Ranking the Local Sports Radio Shows from Worst to First
I've been listening to sports radio in the city of Houston a very long time. Too long, probably. While I don't remember much about Edmonds and Martini, I do remember when the only sports radio show in Houston was Sports Beat, which ran evenings on KTRH. Amazing to think that we've gone from one four-hour show to four sports radio stations in 20 years.
My job allows me to listen to shows all hours of the day and I flip around to all the stations. There is a pretty wide range of programming out there, but there is no doubt that the sheer number of slots to fill does tend to stretch the talent pool thin, even in a city as large as Houston. Last week, I started thinking it might be interesting to rank the local shows, particularly now that Jim Rome is gone from our market.
Before I get too deep into this, I decided to exclude Sean Pendergast and John Granato's show from this list. Sean is a Press writer, making it a conflict of interest. And when I got right down to it, I realized that, with the impending sale of 97.5 FM, it made the most sense to stick with 790 KBME and 610 KILT, the two giants in the marketplace, both of which put most of their eggs in the local basket, something 1560 AM just doesn't.
Here we go.
Unranked: In the Trenches: Greg Koch and N.D. Kalu (790) -- 10 a.m.-11 a.m.
Greg Koch (right) and N.D. Kalu are the latest additions to the 610 lineup.
Since this show featuring a pair of former NFL players is only a couple weeks old, I won't give them a ranking just yet. Both have performed solid duty alongside other radio guys in the past, but it remains to be seen whether the two can hold down a show without a seasoned radio voice to moderate. It's an intriguing pairing and both are sharp as tacks, so it bears watching.
8. The Odd Couple: Barry Warner and Shaun Bijani (610) -- 6 p.m.-10 p.m.
Warner is one of the oldest and most frustrating voices in Houston sports. He is paired with a fairly promising youngster in Bijani, but Warner makes the show difficult to listen to on a regular basis. It's unfortunate that the immeasurable knowledge he's built up over the years as a local sports reporter is mostly wasted on his endless pontificating. The guy really is a legend in Houston sports media. It's a shame he has to keep reminding everyone over and over.
7. The Mighty Gwinn: Dylan Gwinn (790) -- 11 a.m.-noon
I'm going to be honest and say I used to hate Gwinn. His takes were (and occasionally still are) often out of left field and his voice is, as a friend of mine in the radio business diplomatically described it, "a tough listen." But Gwinn HAS improved, markedly. He still needs to tone down the "Mighty Voice" and get a little more knowledgeable about a wider range of sports, but he is improving.
6. Matt Thomas (790) -- noon-3 p.m.
Thomas is the former in-arena voice of the Rockets and a UH grad, who worked at 950 AM before leaving for Minnesota. He's a solid voice in the afternoons, but sometimes gets sidetracked with topics that don't play to his strengths. It's tough to hold down three hours and Thomas does a solid job, but it wouldn't hurt him to have a regular co-host. As much as I like Thomas (and I enjoy listening to him quite a bit), this show would rank higher on the list with a sturdy number two across from him.
5. Vandermeer and Lopez: Mark Vandermeer and John Lopez (610) -- 6 a.m.-10 a.m.
In general, I think the "voice of the Houston Texans" is a solid radio personality. Unfortunately, he's leaving the station in the near future to go full time with the Texans, leaving Lopez and a giant hole. Lopez is one of the more opinionated guys on sports radio, the result, no doubt, of years as a newspaper columnist. The problem is that it feels as though his opinions are simply a means of pissing off listeners. They may be his actual thoughts, but he delivers them so often with such unwavering intensity, that it is grating to listen to him, particularly when he is so off base it hurts. Vandermeer is a solid voice of reason, but his attentions are so focused on football, it's tough for him to balance the whole thing out. Whoever they get to replace "the voice" will need to be a strong personality to counterbalance Lopez's abrasive tone.