Call me a sports radio elitist. I have plenty of prejudices when I listen to sports radio. I expect certain things. When I listen to a show that does not meet those expectations, I am often disappointed.
When I embark on my efforts to critique a sports radio show I try to listen with an open mind. As I pointed out in my guidelines in analyzing sports radio , I look for specific attributes in reviewing the show. I understand that although I listen to a program for three weeks, it may not be the best three weeks of the year to listen. But I think three weeks is a good barometer by which to judge a program.
That is the case with one sports show in Dallas. The Bob and Dan Radio Show (BaD Radio for short) is the midday program (noon to 3pm CDT) on KTCK, “The Ticket”. The show features co-hosts Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell. Sturm hails from Wisconsin while McDowell began his career at various stations in Ohio. The duo has been paired at “The Ticket” since 1999.
McDowell says after nearly eight years together he and Sturm have built a strong relationship. “I have the utmost respect for Bob and the road he took to get here.” says McDowell, “His work ethic is outstanding and his ability to do radio at a high level is unbelievable.”
I listened to the program for three weeks in late March/early April. On that first day the pair had just returned from a road trip with the Dallas Stars. (Sturm and McDowell handle radio post game duties for the Stars.) They spent most of the show recounting their time on the road. I gave them a mulligan on their lack of sports talk since the recently completed trip was worthy of discussion.
In the subsequent days I often found myself wondering to which station I was listening? The pair would many times dabble in sports talk but spent a majority of their airtime discussing anything BUT sports. McDowell says this is by design.
“It is a sports comedy show.” McDowell says. “Sports is our base, but we will venture off into other areas of interest as well. We also try to use the medium of radio, mixing in a variety of sound instead of just us talking. ”
Sturm and McDowell are not alone on the show. They often share the mic with a cast of characters led by Donovan Lewis and producer Tom Gribble. They produce many comedy routines which are promoted on the show, but rarely are they sports related. Lewis hosts the “Daily Donovan” segment each day featuring issues of interest to him. Other weekly bits include “Gay, Not Gay” and “What’s on My TiVo”. To their credit the pair do have a weekly sit down with Rangers GM Jon Daniels and a Rangers/Diamond Notes session three days a week. I am sure the other Dallas sports teams receive similar attention during their seasons.
McDowell feels the contributers to the show add flavor and a different perspective. “Perhaps they provide a voice to some listeners.” he says.
It just doesn’t seem to fit on sports radio. During the time I listened much was happening on the Dallas sports landscape. The Mavericks were securing the best record in the NBA, the Stars were preparing for the NHL Western Conference Playoffs, the Rangers were looking forward to Opening Day, and the Cowboys were making some off field news. (KTCK is now the home of Dallas Cowboys radio broadcasts). Instead of those topics we were treated to other bits like “Ghetto Jeopardy” and a rundown on the latest episode of Lost.
The most frustrating day was on April 6th. The Rangers were playing their home opener and BaD Radio paid little attention to the game. Could the lack of Rangers talk be that the Rangers are carried on rival KRLD? I hope not.
As much as the die-hard Dallas sports fan may be disappointed by the lack of sports talk, McDowell says they have a goal for the show.
“I think my co-worker Mike Rhyner described what we do best when he said ‘we can do what they do, but they can’t do what we do.'” he says, “Our foundation is sports, and when a big sports story is out there then it gets top priority. But we do not do sports just for the sake of sports. We also attempt to mix in compelling opinionated guy talk that will keep our male 25-54 demo tuned in. We try to program our show for the average guy sports fan. We are not programming to the guy who just talks sports 24-7.”
It is unclear whether this tact is translating to ratings success. The latest station ratings show “The Ticket” as being in the upper half of the ratings (12+) in the Dallas market so the listeners are tuning in. Without access to the key male 25-54 demo numbers it is conceivable that BaD radio is extremely successful. Being together for nearly 8 years also means suggests success.
The best stretch of radio during my period of listening came toward the end of the run as Sturm and McDowell spent considerable time breaking down Game 1 of the NHL Playoffs when he Stars lost a heartbreaking 4OT game to the Vancouver Canucks. When they focused on sports, they are very good.
The members of BaD Radio are definitely talented. Their show may be best suited for morning drive then midday…and definitely not on sports radio. But if they do decide to focus on sports…go by and give them a try.