Listening to my car radio during a recent trip to Columbus reaffirmed something I knew 10 years ago, when I first came across a sports talk show that was unlike any other I'd ever heard.
It proved to me that the Jim Rome Show is tops in its format and the host is still the best at what he does. It also proved further to me why there's a need to have more than one all-sports radio station in Toledo.
There was Rome interviewing 90-year-old Negro League baseball historian Buck O'Neill in a way that made it seem like the two were longtime buddies. Rome was in rare form during an enlightening conversation with the fascinating O'Neill, someone almost three times his elder. For a moment, Rome and O'Neill took the listeners back to a time when Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson starred on the baseball diamond at a time when blacks and whites didn't play pro baseball together. The interview was such that anyone listening in could relate to the stories.
Immediately after the interview Rome's nationally syndicated show was swamped by calls from listeners expressing how the interview was one of the greatest they'd heard on radio and how it brought many of them to tears hearing O'Neill's accounts of play in the Negro Leagues.
Had I been in Toledo that day there's a good chance I wouldn't have heard the interview, since Rome's show was dropped from the daily lineup at Toledo's all-sports radio station, The Ticket (1470 AM), in September. Rome's show can be heard on Detroit's all-sports station, WDFN (1130 AM), but the reception isn't always the best, depending on the weather and depending on where you're located in the Toledo area.
As a sports fan I appreciate being able to listen to sports on the radio around the clock. The Ticket provides that. However, when Ticket officials chose to go with ESPN radio as its primary feed for nationally syndicated programming, it made a decision to narrow its views and programming presentation.
Whether it's The Mike and Mike Show or The Tony Kornheiser Show or The Dan Patrick Show during the day on The Ticket, it's clear that this is an ESPN station. For the most part they're basic and straight in their approach as sports talk shows. Often it's clear that the hosts only like hearing themselves babble on. Eventually it all starts sounding the same. Sort of like, Da-Da-Daah, Da-Da-Daah.
Rome's presentation is a contrasting style from his peers, particularly those on ESPN radio.
His show is typically three hours of talk and interaction with his show's avid listeners, also known as clones for calling regularly to the show. That's what makes him special. That's why his show can be heard on 130 stations in the United States and in Canada.
The Ticket never really gave Rome's show a chance. In Columbus and Cleveland it is one of the more popular daily offerings. Thousands showed up in Cleveland for one of Rome's tour stops a few years back, and thousands typically show up wherever he decides to make an appearance.
Yet Rome isn't the only nationally syndicated sports talk show host worth noting that we don't hear in Toledo.
Others include Tony Bruno (Fox Sports Radio), J.T. The Brick (Fox Sports Radio), Jay Mariotti (The Sporting News Radio) and Peter Brown (The Sporting News Radio).
Just like I enjoy reading a variety of sports magazines and newspaper sports sections, it's refreshing to hear a diverseness of opinions and personalities talk about sports on the radio. Another all-sports radio station based in Toledo would fill that void.
That's my take. I'm out.
Donald Emmons is The Blade's sports media columnist. Contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.