Friday, November 03, 2006

The Best Talk Radio Host

I work at a desk and I don't like silence. I like something on in the background to break the monotony, and sometimes I'm just not in the mood for music.

So I turn to talk radio, and my talk radio tastes have changed over time -- as has talk radio. No longer is it a bastion of right wingers knocking liberals around and taking calls that ultimately bore you off the airwaves ("Hello? Dittoes! Couldn't agree with you more.") That kind of stuff started to turn me off of talk radio a long time ago; frankly, I don't care much to listen to the opinions of the callers, most of whom have nothing new to add and no interesting way to say it.

This is not meant to bash callers to talk radio. This is meant to celebrate The Best, so I'll move along to tell you that I currently have only two realistic talk radio options in my area. There are, technically, more than that what with the internet and all, but I can't be bothered always finding internet radio stations. And in my area there are three talk radio options that come in clearly. There's station 1, which features Rush at midday and a local conservative host in the afternoon, and, despite being quite conservative myself, I can't stand -- CANNOT STAND to listen to conservative talk radio hosts anymore. Even if they did not take callers, I couldn't handle it. They're snotty, to put it bluntly. They're annoyingly snotty and smarmy. And I can't handle the contrast.

I'll put it this way: I don't like annoying people. Take Tina Fey. She annoys me, and annoys me on a genetic level because just writing her name has made me angry. And I think it's because every fiber of her being, every iota of the mass that is Tina Fey, radiates self-important smugness, a general air of superiority, and somehow she not only radiates that but manages to seem like she's directing it personally at me. So I can't stand Tina Fey because of that, and her level of annoyingness manages to deprive every single thing she does of humor or fun or enjoyment for me. (That's why I won't be watching her new show.) I remember once watching Saturday Night Live, and I forget the exact joke but she told a joke on Weekend Update, and it was a joke I'd ordinarily find funny, but because she told it, it was not only not funny but it actually made me want to take the opposite point of view.

Let me hasten to add, it's not that I disagree with what I presume to be Tina Fey's politics (a presumption I base partly on her jokes and partly on her glasses), because I also disagree with Jon Stewart's politics but I would happily spend hours hanging out with him anyway and love The Daily Show. It's that I disagree with (as I said) Tina Fey's annoying smugness, something Jon Stewart does not have, so I can watch him and enjoy it even when he's in effect laughing at me.


All of which is a long way of saying that the first talk radio station is out due to the level of annoying smugness demonstrated by not just Rush Limbaugh, but by the local host who manages to make me want to open an abortion clinic just to spite her.

Then there's the second talk radio station, which has at least one interesting character on it (another one I typically don't agree with but will listen to and enjoy) but which suffers from being... how can I put this? Oh, yeah, mostly boring. They tend to drone on and on about things that are boring-but-important (unions, living wages, Halloween parties) or boring-but-also-not-important (Humane Society board of directors infighting.) Since I've long since ceded that I no longer pay much attention to boring-but-important things, you can see where I can't spend the day listening to that station, either.

Which leaves station three, which is an ESPN/sports talk station. And while I like some sports, there are other sports (basketball) which I don't care about one way or the other, and some sports (baseball) that I kind of like but not really, and some sports (hockey, everything that's not football including soccer and NASCAR) that aren't really sports at all and so shouldn't take up any of my time.

But sports radio stations need to cater to fans who like those "sports," and a sports station that spent its time only on football would have not much to do for big chunks of the year. So I'd be lost in talk radio land most of the time, when they're talking about all those other so-called sports, I'd have no choice but to listen to union-busting discussions or music (because I'd somehow chew my ears off before listening to the conservative station, which could only be less appealing if they hired Tina Fey) if it wasn't for one guy, who gets me through two hours (he's on for three but my station only carries two) of the day:

Colin Cowherd.

Here's a link to his Wikipedia bio. I'm not here to write a biography of the guy. I'm here to praise his radio skills, which are second-to-none and which keep me listening even when the topics turn away from football to those less-appealing "sports," because Colin Cowherd does what other hosts should do but rarely do: He entertains.

I can only demonstrate the level of entertainment by paraphrasing an example. He was talking on one recent show about whether you'd want Randy Moss or Terrell Owens on your team, and he compared the choice to a guy choosing between two "smoking hot" girls with drug problems. I know that my relating it to you does not do justice to how great his discussion was, but that's why he's the radio host and I'm writing about him being a radio host.

Here are some actual quotes that give you an idea what he's like:

"UVA football is the softest bunch of cream-puff bow-tie wearing bree-cheese-eating, Nascar-wearing wussies I've ever seen in my life. There's not a softer bunch of cookie dough eatin weenies than the UVA football program. Those guys wear make-up to games. That is the biggest bunch of fru fru dacari drinking non-alcoholic beer chuggin weenies I've ever seen in my life. Dude, you want to know the most popular drink at tailgating at UVA football...? Zima!"

UVA Fan: "I'd rather be a softie from UVA than a redneck from Virginia Tech"

Colin: "I wouldn't. I'd rather win football games and that's why you're not committed. They'd rather win football games, you'd rather be sophisticated. Go like baseball loser. [Mockingly: 'I'd rather be a sophisticate than a redneck.'] I'd rather win football games weenie! That's why you're no threat in big college football. Cause you'll wanna watch Anderson Cooper on CNN. Congratulations, you're very sophisticated. Good luck with that Chardonnay. But Virginia Tech would walk right up and punch you in the neck."

(Click that link for the source.)

Colin Cowherd manages to cover a wide variety of sports and do so in a way that makes me listen even when talks about stuff I don't care about. He's a good interviewer, he's got a great way with an analogy, and he will never, ever, ever let you down if you listen to him. I can honestly say I've never turned off his show, never stopped listening if I didn't have to, never turned away from that station. For someone with my attention span and lack of patience, that's probably the highest praise I can give him.

So go listen to him -- find your ESPN sports radio and when he's on, and tune in. Even if you don't like sports. You'll not be disappointed by Colin Cowherd, The Best Talk Radio Host.

Very Good.

Here's another longer transcript that shows the genius that is Colin Cowherd. Click here for the source. What I like about this is not just the straight talk, not just the use of "ain't" but the random insertion of a pop culture reference to really tie it all together...

Great high school players who play offense go to Florida State to die. Then they go to the NFL and get better. Why? Because the coaching is better. Chris Rix, Drew Weatherford, never got one bit better. It's called coaching. Florida State is the worst-coached offensive team in college football, and it ain't close. Their offense is loaded with premier high school All-Americans - at the very least, all-state ... They have the No. 1 high school running back in the nation five years ago, Lorenzo Booker. He had two carries last week.

If you can't see what's going on, you're not paying attention.

Jeff Bowden should resign because that's what a good kid would do when he's hurting his dad.
Florida State football, folks, has become the movie, 'Tommy Boy'. The incompetent son is hurting the program. All you have to do is look at the quarterbacks, Chris Rix and Drew Weatherford. Both really talented, neither got better. It's coaching. That's coaching.

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