Ranking Houston's Sports Radio Personalities
The Houston sports talk landscape is complicated and fascinating. We are blessed with four full-time sports stations, several other sports-themed shows scattered along the dial and one national sports network headquartered right here in the Bayou City. When I ranked the best sports talk shows in Houston a few weeks back, I knew that this list would have to be next.
As is the case with radio, things change rapidly. Not only did Marc Vandermeer leave his spot as co-host of the 610 morning show, but Gow Entertainment, the group that owns 1560 and Yahoo! Sports Radio, bought 97.5. Even with those changes and how thin things can be spread with four stations, the truth is we are really lucky in Houston. We have some extremely good sports programming on the radio and a ton of different choices. My rankings certainly reflect that.
This list is only the main hosts during regular shows airing between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., which excludes weekends, overnights and others. Additionally, I freely admit that I prefer my sports talk guys to actually talk about sports. I really don't like "guy talk." It can be fun when personalities occasionally veer off topic for a segment -- particularly if the hosts in question are entertaining -- but I would rather hear a 90-10 split with sports making up the 90 percent, and that certainly factored into these rankings.
Okay, now the list.
Off the List
Nick Wright, KILT
The newest addition to 610 and the replacement for Marc Vandermeer has only been on the air a few weeks, so I'll spare him any rankings at this point. Maybe next time.
Dave Tepper and Julie Takahashi, KNFC
Tepper is the program director for ESPN 97.5 and fills in with Carl Dukes on the drive-time show. Takahashi is the producer. While they both add to the show in their own ways, this is Dukes' baby and, as such, he is the only one included from this show.
21. Barry Warner, KILT
I really hate to give it to a guy who legitimately is a legend in the sports media business, but he is just SO tough to listen to. The ceaseless anecdotes and constant attempts to be clever belie the fact that this guy has reported on Houston sports longer than many of you reading this have been alive.
20. Josh Innes, KILT
Innes has real talent. Of that there can be no doubt. But his on-air persona of "I'm just a jerk and, oh well if you don't like it" and his need to be the center of virtually every on-air moment makes him sound, at best, a kid in need of Ritalin, at worst, an amateur. Exhibit A: his ridiculous on-air fight with comedian Frank Calliendo. He could be so much better than this, which is what makes his antics so frustrating.
19. John Lopez, KILT
Lopez is another guy who has been in the sports media business in Houston a long time, but his personality, at least on the air, is so abrasive, it's almost purposefully dickish. Maybe he is trying to ignite controversy and draw in listeners or maybe that is just who he is. Either way, it makes for a difficult listen. We'll have to see if this continues with Wright.
18. Dylan Gwinn, KBME
Gwinn has improved since he first hit the airwaves, but he still carries himself too often like he is trying to be Rush Limbaugh instead of a sports talk host. It doesn't help that he is often way off base in his opinions and refuses to recognize or acknowledge it. If I had written this six months ago, he might be number 20, so that's something.
17. Mike Meltser, KILT
Meltser's biggest issue is that he is young and still learning. He is cast as the hyper-logical guy on his show with Brad Davies and he may be that way in real life, but his inability to bend on issues can be really frustrating, particularly for someone who is still learning.
16. Shaun Bijani, KILT
In a way, Bijani suffers because there is such a gap in age between he and his partner, Warner. Bijani has some talent and I get the sense he could be a guy who, if he sticks it out, might wind up like Matt Jackson with a sizable resume in local sports. But he needs quite a bit more seasoning to get there.