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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 Ticket Hater

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This may be the most difficult article for me to write. It’s more of a confession than a rant or op-ed piece, as I try to answer the question many new followers likely have.

Why? Why did I spend so many years flat out hating (yes, I admit to this) Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket?

Keep in mind not everything I say here is necessarily what I think now, merely what I have thought at some point. I’m also not a rational person by any stretch. What it’s a result of – my being an Aquarian, being left-handed or my autism – I really don’t know, but just keep in mind as I tell this that I fully admit to being irrational.

When I started listening to The Ticket for the first time, I was just starting college. I was probably quite immature for my age while thinking I was actually more mature than most other people – not a good combination.

As I listened over the months, I soon became disenfranchised with how little the station seemed to talk actual sports, making me feel their name and advertisement were fraudulent. I remember one day when the Hardline spent an entire hour talking about some girl who called in and admitted she slept with a stripper. I wasn’t the only one frustrated with it; I remember a column in my college paper where the writer said he didn’t want a sports station talking about Bill Clinton’s scandal because he tuned in to a sports station to get away from that talk.

The big blow was sometime in late 1997 or early 1998. It was the offseason for the Rangers, and the Hardline and their callers were just going off on how much the Rangers would suck that season. I took the chance to call in and say that upcoming Rangers team to me looked as good as the 1996 one, just with John Wetteland as well. They immediately hung up and started ridiculing me for that statement. I vowed I was done listening to them.

(By the way, the Rangers would win the division in 1998, and sure enough, the guys on The Ticket who bashed them in the winter were then claiming they knew they’d be good all along.)

I soon found there was another station that had sports talk in 1310’s sister station, 570 KLIF. Norm Hitzges in the mornings, Mike Fisher at noon and Wally Lynn/Leon Simon in evenings. Kevin McCarthy and Humble Billy were entertaining as well. The difference here was they were a general talk station, and the sports guys mostly focused on sports. I became what KLIF referred to as an “ADL” (All Day Listener).

But it didn’t last. Two years later, the parent company dropped all sports talk from KLIF; all their sports hosts were let go except for Norm, who they tossed onto The Ticket. For years I felt sorry for Norm, having to accept a transfer to save his job even though those guys surely didn’t respect him at all (Ticket hosts never seemed to have a history of “respecting their elders” to me).

Left without another option for sports talk, I gave The Ticket one more try. It was the same thing as before to me; the few times they did talk sports, it was nothing but whining about how no one in their right mind should cheer for the Rangers or the Mavericks, while the Cowboys were the greatest thing ever. Even the Stars, which I didn’t really care much about, seemed to get little talk even though they had recently won the Stanley Cup.

I make no statement that this was actually the case; only what my irrational mind seemed to think. And as ESPN 103.3 eventually came into being and I settled on the likes of Chuck Cooperstein and later Randy Galloway, more irrational thoughts began to grow in my head to justify my refusal to switch back to that AM side.

So a lot of you are probably wondering, “What about The Hardline Nerd?” In 2004, I was living with a few people who worked at The Ticket. Even though I wasn’t listening, one of my roommates kept begging me to go there and appear for some segment that The Hardline wanted to do. Just to get him off my back, I reluctantly agreed to go, and I let myself be humiliated by those guys on the air. Again, that was just what was going through my own mind at the time; it probably wasn’t what was really happening.

It’s just that to me, the hosts at The Ticket came off as the ultimate alpha males – arrogant jock wannabes who probably got their jollies running a few dorks up the flagpole in their high school years. They seemed to only care about the sports that were the ultimate in physical abuse and beating your opponent to a bloody pulp – exactly the type I have no interest in.

And that’s not even getting into what I believed their opinions of women were.

I won’t deny in the slightest that I am a male feminist. I fight my hardest to not let my sexual attractions overcome the importance of seeing them as human beings. I believe in giving women at least the opportunity to succeed in any field, and yes, I also believe that women who know/like sports are quite attractive. To me, it appeared The Ticket never got that. The only women they ever had on the air were their traffic reporters, and they frequently made them act like sluts on the air (“Ooh, do the cars! Do the cars!! You can stick it up MY tailpipe anytime!”). To me, it seemed pretty clear that the station was loaded with frat boy attitudes that viewed all females as sex toys and nothing more. They never seemed to show respect to female athletes or recognize what the importance of getting into athletics can do to a girl’s self-esteem. And any women who dared get into sports journalism – I shuddered to think the type of harassment that Ticket hosts would deliver to them.

These are the beliefs I built into my own head about the people at 1310, whether they were accurate or not. And as I became a Fan Fan and saw them try to be similar to The Ticket yet have subtle differences, like allow the likes of Jasmine, Sybil Summers and Jane Slater on the air, I was confident they were the opposite of The Ticket in what I wanted as a listener.

Now, all that has come crashing down with The Fan’s new management. I’ve heard people say that Spittle has laid edicts to be more “friendly” to Jerry Jones since they are the Cowboys flagship station. People who both used to and still work for The Fan have told me he did indeed fire Jasmine on the belief that women didn’t belong in sports radio. It was such a quick 180 that it could give you whiplash. The Fan was becoming what I thought The Ticket had been.

I will never deny what I have previously thought of The Ticket. Even though the comments have been deleted, I fully admit that during the Broadcasters Bracket contest, I posted comments suggesting no Ticket P1 would ever vote for the likes of Emily Jones or Dana Larson because those listeners are all misogynists. And to be honest, part of me still feels a lot of those types still exist among the P1 crowd. I know a number of you reading this aren’t that type, and if so, I am NOT talking about you. But certain people who also posted comments in all caps calling The Fan “The Wipe” and bragging about how great The Ticket is without going into details – yeah. Those are the people who spurred my retaliatory comments, even though I now know I shouldn’t have gotten into that.

On May 24, I did something I didn’t think I’d ever do. I traveled all the way to McKinney, having read The Hardline would be broadcasting downtown for the “Bike the Bricks” race. When Rhyner and Corby finally showed up at their location, I confessed everything to them. Rhyner just shrugged it off. Corby was much friendlier, actually remembering that Nerd segment from nearly nine years ago. I wasn’t tuned in at the time as I drove home, but I hear they mentioned my visit on the air, and suddenly my Twitter follower list jumped up, even though I’d never have asked them to do something like that. Some other listeners who heard them talk of my confession have given me podcast excerpts of Emily Jones actually appearing on The Hardline to rebuke my sexism accusations.

Does this mean I have “seen the light” and become a full-on P1?

I can’t say that for now. For one thing, I still refuse to attach myself to one exclusive station. Had Bob and Dan left The Ticket, maybe things would have been different. That’s the other thing – I still don’t like BaD Radio. I have yet to see much to convince me that Bob and Dan aren’t the arrogant macho jerks I thought all of them were. They plugged the Fox Sports Southwest models, who I believe have appeared on their show, in the Broadcasters Bracket over real journalists like Emily and Dana. And to me, “Gay or Not Gay” is unfunny and exactly the type of abusive bullying on people who are different that I abhor. That’s just my view; judge me for it as you wish.

All I can say is that, at certain times of the day, yes, I have been willing to tune over to 1310 AM and at least give them another try. The jury is still out as far as I’m concerned.

But I am done trying to outright accuse The Ticket of anything anymore, because I’m done with the sports radio war as a participant. No more affixing myself to one frequency. Maybe one day, I’ll get over my anger to listen to the few left on the Fan I like, like RJ Choppy and Gavin Dawson. But I won’t keep myself from also flipping over to Norm, and yes, maybe even Mike and Corby.

People like Richie Whitt and Jasmine Sadry won me over, and I will always support them. I’ll support the right people at 1310 if I feel they are worthy of it.

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.

The End of RAGE and a Fan Fan: Prologue

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And with that, both sides have come out. Or at least the two differing ends on the side that got tossed out.

After weeks of wondering and speculating, in one week-long, five-part exposé, Richie Whitt laid out his details on what led to the demise of the Richie and Greggo Extravaganza on 105.3 The Fan.

Hopefully, you’ve read it by now, and if not, you can always check out the link above, but here’s the Cliff Notes version. Basically, Greggo was never really clean or sober, according to Richie. He missed way too many days for reasons never given, he bailed out on his co-workers and he alienated sponsors. Richie tried to take the high road while hoping management would change things and save the rest of them. And then Gavin Spittle took over and cut the rug out from everyone.

So how do I feel, as someone who Richie called RAGE’s biggest fan and who helped Greggo briefly as an editor to his blog?

Sad. Definitely sad to read how not just a show, but a friendship, was destroyed.

While I’d love to find a way to believe both sides, Richie is the one I have to trust the most. I know a lot of people don’t like him, but I can see he’s genuine. And hey, I know a lot of people don’t like me because of my views and opinions, so maybe that’s why I can gravitate to him.

I feel I should be more angry at Greggo than I am, but I’m not. Maybe it’s a result of knowing the guy enough to have liked him, so I don’t want to think anything bad of him, but not being close enough to have the full feeling of betrayal. All I have is the feeling that I wish this hadn’t happened with anger directed at other people that I still think do deserve it. Because I feel even without Greggo’s indiscretions, RAGE was doomed and not for the right reasons.

It’s a complicated issue, more complicated than I ever thought something like this would be. The only thing I think I can do is lay it out in my own words, how not just a show but a station got undercut in my opinion and good people I came to know, like and admire got screwed. Maybe you’ll want to read it, maybe not, but I think getting it out will be therapeutic for me.

So strap in and get ready, my Rowdy friends. You’ve heard the side of the people behind the microphone. Now, over the next week, it’s time for a loyal listener to give his take on when something he was loyal to was taken away.