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For Me, The Fan Was About the People

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If there’s one thing that I believe has caused me to be so intrigued and engrossed about this huge flip-flop at 105.3 The Fan, it would be the people I met as my time as a Fan fan. At a time when I had trouble being able to interact with other people due to multiple reasons, the hosts and others at 105.3, many of which remembered me for my antics in the bleachers over all these years, welcomed me into their world and made me feel almost like one of them, whether this was try or not. Otherwise, yes, this probably wouldn’t have become so personal. With that, I feel I should now give you some of the key participants in these past few months and my take on them:

Gavin Spittle – He is a buffoon and an ass as far as I’m concerned. He is one of two (technically three) entrants on this list I haven’t met in person, but I have heard enough about him to come to that conclusion. Just about everyone I’ve talked to who knew of him and isn’t currently on CBS Radio’s payroll has little respect for him, and I’ve talked to people outside this small circle I’m mentioning here. The problem I have with him isn’t the bottom line of RAGE getting canned – it was how everything was handled. His defenders and RAGE’s haters keep repeating, “he got rid of a show that was failing in the ratings, end of story.” But my problem is that Spittle lied to both men about Ben & Skin replacing them when anyone with half a brain knew what was coming. And if ratings were the reason, why bring back a duo that has failed to draw ratings everywhere they go? Again, he replaces them with The K&C Masterpiece full time, I could take a breath and accept that. And I don’t care how the radio business normally does it; you up and drop your radio hosts and then tell everyone else to clam up about it (which is NOT how it used to be done at The Fan), you are insulting the intelligence of the listeners to just say the equivalent of “Duh, we don’t know no Richy or Gregow, these are our afternoon hosts now listen to them.” Ultimately, Spittle in my view is a moron who doesn’t care or at least know about boosting The Fan’s ratings; he just wanted to get his buds Ben and Skin back on the stain, insulting the intelligence of everyone to do it. And he’s probably just a corporate shill for the higher ups at CBS Radio.

Richie Whitt – I’ve called him an idol of mine and I mean it. He was one of the first sportswriters I regularly read. He is the guy I wish I could have become: Successful career writing in his hometown market, beautiful girl beside him. He was the first big reason I became a Fan fan, and the fact that he always has both kind and honest words for me mean a lot, even when we don’t agree. I think he gets a bad rap from a lot of people. They say he’s too cranky and talks down to people; how is that different from 75 percent of the people on the air? People complained about “Dead and Gone” being mean-spirited; how was it that much worse than Bob and Dan’s “Gay or Not Gay,” which is homophobic, elitist and tantamount to bullying? Few if any worked harder FOR The Fan. The fact that at least four of his blog’s sponsors were with 105.3 tells me he was the reason they were with The Fan at first. I hope the Sportatorium takes off and he becomes successful on his own to stick it to corporate media, and I will be at Pizza Buzz’s opening on July 1 in support of him.

Jasmine Sadry – I’ve said it before and will say it until my dying day: You may not meet a more wonderful human being in your life. And of everyone I’m mentioning here, this is the one person that pretty much no one who knows her has a bad thing to say about. She endured a format change from Live 105.3 and then saw all her morning teammates with Jagger let go, and she still carried on. I don’t give a flying you-know-what about what company policy is, she deserved better. The Fan’s previous management let deposed talent say goodbye on the air, and now Spittle treats one of his station’s hardest workers like a Death Row inmate just minutes after what would be her last shift. I’ve had people poke fun at her saying she was a stupid chick who knew nothing about sports; those people didn’t know her, and I wanted to punch them in the throat when they said that. The woman wanted to stab another woman with a nacho fork for saying “How many points do the Rangers have?” – tell me that’s a woman who doesn’t love her sports! She deserves to get back on the air in DFW; maybe co-host a show with Emily Jones, if the chauvinist pricks in this area can handle it.

Stephanie Blumenthal – You may not know her, and consider yourself lucky if that is so. Stephanie is one of CBS Radio’s sales reps, and unlike Jasmine, I am hard-pressed to find a person with something good to say about her. When I started going scorched-earth on The Fan and declaring on Facebook and Twitter I definitely would not tune in to RAGE’s replacement when it was finally announced, she went into spin control to try to change me around. Then when I said regardless of the reason, I felt 1053 had done wrong in how they handled people I considered to be friends, she dropped the bomb: “You need to re-think who you consider as friends – They never supported you.” It was the biggest steaming load of bull honkey anyone had ever tried to force feed me. It started a massive FB fight with her as we traded personal message blows, and I do regret falling into that trap. That still doesn’t change what she is though. Everyone I talked to (I will keep names private to protect the innocent) pretty much had the same thing to say about her: She’s a manipulative, back-stabbing Grade A bitch-bag – and it takes a LOT for me to say that about anyone. I can’t even attend Fan remotes anymore just to say hi to the people on the air there I still like out of the chance we may run into each other, because things will get ugly if that happens.

Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade – I honestly don’t know about these guys. I really want to hate them. I disliked them ever since they moved to 103.3, and when it looked like they might be returning to The Fan, even months before RAGE’s end, the thing going through my head was “Oh goodnight, no.” Back in 2009, I distinctly remember the 105.3 afternoon hosts of the time saying of the Rangers’ season, “Just entertain us until football training camp starts and then go away.” For a long time, I associated that verbal assault on B&S, making me despise them. Lately, though, my memory seems to suggest that it may have been their immediate replacements – which I think were Barskey and Gregg Henson – saying it. I do know it was B&S on 103.3 asking Mark Cuban if he would tear down the Ballpark and move the Rangers into JerryWorld if he owned that team, which was almost as infuriating. What I can say, though, is that it looks like most people who are in the business or want to get back into it have only good things to say about them, while people who know for sure they’re out of it for good either flat out agree with Greggo’s take on them or at least read his writing and say “Yeah, that’s possible.” To me, they still come off as arrogant and full of themselves without the skins to back it up. Oh, and hours before my scheduled posting of this article? They insulted Norm Hitzges on Twitter – the one person on The Ticket I always respected. Classy. Doubt I’ll ever tune into them.

Greg Williams – Well, it’s time for the big one. After hearing both sides of the broken up team that was RAGE, where do I now stand with this guy?
I’ve said for a while now that if Richie is the guy I hoped to become, Greggo is like the person I think I have become – someone who looks at himself as an entertainer rather than a journalist, and someone who is more than a little off-kilter. And to hear these things said about him from people I have to trust, it breaks my heart. I wonder if Greggo perhaps is afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome, the form of autism I have been diagnosed with; it’s just a theory of mine. And that’s why I worry about whether or not I may go down a similar path. People around me are concerned about me recently showing depression symptoms, and I can’t really argue with them. That’s why I can’t just hate Greggo. When he started the Gigantic Blog and Cafe, I helped him edit a few articles. Even though people advised me against it, I don’t regret doing it; I had nothing to lose at the time. And it honestly was lack of availability that led me to parting with him, but after having people say I shouldn’t associate with him (before AND after I left), it makes me wonder how many other relationships I would have fractured had I stayed. If what they say is true, I can understand why not only Richie but also Mike Rhyner have elected to cut themselves off from them. Personally, I still think he’s a good person at heart, just one with some very big demons.
In the original novel “The Black Cauldron” (which is a lot better than the Disney film based on it), a longtime champion of the royal house turns evil near the end; after he’s killed, the crown prince declares he shall still remember that person for who he had been before. That’s how I’d like to remember Greggo: A fun, personable guy who I hope doesn’t one day get completely destroyed by the demons inside.

So basically, everyone that The Fan got rid of – one way or another, I hope things work out for them. And I know there are certain people behind the scenes at 105.3 that don’t wish that, at which to them I give them one double middle finger salute and one loud “screw you to hell.”

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Confessions of a Former Fan Fan

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So I guess the first question is: Why did I choose to start listening to 105.3 The Fan?

Well, it basically comes down to this: I wanted something other than SportsRadio 1310.

I’m not going to deny that for years, I had a beef with The Ticket and refused to listen. Even those reading this that know me as “the Hardline Nerd” should know my vendetta against them was even during that time and I only did that one appearance to appease a friend. I should elaborate on more details later.

But for now, back in 2009, I was needing something else. I was listening to 103.3, but outside of Galloway by that time, there was very little local stuff on there. And while I tried to deny it to my Ticket-listening friends, it was a problem. (Even though “local talk” in DFW still means 99.99 percent Cowboys, which isn’t much better for me…) So when I discovered 105.3 was converting into becoming a third sports station for North Texas, I was definitely intrigued.

Nothing really sparked my interest for the first few months – until Sean Salisbury was replaced with Richie Whitt as Newy Scruggs’ new on-air partner. Here was a name I knew. Richie’s Mavericks articles in the Star-Telegram had been must-read action for me as a kid, and I was honored to discover that my choice of college was the same as his. Here was a show I could listen to.

A year later, while Newy had to take some days off, Richie sprung a surprise guest host. It was Greggo, getting a third chance after getting bounced from the other two sports stations. I’ll admit – at the time I didn’t like Greggo; guilt by association from my issues with The Ticket. But as I continued to tune in, especially after Greggo eventually replaced Newy full time, I grew to like him and began to think other factors made me hate The Ticket instead of him. (Trust me, Ticket fans, I WILL let you in on those issues eventually.)

I was a dedicated “Fan fan,” not just tuning in regularly but attending their remote broadcasts and promo events with regularity. And it wasn’t just RAGE – I turned out for the G-Bags, Elf & Slater and the few times New School had promos. I wore their shirts whenever I could. I liked the hosts as people, even when I disagreed with them, and I could tell they were genuine. Pretty much everything about The Fan helped get me through some difficult times.

When did it start going south?

In a way, maybe the seeds were planted all the way back in early 2011, when the Rangers up and left The Fan, but more on that at a later date. At that point, it was awkward being a dedicated listener to just the flagship station of my most disliked team (well they were also the station for TMS, but still). But the people on the air were still ones I liked, and I assumed they weren’t going to just be shills for Jerry just because the games were on their station (yet another topic I’ll get to later).

I knew The Fan’s ratings were not good, but I didn’t care. I’ve supported soccer and UTA sports; I don’t follow anything just because it’s popular. This was my station, and as far as I was concerned, nothing would change that.

But then came March of 2013 when the first bomb was hit – in the form of a Facebook post from a Miss Jasmine Sadry saying The Fan was not renewing her contract. I had known Jas for just about a year, and to know the type of person and worker she was, it was infuriating to hear that just like that, she was gone. No one at the station was allowed to even talk about her departure, just make it seem like she never existed in the first place. It was a cold 180-degree turn from how the station had handled departures before. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to New School again, just out of principle. It didn’t matter how much I liked Shan and RJ, management was essentially telling me as a listener, “forget about that stupid chick, she was nothing, just listen to who’s left.” It was condescending to me, and I couldn’t stand for it.

But it wouldn’t be the last blow.

It was April 2013 – the Monday following Race Weekend at TMS. I tuned into 105.3 a few minutes late – and heard Kevin and Cory from the K&C Masterpiece. Hmm, RAGE had to take the day off, I first thought. But when they came back from first break and didn’t say they were filling in for RAGE, I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach. I immediately went to The Fan’s website, and sure enough – no mention of RAGE on it whatsoever. Minutes later, the posts came on Facebook from Richie – RAGE, Dead and Gone.

And with that my status as a Fan fan: Dead and Gone.

I didn’t listen to another minute of K&C’s afternoon run, even though I kind of liked their show. No need to; I knew they wouldn’t last. Anyone with half of a sea monkey’s brain knew who was coming in, and that wasn’t going to keep me around.

The bridge burning began for me – at least for the people behind the scenes at 105.3. A very long and intensely heated war of words with one B-bag of a sales rep who obviously thought I was loyal to the brand and not the people. She was dead wrong, and let’s just say we should never meet face to face again. I’ll tell you more later.

You can say all you want about The Fan doing what it has to do to make more noise in the ratings battle; I don’t care. Clearly, trying to do better in the ratings means catering to people who aren’t like me. Fine, I’ve been there too many times before. I don’t follow the popular crowd; I make my own decisions. But when you kick away the people I was loyal to and you treat me like a sheep by essentially saying, “forget those other guys, watch our new guys,” don’t expect me to acquiesce.

Am I wasting space on the unlimited World Wide Web saying this, coming off like a whiny fanboy? Well, I can’t blame you for thinking that. All I can say is, it’s therapeutic for me to get this out in saying how a station’s management gave the shaft to friends of mine that I think deserved better. And if you don’t think I’m wasting your time, feel free to stay tuned.