loss.

Anonymous said...

I stopped listening to The Hardline about a year ago. I could no longer take segment after segment about the same set of bands, Superlative Corby, Fake Contrarian Mike, and (sorry to all you Grubes worshipers) the constant bombardment of drops. Yes, I know Grubes left, and from what I hear the show is much less drop intensive. It matters not to me because I highly doubt all the narrow minded music talk, Superlative Corby, and Fake Contrarian Mike have gone away. I miss the Mike Rhyner of old. Back when Rhyner was alive. And no, I don't miss Greggo. I've listened to Greggo on The Fan, and quite frankly he's every bit as bad as his co host. Come back to the Five and Dime, Mike R. Take hold the reins of your show and return it to its original state of greatness. Until that day, I'm out.

The Musers get better with age; Norm always remains Norm; BaD keeps growing; yet The Hardline regresses. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, to me, the Hardline is at its best with its current setup when they are NOT talking about sports. They are masters of talking about everyday mundane things and spicing them up to make them entertaining but their sports talk is lazy and just flat wrong half the time. I often find myself in search of other stations when they start talking sports but their daily discussions of life and random topics keeps me coming back because those segments can be quite strong. Although I agree with the others, the music segments are a tune out. Their ridiculous "our music is better than your music" attitude is just stupid. And I have a feeling that living in Texas, the vast majority of their audience isn't in tune with the random bands they find so amazing.

T4 In Rockwall said...

Listening to the mix n mingle today and I have to admit, Corby did a great JIm Knox. He had me laughing out loud.

Anonymous said...

Fake Knoxie had me rolling on the floor. And THAT'S exactly why Corby makes a better yuck monkey than host. He's good, sometimes great, in spurts. But he's grating when overexposed - which pretty much happens anytime he's on air for more than two segments. Gagreed with the music assessments: way too myopic in taste, condescending, giving far too much importance, influence and impact to certain acts, and at times having a fairly off analysis of what an act is actually doing in their music. Which is strange because Mike and Danny are accomplished musicians. Well, Danny is at least.

Anonymous said...

The thing that bothers me the most about Corby, this falls right in to the laziness, is the lack of bits on the hardline. Gordo has stuck with doing bits, the reason, he got hired there in first place, but since Corby got promoted to full time host he's strayed from what made him successful in the first place. Part of me wants Jake to slide into a more active role and recapture the 'yuck monkey' aspect the show is missing. Even if that were to happen it wouldn't change what Corby's bringing to the table. Until they lose in the ratings I don;t think any changes will be made to the Hardline

The Plainsman said...

NoGeo, I've run out of unique welcomes, so just plain welcome to you.

reggie said...

It seems to me that a lot of people here have hit the nail on the head where The Hardline is concerned; but they haven't put a fine point on it. I think the real issue with it, or reason why it's been getting much criticism, is due to the fact that the show has become, on the whole, a purely ego driven enterprise. It has slowly devolved into the "What Interests Mike, Corby, and to some extent Danny Show." As many have pointed out, those interests are pretty specific and at times niche. Discussing these interests would be fine if it happened once in a blue moon; unfortunately these segments have become a daily occurrence. There seems to be little if any regard for their listening audience anymore. It's about them and for them. Obviously the ratings show that this is still working. But for how much longer? Until, like some have suggested, some actual competition shows up? Until their audience begins to dwindle? I'm sure the answer is in there somewhere.

I also believe there's something to be said for the laziness of both Mike and Corby. I notice here that the lazy tag has been mostly attributed to Corby. Mike, too, seems lazy and content to coast.

While I haven't completely stopped listening to the show, I no longer think of it as must-hear radio. Even Mike's Ranger and baseball talk is no longer compelling. He does nothing but talk of gut-feelings and speculation. At one time, Mike's baseball presentations were solid and full of nuggets. Not anymore. I now prefer to hear Seabass talk Rangers. He brings to the table what Mike once did.

While I can't pinpoint the exact origin of The Hardline's devolution, my feeble memory keeps harkening back to the beginnings of Petty Theft.

The Plainsman said...

Reggie, welcome, or if I've welcomed you before, welcome back.

That is an excellent comment. I get the feeling I'm more positive about The Hardline than most of the recent commenters, but there is much truth in your observations. While I listen almost every day, if listening isn't immediately convenient I find that I no longer go out of my way to find a radio like I used to.

Without exception, observers note the lack of attention to preparing for the presentation on the part of Corby and especially Mike. Maybe Mike's read an article and he comments on that, but there's never much effort to put things together in the same way that, for example, Craig and Bob and even Norm do.

Everyone notices it -- but everyone still tunes in. I'm sensing, though, that resentment is building, and that any competitor throwing out anything halfway listenable could cause the Hard Ones some ratings problems.

Personally: I still like The Hardline a lot, and I don't mind its insideyness and limited range of interests. I find the characters interesting and I still enjoy the sense that I'm eavesdropping on some good pals. Yes, I can see that Mike does virtually nothing to prepare for the show, Corby not much more, none of them cares much for listeners (last time they took a call, anyone?) and none of them knows as much about sports as one might expect on a, you know, sports-talk station.

But I still smile when that theme music comes on and Mike starts talking about The Friendly Mercantile.

But I hear everything you're saying, Reg, and thanks for the thoughtful comment.