We are well into year two of local sports talk radio armegeddon here Indianapolis. As you know, I follow the scene pretty close. Here's where we currently stand:
JMV of The Drive on 1260 WNDE. JMV is the most experienced of the three hosts and from what I understand has a comfortable lead in the ratings.
What JMV does well: JMV is a radio pro and it comes through when he's on the air. He has an admirable knowledge of small town Indiana. He isn't afraid to name-check obscure Hoosier restaurants and attractions, the kind of places that make this state special. He won't shy away from an opinion, but is pretty fair. JMV realizes the Colts are on a special run, but seems to be a realist. He can spot a team's fatal flaw. JMV has a big following of hard working guys in their 30's and 40's. He's fostered this in part by supporting and referencing his very active online forum. He's always gone out of his way to help 18to88.
What JMV can improve on: JMV is stuck in the 80's and proud of it. He's got his share of current pop culture references (East Bound and Down), but his bread and butter is old school stuff like the Karate Kid and Roadhouse. It is often relatable and funny, but sometimes the references get a little out there even for a child of the 1980's. The other day he and Chris Hagan were debating whether the deceased singer of INXS was the best front man ever. Dude. Come on.
My take: JMV is king of Indy's sports talk scene and I frequently listen. He breaks a lot of the local sports talk guy stereotypes which is a good thing.
Bob Kravitz of Kravitz and Eddie on 1070 the Fan: Bob and Eddie are both relatively new to the radio game. 1070 has a very powerful radio signal and is an ESPN affiliate. As a result they often get high caliber guests.
What Bob does well: Bob is very good on the air. His opinions are usually well reasoned, whether right or wrong. He appears to do quite a bit of research. Eddie is... on the show, too.
What Bob can improve on: I think Bob would fare better with a different co-host. I happened to catch him the other day with guest-host Greg Rakestraw. It was suddenly a different, much smarter show. I'm honestly not sure if intelligent exchange is what station managers are looking for, but if it is then we'll see Rakestraw in this role fulltime in 2010. I don't see Eddie as a long term partner for Bob. His personality is over the top, and he likes to talk about Playboy and strip clubs. He seems like a swell guy, and apparently knows just about everyone in the sports world. But, unlike blogging, radio is a business. Paging Kent Sterling...
My take: You can breathe easy. Bob definitely has a career lined up after newspapers, whether here or somewhere else.
Derek Schultz of The Zone on XL 950: Schultz, 26, has had a quick rise from his behind-the-scenes role on this lower-budget station. Less than a year ago he was promoted to co-host alongside Greg Rakestraw. With Rakestraw's recent departure, Schultz was named The Zone's solo host.
What Schultz does well: I think Derek is doing a good job so far. I can't even imagine trying to do a live three hour show, five days a week. At 26? Ridiculous. He's very knowledgeable on a wide range of topics, which is a must for a sports talk host. He may not be as encyclopedic, but he does a fair Rakestraw impersonation with his ability to cover football, baseball, basketball and beyond. I've really enjoyed his self-deprecating style of humor, and he is laid back and easy to relate to. It doesn't hurt that he's a huge Hoosier fan and was in B-town at the same time as me.
What Schultz can improve on: Derek lists LJ's four point play as one of his favorite sports moments. Jackass.
My take: Derek Schultz is on an uneven playing field because of 950's much weaker radio signal. But he's funny and I usually agree with his takes. So far I like his version of the Zone as much or more than the partnership of Rakestraw and Wochomurka. If anyone else is an XL 950 listener I'd love to hear your opinion.
DZ Comments: Since I'm out of market right now, my knowledge is limited. Schultz (who is a frequent commenter and chat participant) and JMV have been beyond cool to us, and I've always been more than a little partial to XL 950 ever since Rakestraw helped us out early on. I've been down on Eddie White for quite some time. A couple of years back, I sat in on a focus group with 1070 and suggested Rakestraw for the job. It would be awesome to see him finally get it.
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