How to fearlessly host a sports talk show solo


Thanksgiving Day 2003 was when I learned the difference between co-hosting a sports talk show and doing it solo. After co-hosting several shows on the old XTRA Sports 690 in San Diego, I was thrown on the air alone.

I had used everything I had prepared for a particular segment yet there were still several minutes left before break.

Now what? I was terrified.
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Don’t let haters prompt you to change your broadcasting style


A college football broadcaster was in his second season with a new university. Message board trolls were complaining that he wasn’t enough of a homer on his broadcasts.

“The guy I replaced was not good with the fundamentals of play-by-play,” he said. “He was a big time homer who could complain about the officials and act like the game was a funeral if the team was losing. You could go 20 minutes without knowing the time and score, or even which teams were playing.”

School officials were pleased with the new broadcaster. Still he wondered, “Do I keep doing my thing and hope people get used to it, or should I be more clear than I root, root, root for the home team?”
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This was my pre on-air routine. What’s yours?


Last weekend, I heard Jay Z’s song Izzo (H to the Izz-o, V to the Izz-A). Immediately, a flood of memories came rushing to mind. When I was the host of ESPN Radio’s weekend overnights, Izzo was one of several songs my producer would play for me in the final 15 minutes before air.

Just as it is for athletes, music was part of our show’s pregame routine. (Jason McBride was our producer; Brian Fitzgerald our board-op. LOVED working with those guys). The songs simultaneously relaxed me and fired me up. Jason wouldn’t start playing them until all of our show prep was complete.
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Surprise! One thing you don’t need to be a great sports talk host


A sports talk host recently contacted me feeling somewhat frustrated. He had chosen a segment from his show that he wanted to use on his demo, but it included a predication that turned out to be wrong. I asked him if the segment was entertaining. He said yes. I said, “go with it.”

sports talk hosts dont have to be right

A great sports talk host doesn’t have to be right. They just have to be entertaining.
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New shows take longer than you think to develop


Two Los Angeles radio stations that I enjoy listening to debuted new team shows this week. The Beast 980 introduced Plaschke and Zelasko, and news talk KFI AM 640 unveiled Gary and Shannon.

Plaschke-Zelasko

Whenever I hear new team shows, I always remind myself not to make snap judgments. You don’t give birth to an adult. It takes at least a year for a new show to hit its stride.

People mature only with time. So do new shows. Hosts must:

  • Get to know each other
  • Develop camaraderie
  • Learn each other’s way of thinking
  • Learn each other’s habits
  • Learn each other’s personalities
  • Learn how each other reacts in certain situations
  • Learn the topics and issues about which each other are passionate
  • Learn what pleases, excites and frustrates each other
  • Develop bits through trial and error
  • Recognize visual cues for when their partner wants to speak

If you start a new team show, know that it isn’t going to be what you want right out of the chute. However, you can speed up the maturation process by spending time with your co-host off the air. The friendship you develop off-air will carry over on-air.

Be patient. Remember, good things come to those who wait.