“We’re putting the band back together.”
– Jake and Elwood Blues, the Blues Brothers (1980)
Maybe we’ll get an old cop car with a speaker on top and cruise the beltway. Or, this blog post will have to suffice. But yes, Andy Pollin and I will be re-uniting to host “The Sports Reporters 2.0” on ESPN980 starting on May 2nd as part of a station-wide lineup change. More on that in a little bit.
The show will sound a bit different than before, because I’ll be responsible for getting it in and out of breaks. I’ll handle the phones, and direct the conversation.
It’ll feel different, but it’ll be the same. It’s not a “me” show, as I say about my morning show. It’s a “we” show. Period. Andy is going to carry as much of load – if not more at times – than before.
I will always be looking to set Andy up for his deep local knowledge of all things Washington D.C. sports. All the controversies, bad trades, mini-soap operas and – it seems rare – moments of glory, Andy has seen them all and recalls the pertinent facts and figures involved.
When I say “Burn the Floor”, Andy knows exactly what I’m talking about. When I say a player was dubbed as “having no weaknesses” Andy knows who I’m talking about. When I say a coaching candidate “blew him away”…. Andy knows.
Producing the show, will be the extremely talented, yet reclusive Steve Solomon. “Solly’s” steady, adept work behind the glass has been indispensable to our success over the years. And as you may know from my morning show, he is also a “voice character” ninja, who throws elbows in the paint like Charles Oakley.
Together, Andy and I have sat together in a studio and adjudicated nearly 13 years of sports dramas that have washed through our teams. When I decided to reunite with him on the “Sports Reporters Back From the Dead Podcast” this past September, it was not some grand design to get us back on the air together.
No, I just missed Andy. It was that simple.
At the time, we were witnessing this incredible moment in Redskins history – where a franchise savior in RG3 was being benched, in a dramatic late August “coup d’etat” – and the success of Kirk was still a complete unknown.
And no offense to Cooley and Galdi, but I just craved Andy’s “big picture” take on this more than anything. Cooley’s virtually “all-access” intel on what was going on, was incredible – and remains so. Galdi’s cold hard analytical take on the matter was vintage Galdi. There was nothing wrong with either, and I enjoyed sorting through that drama with them.
But I wanted – no, needed – Andy’s larger perspective. I had a craving to hash out what it all meant, what could happen if it went south, or if it succeeded wildly, and where we as a fanbase might fall depending upon the outcome.
And so now, we shall resume those discussions together again from 4-7 p.m. on the radio. I’m excited.
The plan is to absolutely bring back many of our regular 3rd person contributors: Chris Knoche, Steve Buckhantz, Kevin Blackistone, Drew Magary and others. The third person keeps the show constantly fresh, and the guys who learn to throw punches with us, really add a huge dimension to the discussion.
And we hope to start mixing in a new breed of “3rd person reporters” as well, even though many of them may not technically be “reporters.”
Don’t believe everything you read or hear about why it happened, and how it happened. The reasons are far more nuanced and complex than you’ll ever know. Even I was not privy to many discussions the station had about what they wanted to do, and how they wanted to do it.
The truth is mixed with bullshit, and even I can’t sort it out completely.
Also, lineup changes carry risk. You are asking an existing set of listeners to stick with you, and to learn to love the new shows. We all are going to have to earn our audiences all over again.
The one thing that’s absolute about this business, is that it’s not for anybody who craves job security. As talent, I have a saying: “We’re all just one bad program director from becoming a carpenter.”
The skillset one hones as a local radio talk show host, is absurdly narrow and non-transferrable. Not only is there just two sports radio stations in our market (imagine a lawyer, in a market of 5 million, where there’s only two law firms you could work for!) but I can’t just move to Philadelphia and get a job with my resume.
Because I don’t know crap about Philly sports! Oh, I could “study up” but I’d never be a native. And that’s what matters most in this particular business.
in 1999, I was fired from my own self-titled morning show in Charlotte, N.C. after one month – ONE MONTH! All because the GM down there was convinced by a small group of locals that I was too “negative” and didn’t fit the feel of a southern city.
Oh yeah, my first daughter was born on the second day after the show launched. Good times.
But that door closing, helped chase me back “home” here to DC, and I happily took a part time job at “Sportstalk 980” doing updates and hosting Wizards post-games.
Didn’t pay much. Wasn’t glamourous. But I was in the door, and it has worked out great since then.
In 2009, I was stunned when Fox Sports Radio canned me for no reason, and replaced me with Stephen A. Smith. The program director who had hired me, died of cancer, and was replaced by someone who… well.. thought this was a good move.
That experiment failed after 10 months, and their next show failed after 1 year, and they still haven’t figured it out.
But hey, I had to just absorb the hit, and figure out what I was going to do next. It’s worked out great for me since then, as Yahoo Sports Radio has embraced my show and promoted it in a way that every talent dreams about.
How’s it going for the outfit that fired me? Not so great. They’re still searching for a reliable, credible replacement for my morning show. Ha. Good. Success is the ultimate revenge, right?
Hell, there was even a time when Andy and I were relegated to the 10-12 a.m. slot on this station, and replaced by John Thompson in the afternoons. Do you think we were happy about that? No! But what could we do?
Then almost 3 years ago, Andy himself was forced into a reduced role at the station as “The Drive” launched with me and Cooley and Al. Like a pro’s pro, Andy took on the challenge, and did whatever was asked. A solo morning show on AM 570? Okay, let’s do it, he said. Helping out the “Man Cave” despite it being a show he was not at all a good fit for…. he did it.
Survival is longevity, and longevity is success. There really isn’t any other meaningful measure in our business.
I say all of this, because there’s one station personality who ended up falling through the cracks of this new lineup, and we know who that is. He’s a guy who I have loudly advocated for over the years, a guy I love taking sports with (both on and off the air) and someone I consider a friend. And yeah, I feel sick about it.
But I have no knowledge of his contract situation. I have no idea what discussions he had with management. I have no idea what he would like to do now, or in the future. I’ve already said I would love to have him back in our “rotation” on the Sports Reporters, which is where he began. But that decision is up to him, and I completely respect it either way.
Like I said: it’s a helluva business.
So here we are, back in the saddle in just 3 short weeks. I would call it a “triumphant” return to afternoon drive, but we haven’t accomplished anything yet. We have to earn it all over again.
And we plan to do just that.