Monday, October 22, 2007

What The Hell Happened To The Team 1200?

For those of you in capital region, you can probably remember when Ottawa’s first all-sports radio station went on the air in the late 90’s with some fondness. Ottawa hockey fans could get Senators talk at all hours of the day, not to mention the Jim Rome show and other previously unavailable American programming. Over time the station built itself up with some key personalities and everything seemed hunky-dory.

But have you listened to the station lately?

Let’s first of all just put aside the morning show, Three Guys On The Radio. Like all early morning drive-in shows, the hosts are expected to be upbeat and “wacky”. Occasionally it’s worth a laugh if you can sit through interminable mid-grade sex jokes and endless clips of The Family Guy. Whatever. It is what it is.

Next we are subjected to a show called Over The Edge with ex-wrestler and football player Glen Kulka and his underrated smart sidekick Lee Versage. Kulka is pure bombast with a paltry knowledge of anything NHL related despite being on the radio having to talk about the Sens for many long years now. He routinely badgers callers for having opinions that differ from his and on top of that, this bear of a man routinely destroys every interview he does because he asks questions that are 5 minutes long. Seriously. The more important person Kulka interviews, the more Kulka likes to hear himself talk. After winding up the 5 minute long question, inevitably the person being interviewed has to respond with the cliché answer because Kulka always just reaffirms the obvious in his questions. In fact, they’re not really questions at all. Kulka takes a predictable observation, explains it for 5 minutes, and shuts up long enough to let the person on the other end confirm that Kulka is correct about the puck being small and black.

Poor Lee Versage has to put up with this dude despite it being obvious that he should be hosting the show due to his superior knowledge of everything sports related, including hockey which Kulka knows virtually nothing about and only broaches the subject because he feels he has to. Kulka is way more comfortable talking about his love of CFL football and WWE wrestling.

Memo to Kulka: WWE is not a sport. It may be “sports entertainment” but it’s fixed and that’s why anyone over 16 years old stops caring about it.

After the always essential Jim Rome show, we get a show called More On Sports which is a vast improvement over Kulka’s charade. But even this show is starting to deteriorate largely because host John Rodenburg is suddenly not interested in anything sports related anymore. Instead of jumping in about the latest NHL controversy or the play of the Sens, J.R. spends the first two segments of the show talking about anything but sports. It’s almost a retread of the wacky morning show except co-host Garry Galley thankfully doesn’t let it get out of hand. Galley is a great addition to the Team but only when J.R. lets him talk about hockey. Instead we get the latest on celebrity gossip and the minutiae of J.R.’s and Galley’s personal life. That would be fine if it didn’t extend for the first freaking half hour of the show. Reluctantly, J.R. will turn his attention to hockey eventually so he can start making his signature smart-ass comments while Galley legitimately tries to offer some insightful opinions that get wasted by J.R.’s commitment to being “funny”.

I think the major point of deterioration for the whole station is that all the hosts are under the impression that they have to be comedians as well as good sports analysts. Nobody wants just straight hockey talk, but when the scale gets tipped too far the other way, what are we really listening to? If we wanted to listen to a comedy show, we can do much better than the balding white guys on the Team 1200.

As always, the Sens pre-game shows are excellent with host Steve Lloyd taking his job seriously and provoking thoughtful answers from his compatriots at the “round table”, usually Bruce Garrioch, Chris Stevenson and Mike Eastwood. The Senators play-by-play team of Dean Brown and Gord Wilson are always a great listen as well.

As for any real substantive hockey talk, the Team 1200 has fallen so far that only the pre-game and post-game shows offer anything worth thinking about. Definitely, the Team needs more people like Gary Galley, Lee Versage, Steve Lloyd and Gord Wilson and less of J.R. and Kulka.

Just an opinion.


Geoff said...

I thank God for Kulka. I'm an "import" from down south, and I'm so happy that someone on the station is willing to talk about anything other than hockey.

The Team 1200 tagline should be "All Hockey, All the time".

I know it's a hockey town, and I'm just a dirty foreigner, but it is NOT a sports talk station. It's a hockey talk station.

Realistically, if not for Romey, I would probably never listen. And I consider myself to be a pretty hardcore sports fan.

More CFL Glenn!

And don't forget Kevin Haime's show on Saturday. It's outstanding.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Kulka is unlistenable, but also agree 100% with Geoff that the TEAM 1200 is not sports radio but Sens radio. I love the Sens, but a bit more baseball and football coverage would be nice. Even in the summer they insist on talking about the Sens when there's nothing going on. Not a word about the Lynx or other baseball. I just shut it off for the summer.

Galley is excellent. It's only a matter of time until he's gone though. He'll be full time on HNIC before long. The pre-game and post- game shows are pretty good. I've been impressed with Eastwood on the post-game. He's pretty fair and balanced.

I have to disagree on Gord Wilson though. His homerism is getting worse to the point of getting a bit grating now. Brown is pretty good, although he gets off on a tangent sometimes.

Jay Jardine said...

I used to like J.R. and Mark Hebscher when it was OSR1200. Haven't listened to the morning show in years being from Vancouver, but I always stream the pre-game roundtable as it remains one of my favourites.