By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Sports radio is a beautiful thing. Really, the way that so many cities around this country can fill so many hours yapping about athletes and teams speaks to the unique role that sports plays in our society.
Sports radio is also a multi-faceted medium, one in which the hosts and the listeners essentially work in tandem to decide the topics that drive the day. If the hosts are discussing a storyline that listeners don’t care about, then those people very quickly become former listeners. And the beauty of it all is that those listeners can play a part in the show by becoming callers.
And when you listen to a lot of sports talk radio, you tend to notice certain types of people that keep popping up. These aren’t individuals, really, but more a series of personality types that you hear over your car speakers time and time again without fail.
So, as the year draws to a close, it’s a good time for reflection. So let’s take a look at the sports radio callers that we hear dialing in just about every day. This is an expert list, mind you, as the brains of The Sports Hub producers Jim Louth, Tom Morgan and Billy Lanni were all picked to help compile a comprehensive list.
“Nobody’s Talking About This” Guy
This is your classic caller who believes he’s the one person on earth who has figured out this one vital nuance of a story, and luckily for us, he’s willing to share his secret on the air. (Coincidentally, this person is also “Unaware That Literally Millions Of People Have Already Talked About That” Guy.) The lack of self-awareness leads to this person believing that he has uncovered the secret and that the hosts whose jobs require them to examine all angles of any situation have not laid their eyes on that same piece of information. You’ve just got to love “Nobody Is Talking About This” Guy.
“At The Game Last Night” Guy
This person must preface his commentary by letting you know first and foremost that he was at the game last night. So while you might have thought you knew what you were talking about after having watched the game in high definition on your 60-inch television with the benefit of slow-motion replays, “Bob In The Car” believes his view (from the upper-deck while juggling a pretzel and a beer as the row in front of him stands up to let someone back to his seat) is superior.
High School Hero
“Yeah, I saw that [Athlete X] suffered from [this particular injury]. I had that when I played hockey in high school and I was out for three months.”
“Stole My Thunder” Guy
This person calls the station and waits on hold, but upon finally getting on the air, this person does not exult in happiness. Instead, this person laments the host for “stealin’ my thundah!” The host should know better than to opine on the discussion topic before Randy from Westborough gets to elaborate.
“Radio On In Background” Guy
This person has his radio on way too loud in the background, resulting in a horrible cacophony of feedback and echoes. How does this person still exist in 2016? Turn your radio down. That’s Sports Talk Radio Calling 101.
“Guy Who’s Not There” Guy
A sports radio staple: Having a host throw it to a caller who is … not there. Where did this person go? Did he hang up? Did he have to use the restroom? Has he been kidnapped? IS HE ALIVE? Sadly, we don’t have time to find out. We just move on.
“Let Me Take You Off Speakerphone” Guy
This person is actually a sympathetic figure, because waiting on hold for anything can be a brutal experience, and the relief provided by speakerphone is worth its weight in gold. (If it had a weight. Work with me here.) And really, the quickness that a host can put a caller on air and then introduce him is faster than any normal human could switch off speakerphone. So there’s no blame on this person, per se. But nevertheless, it is unpleasant to hear the following exchange every day:
HOST: We now go to Paul in Malden. Paul.
PAUL: YAH HOLD ON LET ME TAKE YOU OFF SPEAKAH …
PAUL: … OK, sorry about that guys. Anyways ahhh ….
“Bad Phone” Guy
A cousin of speakerphone guy, this fella calls the radio using a baked potato with some wires wrapped around it. The resulting noise is like a combination of an angry zoo animal crossed with a car crash. This person may be the most insightful human on the planet, but sadly, we will never know.
“Trade Proposition” Guy
“Yeah what if the Red Sox trade this guy and that guy in a three-team deal with Milwaukee and Kansas City, with the Red Sox getting this guy in return?”
Thanks for your call, sir. Moving on.
“I’m Only Calling So That I Can Swear” Guy
This person has time to waste and also wants to waste your time. He’ll wait on hold for an hour just so that he can make a fake point about sports for 11 seconds before unleashing an F bomb that never makes it to air because there is such a thing as a dump button. This person stinks the most.
“Yells Too Much” Guy
Why are you yelling so much, man? Where are you that you can scream like that without getting arrested? Just chill out for a second. Please. We’re only talking about sports games here.
“Can’t Pronounce The Name” Guy
This is actually one of the more charming types of sports radio callers: the guy who can’t pronounce the name of the player about whom he’s speaking. The butchering of the names really takes away from the caller’s overall point. Locally, some all-stars in this department include Nomar Garciaparra, Jimmy Garoppolo, Yoenis Cespedes, and probably many more that we’re all better off just forgetting.
The Résumé Reader
“Yeah look I heard you talking about this, and look, I’ve played my whole life, I played in college and almost played pro ball over in Europe, now I’m a head coach for a high school — well, assistant head coach — and I just want to say …”
“You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About” Guy
This person is a relative of the “Yells Too Much” Guy, as this person carries far more rage than any human should on a given day. This person calls the radio and can barely stop stammering before blurting out a dismissive, “You don’t know what you’re talking about!” to the host. It is … an aggressive way to start a conversation.
“Hopping Through Different Dimensions Of Reality” Guy
I don’t know where this person is, but based on the sound coming through the phone, it sounds as though he’s either hanging out of a car window while driving through a tunnel, or he’s found a portal to another dimension and is in the process of making the trip, but he wants to argue about sports before he gets there.
“I’ll Hang Up And Listen” Guy
With all due respect to this caller, it’s no sweat off any of our backs what the guy does when he’s done making his point. He could hang up and not listen for all I care.
The Man With Secret Sources
One of the most dangerous sports radio callers, this guy (who knows a guy who heard from someone who knows about something) can spread unfounded rumors in the blink of an eye. This person tends to have a friend who works at the airport who spotted some free agent meandering through the terminals, and this person feels compelled to speak with authority when he really should not.
“Wrong Pleasantry” Guy
This person’s just trying to be nice, but the conversation always ends up going like this:
HOST: We now go to Tom in Rhode Island. Tom.
TOM: Hi guys, how are you doing?
HOST: We’re doing well, what’s up?
TOM: Good, good. So ….
That’s the wrong pleasantry, Tom!
The Identity Thief
The average caller may not be aware of this person’s existence, as it takes a keen ear to pick up on the caller who calls every day and goes by different names from different locations. You have to be fearful of this person, who shows no hesitation in going by a different aliases sometimes just hours apart from the most recent call. This person is capable of many things.
Two-Part Question Guy
Somehow, this caller doesn’t know by now that it’s never a good idea to ask two separate questions to a radio host. One is always guaranteed to be left by the wayside, stuck in the sports radio abyss, never to be answered.
“Mad That He Had To Wait On Hold” Guy
This person always inspires a chuckle, when the conversation goes like this:
HOST: We now go to Brian in the car. Brian.
BRIAN (with a tone): Well, I’m not in the car anymore. I’m home.
HOST: … OK, Brian. Whatcha got?
How dare you make Brian wait!
“Pass It On To The Guys” Guy
This person is only known behind the scenes, as he calls the station, drops a dime with the call screener, and then says, “Pass that on to the guys” before hanging up. It’s basically like The Man With Secret Sources, only he’s not willing to give up his vocal identity on the air. Too risky. Can’t blow his cover. But he’s got to get that info to the masses.
“Repeats His Own Name” Guy
Sports radio listeners can’t tell you how many seconds in their lives have been wasted by the following exchange:
HOST: OK, we now go to Dave in Boston.
DAVE IN BOSTON: Dave in Boston?
HOST: Yes, Dave.
DAVE IN BOSTON: Am I on the air?
You’re on the air, David. Keep your ears open.
“Refers To The Colts As ‘Baltimore'” Guy
This person’s a throwback, really, to a better time — a time when men were men, when a dollar used to be worth something, when there used to be a little something called “integrity.” Now, in this fast-paced world, you can’t expect this caller to keep up with all the different cities the teams have moved to since the 1980s.
This person — a wannabe Lt. Daniel Kaffee — must watch way too much “Law & Order,” because he can’t simply make his point; instead he must interrogate the host into making his point for him. Instead of just stating the conclusion of the exercise, the caller makes the host jump through hoops and get stringed along with a series of inane questions. Sadly for old Atticus Finch, the host often runs out of patience around rhetorical question No. 2, and the game ends rather abruptly.
This person likes to call in and discuss a point he made on air several months ago. It’s generally a, “Yeah, I called before and said that [Player X] would have a bad year.” Sadly for the caller, the hosts do not keep a Wikipedia page that includes every caller’s opinion in history, so the point goes unchecked and precious time is wasted.