Why you shouldn’t listen to radio guys

I’ve been writing about football for the last four years, and when I am occasionally taking myself really seriously, I remember that that makes me part of the Broncos media.  Not the part of the media that feels the need to suck up to Jim Saccomano (I’ve seen that in action elsewhere), but still, we have a platform that tens of thousands of people have visited, and continue to visit, and we’re on a really rapid growth curve.  Throughout the Broncos media, lots of words and thoughts are generated and consumed about the Broncos, and some of them are mine, which is kind of cool.

Given that IAOFM has a place in the media environment, I have always found it interesting to consider the content producers in other places within that environment.  What are they bringing to the table?  Who exactly are they serving with their content?  Is any of it worthwhile, or is it a bunch of garbage?

I’ve always been fascinated by talk radio, for two reasons.  For one thing, it’s really old media, but it continues to be a really highly-used form of communication.  All kinds of new technologies have emerged over the last 80-90 years, and nothing quite kills the radio star.  I mean, just in the sense of a normal product life cycle, radio should have been destroyed and replaced many times over by now, and in some ways, it’s more successful than ever.  My main interest in radio as a medium is why that is.

I read an article this morning about why girls are now outperforming boys in reading, at every grade level, and in all 50 states.  The gist of the article is that girls see their mothers reading, and model the behavior.  Boys see their mothers reading, and their fathers not reading, and understand reading to be a girly activity.  Reading is a developed skill, and it improves through practice.  Those who read become good at reading, and tend to go on to become well-educated, economically successful people.  Those who don't read end up with really limited futures, particularly in a country where the working class is being eradicated, as automation drives productivity gains, and cheaper labor is sought offshore.

I believe that reading aversion among males is the primary force which keeps talk radio an economically viable platform.  The airwaves are dominated by politically conservative talk shows, and sports talk, and both formats tend to largely attract males of low education levels, who are almost certainly the type of people who don’t read for pleasure, and whose male children mostly never will either.  I think this portends for a scary generational cascading effect, which will run opposite to how the Post-WWII GI Bill made college accessible to many men, whose future success made college accessible to all of his kids, and so on.  Radio simply gives the non-readers "information" and stimulus for "thought" in such a way that they don't have to read the words themselves.

The other reason I’m fascinated by radio is that the people who are good at it are, to me, the sort of people who wouldn’t be good at anything else, and who somehow found their way into the only profession that favors them.  Think about it – the average radio talker is boorish, obnoxious, unknowledgeable about much of anything, and annoyingly opinionated about everything despite that lack of knowledge. 

Picture Rush Limbaugh in a white collar office environment, where teamwork, conformity, respect, professionalism, and expertise rule.  He wouldn’t last ten minutes, yet he’s obviously a very talented radio huckster.  You can put any true radio professional into this thought exercise – Adam Schein, Mike Francesa, Howard Stern, any of them.  You and I couldn’t do what they do, and they sure couldn’t do what we do, either, whatever that may be.  In radio, being argumentative and stubborn are professional necessities; in the rest of life, they make you an asshole who nobody wants to work with or be around.

I’ve said this before, but the key thing to remember about talk radio is that real knowledge about anything is completely optional.  The listeners tend not to know any real facts, or care about knowing them.  They are listening for a visceral feeling, something that makes them feel like they belong, to a political worldview, or a team’s fanbase, or an “oppressed minority” (like white men, naturally).  Let me repeat that – regular radio listeners are almost universally visceral feelers, and not analytical thinkers.  Radio pros know that deeply, and rather than worrying about the dissemination of knowledge, they focus everything on the evocation of the visceral feelings that their audience is fiending for. 

Which brings me to this piece of crap article from Darren McKee, who goes by the silly and unoriginal moniker D-Mac.  First, a note about the website, MileHighSports.com; as a source of written content, it’s just horrendous, and it seems like everybody who writes there is actually a radio person.  I always laugh at radio guys who write, because they’re playing my game, and they all suck mightily at it.  They think in fragments, and therefore cannot write in sentences and paragraphs.  I’m smart enough not to play their game, because I know I’d suck just as badly on the radio as they do as writers.

Welcome back to T-BAR AND THE MAD DOG!  You ever notice how many of these fools call themselves Mad Dog?  As a radio listener, have you ever stopped to consider why you’d listen to somebody who sees himself as a deranged animal, and consider him to have any credibility?

Doug pointed out earlier today that it’s hard to tell when ol’ D-Mac is speculating, reporting facts, and giving his opinion.  I think that’s by design, and is not merely an accidental byproduct of his atrocious writing skills.  I’ve never listened to his show, since I’m not in the Denver radio market, but I definitely know the type.  You know how you can go into a strip club anywhere in the United States, and the DJ sounds exactly the same?  It’s like they all studied under the same Yoda.  (NEXT on staaaaaaaaage, put your hands together for the lovely PASSSSSSION!)  That’s how I view sports talk radio guys – imperceptibly different flies who’ve all been eating from the same pile of manure, and whose output at the other end is pretty much homogenized.

D-Mizzle (fo’ shizzle) has been pushing this theory (?) that the Broncos intended to take RB Doug Martin at #36 when they traded the 31st-overall pick to the Buccaneers ever since Night 1 of the Draft.  The Bucs then used that 31st pick to take Martin.  This makes no sense, for a couple of reasons:

1.  You wouldn't trade the pick without knowing who Tampa was coming up for, simply as a risk management measure.  If I’m considering trading down five spots with a certain player in mind, I want to know who is prospectively being picked at the spot I’m leaving, because that means that I have confidence that there are only four teams who can take my guy, as opposed to all five.  Asking who the trade-up target is should be standard practice.

2.   Tampa isn’t obligated to tell the Broncos who they’re picking, but the Broncos aren’t obligated to trade the pick to them either.  If the Bucs lied, they’d quickly get the reputation of being bad-faith dealers, and nobody would want to do business with them in the future.  Look at how the Bears having screwed up the Draft Day trade with the Ravens two years ago has stuck with their reputation.  Lack of integrity is arguably worse than lack of competence.

This theory just doesn’t pass the smell test to me, and I highly doubt that there’s anything to it, past speculation.  Even if the Broncos did miss out on their preferred guy by going to #36, that certainly doesn’t equate to the notion that the entire draft exercise was a failure.

OK, Darren says they wanted DT Dontari Poe, DT Michael Brockers, or CB Dre Kirkpatrick as their most-preferred options.  I can buy that, but I would have put a 20% probability on any of the three players making it to #25.  I'm the opposite of shocked that it didn't happen.  Then, D-Mac leaps into a statement that OG David DeCastro became the next target.  Who knows where he gets that from, but that’s what he says. 

DeCastro was also widely expected to be picked more highly than where the Steelers got him at #24, so I highly doubt that the Broncos were ever planning to see him get to them, until he almost did.  Then there’s the Martin theory.  Add this up, and somehow

“You got rolled five times! Five times! FIVE TIMES!!!! Including on a freakin’ guard!”

Except that the first four were picked by teams ahead of the Broncos, and only the highly speculative fifth was somebody they could have actually gotten at their own original draft spot.  In other words, not getting Poe, Brockers, Kirkpatrick, or DeCastro isn’t getting rolled.  Assuming those are actually the players the Broncos liked, it’s some combination of not wanting to, and not being able to trade up to get them.

Look, the quality of the Broncos' 2012 class will be judged by what happens on the field.  I’m pretty bullish on this group giving a lot of people a nice glass of STFU in the fall.  Derek Wolfe is going to have a really good chance to start right away at DT, and even if he doesn’t, he’ll be on the field in passing situations.  I can see DE-DT Malik Jackson being a key reserve at both positions, and also contributing as a situational pass rusher. 

At a minimum, Omar Bolden looks like the #1 kickoff returner to me, if his knee is right, and he could play some at CB too.  I expect RB Ronnie Hillman to be the primary punt returner, and to generally assume a Darren Sproles-like role in the offense.  I also think that Philip Blake is going to challenge for playing time at both C and G, and that his presence will make the team better.  LB Danny Trevathan will compete for time on special teams and defense too, especially as D.J. Williams serves his suspension.  With the exception of QB Brock Osweiler, I see a draft class of players who will have a real chance to make the Broncos better, and to fit into contributing roles early.  Time will tell, and it’s certainly not worth getting worked up about in early May.

You’re not meant to think about that stuff, though, if you’re a radio listener.  You’re meant to be outraged, and to question the competence of the Broncos' personnel staff.  You’re meant to feel like an expert, because, as Charlie Pierce noted in his excellent book Idiot America, when everybody is an expert, nobody is.  You should be making the picks, not John Elway!  You’re meant to feel like your voice isn’t being heard by the team, and that’s really frustrating, right?  More than anything, though, you’re meant to viscerally feel like you’re in the same boat as all the other outraged, ignored, disaffected, frustrated, worried Broncos fans who feel uncertain about how the team will perform this year.  You’re meant to call D-Mac and Big Al, and complain about it, and talk about how you feel, and to help stir the vortex of discontent.  Big Al has never even heard of Derek Wolfe!  He’s not even in Leggy’s Top 100!  (Guffaw)

Just remember, if it wasn’t this drama, it’d be some other kind of drama, because that’s the radio medium, and radio people, and radio listeners.  Pick a team that the Draftniks loved – say, Cincinnati.  In Cincinnati, the radio idiots are undoubtedly second-guessing what the Bengals did.  Yeah, Kirkpatrick is okay, but we really needed a Running Back! 

The talkers and the listeners are all combining to create a big noxious mixture of foolishness, resentment, and swirling negativity, no matter where you go, no matter what radio station you tune into.  You’d think that the only things that happen in life are things that should make you angry.  Next time you start up your car, and you get to feeling all those visceral feelings, and that high you’ve been missing comes back, you should stop to think for a moment about who the sucker is.

1.  I’m not in the arguing business, I’m in the saying what I think business.
2.  I get my information from my eyes.

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Ted's Analysis