A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Black Sports Talk Show Have Always Existed…They Just Haven’t Been Developed
SAN ANTONIO, TX.—
Doug and Ryan Stewart
SAN ANTONIO, TX.—– The Nov. 8th issue of “Sports Illustrated” did a feature story on Doug and Ryan Stewart. Who are these two individuals? They happen to be the hottest sports talk jocks in the country. That’s right. Not Van Earl Wright. Not Jim Rome. The hottest sports talk show hosts happen to be on a ‘local’ level but have a national audience thanks to technology. “The Two Live Stews” have probably one of the best talk shows going right now because they are reaching a demographic that has always been overlooked in the media. That audience happens to be Hispanics and African Americans. However what’s truly unique is that the Stewarts are not the only talk show hosts of color who are trying to break into a traditional fraternity by non-traditional means. Right here in San Antonio there is a show that is beginning the same humble roots as the Stews did years ago. For San Antonians wanting to break away from the ‘traditional’ sports talk, Calvin Casey, Rudy T, and Johnny Salami are the “Stews” of San Antonio. More aptly they are the brains behind a show called the “Sports Grind”.
For Calvin and his cohorts, sports talk is their passion. Unlike the numerous others who are out there in the market these days, these three gentlemen wanted to put a show together that embraced their culture and their love of sports. They have infused hip-hop music with a true ‘local’ feel by just being themselves. They know they are going to make mistakes but they welcome the challenge. They tried to go through the normal channels and when the local sports stations said no, they did what any trailblazer would do; they made their own rules up and did what they wanted to do without answering to anyone. Ironically, these young men have also begun taking a tract that is going on across the country. There are probably hundreds of black sports talk shows just looking for a vehicle to be launched on but the mainstream media simply does not think that the listening audience wants to hear it. Well hear these words America, there are African American versions of your favorite talk shows out there and they are probably just as good, if not better, than what you are hearing right now.
Is this a knock on the mainstream sports talk show products currently out there? Of course it’s not. Mainstream media has its place and that is where all shows get their inspiration. However for many minorities, they want to hear voices that sound like them. They want hosts that understand what the issues truly are. That’s not being racist in so much as it is being capable of reaching a segment of the population that really wants something ‘of their own’. Imagine for a moment what a sports show with Hispanic and African American co-hosts can be capable of? Because these two individuals have a unique background of dealing with the sports of their community, they can actually be a voice that their audience will listen too. From dealing with incidents like that of Manny Ramirez to the escapades of Ron Artest, a minority show can handle the incidents better without having to ‘offend’ any listeners because they are talking to an audience that would not be offended. They can talk in such a fashion that isn’t demeaning but is ‘exactly how people of their ‘kind’ feel.
In the radio medium, the assumption has pretty much been that a show that has a “Black voice” simply can’t be a seller. That is a true perception no matter what today’s program directors tell you. Sure there are some program directors that want to take the chance and in many markets they have done exactly what their heart and mind have told them. However in many other markets and on the national scene, unless your name is a household name, the chance to have the type of show that gives the Black community a true voice in another part of their world. Yes this community would like to have the same type of shows that everyone else enjoys and they shouldn’t have to go begging around to get them.
THE GRAVYTRAIN OF SPORTS RADIO NEEDS A LITTLE ‘SPICE’ So when will the sports radio world finally realize that a new revenue source is available to them? It is true that talk radio is a hard sell for some stations. Thanks to good friends, I’m able to keep abreast of this market and the trends of the sports world. I’ve seen the numbers where in some markets sports talk radio does really well while in others it’s just an afterthought. Then you have markets that are somewhere in between those two extremes. With all of these different variables, you can imagine just how hard it is for someone like the Stewarts or even the local guys here have in trying to sell a show. The country just doesn’t think that having minority voices on the air in the sports world is such a good idea.
In the Sports Illustrated article, Doug Ryan is quoted as saying, “”When we started out, we wanted to infuse the hip-hop generation into sports-talk radio.” Today many sports talk shows are infusing their ‘bumper music’ with hop-hop and R&B tracks. Locally, the two mainstream shows have started to use hip-hop on a broader scale but the “Sports Grind” is the only show that has hip-hop flavor and probably is the closest ‘original’ show that has stuck with that format from the start.
The market is about to be flooded with shows like The Stews or “Sports Grind”. There are ideas on the table for various vehicles to be plugged into the ‘starting line up’ of sports talk radio and what these dreamers of the airwaves are looking for is someone to believe in their dream. Sports talk radio has finally come into it’s own and now is the perfect time for a diverse movement and inclusion of some “black pepper’ into what has mainly been a white male oriented world. It could happen and whether some directors like it or not, it is going to be one of the future streams for new listeners and advertisers.