By Lamont Mann
As the new year begins, I’d like to announce my favorite sports radio shows of the year past.
To be honest, I feel that in the past couple of years, being good in Houston Sports Talk is like being the corn kernel… on a pile of shit. In other words, sports talk radio seems to have become been more habitual than anything.
Even though most media will always gravitate to what’s trending and what is accepted, I like shows who are not afraid to mix it up and push the envelope of social normality.
- The Blitz (ESPN 97.5)
Technically, I should dislike The Blitz because they are liberal and cranky as hell. Hosts Fred Faour & AJ Hoffman come off as old men – but that’s what makes the show fun for me. There are elements of their personalities and opinions I do not agree with, but I must say that they never run from a debate.
The Blitz is not your normal sports talk radio show. Some days they can go heavy on the sports end, while other days they will barely talk sports at all – but it is always 100% engaging. The chemistry between Fred & AJ is so strong, they can literally complete each other’s thoughts.
Over the last couple of years, it seems as though Fred is reluctant to engage in certain social topics, whereas AJ wants is ready to dive in head first.
Fred obviously doesn’t care for topics like Donald Trump, Kaepernick and Lavar Ball. I actually believe he is more disgusted with the actual reporting than then topics themselves. He’s an old school journalist who wants stories to not only qualify as “news,” but to also be factual.
When I think about shows in Houston who have adopted the “appointment listening” tactic to boost ratings, The Blitz is one of the last shows I think of.
- The Josh Innes Show (SportsTalk 790)
The Josh Innes Show is similar to The Blitz in that he sometimes ventures away from sports. He makes no bones about not giving a damn about Xs and Os. He’s a fan.
Innes is a huge baseball guy – and while everyone was looking for stories in June, Josh was fully locked into anything and everything Astros.
Innes is also doing what most are doing in this country – hugging Donald Trump. He’s not a Trump supporter, but he’s most certainly eating off of Trump’s backlash. He also frequently uses racial issues as content for his show – however, the stance he takes is dependent on what station his show is on.
When Innes was at 610, he was liberal as fuck. In turn, he had a larger black following. However, he then moved to 790 – which is a part of a conservative cluster – and the change in his audience is a direct reflection of that. Clearly, Josh Innes wants to be the Sports version of Michael Berry.
- MAD Radio (SportsRadio 610)
With the exception of co-host Seth Payne, MAD Radio is nothing to write home about. The only thing I do like is that they are cerebral. Mike and Seth will not allow routine clichés to go unanswered, and they attack sports from a cognitive point of view.
The show, along with most shows on Sports Radio 610, is completely formulaic (teases, specific times for topics, cadence, etc). Mike sounds like a programmed robot, while Seth is a little more loose. To be honest, I think 610 is stifling Seth’s personality. In terms of entertainment, he has so much more to offer.
Landry Locker, the show’s exec producer, serves as the 3rd wheel and contrarian of the show. He is the show’s “Hot Take” guy, purposely inserted to go against popular opinion.
MAD Radio rarely interacts with fans outside of text messages. They’d much rather talk to each other for four hours, and cherry pick text messages to address. That may work for people with an actual personality, but Mike certainly doesn’t have the personality I want to be dictated to by for four consecutive hours.
- Granato & Raheel with Del (ESPN 97.5)
What I like most about their show is John’s aloof personality. John is the Crissy Snow of Radio. From time to time, he will get serious – but for the most part, he’s the dumb jock of the crew.
Raheel is the renaissance man. He comes off as a guy who just got a second chance at life, the embodiment of happy. Raheel will come in Monday morning and tell you that over the weekend, he went rock climbing, sky diving and jet skiing. In Houston. This is a guy who is excited about life.
- Gallant at Night (SportsRadio 610)
I love Paul Gallant‘s show because he works at night, which gives him the luxury of having fun. He also welcomes phone calls and tweets.
I’ve also been impressed with Paul’s effort to learn Houston’s Hip Hop scene. No, I’m not talking about the big names like Bun B, Travis Scott or Scarface – but some of your lower level local emcees, like ESG for example.
Paul has always been a Bill O’Brien “truther.” However, lately it appears that Paul is not 100% as he was once was with the guy, as he’s expressed more and more reservation over this past season.
Honorable Mention: While I am locked into The Bench with John & Lance (ESPN 97.5) like white on rice, I did not include them in the main list because they’ve only been together for a couple of months. I expect them to be a huge force in 2018, but I am going to give John & Lance time to see exactly what direction they will go. In other words, I want to see if they introduce new elements from their arsenal, or if we’ll just be listening to 2005 radio in 2018. Guess we’ll find out soon enough.
While The Astros definitely made 2017 interesting for us, I’m left feeling very bored at the end of it all – I blame the underwhelming thud that was the Texans’ Season.
As I was writing this article, I took a poll on Twitter. I was shocked at the amount of people who voted. Below are the results:
Lamont Mann has made his reputation on Twitter and other social media outlets, and it turns out he is pretty good at creating sports content as well. Prone to drunk Twitter rants. Loves to tweak people over politics. Former military. UH Grad. Does not care if he pisses you off. Are you not entertained? Follow him on Twitter: @sportsmedialm