Just in case the folks over at sports radio station WSSP thought I might have broken my old transistor radio, please be assured, I am still listening and still trying to figure out how to turn them into a radio station worth my time.
Because right now, they are still the joke by the lake.
The sporting scene in this town is heating up. The Brewers are driving toward the playoffs, the Packers are about to head to camp and the intrigue regarding the Bucks and first-round draft pick Yi all clamor for attention and discussion.
Enter sports talk radio.
We've got two stations in town, WAUK and WSSP. One continues to surprise with good stuff. The other is bogged down in childish self-aggrandizement that borders on the obnoxious.
Take one day last week.
On WAUK, Steve "The Homer" True was doing a wonderful interview with Don Sutton, a Hall of Fame pitcher who once pitched in Milwaukee and now serves as an announcer for the Washington Nationals. Homer asked good questions and Sutton responded with candor and wit. Homer didn't need to prove to anyone how much he knew or how funny he was. He got it out of the guest. That's the way a pro does it.
At the same time over on WSSP, Cliff and Gary were talking about the slim chance that there could be a Brewers playoff game on television at the same time the Packers were playing the Bears. It was a ridiculous discussion and didn't deserve much attention. But, I perked up when Gary Ellerson said, "I think the Packers and Bears have lost some lust."
That's what he said. "Lust."
Then there was an interview with Brian Baldinger. The guy who shares the mike with Gary Ellerson, someone named Cliff Saunders, said "Baldy" about a thousand times as he told "Baldy" his opinion of stuff and tried to get a reaction. Cliff and his best friend, "Baldy." Give me a break.
Here are 10 suggestions for WSSP:
1. Only put people on the air who have a command of the English language. Radio is all about language. I don't care if you are liberal or conservative, if you're on the radio, you've got to be able to use words correctly.
2. Hire hosts who can carry a show by themselves. This phony kind of disagreement between two hosts is obvious. We all know it's just a device. Two dumb guys are worse than one dumb guy. If one dumb guy is alone, he might just learn how to swim on his own. When you are the solo host, you also have to work harder to make the show good.
3. Stop trying to be funny. This one goes to the guy named Cliff. He is just not funny. He thinks those jokes about the "great scenery at Summerfest" (of course he's talking about girls in bikini tops) are funny. They aren't. They are only sophomoric and stupid.
4. Figure out the technical side of radio. They do this thing called "Monday Mystery Man," or something like that. The music is so loud the listeners can't hear the callers, and neither can the hosts.
5. Try to act like adults. Gary talks golf and mentions he is "losing his balls." Cliff responds with his childish cackle and says "That sounds so bad on so many levels." Please. What is this -- second grade?
6. Focus and stick with topics. They have this remarkable ability to start in one place and within minutes be somewhere else. That's an obvious tip that they don't have the courage of their own convictions.
7. Stop talking about your family. They aren't that interesting. We don't need to know what your wife thinks, about sports or about you.
8. If you don't know anything about it, shut up. The other day they were talking about their golf games. Gary said he shot a 41 and Cliff asked whether that was 11-over par. A golfer, hearing that, slaps his forehead and thinks both of them are idiots -- Gary for reporting a nine-hole score and Cliff for his question.
9. And this is a big one. STOP SHOUTING! I got in my car one morning this week and heard the two morning guys shouting at the top of their lungs, trying to beat the other one to the microphone. Who needs that in the morning? It's not the way people talk, even people in their 20s and 30s. Listen to the highly-rated morning shows (which is where you want to be). They do lots of things, but shouting is not one of them.
I understand that sports are not life and death. It's supposed to be fun and we're supposed to disagree about things. But commercial radio is life and death. They live and die by ratings. What the people at WSSP are giving listeners is nothing. It's childish and boorish and foolish.
It's not too late to change. After all, they do have the frequency.
But without change, this station will be back to smooth jazz before you can say "Where are you, Peter Brown?"
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.