Sunday, July 02, 2006

Talk radio

At 3 p.m., July 1, 1987, WFAN the nation's first 24-7 sports talk radio station, went on the air in New York City - and sports coverage hasn't been the same since.

The change has often been detrimental to the newspaper industry, thanks to the pressure to mimmick in print the shrill, voice that never lets issues run a natural course, burn bright, then die out.

Instead, as former major league manager Jeff Torborg once said, controversies just keep going on and on, 24-7, as commentators, working in "three-hour shifts," to quote Torborg, beat issues to death in order to fill air time.

That said, let me add that here on the NY-NJ-PA. corridor, WFAN remains without peer. Its imidators are just that, and poor ones, at best. In Philadelphia, the WIP crew makes WFAN's roster seem Pulitzer Prize-worthy as they presume to be the stars that drive sports. Though WFAN's hosts are celebrities even by New York standards, they allow the sports, the athletes and coaches they cover remain the station's primary focus.WFAN talks to the likes of Larry Brown, Joe Torre and pro athletes from around the world.

Other stations who eschew the "guest" spot, too often prefer to mock the pro games and players - and fellow members of the media, often from the safety of their studio desks. Feel free to read that as an apt description of WIP in Philadelphia, if you will.

Though some of WFAN's on-air personalities are more famous than others, special kudos are reserved here for Steve Somers, a very witty on-air commentator who never stoops to insulting or carving up his callers, sports fans or the teams and athletes he covers. Wish they could clone him and franchise him out to the stations that still do a lot of talking without really understanding what "talk radio" should be about.

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