"Sports Central" hosts keep show accessible to wide audience
WTMJ-AM 620 is a mainstay in the market. The radio station started decades ago by the Milwaukee Journal has had an evolving identity, but never strayed too far from is roots as a place to deliver information over the air.
News, weather and conservative talk fill out most of the minutes of WTMJ's day, except for the time it spends on sports.
Greg Matzek and Jeff Falconio lead that talk. Matzek covers the early morning hours and anchors sports coverage during the drive-time commute. Falconio takes on those duties during the afternoon drive home.
They then come together for "Sports Central," their main sports show that runs weeknights, when it isn't preempted for a Brewers or Bucks game.
I had the opportunity to sit in on a longer-than-normal show last week before the Brewers were playing a West Coast game.
"I think when we talk about the greatest, it will be LeBron and Jordan," Matzek said on the air, having a conversation with his co-host about the NBA playoffs and the best players to run up and down the court.
"And Kobe will be on the outside, looking in."
"I think I'll have to agree with you there," Falconio said before providing the phone numbers for people to call in.
A week later and the Bucks season is done, after being swept 4-0 by the Miami Heat. But last week, there was some pretty good talk, and some confidence that Milwaukee would compete but had little chance of advancing to the next round.
Sure enough, after the break of commercials, a caller continued the conversation on the air about how impressive LeBron James is and how tough the competition the next week would bring.
The exchange is typical of what you'd hear on "Sports Central."
"It is about making it accessible," Matzek said about the topics they cover. "We try to hit them with something they can respond to."
Falconio concurred, stating that the conversation could get into the whip pitch of a certain Brewers left hander, or a more involved discussion that could get over the head of the average listener. But the two make an effort to tone the conversation down to a level that most people can understand.
It speaks to the greater general interest audience that WTMJ has. In a market with three full-time sports radio stations already, "Sports Central" fills a niche that can add insight for the casual Packers, Brewers or Bucks fans without getting too analytical that may cause some of them to tune out.
"Our audience is wider," Falconio said. "With the discussions we want to keep it simple to draw in people."
Falconio and Matzek have only been paired together weeknights full time since late last year, but their on-air collaboration started years earlier on weekends. The pair worked together on a number of projects, including hosting the "Packers OT" on the state-wide Packers Radio Network.
They have a rhythm and are able to play off each other, which not only makes it fun to listen in, but could prompt you to call in and be a part of the conversation.
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