When I was a freshman in high school, I had a friend, Stephen, whose older brother would frequently give me a ride home after class. Every afternoon, without fail, Stephen’s brother had the AM dial tuned to 950 KJR. And every afternoon, as the three of us rode home, we listened to Dave Grosby and Mike Gastineau talk about sports.
Prior to that point in my life, I hadn’t really been exposed to much sports talk radio. Sure, I listened to games and postgame shows and the like. But the rest of the time, I lent my ears to music. R&B, hip-hop, and goofy soft rock that years later would somehow work its way onto my iPod and become a novelty of sorts. Sports radio, back in those days, just wasn’t my thing. Until those rides home my freshman year.
Groz with Gas, as it was called, was an odd show to me. Here were two middle-aged men dissecting the local and national sports scene, all while joking around about nearly every subject they touched on. It was different, unlike anything I’d really experienced before. These two knuckleheads would banter and giggle, and we would do the same. They entertained us with jabs at a Godawful Sonics bench, a floundering Mariners bullpen, a perennially mediocre Seahawks squad. They managed, somehow, to make failure funny. And here we were, as teenagers, enjoying the humor.
As I went through high school and college, I continued to listen. Not just to Groz or Gas, but to everyone. Under the wrong circumstances, sports radio can be a breeding ground for idiots to voice uninformed opinions. But in this town, at least, it didn’t feel like that at all.
Time went by. I graduated college. I got a job. I ended up here, now. In my spare time, I have this website. And a Twitter account. And thankfully, a handful of people who engage with both of my creative outlets. I’ve been pretty lucky with all of that. Lucky enough to get a little publicity here and there, some airtime on the radio now and then.
As things have turned out, I’ve been fortunate enough to actually get to know some of the people I’ve grown up watching on television, reading in the newspaper, and listening to on the radio. People who are more or less in the public eye, who seem far removed from those of us who are definitely not in the public eye, but turn out to be real, genuine individuals once you sit down and start talking over beverages.
In recent years, as I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of people that I’d known of, but never really known, I’ve encountered a mixed bag of personalities. For the most part, however, the majority of those (for lack of a better term, we’ll call them “public figures”) public figures have been pretty cool. Nice, forthcoming, gracious, and likable. When you meet people like that, you can’t help but believe in the greater good of everyone around you. And when you believe like that, when you truly convince yourself that people are generally well-intentioned, life just seems to get better every day. So many of those people who I’ve met, who I’ve gotten to know, who I’ve become friends with as I’ve moonlit as a writer, have made my life better. They just have. To say it any other way wouldn’t do the feeling justice. Their presence, their hospitality, the kindness they’ve shown me — some wise-ass kid who started up a rinky-dink blog — has meant more than the world. I cannot overstate my appreciation for how they’ve treated me. It’s been awesome.
Of course, as time has passed, things have changed. They always change. It’s inevitable. One minute you’re watching season two of Boy Meets World and Cory actually sounds like a boy; the next minute you’re watching season three of Boy Meets World and Cory still sounds like a boy, albeit a boy with a slightly deeper voice. So yeah. Can’t avoid change. It’s always there.
Things have changed. And as they’ve done so, a lot of those things I grew up with have disappeared. Take a look at my hometown, for one. Back in my day (only old people get to use that expression), Bellevue was a McDonald’s, then an Arby’s, then some other stuff, then a Safeway, a Baskin-Robbins, and a few banks. Then change hit. Now it’s luxury apartments, an empty building where Safeway used to be, and Lincoln Effing Square. Change shit all over my memories as a kid. I don’t even get to see the water fountain outside Bellevue Square anymore because they turned it into a rock arrangement. Who the hell does that? That water fountain was a gem. And they nuked it. Jerks.
Not surprisingly, change has taken its toll in other realms, as well. Notably, in media. Where a newspaper means next-to-nothing to today’s high schoolers. Where a breaking story can be crammed into a 140-character text box and called good. Where, thanks to social networking, we’ve all become reporters in a certain sense. Change isn’t bad by any means. I mean, I can speak firsthand to its benefits. I’ve been impacted directly by many of these changes. Without them, my opinions would be completely irrelevant (in many cases, my opinions continue to be irrelevant, I realize that. But at least now they’re a little less irrelevant than they would have been without social media). But at the same time, even the most beneficial changes have negative consequences. And today, I sit here reminded of that.
I don’t know what may have occurred behind the scenes. I don’t know why this guy I had the pleasure of getting to know a little bit decided to leave the only job he’s had for more than two decades. But I do know that I will miss hearing his voice on my car radio in the afternoons. I will miss hearing his opinions on a daily basis. I will miss knowing that, whether I’ve had a good day or a bad one, he will be there to distract me as the sun sets on my drive home.
The first time I formally met Mike Gastineau, he looked me in the eye and said, “Alex, I don’t believe we’ve met yet.” The guy addressed me by name before we even knew each other. Which is just flat-out cool. You do that to anyone and you’re guaranteed to be on their good side for life. We shook hands and we met and we’ve crossed paths a few times since. He’s a good dude. I can tell you that. And not just because every single person I trust who knows him has led me to believe it, though they have. You won’t hear any media member in this town speak ill of Mike Gastineau’s character. He is one of a rare breed. The talking head full of snark and wit who, somehow, has managed not to piss everyone off. Remarkable, really.
I don’t know how it is in other cities across America, but here in Seattle there are all these media types who genuinely like each other. It’s crazy to witness. It’s crazy to be a part of. We’re friends, we hang out, we’ll drink together, we’ll play ball together. We enjoy each other’s company. And I get to be involved in that. Because of these good people who appreciate the stupid shit I occasionally come up with. I don’t really understand it. I just go with it.
It wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t start listening to sports radio at some point along the way. That is what got me interested in doing all of this. And the first voice I heard, that year I was riding in a car with my friend and his older brother, belonged to Mike Gastineau. The same guy who would one day greet me by name before we even met. That guy.
Everyone will have their stories. There are always stories when you’re an icon. But this is my story about a guy who is moving on from having impacted so many people in this town, including myself. I wish him all the best, thank him for his kindness, and look forward to our next beer together. On to the next adventure, Gas.
Filed under: Sports Media
I believe in my friends. They’re good people. All of them. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t be friends with them. It’s that simple. Not that I’m some expert on relationships or anything. But I feel like I’m a pretty decent judge of character. And what my friends have is quality character worthy of my faith. There’s no doubt in my mind. As a result, from time to time I use my bias towards these friends of mine to sell the world on the things they represent.
Today is one of those moments I’ve chosen to be selfish about a few of my friends. You may have heard of these particular people in passing before. They are, in no particular order, Ian Furness, Jason Puckett, Josh Sabrowsky, and Ashley Ryan. They all work for Sports Radio KJR (950 on your local AM dial; 102.9 on local FM), they’re all good at what they do, and they all happen to thrive at their jobs from 1:00-3:00 p.m. each weekday. Furness is the lanky Canadian host of the show bearing his name; Puckett is the plucky, wise-cracking everyman sidekick; Josh is the easy-target/producer; and Ashley is the girl who knows sports and has boobs…or something like that.
Now before I go on, let me address the obvious question: Am I biased? Well yes, clearly I am. That would be the natural inclination, of course. These people are good to me, and hopefully I am just as good to them. But you know what, whether I’m biased or not is irrelevant. Because you cannot deny when something is both efficient and effective. And that is precisely what the midday show on KJR happens to be.
Each day, the Furness Show takes the air for a mere two hours and provides relief. Relief. That’s it. It’s a breath of fresh air. To those of you who listen to sports talk radio on a regular basis, you know how seriously hosts — and, in turn, callers and guests — can often take themselves. It’s kind of a joke. Here we are talking about adults playing games and instead of having fun (which is what sports are all about, keep in mind), we’re more apt to turn this into something along the lines of a nuclear treaty discussion.
Furness, Puck, Ashley and Josh are different. They genuinely enjoy working with each other. They have an even-keel perspective on the world around them — something that many sports radio hosts lack. They’re hilarious. They aren’t stupid. They’re not pompous. They aren’t ignorant. And they aren’t willing to roll over and die for the listener. Which means they actually stand for something that matters to the people.
Here’s the thing about talk radio: the goal is to rile the masses. How does one do this? By capitalizing on irrationality and helping the unintelligent listeners get emotional about inane bullshit. It’s the type of thing that I’m sure has turned many of you off from talk radio entirely. Frankly, I don’t blame you. But if you’re in that group and seemingly couldn’t care less about broadcast banter, you might find as we continue here that the Furness Show is actually worth caring about.
By not succumbing to the listener, Furness and company are doing you, the astute sports fan, a favor. They’re bringing you discussion you can tolerate, in a format that makes sense and is enjoyable to listen to. They know what they’re talking about, they debate interesting topics, and they employ a format that allows them to display their affinity for one another. It’s absolute aural pleasure. Aural sex, one might go so far as to say. And who doesn’t like aural sex?
For those of you who do know a thing or two about sports radio, you may be avoiding the Furness Show because it’s a “Coug show,” meaning it’s for Washington State Cougar fans, by Washington State Cougar fans. Fact is, the Furness Show is as much a “Coug show” as this website is a traditional sports blog.
Sure, Furness and Puckett are Washington State University alums. But they’re far from the stereotype of the college homer. They’re objective and they have a grasp on reality, two things we want in all individuals, let alone radio hosts. And if there’s any doubt about that, just look to the two people who comprise their quartet: Ashley is a USC alum and Husky fan, while Josh is both a Washington grad and card-carrying purple-and-gold diehard.
On top of all that, there’s a basic understanding among many of the local media members that Furness and Puckett are GGTKs — or as Gem Diamond explained in the class ring episode of Saved By the Bell, Good Guys To Know.
Take one look at Twitter. No other sports radio hosts in this city interact with their fellow media members the way these two do. It’s like there’s a fraternity they happen to head up. It doesn’t matter if you write for The Seattle Times, The Tacoma News-Tribune, The Everett Herald, work on one of the TV news stations, or happen to lend your voice to the airwaves just as they do; Furness and Puckett get along with you regardless. They just do. And that’s a rarity in the media business. It doesn’t happen often. Not to this magnitude, at least.
To a fan, what that means is that the people you trust to bring you the news, trust these guys. Ipso facto, you should trust these guys, as well. And yes, I just like saying “ipso facto.”
There has to be a point here, I suppose, and there is. I’m lobbying for the Furness Show to get more airtime. Two hours isn’t enough. In the world of radio, two hours is miniscule. These guys deserve better. They’re exceptional at what they do and they have a passion for doing it. You have to respect that, whether you like them or not. Most people can’t say that about their jobs. Most people go to work and languish for eight hours. But for two freakin’ hours a day, these four individuals work as a unit to talk about sports in a unique way that makes sense to a normal human being. I appreciate that. And I’m guessing if you’re reading this article and enjoy this website, you might appreciate that, too.
So I’m imploring you to do what you can to make this cause worthwhile, to help them get more airtime. Listen to their show. Follow them on Twitter: @IanKJR, @JasonPuckettKJR, @AshleyLolaRyan, and @KarateEmergency. Write letters to the station, if you feel so compelled. Just support these guys. Not because they need the support necessarily. But because it never hurts to go out of your way for good people. And that’s really what they are: good people. Good people who happen to have a product that you may find interesting.
Filed under: Sports Media
You want to call a sports radio station but you need help. Thankfully, you’ve got me. I’m an expert on this sort of thing. Not because I call sports radio stations myself. But because I listen. And listening, as any girl will tell you, is the key.
That’s why I’ve created this step-by-step guide to helping you make that all-important call to voice your opinion on something that, frankly, most people probably don’t care about it. But that’s beside the point. The point is, you’ve been dying to pick up that phone and hear your voice on the airwaves. I’m here to make it easier for you. Let’s go.
Step 1: Tell the call screener that he/she has a sexy voice.
It doesn’t hurt to butter up the person in charge of putting you through to the host. “Hey sexy, you sound hot,” should suffice. In this day and age, it doesn’t really matter if this person is of the opposite gender or not. Most attractive people with sexy voices are used to both homo- and heterosexual attention. Just let it rip. You’ll see immediate results.
For added effect, breathe heavily.
Step 2: If you have to wait more than a minute or two to get on the air, hang up and dial again. Repeat as necessary.
Don’t they know who you are? You’re Jeff from Puyallup. F**kin’ right, you are. No one makes Jeff from Puyallup wait to voice Jeff from Puyallup’s opinion.
Now call right back.
Ask the call screener if he or she knows who he or she is speaking with. Now ask him or her if he or she knows how long you’ve been waiting. Too long, that’s how long. Put me back on hold now, beyotch.
Don’t forget Step 1, though. Demand results, but make sure to tell your call screener that his or her voice is super sexy. Good work. Keep it up.
Step 3: Wish your host a good day at least two or three times.
When you finally get through and the host calls your name, be sure to issue as many salutations as you possibly can. That really sets the tone for the rest of the call.
“Uh, hi there, uh…hey, this is, uh, Jeff from Puyallup…and, uh, how’s your day going today?”
Perfect. You’ve got it down pat.
Make sure to say “uh” a lot, too.
Step 4: Preface your point with an anecdote about your own life.
Your life is absolutely fascinating. Between working a job that allows you to call into sports radio stations during the day, beating off to loads and loads of pornography, and Facebook-stalking sports personalities, you might just lead the most fascinating life in the history of livelihood. Go ahead and tell the listening audience a fun story about your life right from the get-go.
“Long-time listener, first-time caller…and, uh, well I just gotta tell you something. The other day I was at the mall and I saw Ichiro shopping for jeans, and I was thinking to myself, ‘That’s ridiculous! Ichiro shops for jeans, too!’ And uh, yeah, so then I, uh, I shook his hand and had him autograph my beanie and, uh…well, uh…well…okay, so basically I just wanted to call and ask you about the Huskies…”
You left out the part about Ichiro running away and you chasing after him. But save that for the next call, that’s good stuff.
Step 5: When in doubt, just keep talking.
Sometimes the conversation will take an awkward turn. Instead of letting the host get a word in, it’s best if you just keep talking. This is your fifteen seconds of fame. Milk it like an impregnated cow.
But what to talk about, you ask? You’ve already made your point about the hometown nine sucking balls, there’s really nothing left to say, right? Wrong.
When in doubt, just narrate the scene around you. I’ve always found that makes for great dialogue. Bonus points if you can transition from your topic to this random scene narration without taking a breath.
“So Felix should definitely win the Cy Young and there’s this chick walking past me right now with an amazing rack. I mean, holy crap, that thing is glorious.”
Even with a sixteen-second delay, I don’t know if a radio producer will catch that and be able to get rid of it in time. You should be golden.
Step 6: When the host undoubtedly refutes your logic, either a) yell at said host, b) stutter a lot, or c) all of the above.
Host: “So, Jeff, what you’re telling me is you think the Sonics would be better off never returning to Seattle. Is that what you’re saying?”
You: (Thinking. Processing. Thinking some more. Re-processing.) “Uhhh…n-no. You dick.”
Step 7: Assert your dominance by refusing to hang up.
This is your moment. At least six or seven people are listening to you right now. At least. And damn it, they need to know how right you are. NEED TO!
Never give up. Never relent. Never back down.
Hosts don’t cut you off. You cut off hosts. Don’t just make your point. Hammer it home like you’re John Freakin’ Henry.
So what if your story is going nowhere. Some of the best stories in the world never went anywhere. You think Shakespeare had a plan? Hell no. That guy was on all sorts of drugs. Fact is, you can ramble your ass off and still be better than the next guy. Like writing a college term paper. Lots of fluff, lots of B.S., lots of moxie.
Remember, you’re a pro. Even if you don’t know it yet, you’re a pro. It takes a ballsy individual to call a radio station. When you pick up that phone and punch in those numbers, you’re not just doing it for you, you’re not just doing it for the average sports fan, you’re doing it for America and for the world. Think about that.
You’re ready, champ. Go get ‘em.
Filed under: Other Sports