« Eating Innings | Main | The Burden of Proof »

A Lot of Noise

Mike SteffanosWednesday, March 4, 2009
By Mike Steffanos

I stopped listening to Mike and the Mad Dog in early 2006 after spending years listening to hours of the duo. I work at home spending hours a day on my computer, and for many years that show would keep me company, droning on in the background.

What finally got me off the show for good was simply that the show stopped entertaining me. I didn't listen to the show to be informed. Any real die-hard Mets fan who follows the team year-round knows more about the team than Francesa and his former partner. What I did enjoy was the banter and the interviews and the sense of connection to New York sports while toiling away in that quite, empty house.

The day came, though, when it just got tiresome. The duo had a shtick that involved baiting Mets fans with outrageous misstatements about their team which apparently goes on under Francesa alone. The act barely changed year after year after year, until what once seemed like friendly company in the background of my work became an annoyance.

Still, more out of habit than anything else I listened to hours of that show long after it fulfilled any real positive role in my life, simply because there wasn't a replacement that had any real focus on New York sports, other than Michael Kaye's even more annoying show on ESPN radio.

Every once in a while over the ensuing years I would turn the show on, particularly if I was driving during those afternoon hours, but it wouldn't be long at all before I was turning the dial. Other than listening to some Mets-related interviews online, WFAN sports talk had ceased to be a part of my life.

Friends who still listen in filled me in on all of the "controversy" between Francesa and David Wright. To me, it sounded like it was based in the tired old MATMD ploy of baiting Mets fans by making outrageous statements about top Mets players like Wright. The players were interchangeable over the years, but the tired shtick was the same. It's made Francesa and his former partner millionaires, so it's tough to argue with.

If you are someone that loves the show, more power to you. The loss of Chris Russo doesn't seem to have hurt the ratings much, so Francesa will be rolling out that old tired shtick for a long time to come. Perhaps if Sirius/XM goes down the tube you'll even see a reunion of the duo. (Any animosities can easily be overcome by throwing mo' money at them.)

Still, there are more and more alternatives for folks tired of listening to the Same Old Sh*t (and 30 minutes of commercials every hour) on "the flagship station of Mets baseball".

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Silva and his dad at Dana Brand's book launch party. Mike is part of the growing world of internet radio, which is providing a real alternative to traditional media like WFAN. His NY Baseball Digest is a terrific example of the genre -- an intelligent, professionally done show.

Mike also shares his thoughts in written form, and I thought this piece, Radio is Broke and How It Can Be Changed, brought up some valid points:

... the top line, five hour, all sports format needs to change because the listeners are moving past the hosts in knowledge. With the advent of 24/7/365 information known as the internet, fans are able to become subject matter experts on the games they enjoy. It's unacceptable for someone getting paid to talk sports to not keep themselves as current, or better, than the listeners. It's as if you ran a business and people walking in your store knew more about your product lines then you. How long would you be able to keep your doors open? Again, it goes back to how do you hold someone accountable to know everything when there is only 24 hours a day? The answer is segmented radio content. ...

Where does the segmented content come into play? First, you need to start hiring those that have personalities and knowledge of the sport they talk about. Plenty of hosts already employed have certain sports expertise over another. WFAN is screaming for a niche show about hockey. Why haven't then done it yet? They have it for baseball (Ed Randall) and football (Francesa's NFL Now). In business they are called subject matter experts or SME's. Radio needs to understand that a good show combines calls, guests, and thought provoking content. They are long on the calls, ok with the guests, and short on original ideas. Rather than conjure up mindless debate why don't you give the listener something to think about? Won't that generate just as much call traffic? When you don't know your topic that becomes impossible, thus forcing the host to resort to contrived debate.

As stated, I don't have a problem with anyone who still enjoys the traditional sports talk radio, including Mike Francesa, but I do feel that there is opportunity for folks smart enough to fill in the gaps and provide those of us looking for content that is more challenging, more focused, and more intelligent.

The costs involved with traditional broadcast radio dictate going after the most generic and widest possible audience. Being able to reach out to listeners at much lower cost over the internet allows the segmented content that Silva is calling for.

In the same way that the proliferation of blogs allows for many divergent styles and types of writing, both excellent and dreadful, to fill in gaps left by the mass media, I suspect the internet is the future of much more focused discussion and entertainment. While it is now mostly the stomping grounds of well-meaning amateurs like myself, I suspect professionals will increasingly utilize the relative low cost of reaching consumers through the internet to do some real cool stuff in years to come.

In Silva's piece linked above there is a link to his interview with Neil Best from Newsday, where Silva and Best discuss the plan to charge for online access to the paper's content. They also discuss the future of the traditional print media in general.

I strongly suspect that newspapers as we now know them will not survive in the current form very deeply into this century. What I believe will happen is a sort of synergy between broadcast and print mediums that blurs the lines between each. A current example is ESPN, which began as a television network and now also puts forth a tremendous amount of written content.

Contrary to what some in the print media believe, there are no bloggers of any real intelligence and understanding who believe that we will replace those who report the news which we comment on. What I do believe, though, is that we will have an impact in shaping the future of how information and opinion are disseminated.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

Support Mike's Mets by shopping at our Amazon Store

Comments (4)

I've spent a lot of them thinking along these lines too. It's an interesting time. A lot of newspapers actually are becoming bloggers too. My thoughts is that's the direction newspapers need to go: more opinion, less news. Get some of these subject matter experts to write for you, because that sort of information isn't subject to "Who can get the information out there first." And that rush is what leads to stupid mistakes and leaks and misinformation as people speculate, or jump the gun, trying to get the scoop.

I'd pick up the paper every day if I knew there was going to be (more) interesting, expert analysis of topics I was interested in.

Very few of the people I know get the newspaper. We don't get up in the morning, put on the coffee, and go to the door to get the paper. We go to the computer first.

As for Mike (and/or the Maddog) I've grown tired of them too. This has been directly related to my increasing knowledge on the subject matters, and it aggravates me that he's spreading so much misinformation. The problem is I don't find music entertaining enough to entertain me in the car, and Michael Kay aggravates me when he talks about anything other than the Yankees, the topic he actually knows something about. I already get annoyed at some of the anger and hatred some Mets fans direct at their own team, and radio hosts like Mike only fuel this.

Thanks for updating my link btw.

I also stopped listening to the FAN, probably around the same time you did. The recent Mets collapses probably had more to do with it than anything else.

Because I live in South Jersey I am surrounded by Philly media and their insufferable fans. Back when I was listening, my biggest complaint about MATMD was that they both hated the Mets. One thing about Philly talk radio is that at least the talkers support their teams. It seemed to me that the FAN thrived on upsetting the home sports fans in order to generate controversy. After awhile I realized I didn't need to go out of my way to find things that upset me. The enjoyable moments listening to Joe Benigno, Steve Sommers and Richard Neer became few and far between.

When I was growing up listening to Kiner Nelson & Murphy, nobody ever put the other team down. Nowadays, Philly broadcast idiots like Larry Anderson and Chris Wheeler thrive on sparking hatred with anything New York. And now that that they actually won something, I suspect it will only get worse.

francesa is an arrogant fool..this has been highlighted by phil mushnick countless times in the ny post over the years.i've gravitated away from his show for years.i was listening right after the season ended and he dissed d. wright way more than was necessary.as a met fan and a huge david wright fan it really pissed me off.the only good thing that came out if it is that wright refused to go on his show when mr. bigmouth came to florida this year.than i heard a few days later he met with wright, who probably under pressure from the front office agreed to go on his show during the season..too bad.despite his protestations on the air a few days ago that it wasn't personal, i heard the stuff he said about wright and a lot of it was personal and way over the top.here's hoping we win a world series and finally shut up the clowns like francesa on the air ..

Blogs are indeed the future -- as are twitter -- and traditional news isn't going away... http://www.newsnuts.com/mlb/newyorkmets.aspx

About Mike's Mets

Please support Mike's Mets:

Disclaimer: Mike's Mets is an independent, unofficial fan site, and is not affiliated in any way with the New York Mets or Major League Baseball.

Other Links

General Baseball Links
Internet Radio Shows
Video Blogs
Other Team Links
Other Sports Links
Non-Sports Links
Video Direct

Looking for great deals on MLB Baseball Tickets? Visit JustgreatTickets.com for Cubs Tickets, NY Mets Tickets and a huge selection of Red Sox Tickets, Yankees Tickets and plenty of great concert Tickets for Dave Matthews Band Tickets and Buffett Tickets

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 4.1