Ranking the Local Sports Radio Shows from Worst to First

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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.

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Greg Koch (right) and N.D. Kalu are the latest additions to the 610 lineup.
Unranked: In the Trenches: Greg Koch and N.D. Kalu (790) -- 10 a.m.-11 a.m.
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.

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65 comments
Ride
Ride

Josh Innes annoyed me at first, but the more I hear, the more I like. For the first time since he partnered with Charlie, Rich Lord's afternoon radio show is my favorite one of the day. For those of you who hate Josh, I wouldn't worry too much because he will be on to bigger and better things soon.

However, how come no one talks about how unbearable matt thomas is? The guy isn't clever or funny, and he doesn't particularly know much about sports either. Hopefully ND and greg kock are being groomed for a 3 or 4 hour show. Maybe a might G and MT partnership might salvage both their shows but I doubt it.

Guest
Guest

Kalu & Koch are it.  I look forward to listening to them in the morning - just wish their show was longer than 1 hour.  Sure, Kalu doesn't have the best radio voice but their take on the Texans is A LOT more entertaining than any other radio guy who just watches, reads stats and can only relate to high school sports (innes). I love Koch and Kalu as guests on 610... glad they're on permanently now.  2nd favorite is J&R.  Even though Innes bugs sometimes, he is fun to listen to.  3rd is MAD.  I feel really bad for Shawn Giani(?) having to partner with Barry.  Barry can have good insight but 90% of the time, he talks only about himself.

HoustonCentrikSports
HoustonCentrikSports

Lord or Lopez are practically unlistenable.  I used to listen to Lord quite a bit but the more I listened, the more it became obvious that the guy stopped caring, at some point, about following about the sports he was talking about.  I've tried to listen to Lopez but the next time I hear an intelligent take from him will be the first.

Innes_Sucks_Nutz
Innes_Sucks_Nutz

Josh Innes is a horrible perverted POS and I have told Gavin so many times. I miss Rich, but will not listen to the afternoon show until Innes is gone. (And he's no wunderkind. If 610 fired the fat filthy bastard today, not one other station would hire him.)

Flash
Flash

Lance is farand away the best radio personality in Houston Sports talk.  Kalu and hispartner, and Adam Wexler are knowledgeable and entertaining.  Pallilo isknowledgeable.  The rest fall on the scale between imbecile and moron,with most being tangentially annoying.

 

I rememberGwinn arguing with a caller, in his loud arrogant way, that Drayton McLane hadmade all of his money in the oil business (which o'course is how all us Texansgot reech).  He needs to take his act back to the north east.  It ispainful to listen to Matt Jackson get abused by Adam Wexler each morning. Really Adam, he's had enough.

 

Houston talkradio is basically a lot of mental midget wrestling.

sportsradiojunkie
sportsradiojunkie

CP should be #1.  Rich Lord and CP was by far,the best show on Houston Sports radio. I used to like Josh, but more and more, he is sounding very immature and it shows daily, his handling of the Frank Caliendo debacle is proof.  Josh uses the airwaves for his own Stuart Smalley-like, self-affirmation and it needs to end.  I can't believe 610 sh!t on Rich Lord like that by pairing him with Josh.

houstonradiosuxs!
houstonradiosuxs!

97.5 being sold? Are they going to start another horrible music station to go along with all the other ones that saturate our airwaves in this town with the same artist/songs over and over and over… Take a page out of Austin or San Antonio’s radio stations for god sakes.     

rrf
rrf

Martini & Edmonds were great, great being smart but prone to homerism...who can forget Martini's infatuation with Coach Glanville?

I miss terribly the 1560 days of '08-'11 (?)....some of the funniest freshest radio I've ever heard, much better than Rome ever was, even in his early years. Sports smart too. Could be spotty, but it was ok because when they were on, it was the best. Had my iPhone radio app on all day to 1560. Miss the Draft! Oh well...

Hate what 1560 has become. Sorry Sean. Now I'm left with Big Show in the mornings and Pallilo in the afternoon, both of which are good solid radio, but not what 1560 was.

Rrryyuu
Rrryyuu

both your captions are wrong! Mad radio is on 610, Kalu and Koch, In the Trenches, is on 790!!!

Youarenotpayingattention
Youarenotpayingattention

Jeff Balke,Can you throw up some actual ratings from these shows to see how your list compares to what the people think? Thanks

Protagoras
Protagoras

There's terrible chemistry on the Big Show. It's a challenge to listen to all of them. I don't know who'd they would get rid of though, Matt or Adam. Matt seems like he forms his opinions literally as the words come out of his mouth. Adam is good but his voice is a little monotone. MAD radio is better than I'd thought it would be... they seem like they are good complement to each other. And the J&R show... Rich is a simpleton and Josh, well, at least he's entertaining which is the problem on a lot of these 1-man shows like Palillo's and Gwinn. And Barry Warner, go the f- away please. Your neither entertaining nor intelligent.

Easportguy
Easportguy

97.5 nor 1560 do not even get a mention?

Bask
Bask

No love for Travis Rodgers? Could it be that he's a bit too intelligent for the average sports talk radio listener?

fugee-la
fugee-la

Though I agree with this BCS of sports talk shows, are there listener ratings charts to validate the current standings? :)  I'm just tired of 610 telling us how they're no.1 because the Texans chose them for their broadcasting... when in reality you have to pay them, right?

Dan
Dan

I wanted to disagree with you but when I thought about it, it is exactly right. I spend most time listening to the Big Show, then Charlie, then MaD Radio.  I like Rich Lord but Josh Innes spends so much time explaining to us all why he is so different and unique.

control freak
control freak

BTW, your caption; Meltzer and Davies are on 610

control freak
control freak

The BLITZ - arrogant degenerate gamblers, and the frat boy partnered with Fower needs to go back to Austin and stay. Fower, until you win something, stop talking about poker. Or come play with my crew. we'll shut you up.

Charlie – best in town, always has been

Warner – I like him

Ennis and Gwinn – dump them both

Thomas – rising star, funny, rational

Matt Jackson – how did this nerd ever get a job in sports radio? But I love hearing his unfounded opinions routinely dismissed with facts from Lance and Adam. His sports knowledge is no better than most of the listeners.

Age – someone below brought up one of my pet peeves. How the hell are guys in their mid 20s (Meltzer) getting airtime in a market like Houston. They have not had enough professional, life or sports-watching experience to hold these jobs. Do you get rubber stamped if you went to Syracuse?

Hill
Hill

The Mighty Gwynn, Josh Inness, and John Lopez (and his lisp)are absolutely awful.  I can't fathom how any 100+ IQ human being couldthink otherwise.  Inness belongs in some place like Slidell orLafayette.  I don't mind reasonable, talented folks from out of town, likeCharlie but these turds like Lord and Inness who come rolling into town...nothanks.

Gwynn aspires to be the next Rush Limbaugh Completeblowhard. 

Lord is old and boring. He was ok with Charlie, but Lord with someone as untalented, unentertaining and unknowledgeable as Inness is the definition of Bad Idea Jeans.

People have explained away the reasons why Lopezthhh isterrible.  He is the equivalent of amessage board troll doing radio.  It isno wonder he gets fired from everywhere he works; newspapers, Bus Driving, etc…

610 in general is just wretched steaming pile of suck.  It is like the station GM has some sort of,Trading Places type wager with someone. It is like they are betting on just how far he can lower the bar andstill pull in ratings thanks to the Texans.  If he brings in Mighty Gwynn to replace Vandameer (the one redeemingpersonality) then I think we will get our answer.

JustADude
JustADude

That's retarded that you would exclude other shows from the list. You can't exclude HALF of the market and call this a good list. Who cares if Seanie works for the Houston Press, rank him, he deserves it.

And who cares if 97.5 is selling the station, if the shows on there are good (and the Blitz is GREAT) rank them, other wise, this is a waste of time.

And for the record, The Big Show on 790 would be a lot better if they would let Lance do his thing. Instead they (especially Matt) try to be AS funny as Lance...and that's never going to happen. Stop stepping on his toes and stop trying to do what he does. He is the single best on air talent in Houston, let him run. That's what made John and Lance so great; John new when to shut up and get out of the way and let Lance be Lance.  To me, they will go down as one of the top shows of all time in Houston Sports Radio.

Justunluskbball
Justunluskbball

Why is 97.5 being sold..I get tired of hearing homers all the time...I love cowherd,the blitz, and the drivedrive

Teddy Wilson
Teddy Wilson

The worst sports radio show anywhere, is the TexAgs radio show on 1150AM in College Station. It's the product of a couple of Aggies creating a popular web site, and then getting their own radio show for no apparent reason.

TJ83
TJ83

I know I'm in the minority here, but not having The Jim Rome Show during lunchtime is a real loss for me.  The national perspective and his interviews I miss the most. I get tired of hearing local talk all the time, on every station.  Mad radio is comparable to the other shows on the dial during that time slot to me, good enough, but nothing spectacular.

However with everything stated above, I definitely don't miss hearing the clones, and his rambling about how his horses ran that weekend at Santa Anita.

anon
anon

What about the local guys for 97.5?  Where is the Blitz? What about the Drive?

James
James

Matt Thomas deserves to be higher up on the list. I'd put him right behind CP. I'm pretty sure he's the reason Jim Rome lost out in Houston.

I can only take so much of Matt & Adam, which is a shame because I like Lance Z, but those two argue way too much. 

Brad Davies has bugged the hell out of me since they brought him here a few years ago. 

MishapsGalore
MishapsGalore

Agreed. Charlie and Rich were the gold standard for their time. Granato and Lance continued in the same fashion until they sadly parted ways as well. What we got here is a failure to communicate! Wished those guys would reunite. Sorry Innes but your personality is horrible for the radio. Scale it back dude. It's like your trying way too hard. Travis is the man! I enjoy listening to Travis Rogers, Charlie and The Odd Couple.

Rob4lb
Rob4lb

I have to admit that while hosting a sports talk show sounds like a fun job, the more I listen, the more I can see how difficult and frustrating it can be.  Six years later, there's still frequent calls about the Texans not picking Vince Young.  If I were a talk show host, I think I would rather shoot myself than get into another tired discussion about that. It also seems that several times a week someone will try to put a racial slant on some topic.  That is another "here we go again moment". How many ways can you say "the Astros stink"? If you are sports talk show host, you'll know that that answer is "A Lot".  It is tough to be stay interesting 3-4 hrs per day, 5 days a week.

Fidoz
Fidoz

I always like CP better with a co-host. It rounds his blunt edges just enough and offers him a chance at some real back and forth. My biggest issue with CP's show is the callers. Most callers are terrible and send me reaching for the dial. I like the twitter format better because then the host can steer the show and use the better comments to their advantage. If I were running 790 I would try pairing Matt Jackson with Matt Thomas. The times they've broadcasted together they've shown that they obviously like working with one another. I'll listen to Matt Thomas before 2pm but I'm not a big fan. He's way too middle of the road and often sounds like "Your Dad's Radio." I can't listen to Gwinn for more than about 30 seconds. He sounds too much like a Colin Cowherd wannabe and I hate Colin Cowherd.

BrandoC
BrandoC

I might be the only one who likes Innes on 610. It's funny hearing his banter with Lord on a daily basis. After all, it gave us Michael Berry getting his ass handed to him verbally by 610. 

I normally flip between 610 & 790 in the morning on the way to class and and yes, Vandy & Lopez is going to be in a hole thanks to Vandy going to the Texans full time. Didn't know the Cookie Man & N.D. got their own show until 15 minutes ago.

Remember the four man show they tried during the Texans offseason last year that was all guy talk?

Jim C
Jim C

John Lopez needs to drop the act where anytime anything happens to a minority, it's racist.

Houstonsportsfan
Houstonsportsfan

Josh Innes (610) is the the best thing that has happened to Charlie Pallilo (790). Charlie is a knowlegeable sports radio host and Josh is just an idiot.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

 I have to agree.  There is no way this kid gets a job offer in Houston from another station when he ultimately gets fired.  He really is that bad.

Guest
Guest

Unfortunately the writer is incorrect in reporting it is sold.  The process is much more complicated than that and there is a strong possibility that there will be no change.  Despite what homer radio fans may think, 97.5 does very well in the ratings and should have been included in this along with 1560.  This is lazy reporting.

http://www.allaccess.com/net-n...

LandOfSteve
LandOfSteve

Sadly didn't start listening to 1560 until right before it fell apart. Couldn't beat the lineup of John & LZ, Raheel & Nuno, Sean, & Travis (+Beckner)

Lee Chatham
Lee Chatham

Anyone else have a problem getting 1560? Never comes in clear in my car.

Protagoras
Protagoras

No. Did you realize that 97.5 The Drive uses flipping radio producers as their full-time sports co-hosts? That's right: two-thirds of the hosts were hired as producers and just started talking about sports and now they are on full time. You might want to apply yourself. They are willing to put anybody on the air.

Lee Chatham
Lee Chatham

I wish Granato/Sirloin would get back together. Same for Lord/Pallilo.

Guest
Guest

Unfortunately the writer did poor research as there is no definite sale of the station, though it is possible.  But leaving them off the list was a disservice to not only the talent at both 97.5 and 1560 who deserve to be considered in this if it were really a true ranking, but also a disservice to the readers who look to the Houston Press as a resource.  Unfortunately this is lazy reporting that favors the homer sports radio stations and does not capture the true unique sports radio landscape in Houston with four competing and all very diverse stations.

Here is a better article on the bankruptcy and you can see Cumulus may retain the station and there would be no changes then:http://www.allaccess.com/net-n...

JustADude
JustADude

HAHAHAHA - I always tune in to this show because they don't offer the Longhorn Network in my area...my area being America. 

Protagoras
Protagoras

The Drive is worst show on. Period. Think about it: they just put on a couple of radio producers (on a full-time basis) to give sports opinions. I guess they thought, well, we're paying these two bozos (Julie and Dave) so we might as get them on the air. It beats hiring someone to work across Dukes who can't do a show alone, apparently. Oh yeh, did I mention that Dukes is a Cowboys fan and Julie (the show mascot) is an Eagles fan? The other guy's from CA I think. What a joke.

Jeff
Jeff

Read the third paragraph in the intro. Explains all.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

 Not sure what Jeff was listening to 20 years ago, but Houston at that time had more local programs about the Oilers than any other team in the Country; 13, IIRC.  The reason for Jim Rome's success was he came in right when the Oilers left, and the reason he's now gone is that when the Texans got good, listeners moved to shows talking about them.  Really surprised Jeff forgot about all those shows.  Who could forget "Hey, Hey Jack!"

Jeff
Jeff

If this were strictly a list of personalities, he would be higher up the list. As an individual broadcaster, like you, I like him a lot. But, for shows I had to also take into account everything that goes into them -- guests, interviews, bits, etc. 

Lee Chatham
Lee Chatham

Exactly. I would listen to reruns of Pallilo/Lord. Oh well.

Lee Chatham
Lee Chatham

I like Innes too. Let's face it, our baseball and basketball has been so unbearable; going off topic and making me laugh is a welcome change.

AFan
AFan

You are incorrect.  They are both on-air talent promoted to the Programming Department.  One is the Program Director, which is more significant than a producer.  Sure seems like you know a lot about them to not be listening...  Sounds like you like homer radio rather than looking at the big picture of sports across the nation.

Anon
Anon

So what?  Roula Christie was hired to deliver fish to Paul Cubby Bryant from her parent's restaurant.  That accidental entry into the radio business worked out pretty well.

Jeff
Jeff

I think everyone could forget "Hey, Hey Jack!" :)

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