Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ranking Denver's Sports Radio Talent...

Due to popular demand by none other than Mr. Power Rankings himself, Danny Williams, I follow up my article on Denver Sports Radio show line-up discussion with ranking Denver's Sports Radio Hosts. This is simply my opinion but I have been listening to Denver Sports since my teen years when there was only one local sports station, so I have some knowledge and history of the past 15-20 years of the landscape. There are many factors that go into this with the main areas being sports knowledge (we are talking sports after all), voice, interaction with listeners and entertainment value (humor, good takes, long awful pauses are all factors to consider), so strap on that chin strap, adjust your jock and get ready to have your mind blown and your brain fall out of your skull. This isn't Bleacher Report or some other website that makes you cycle through the B.S. to find out who's tops so we'll start at the top:

1. Vic Lombardi-Yes, Vic is a pretty face. Yes, Vic is kind of pompous and brash at times. But, Vic connects with the Denver listeners because we have seen him grow up from a talented young journalist to the mid-40s Denver Sports icon he has became. He is a young version of Ron Zappolo. Vic is entertaining, able to interact with anyone and is honest and a local guy. His show with Gary Miller early mornings built an insane fanbase that would chat while the two destroyed people's eardrums with their banter and sports discussions and before getting a regular stint on 104.3 The Fan, his segments with Joel Klatt and Mike Evans were can't miss discussions. He carries his show with Lundy and Mike Evans after the two drive you insane for an hour while Vic preps with a couple more ZZZZZs. Over 15 years in the Denver broadcasting market and hopefully at least 15 more to come, Vic is in his prime and we are lucky to have him on the radio and television locally. Vic can be heard 7-9 A.M. on The Fan Morning Show on 104.4 The Fan

2. Nate Kreckman-The Working Man was great radio when he did a show solo but his legend was built when he did a show with Joel Klatt. The two were the best under 30s radio pairing I have ever heard in Denver and may have been one of the top pairings ever only to be outranked by my favorites Vic and Gary and Jim Armstrong and Tim Neverett. Nate often gets off topic, but his entertainment value mixed with his sports discussions and his laugh all make for one very talented radio personality. While I am not a fan of his pro-MWC and anti-CU rhetoric, I can't fault him for being a homer to the conference that has paid him some extra dough and filled his head with inaccurate facts about the better university and conference in CU and the Pac 12. Back to the lecture at hand, he has helped develop Tom Nalen into a very solid radio personality after Nalen started fumbled his way through his first 6 months on the job. Kreckman is such a strong personality, the presence of Gary Miller was more of a third wheel on Nalen and Kreckman's Locker Room and Miller was no longer on the show starting early May. The Locker Room 3-6 P.M. on 102.3 ESPN Radio.

3. Eric Goodman-Goodman has bounced around at Mile High Sports from mornings to afternoon and back to mornings with different co-hosts at each stop. He is a strong personality that brings a very good discussion to the show. He is not the entertainer the two above are, but he has a very good sports IQ and welcomes discussions and differing opinions. Goodman is undervalued and now faces off against a juggernaut in Vic Lombardi every morning. He is trying to help bring along Mike Pritchard and while Pritchard is solid, a stronger co-host with experience could really make the show stronger and Goodman's abilities shine. While I despise his old co-host in Mark Kiszla, Kiszla at least was able to help show Goodman's shine. Jim Armstrong, Terry Frei or Gary Miller would be good co-hosts to pair with Goodman. Check The Morning Drive with Goodman and Pritchard 7-9 A.M. on 94.1 Mile High Sports.

4. Joshua Dover-How is an 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. host that is mainly a producer ranked so high? Well, he works his butt off and hits every part of the factors that go on the list. He is entertaining and in my opinion the best in Denver in interacting with listeners on and off the air, plus he has great knowledge and is brash and honest. He works hard in going to practices and doing the little things to the big things that others wouldn't. His working hours have been insane being asked to fill-in for others, producing a TV/radio show in The Press Box. He just keeps "producing" great radio whether behind the boards or behind the mic. A young talent that will hopefully keep making waves in Denver radio for years to come. Check out Denver Sports Nation from 8 to 10 P.M. on 94.1 Mile High Sports.

5. Peter Burns-Burns is entertainment and looks that are just not appreciated enough. There is a reason there is a TV show for the Press Box, it's Burns. Burns provides that "but if" element that makes radio entertaining since everything seems to be a conspiracy theory when it comes with Burns discussions. Burns ability to interact with Mark Kiszla for so long deserves a round of applause but Burns does his best radio when it is just him and Oren Lomena and/or Brandon Krisztal. Burns would succeed in any market and bigger and better things are sure to come his way. Though his time slot has no competition locally on the radio, it is not a good time slot for a program that often produces very entertaining discussions when Burns is directing traffic. Burns can be heard on 94.1 FM Mile High Sports 9-11 A.M. and then watched online on

6. Danny Williams-Williams is personable like no other in Denver radio. He is entertainment value like Nate Kreckman is. He sometimes is that friend of yours that you're like, that's too far but many of us that listen to sports so often and love sports, including myself, are that type. Danny works magic with listeners with his radio life partner in Cello Romano and there is little surprise they have a cult following. Some people in Denver sports and blogger-ship *cough Colin Daniels cough* can't stand the shows format but it's entertaining and a young version of Irv and Joe where the callers help make the show the entertaining factor it has become. Danny and Cello can be heard 4-6 P.M. on 94.1 FM Mile High Sports.

7. Cecil Lammey-How does a segment filler and weekend radio guy that mainly focuses on fantasy football and the NFL Draft make a Top 10? It's the year 2014 and fantasy football and the NFL and the talent level is a constant hot topic that Lammey is the best Denver has ever seen in the area. Degenerates like myself have been calling into his show for over three years to get advice. Lammey is personable, knowledgeable about the #1 sport in Denver, NFL football, and he has a large gathering of followers that appreciate the work he does. Denver is lucky to have him since people around the country take his fantasy advice on and call-in to get his advice during fantasy football season. Lammey in the off-season and prior to the fantasy football drafts is most entertaining if you want to really understand about a specific players abilities. Ride Shotgun with him weekends on 102.3 FM ESPN.

8. Scott Hastings-Hastings has the advantage of actually playing the game of basketball professionally and then being paired with a legend in Dave Logan for years, a local legend in Alfred Williams for years and then working with a seam head in Drew Goodman (who for years called the games Hastings played in on PSN). Hastings is funny and works well with others. He is knowledgeable about all sports and is a solid host in every phase. He's been doing early afternoons for years and helped make the lunch or drive around town from 12-3 an entertaining one. Check Scott out 12-3 P.M. with Sandy Clough and Drew Goodman

9. Oren Lomena-Lomena has been on Denver airwaves for years. He is hard working, intelligent and can talk any sport with a great amount of knowledge and then also throw some hip hop knowledge at you no one in Denver can compete with. Lomena had been buried for years as a fill-in guy and it's great to see him as one of the big guys on The Press Box, but I enjoy hearing Lomena when it's only him and one other guy in the studio the most. I enjoyed him He is a great guy when interacting with him, entertaining and off the FOODCHAIN!!! Lomena can be heard on 94.1 FM Mile High Sports 9-11 A.M. and then watched online on

10.-3 Way Tie I am going to cop out and make a tie between a few guys I have a lot of respect for and interest in their sports talk game for differing reasons. The group at 10 are Cello Romano, James Gomez and Gary Miller.
  • Cello is Robin to Danny Williams Batman, not the icons of Christan Bale and Michael Keaton, butthe George Clooney Batman so like the lowest rated Batman and then Cello is like the bad ass Joseph Gordon Levitt that doesn't want to be Robin to Batman. He is a good counter to Danny and helps reign that crazy horse in quite a bit.
  • James Gomez's weekend shows are really, really good and you get a great wrap of the week that just happened and a lot of knowledge. I try to run errands to catch as much of his show as possible.
  • Gary Miller is a legend in Denver Sports. He really was good on The Locker Room and provided more knowledge than either Kreckman or Nalen can pretend to have and was very funny, but was a third wheel. He is best suited for a 2-man show and while I wish it were with Vic, it would be great to find a way to get him on the air again. His subtraction from Denver Sports Radio took away one of the best.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
  • Renaud Notaro-From 6 to 7 P.M. on 94.1 FM you get what is going on in sports, Netflix and solid co-hosts that change from day to day.
  • Sandy Clough-Clough is very intelligent and knowledgeable. His greatest asset is that and working with other hosts, but his downfall is callers. He is an ass hole to most of his callers and believes he is more intelligent than every one of them. If he didn't rub people the wrong way and his one-man show dead air didn't turn off so many people, he really is a good guy to have in Denver Sports talk.
  • Dave Logan-He's on 850 KOA and knows sports, especially since he played all of them and played the game in the NFL and does play by play for the Broncos but his show is not really sports driven.
  • Brandon Krisztal-A great producer and glad he has found his way on to the airwaves more with his Press Box gig. I honestly believe his best work would be a separate show with just Oren Lomena or just Peter Burns.
  • Lance Britton-A face for TV but was stuck on radio. To be honest, he was the perfect co-host to Eric Goodman but the name and background of Mike Pritchard made him expendable in the eyes of Mile High Sports. Britton is good radio and a disappointment was met when he wasn't on the airwaves.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Denver Sports Radio-For Better or Worse!!!

Denver Sports Radio has been my nasty mistress long before it was considered that.  While the landscape has expanded greatly from my days of listening to 950 The Fan as the only real sports station in Denver in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the crowded field isn't necessarily a positive right now.

The constant line-up shake-ups of the past two years have resulted in less quality sports programming and a lot of shows that just aren't a good fit for the spot they are in.  Let's take a look at what we have in Denver Sports Radio between the 3 major players in the long running 104.3 The Fan, it's sister-brother-cousin partner (?) in 94.1 Mile High Sports and 102.3 ESPN Denver and touch base on the odds and ends elsewhere in Denver Sports Radio.  We'll dive into what are some possible solutions and discuss those who have left, in particular where the hell did Gary Miller go?!  So let's dive in

First we'll start at the bottom of the dial in 94.1 with Mile High Sports Line-Up.  Mile High Sports (MHS) has changed their line-up and done many things with their line-up and while some are good, some still have me scratching my head.  The biggest head scratcher was their sudden change in radio frequency.  Their lease went up with 93.7 FM/1510 AM earlier in the year and it created a nightmare when they had no station to switch to.  For nearly three days, there was no Mile High Sports Radio that could be found on Denver airwaves and the change has not been well received.  The signal is very glitch with a very weak signal through much of the Denver suburbs and a scratchy signal due to the high traffic of that frequency.  It has not been a good fit like but let's talk MHS line-up:

6-7 AM: All 22 with Kent Erickson - I have tried to give Kent a try but it is not a good show at all.  There is no quality insight brought into the show and it is difficult to listen to.

7-9 AM: Morning Drive Time with Goodman and Pritchard - Okay now that we got through that long winded show, let's put it this way, Goodman is a quality radio guy in Denver that doesn't get much attention.  He carries his co-hosts that have been Mark Kiszla, Mark MacIntosh and now Mike Pritchard.  Pritchard is learning on the fly (no pun intended to any plays he ran as a player) and is getting better daily, but Goodman should get credit for the work he has done, very quality.

9-11 AM: The Press Box with Burns, Kiz and Oren (and Brandon Krisztal) - This show is beyond crowded when there are all four of the guys in Peter Burns, Mark Kiszla, Oren Lomena and Kriszstal in-studio and then add in producer extraordinaire (and quality sports talk host as noted later on) Josh Dover.  It is like going to a game and listening to a group of friends talking sports.  Nothing stays on task and it is confusing.  I don't like Kiszla.  This has been well documented in the past.  His "but, but, but..." stuttering to emphasize a point and to take control of the mike is maddening and his self-righteous holier than thou approach is not enjoyable to listen to.  Peter Burns is a young, quality host that provides good insight but most of all quality entertainment.  Oren Lomena was an underappreciated commodity for years in Denver and to hear him on a consistent basis is a treat for Denver Sports Radio listeners.  He is knowledgeable, well received and always pleasant.  Krisztal left to go do bigger and better things but came back quickly.  He is a phenomenal producer and solid on-air guy.  However, combining these four together is a nightmare.  When Kiszla is gone the show is great with the 3 guys and to be honest when Burns and Kiszla (the main characters from years past) are gone Krisztal and Lomena are a treat to listen talk sports.

11 AM-Noon: Whiteley on Sports - Gil Whiteley has a face for radio and a voice for the mute box.  He had an old automobile repair ad that he would say "That's a horrible sound." after the sound effects of a car accident.  I used to always reply in my car, "Yeah, your voice!"  Gil doesn't talk sports so why is he on.

12-2 PM: The Irv and Joe Show - These guys were still pretty good in the early 2000s, but they are well past their prime.  They can't remember way too many things and the fact their main caller is Bronco Billy that they give 10 minutes a day to ramble insanity is bad enough.  I believe I would have been all-state  Let's Red Dog them and Down Goes Frazier!!! 

2-4 PM: The Brandon Spano Show - I hate to admit it, but Spano was a guilty pleasure when I would go out at night and grab food late or was driving around or going for a run late.  He was the perfect 8-10 PM sort of guy.  His show is not meant for 2-4.  He talks boxing, fantasy and it just doesn't fit right with the afternoon.  I would prefer to hear him back at night and weekends of big fights.

4-6 PM: Danny and Cello - I got hooked on these guys from their days of Morning Mayhem.  Their rapid rise is not surprising.  Danny is the goof ball, brash personality you need and Cello is the jockey with the reins that tries to control him.  Let's be honest, their show is about the fans and about the discussions they create.  That is what helped lead to their rise. 

6-7 PM: The Reknowitall - Renaud Notaro loves his Bonnie Brae flowers and Carmine Lonardo's Meat and he is a very good evening listen with whoever co-hosts with him.  He mixes music, entertainment and sports into his show and it goes much too quickly.

7-8 PM: CU on Mile High Sports with Don Brenner - I love Colorado Buffaloes football and like having a show to hear about it, but Brenner's interviews are hit and miss.  He often gets off topic and his advertising splices are awful.  His interviews with strong media savvy types, i.e. Rick George, have been great radio but this show is best suited for podcasts and a couple hours of the best of put together for weekend listening.

8-10 PM: Denver Sports Nation - A star has been born.  Well it was born long ago on the weekends with Adam Kinney, Dario Correa and Josh Dover.  Dover is a young star.  He has a great radio voice and is that good looking, young, I'm Cool, I'm Hip!!! type that Mile High Sports needs to build around.

Other shows: Mile High Sports has a large array of shows during the weekend.  Many are for the more specific of types from Race Central to MMA but there is some other fillers that are decent but the best is The James Gomez Show.  Gomez has added a more regular nightly show added on 104.3 The Fan and it is well deserved.  He usually has a co-host but Gomez can ride solo.  His discussions are some of the best in sports.  Mile High Sports would be smart to add a college football show (again) and NFL/Fantasy Football show on the weekends. 

As far as what further tinkering could be done to make 94.1 better, you'll have to wait until the end and read next about The Fan.

The Fan, 104.3 FM, has been the long time local sports talk juggernaut that Mile High Sports and ESPN Denver aspire to climb to.  They had gone from a pure local show to a national heavy station in the mornings and back to a pure local standpoint when they gave up the rights to ESPN two years back and then gave in and put Dan Patrick on tape-delay earlier this month.  They can't keep from tinkering either it seems, but here's what they give you:

5:30-9 AM: Fan Morning Show - Mike Evans has been a long-time voice in Denver Sports talk, his co-host Nate Lundy runs The Fan but also likes to add his insight so why not put yourself on the show.  The show added Vic Lombardi to the mix and it brought hope for greatness, but Vic feels like  a third wheel.  Part of this may be Vic doesn't seem to be in studio ever and he doesn't roll out of bed and lend his voice until 7 a.m.  By then the plan for the day seems to have been laid out and Vic seems awkwardly fit.  Hmmm, sounds familiar to his buddy that recently got the axe at ESPN Denver, Gary Miller.

Noon-3 PM: Drew, Sandy and Scott - This is local talk so I skip the national tape delayed stuff.  Sandy Clough has always drove me nuts solo.  He is very intelligent and knows his sports, but his constant dead air and angry rants when going solo turned me off to listening to him alone.  I enjoy him with others and he does his best work then.  Scott Hastings and Drew Goodman do TV for the local sports and both are very good at what they do. They have always been a solid pair, but nothing is flashy about this show.

3-6 PM (8 PM if you count the replay): The Drive - Big Al and D-Mac.  I have too often bitched about this show and it's baffling popularity.  I love Big Al as a Buff and Bronco, but he is suffering from post-concussion CTE because none of his facts are facts.  He spouts a lot of nonsense.  The banter between him and DMac is good but this is like listening to a couple of fans with a bad understanding of the game talk sports.  And then they make your ears bleed and cut the 3 hour show into two more hours of it's highlights.  No thanks!!!!

8???-11 PM: The Fan Late Night - James Gomez was highlighted earlier.  He knows his stuff and is another one of those quality producers turned on-air talent.  He has help from others like Shawn Drotar that are solid co-hosts, but James belongs on the mic and not on the boards.

Other shows: The Fan puts different things on during the weekend occasionally with their different talent.  Mainly they add Terry Frei with Clough or Gomez or someone.  Frei is good, but pimps his books out big time.  Frei sometimes feels like listening to an angry grandpa.  He seems to be less positive as the years go by, especially against his alma mater, CU, for some reason.

ESPN Denver 102.3 started January 2012 after being The Ticket.  Lou from Littleton quickly sold out after building the station on local talent and talk.  In the process he got rid of one of the greatest shows Denver Sports Radio has been privy to listen to in Vic and Gary.  It is now tape delayed radio until noon and honestly it could stay that way until 3 p.m.

12-3 PM: Les and CJ - Les Shapiro is an angry elf!  He will provide whatever is the most negative, anti whatever the majority is going for opinions.  CJ is a solid co-host to anybody and a good fit to any show but Les has ruined many quality co-hosts.  Les is the problem!

3-6 PM: The Locker Room - It is pretty much a locker room atmosphere with Nate Kreckman involved and then adding Tom Nalen doesn't help, but it is a damn quality show with humor, good sports knowledge and entertainment.  Something 3-6 p.m. faked with Big Al and D-Mac and accomplished here.  Unfortunately Gary Miller left The Locker Room (right after the show was praised by local free weekly magazine Westword) at the beginning of May and it didn't seem much different.  Miller is one of the most knowledgeable sports guys in the Denver biz and I hope he gets back on air with only a single co-host *cough cough Vic cough cough*.

Others: Cecil Lammey is the main other local talent and he is damn good when it comes to talking what drives the Denver market, football.  His draft insight is awesome and his Riding Shotgun show during fantasy football season is great radio for one of the biggest games out there for the masses.  He really had a great show when he was doing his own gig before the switch to the national show.  He is an asset to ESPN Denver and local sports talk.

So there's the breakdown for the local sports talk scene but what are the problems and solutions?:

Mile High Sports still gives the most live and local sports talk in the Denver sports landscape.  Unfortunately MHS need to get a better signal in order to bring back some people and to attract more casual listeners.  Their line-up has lost the strength it had a little over a year ago.  The Fan is perfect for an immature, less knowledagable sports fan between 25-50 (other than 12-3) but it needs a real shake up.  ESPN Denver should do us all a favor and go full national syndication and let their talent find better homes elsewhere and make a more powerful two live and local radio stations.

6-9 a.m. MHS-Goodman & Pritchard: Make Goodman and Pritchard take on an additional hour and add back a third guy.  They had Lance Britton and he is a very strong local sports guy with an insane amount of Broncos history in his brain.  He is a good fit.
5:30-7 a.m. The Fan-Mike Evans and Lundy:  Let these two start the day and warm up the crowd for the real talent...
7-9 a.m. The Fan-Vic and Gary from Vic's basement:  Bring back a pairing that is meant to be together.  They provided great radio and Gary's knowledge and Vic's swagger is what Denver needs.
9-12 p.m. MHS-Morning Mayhem: Danny and Cello fit best here and it gives them the extra hour they really deserve and are best suited for this timeframe with their format.
9-12 p.m. The Fan-CJ, Evans and Sandy: Sandy is a version of Les but instead of being controversial he gives a fairly accurate point of view.  CJ lightens up Sandy and the two provide a solid 1-2 punch.
12-3 p.m. MHS-Denver Sports Nation: These guys should take over for the geezers.  They already do when the two are away and make these 3 hours very entertaining.
12-3 p.m. The Fan-Big Al, Scott and Drew: Drew is gone or Scott is away and when they are instead of  having them call-in for the whole show, just give them a segment or two.  Big Al and Scott were a dynamic force together and Scott kept Al on his toes.
3-6 p.m. MHS-The Press Box with Burns, Oren and Krisztal: There is only enough room for one guy with a k, i, sz, a and l in their last name so boot Mark Kiszla and make these 3 available at the best time and where their show really belongs.
3-6 p.m. The Fan-Kreckman and Nalen: These two are great together and would be a good battle with The Press Box.
6-8 p.m. MHS- Blitz Denver: Andrew Fogoros and Matt McChesney are perfect early evening or early morning radio.  They can lose focus on topics at hand but it is the good hearted stuff you want early in your day or early in your evening.  They should have never been allowed to leave MHS and Colorado Springs was not a good fit.
6-8 p.m. The Fan-James Gomez: James can choose who he wants to co-host.
8-10 p.m. MHS- Reknowitall 3 days a week and different CU Sports show 2 days a week: You get more time with Renaud and you get more direct CU centered show the other two days.  These are more fitting times for these shows anyway.  Race Central can go away to the weekends where it belongs as a filler.
8-11 p.m. The Fan-Wrapping it up with Raj: Raj Sharan is another talent local producer that has very good insight.  Pair him up with a strong producer and make it
10-12 p.m. MHS-Mile High Sports Patrol-Bring back the Honey Bear and Reed Marks.  These guys were golden late at night and they got me through a difficult mile late at night on my runs.  Their 9-11 a.m. show was just a bad idea since Reed needed to be let loose.

On weekends both stations can pull from the excess talent and those that want to put in some extra time in Terry Frei, D-Mac (better suited for the weekend gig than a daily gig) and others.  Give Cecil 3 hours on Saturday and Sunday and let him do a segment every weekday before the draft and during fantasy football season (pre-season through Week 17).  Let Brandon Spano have a 3 hour chunk and maybe fit him in for an hour or two on one of those stations, but he is a night guy.  Additionally talent like Mario Vetanze and Benjamin Allbright are young talent that would be great to build their following on the weekend.  **And for Pete's sakes, I must bring up the previous unmentioned Dan Fellman and only in nickname Zach "The Honey Bear" Fogg.  Maybe you make a weekend show called The Producers with Fellman, Fogg and Dover and let each one take an hour on the board since all bring a different style but all are high quality.**

Denver Sports Radio has a lot of talent, but it has some issues to iron out and some dead weight filling the airwaves that have stayed past their prime or been given too much air time for what they bring.  These mix-ups are obviously dream scenarios but it is obvious the 3 station idea just isn't fitting well with some bad line-up decisions.