The Shame of Sports Talk Radio

I was in my car for four hours today and had the (mis) fortune of listening to some sports talk radio.  There are two sportsradio networks, ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio.  For some reason, FSR is almost unlistenable.  I try, but I can’t seem to stay focused, which may be because they can’t stay focused on a particular topic.  Even their 20/20 sports update anchor takes too long to give scores and rambles. 

Freddie Coleman was hosting over on ESPN Radio.  I like Coleman.  He knows sports, and he can stick to a topic and doesn’t do a whole lot of clowning.  Coleman did spend 15 minutes debating the Hank Steinbrenner-Red Sox Nation dilemma for what reason I do not know, but most of the time he gives fans what they want:  sports news and information.

What both networks should be ashamed of is their total ignorance of the NHL.  Now, both networks will say that they’ve done studies, and they’ve been told that the listeners don’t care about hockey and don’t want to hear about hockey.  Let’s remember that both Fox and ESPN/ABC broadcasted NHL games for years, so there was a time when they thought that people cared.

Look, nobody expects a radio host to spend a lot of the show talking about the NHL.  We know that the ratings aren’t good.  We know that many Americans don’t like hockey.  But, what about the Americans who do like hockey; who do live in hockey cities; who do watch hockey games?  Why do they neglected? 

The NASCAR fan gets to hear segments, as does the PGA fan.  ESPN carries golf and I don’t mind them giving some attention to sports that they cover, but when I hear their hosts state on the air that “hockey is non-existent,” or hockey “isn’t a relevant sport,” it does make one question the credibility of the sports host.

WFAN in New York is almost as bad as the national networks.  They’d rather talk about how the Mets struggled to score in a pre-season gamethan talk about the NHL, which there are three of in the New York area.  In case you forgot, those three teams are the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils, with the latter’s games  broadcasted on WFAN. 

If you’re a national sports talk host, you have to talk about and cover all major sports, not just the ones you like.  Colin Cowherd has three hours to tell us how great he is; to tell us for the 35th time that he dated a girl named Kitten, and to tell us what a ladies man he is.  Can’t you get Barry Melrose on from 11:06 to 11:17 once a week to update the nation on what’s going on in the NHL? 

Of course not.  Let’s talk about college basketball even though its ratings stink.  Let’s talk about the NBA because ESPN carries NBA games that get low ratings also.  I’m not a huge hockey guy myself, but I believe you have to fair and objective and at least offer something for the hockey fan.

Hockey is a major sport and deserves a little “like.”

John Furgele


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