SEATTLE, Washington - Sirius XM's Mad Dog Radio sports channel has juggled its lineup and brought in a new host, Dino Costa, to work the evening shift. In his first hour of his first show, Costa noted how he thinks that sports talk radio has fallen on hard times in this country, how it's pandering to the lowest common denominator, it's not smart enough, on and on. I thought, okay, sounds good. Bring on the more thoughtful, eloquent sports talk radio.
The next night, Costa said he was going to call out a particular man who was dumbing down sports talk. The target was Jim Rome.
Costa went on an extended, screaming rant about Rome and his listeners. He bellowed, over and over, that Rome SCRIPTS HIS ENTIRE SHOW and has NO AD-LIB ABILITIES whatsoever! Over and over! Rome panders to the frat-boy, sideways-baseball-cap, moron portion of the country! That his listeners are idiots by definition! That the show is all ATTITUDE and no SPORTS ANALYSIS! NO AD-LIB ABILITIES! The callers script their calls! Rome always talks in STATEMENTS! He SCRIPTS THE SHOW!!!
He then decided to take callers who wanted to defend Rome, and as soon as some came on he called them morons, idiots, and punks, shouting over the callers. Must have called one guy an idiot and a punk dozens of times.
This is the new cerebral sports talk radio? Shouting down callers as morons and punks?
I've been paying to listen to The Jim Rome Show since 2002, I've heard at least part of almost every show in that time, and one thing I can tell you about it is this: Rome has never shouted down a caller, never told a caller he was a moron or idiot to get a rise out of them, in all the years I've been listening. If a caller his bad, he hangs up on them (accompanied by a buzzer sound effect.) Once in a while, he'll say a thing or two about a caller after they're off. If a caller is really profane, nervous, or incompetent, their flameout becomes a part of the lore of the show (like Vinnie Mac).
As far as Rome's show: Look, talk radio shows tend to establish their own ecosystem, a show culture, and some people get it and some people do not. Many shows have done this, from Rome, to The Howard Stern Show, the old The Don and Mike Show, on and on. People are welcome not to like Rome's show. Rome's wife didn't like it the first time she heard it. Even Rome admits he didn't like his show when he first heard it. You have to merge with the culture of the show.
Rome does script out some of the set pieces on his show, but he doesn't "script the entire show." Yes, callers will sometimes write out their calls, but understand it in the context of the culture of the show: this is itself a nod to Rome writing out some of his stuff (thus the listeners are known as "clones") and callers who are obviously reading are subject to derision. The Jim Rome Show airs from 9am to noon so there isn't much going on in sports at that time to ad-lib about.
I don't qualify as a punk or moron, and the list of past champions of the show's annual invite-only caller contest includes a dentist and a composer-turned-rabbi.
As far as hardcore sports analysis (and I just heard Costa mention how great Derek Jeter's "pitch recognition" is), this is not stochastic thermodynamics, it's sports talk. I'm listening for light entertainment. I only listen to sports talk all day because I've become so radical from an ideological standpoint, I can't stomach any current political talk offerings. The best parts of Rome's show usually don't have too much to do with sports. In fact, I don't listen to most of the interviews, because coaches and athletes tend to give lifeless, jejune interviews.
Jim Rome is at the top of his profession, and Dino Costa (who is several years older than Rome) has bounced from market to market and apparently once livened up his sports talk show by interviewing David Duke, so feel free to connect the dots on the reasons for Costa's attack.
UPDATE: Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton is back on the air at a Mexican border-blaster. Let's face it - nobody blends the scripting skills with the ad-lib skills like Hacksaw. NOBODY