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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What's wrong with Radio Sport?

Note - this is also on The Silver Fern.
Have you LISTENED to it lately? Fresh back from my OE in 2001, I was very excited to learn there was a dedicated sports radio station - "They even play the sports news first on the hour!" Yes, you could listen to Cricket commentary alright, but it promised a whole new world of sports talk, led by Martin Devlin in the mornings. Informed, opinionated, quick witted, he was passionate about NZ sport, obsessed with Man United, and didn't take any shit. He rightly hauled Kevin Roberts (or 'KR') over the coals for saying winning the Tri Nations was more important than the World Cup for All Blacks fans. That's the kind of utter shit the Rugby Union expects us to believe, and I loved hearing someone actually calling them on it. The first nail in Radio Sport's coffin was when Devlin left to do Radio LIVE, and hang out with Mike King full time.

The rest of the day's programming was very listenable. Brendan Telfer did his cantankerous bit in the mornings, using his no doubt extensive contacts book to get some thoughtful interviews, and I enjoyed the golf show, with tips from a dry as a bone golf pro, along with 'JK' of the driving ranges getting off his death bed to contribute. Afternoons was Graham Hill, a very clever guy and my favorite BFM breakfast DJ ever. He'd present thoughtful interviews and nostalgia with some big names of the past, which was great radio. Where the station fell down was talkback.

Talkback is cheap for radio stations to do (which is why there's so much of it*), but for me, it was like sitting in the car with that bloke who sits silently through All Black tests until someone drops the ball, then pipes up with "WELL THAT WAS SHIT!". Yeah, THAT bloke. Whinge feckin' Central, where rumours and misinformation spread like wildfire. It got old really quickly, and before long I was working and couldn't listen to the radio all day, so Radio Sport was relegated in favour of BFM in the car.

I've tuned in a little again lately, and it turns out those were the good old days. The unfeasibly fast talking Tony Vietch (reportedly a nice guy in the flesh) is the boofhead's boofhead. Sexism reigns supreme, and his laddish references to his nights out on the pull and whatever else comes across as insulting, annoying and just plain irrelevant to a sports show. Charming Aussie Matt Gunn (whose favourite meal is 'any wog dish') scores very highly in the dickhead stakes, too. Talkback has got even worse due to a lack of callers bothering to ring anymore, forcing the hosts to adopt more and more ludicrous 'points of view' to get a reaction. It's desperate stuff, and dumbed down radio at its worst. It must be a lot of work to fill all that on air time - I don't envy them at all. Can I suggest:

How to save Radio Sport:
1. Hire Leigh Hart to do Breakfast. Actually no, he'd be dumbed down by the hopelessness of it all, and I couldn't handle that.
2. Get regular caller 'Zane' to host night time talkback. He's on every night anyway showing the hosts up with his well prepared and thoughtful calls, so why not let the inmate take over the asylum?
3. Eliminate the sexist bullshit. It's offensive, and pandering to some radioguy's imaginary 'Kiwi Bloke' demographic is insulting to us kiwi blokes, let alone everyone else. We've all got mothers and sisters, you know. Why not get more women on, while you're at it?
4. I'm all out of ideas. Judging by the extremely high repeatition of commercials, advertisers can't be bothered either, so all this might not be a problem for much longer.

*Marcus Lush appears on Radio LIVE ads saying 'Talkback radio is the only true artform, cos it's made purely of people's ideas'. Marcus, if you took the world's stupidest person and hit him with the Stupid Stick for three weeks before driving him off Mt St. Stupid in the Stupidmobile while wearing the Stupid suit, you couldn't make him say something that stupid. Honestly.

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