Feature: Wednesday, July 25, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Confessions of a Tickethead

Fun and games have made this sports radio station a winner — but not in everyone’s eyes.

By Dan McGraw

It is so hot and steamy in Duke’s Original Roadhouse — one of those prefab drinking barns that are ever so popular in that north of LBJ sort of way — that you can almost imagine all of that sweat dripping down between the numerous fake boobs on display. It’s hot and steamy in this Addison watering hole because an open-air bar on one side of the building serves the crowd both inside and out, and the combination of high humidity and too much humanity has left everyone drinking a ton of beer while ogling the proceedings.

And the proceedings at Duke’s last Thursday were very hot and steamy. Duke’s was the home of the inaugural Girls Night Out, a new twist on Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket’s massive promotion machine. Every six weeks or so for the past four years, The Ticket has sponsored Guys Night Out, kind of like a high-school dance for the physically grown-up, but emotionally immature, where the station’s ardent listeners show up and make like bad boys in their favorite tree house. This time though, the girls are formally being allowed into the clubhouse for the first time, and the boys like it.

The Ticket’s promotion this night involves six women who are trying to win a free trip to Costa Rica and participation in an offshore sports betting service’s beauty contest. As part of the deal, the women, most of whom seem to be named Courtney, are dressed in ripped t-shirts and black micro-miniskirts, with the obligatory belly piercings and tattoos on the small of their backs, the standard uniform for the typical North Dallas 20-year-old Courtney.

And what the hell, if you’re going to allow women into the tree house, you might as well make all the Courtneys of the world show their stuff and give the loyal listener something to look at. The contest, as thinly veiled as it can be, has the women trolling through the bar asking the men for a poker chip. Each male gets a chip when he comes in the door, and each Courtney tries to persuade him to give it to her. The woman with the most chips wins the trip. The whole time I’m there, I think back to those few times I have ventured into strip joints. Lots of beautiful women, all after my coin. I walked out broke, but with a smile on my face. Here, I keep my money but still have the smile on my face.

And that’s the genius of this event. The Ticket has simulated the strip-bar experience, in a playful, and slightly less seedy way. The station has become one of the most popular in the history of DFW radio, not merely by pulling high numbers (though they do), but because of their edgy combination of humor, sports, and sex. Their loyal listeners are known as P1s (a radio marketing term for those who punch in on that station, and that station only), and what the P1 wants, the P1 gets. No station in the Metroplex knows its audience better, and no audience knows more about their station.

And on this night, the P1s have come out to watch women barely out of high school trolling through a bar barely dressed. As I sit and have another beer, some 45-year-old telecom guy, graying and leering, tells me one minute about how much he’s lost in the telecom market; the next minute he’s going on and on about his last trip to Guadalajara and how they have the best whorehouses he’s ever been to. Smiling slyly, he hands me his poker chip. “Go buy yourself a piece of ass,” he laughs, pointing to the Courtney in front of me, her boobs standing at attention, blonde hair falling over her bare shoulders, looking like a high-school cheerleader who has Michael Irvin as her wardrobe consultant.

And so it goes. We sweat, buy more beers, talk of telecom and whorehouses and sports, watching the best North Dallas has to offer hoofing it around for the little Ticket. By 7 p.m. there are about thousands packed inside and out, the crowd so loud and boisterous that we can’t hear the announcement of the winner. The crowd presses toward the table where the Ticket hosts are broadcasting. Suddenly one of the Courtneys shrieks. Insanity pervades the happy den.

“Who won?” the whorehouse telecom man asks me over the din.

“I think it was Courtney,” I tell him, taking a wild guess.

“Shit,” he says. “I was hoping it was going to be that [one] with the pimple on her chin. I would do her in a heartbeat.”

I can just imagine the whorehouse telecom man’s fantasy tryst. A divorced guy’s cramped apartment, dirty sheets on the bed, a six pack of Busch tallboys on the nightstand, an ashtray full of Marlboro Lights butts, the Percodan-induced vacant stare of the pimple-chinned Courtney. The radio will be tuned to The Ticket, where Rhynes and Greggo of the Hardline will go on about suicide bunts and grooming issues, the fake Jerry Jones will be forever in his dress blues, Corby Davidson will be overcussing and redundifying, disgruntled bikini girls will be showing their spanking new store-bought chests, and Psycho Dave will fire off fart sound-effects. We can only dream.

Gather any group of North Texas guys from age 20 to 40, and you’ll find guys who know about “The Ticket.” They know what a “spare” is (something nonessential, like a spare part or a mediocre player), they might greet each other with “baby arm” (more on that later), and might just blurt out “grab a fajita” (impossible to explain) without notice. Whether these men prefer Dunham and Miller (the Gentle Musers) in the morning, or Mike Rhyner or Greg Williams (The Hardline) in afternoon, the P1s know what The Ticket is up to on a daily basis. The midday shows have their following as well: longtime sports-talk veteran Norm Hitzges adds the “sports” to the sports-talk lineup in his midmorning slot, and Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell are pulling good numbers in mid afternoon (the rest of the lineup, evenings and weekends, are pretty much “spares.”)

About a year ago, ESPN and Fox entered the Dallas-Fort Worth radio market with mostly nationally syndicated shows that are heavier on sports than The Ticket. Many of the veteran sports-media folks thought The Ticket would finally get knocked down a few pegs. The thinking all along, pretty much since The Ticket first started in 1994, was that its blend of entertainment and shtick and sports would never work when put up against a real sports station. Sports fans wanted to talk about the game itself between the white lines, and only between those white lines, went the conventional thinking .

The numbers are in, and it looks like DFW sports fans want the entertainment and the shtick along with their sports. During the last Arbitron book available, for winter 2002, The Ticket topped all radio stations in the male 25-54 demographic, with a 7.3 share. KESN (103.3 FM), the ESPN affiliate, ranked 28th in the male demo, with just a 1.0 rating. Fox Sports AM 1190 didn’t even draw enough listeners to register.

Besides the vote for more shtick, the numbers show that the national sports programming on ESPN and Fox doesn’t make a dent when going up against the strong local programming of The Ticket. Though ESPN has nationally known sports hosts like Dan Patrick and Tony Kornheiser, men in this market don’t seem to be interested. Even KESN’s locally produced afternoon drive-time show, with former Ticket host Chuck Cooperstein and Channel 5 sportscaster Newy Scruggs, has barely registered in the local market. Over at Fox, national afternoon host Jim Rome draws huge number across the country, but can’t pull any here.

ESPN has more than 600 affiliates, Fox has about 150, and both organizations have huge resources: They can draw top national sports celebrities to yak it up with their hosts and cover sporting events around the globe. But they can’t have the fake Jerry Jones answering questions about his face lift, they can’t get the Rangers’ Gabe Kapler speculating about whether he wants to get his scrotum pierced, and they can’t make fun of former Cowboy Darren Hambrick when he asks the rhetorical question, “What do voluntary mean?” ESPN and Fox don’t replay interviews and make a competition out of counting the number of times the sports celeb uses the verbal crutch “you-know.” As any Ticket listener will tell you, the great Dixon Edwards, former Cowboy linebacker, is perhaps the champion “you know” talker of all time. Stand and face the north.

“We can do what they do, but they can’t do what we do,” is the mantra of Ticket- founder and 51-year-old Hardline host Mike Rhyner, meaning that The Ticket could do regular old sports talk if it wanted to. In the old days, a sports-talk show host would ask the question, “Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame, yes or no,” and start taking calls. Name your three favorite Dallas Cowboys of all time. Would you trade Player A for Player B. The old format of sports talk radio was X’s and O’s and completely caller driven. But the fact is that callers are boring, and only the most hardcore sports nut cares about all those batting averages and the plus/minus number of Mike Modano.

In the early years of The Ticket, they did the X’s and O’s and took tons of calls. But Rhyner and Williams realized they were going nowhere. “We recognized a long time ago that if you do hardcore sports you will have a very small audience,” said Williams, 42. “We would spend all sorts of time, researching some sports point, and it would fall flat. When we would start talking about some movie we saw or what our dogs had done, that’s what people remembered and wanted to talk about.”

What The Ticket folks realized in those early years was that the sports media catering to the male audience was changing. The Internet gave fans all the information that the radio hosts had, so the hosts couldn’t fall back on the “call the sports brain” format. Likewise, the explosion of sports media, where cable was carrying hundreds of games every week and providing hour-long sports news shows like ESPN’s “Sportscenter,” gave listeners an overload of sports information. If you were going to be successful in sports radio, you had to get a little outside the box.

The Ticket was one of the first radio stations to see this trend, and perhaps the most unlikely. They had a puny 5,000-watt signal, were broadcasting none of the Dallas professional sports teams’ games, and faced stiff competition from Randy Galloway at WBAP-AM and Hitzges and company at KLIF-AM. Galloway still draws good numbers, but he now seems anachronistic, aimed at some 60-year-old rancher in Stephenville. KLIF has been blown apart, and Hitzges has defected to The Ticket. And The Ticket has solved its signal problems by simulcasting on KTBK 1700 AM and KTCK 104.1 FM.

What the Ticket did was ride the wave, and in some ways define the wave, of the new male-centered media. Juts think of what passes for sports media these days. Comedian Jay Mohr is doing a sports show on ESPN TV. Fox Sports trots out “The Best Damn Sports Show Period,” where comedian Tom Arnold makes jokes about former baseball player John Kruk’s one testicle. Terry Bradshaw plays yuk monkey on Fox’s NFL pre-game TV show.

Some writers have referred to this trend as “Frat Boy Nation.” All those “laddie” magazines like Maxim, FHM, and Stuff are making tons of money in a poor ad market by trotting out bimbos, beer, and sports. Comedy Central’s “The Man Show” follows the same formula. The “E” cable network does its “Wild On” show, which is little more than an excuse to film topless chicks sunbathing in the south of France. Let’s not even get into the popularity of the “Girls Gone Wild” videos.

So if this is a Frat Boy Nation we live in, then The Ticket is the alpha chapter and has one of the biggest and rowdiest houses on campus. But what they do goes beyond titillation. I don’t like to call what they do “guy talk” because it’s not aimless and it’s not whining. Their humor is often edgy and smart, at times sounding like audio Dadaism. They are independent enough to poke fun at the sports teams they cover, and the hosts are, for the most part, likable. “What they do is not easy, but they make it seem that way,” said Rick Scott, a sports- talk radio consultant in Seattle who does some consulting for The Ticket. “They are looked at as a model in the business because they do things in a smart way. It’s not easy to be funny and knowledgeable and friendly to the listener without working at it. These guys work hard at it.”

It’s hard to explain in print what’s so funny — assuming locker-room humor that demeans various groups of people ever makes you laugh. Corby Davidson does a bit called the overcusser, where he asks questions of an athlete, such as, “Do you ever wake up in the morning, and say, ‘I’m Rusty Fucking Greer, and I’m a fucking baseball player for the Texas Fucking Rangers?’ ” The goal is to get the athlete to start cussing back. Another bit is Burrito Jimmy, a fake FM radio host who entices sports-radio hosts to his show and then ambushes the poor guys. When the Mavs were playing the Kings in the playoffs, The Ticket hosts enticed a Sacramento sports radio guy to come on the air. They took staged calls from other Ticket hosts masquerading as real callers. One asked the poor guy from Sacramento, “Is Hedu Turkoglu the first NBA player with Down’s Syndrome?”

I loved the fake Jason Kidd singing “I’m just a mulatto, trying to get some el gato.” I loved the fake Jerry Narron, who speaks so slowly he seems to fall asleep between sentences. I loved the “12-Pounder” song, a send-up about the weight of Rangers’ and Stars’ owner Tom Hicks’ penis. I loved when they asked Rangers players if the reason Viagra spokesman Raphael Palmeiro was playing so well in spring training was because of the “harder wood” in his bat.

If you don’t listen to The Ticket, you’re probably wondering what’s so funny. But if you listen, you’re probably laughing your ass off right now.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I am a P1 fan of the station. But in the interest of shock value, a basic tenet of Ticket broadcasting, I will tell those of you who aren’t P1’s some of the station’s darker moments:

• The Hot Spot, The Ticket’s early- evening show, does a bit called the “Hey Man, What’s Up Rodeo.” A show staff member goes to a local park where gay men hook up and tries to draw interest, sort of a gay prick-tease. They start a clock when the words “Hey man, what’s up” are uttered. The one with the longest “ride,” meaning the time spent keeping the conversation going with lots of gay sex talk, wins. It is taped with hidden microphones.

• The Hardline like to discuss what they refer to as the FUPA. That stands for “Fat Upper Pussy Area” and refers to the female paunch between the navel and the nether regions. A woman who has a FUPA is also usually “tore up.” They also discuss “grooming issues” which refers to a woman’s pubic area.

• BaD Radio, with Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell, asks the hypothetical question, “Gay or Not Gay?” Two men shopping for groceries together and pushing a shared cart is gay. Owning a poodle, like McDowell does, is also gay. Patting another man on the rear end during a sporting event is not gay. Watching “Friends” on tv — definitely gay.

• The Ticket does some funny promos. “Passing gas and blaming it on the dog, you’re listening to Sports Radio 1310 ...” The Hardline decided to explore what their promos would sound like if they were doing a show in San Francisco. “Passing gas and blaming it on the homos,” was how it came out. Another one was, “Hey queers, you rock.”

• Davidson sang a song a few years back called “Thanksgiving Loves the White Man” with these lyrics: “Pocahantas was an Indian, she liked white men by the score/Legend said she was on the pill and her nickname was fat injun whore.” Later in the song, Pocahantas is hit in the face with a frying pan. They play the song every Thanksgiving, like some rock stations play “Alice’s Restaurant.”

• The Hardline recently discussed why black men like to videotape gang bangs with white women and then show their friends, more so than white men would. Callers weighed in. One black man called in and said it was indeed true; he and his friends loved going up to Plano with cocaine and a video camera, trolling for the white prize.

• Several years ago on Gordon Keith’s Saturday morning show, the hypothetical question was asked, if you would rather have the lobster claw deformity, or the small and withered “baby arm.” Now “baby arm” is The Ticket’s “aloha,” meaning hello or good-bye. They sing a song about the baby arm, sung to the tune of the Sammy Davis Jr. song, “The Candy Man.” Some guy with a withered arm named Jerome wants to be the official baby arm of The Ticket.

Now, those of you who have never listened to The Ticket are probably thinking that these guys are out of control and misogynists to boot. Even for me there are times when their forced and stupid banter about racial and sexual stereotypes forces me to turn the station off. The problem with trying to examine their content is that print is unforgiving — some might say harshly revealing — when trying to discuss how far they go. Are they “abrasive and over the top” as Rhyner likes to say? Yes. Are they racists? No. Some of the material may seem overly blue and overly racial, and if you clicked in for the first time, you might click off quickly. But if you listen consistently, you realize they poke fun at everyone, themselves more than anyone else.

There are plenty of folks who are not amused by The Ticket’s attempts at humor. “We know the long-term harm of using this type of hateful language,” said Roger Wedell, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. “It establishes barriers between people. And there is some indication that violent and repressive language leads to violent and repressive behavior. The men who killed Matthew Shepherd hated homosexuals. They didn’t learn it in a vacuum.”

Mary Lee Hafley, executive director of the Women’s Shelter in Arlington, said she listens to The Ticket occasionally (“When I need to get the latest score.”) She agreed that joking about mistreatment of women can be harmful. She also said the recent popularity of The Ticket makes it more important than ever for the on-air folks to watch what they say. “This is obviously a station that a lot of people listen to it, and a lot of them are young men,” Hafley said. “Their words carry added weight with listeners because they are so popular. Whether they personally agree with the message or not, they are giving the stamp of approval when they broadcast jokes about women being beaten up.”

As much as The Ticket boys play games, there is a no-bullshit honesty that also comes through. They will rip teams, they will rip owners, they will rip Billy Bob Thornton for being a nut. (OK, so they don’t rip NASCAR anymore. More on that later.) They will dribble out little inside jokes to the listeners that make you think. During the Sept. 11 tragedy, The Ticket was praised as having the best coverage in the market. How would this be possible? The lovers of fart joke and racial humor gave the most meaningful coverage? The hosts “had the freedom not to be journalists,” wrote Dallas Observer columnist Eric Celeste of The Ticket’s 9/11 coverage. “They could immediately speculate on who would commit this terrorist act and why, what the U.S. response should be, and what citizens must do differently now and forever. They could debate the questions and address the fears that rang in people’s minds.”

They could do all this because The Ticket is not scripted as such. They have prerecorded bits and a “run sheet” that breaks a four-hour show into 20-minute segments. The on-air talent are much like improv actors, playing their characters, and broadcasting on the fly. That explains why you get serious and thoughtful commentary during a crisis, and talk of FUPAs, at other times, usually by the same guys. The problem for The Ticket is the speed at which all this flies by.

Bruce Gilbert is the well-respected program director at The Ticket, and he is the parent who must occasionally go into the tree house and create some order out of the chaos. “I wince like everyone else,” Gilbert said of the programming he hears. “We allow people to be themselves, and one person’s idea of what is funny is very subjective. But I think the listeners know when we’ve gone too far and we pushed it too much.”

One recent example of going too far had nothing to do with race or sex. Davidson was out interviewing fans at The Ballpark in Arlington and found a woman who said she hated the station. She was real grumpy, and Davidson thought it might be funny to pull a prank on her. He paid some kids to go up to her and ask her why she had a mustache. “It just didn’t feel right; it felt like we were being mean,” said Hardline producer Danny Ballis. “We know there is a line there, but sometimes you are on a roll and being creative and you forget it.”

“That’s why my position is necessary,” said Gilbert. “I will sit down with a show and try to find some balance. A lot of what we deal with is subjective, and that line gets very blurry. A lot of what we do is by feel — what feels right for our listeners and what feels right for our hosts. It’s inexact at best, and we do cross the line.”

Williams said that is the very challenge of the show. “There is a line, and our job is to get right to it every day,” he said. “Sometimes we go over it, yeah. We’re in the entertainment business, and we’re not journalists. If we get on a bad topic, or we are boring, people are going to click out. We can’t let that happen.”

I was listening to some of the ESPN syndicated programming the other day — I can’t remember what show it was — and they were actually doing the “Pete Rose Hall of Fame” topic. But then they spent 20 minutes yukking it up about a tv show that featured out-takes from game shows. Q: Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever made whoopee? A. In the butt, Bob. Yuks all around.

But when you speak to The Ticket’s competitors, you get the feeling that the game is about over. In fact, neither Fox nor ESPN think there is really a competition at all. “We are not going to try to be what The Ticket is,” said KESN program manager Scott Masteller. “At sports radio conferences they are the ones everyone is talking about, but we do sports journalism. Bruce Gilbert does a great job with what they are trying to do. But I don’t really think we’re competing with them.”

Mike Fisher, who hosts the 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. show on Fox Sports 1190, agrees that he is doing a very different show from those at The Ticket. He also echoes the “sports journalism” tag. “The Ticket has been good for Dallas,” said Fisher, a former host at KLIF before The Ticket crushed it out of existence. “They have opened up the door and shown that all sports stations can be very successful in this market. It is astounding that seven years ago people were questioning whether there was even a market for this.”

“But they have grown to the point where they can do whatever they want to do, and that might be the problem.” Fisher continued. “It might sound petty for me to say this, but many of us outgrew fart jokes in the third grade. And we are not going to talk about what porno videos the board operator rented this weekend. If we found out which tapes Dirk Nowitzki was renting, then maybe we’d talk about that.”

“I kind of think of it this way,” Fisher said. “If you want to listen to the fake Jerry Jones, then The Ticket is the right place to be. If you want to listen to the real Jerry Jones, and have him being funny and informative, then maybe you’ll want my show. Let’s put it this way. I would rather finish second and not be caught salivating over some 17-year-old girl in a half-shirt. If that is my trade-off, I’ll accept that.”

The power of The Ticket is such that it is the big player in the market place. Gone are the days when teams and jocks didn’t pay attention to them. They are the preverbal 800-pound gorilla in the market, and if you are marketing a sports team, you have to play ball with them. I contacted Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (by e-mail, of course), and asked for his comments, given that The Ticket folks make fun of him a lot and disparage the team he owns on occasion. “They do what they do to elicit a response,” Cuban wrote. “I may not agree with everything they say or do, but again, that’s just part of the deal. They can’t, by definition, agree with me on everything or not give me or the Mavs a hard time at some point. That leads to stale, predictable radio, which leads to going out of business.”

The more corporate Ticket, the station that now calls the shots in the market, has led to some rather interesting alliances in recent years. The Ticket loves to bash the Cowboys, especially the Hardline. Rhyner leads the anti-Cowboy faction, and Williams trashed Michael Irvin incessantly during the former wide receiver’s little imbroglio in the hotel room with the self-employed models and the cocaine. So guess who the station is paying to be the Hardline’s guest this fall during their weekly football show? The Playmaker hisself. (One suggestion for the theme song: “He did cocaine in a hotel room with Rochelle/But he’s found God and says he’s not going to hell.”)

A few years ago, the Texas Motor Speedway was growing tired of The Ticket making fun of NASCAR fans by playing banjo music and talking of corncob pipes and blue-tick hounds whenever the race fans would call in. So the TMS opened up its wallet (sources say the deal is worth $500,000 a year in ad revenue), and The Ticket stopped making fun of NASCAR. “I didn’t like it, but I understood it,” said Rhyner of the new TMS policy. “It is not in our best interest or anyone else’s to do things that are harmful to this business.” Adds Bruce Gilbert: “They are an advertiser, and we have to protect that. We did research and found that a great number of our listeners follow (NASCAR). We had a conversation with the shows, and we changed some things. I don’t think we lose credibility because we are being responsive to our listeners first.”

I wonder sometimes if the station’s credibility suffers when they make such deals. But on the other hand, so much of sports media is made up of liars and sycophants. Sports journalists say nice things if players or front-office guys grant them access; they’ll slice and dice if you ignore them. Texas Rangers General Manager John Hart is learning that lesson this year the hard way.

The value of The Ticket, in terms of marketing, has never been higher. When the new arena football team, the Dallas Desperadoes, started this year, their marketing plan included tapping into the huge brand loyalty of The Ticket. The Desperadoes, owned by Jerry Jones’ Cowboys, sought out The Ticket to be the team’s play-by-play flagship station. They hired morning host George Dunham and afternoon host Williams to call the games, so that the Desperadoes would get talked about during the highly rated morning and evening drive-time shows. “When we were conceiving the Desperadoes football team, it was very important for us to have a relationship with The Ticket,” said Cowboy spokesman Rich Dalrymple. “They have a built-in group of followers, and there is a lot of opportunity for cross-promotion. We have a lot of respect for how they have carved out a culture and built a brand. Jerry is a big fan of the station.”

Even though they make fun of Jerry constantly, having the fake Jerry tell the Musers he has changed his name to Jerry Satan? “He knows they do it all tongue-in-cheek,” Dalrymple said of his boss. “Jerry believes if they are talking about you, they are building equity in the team.”

“Talk radio throughout the country gets sports teams’ PR guys’ blood pressure boiling,” Dalrymple continued. “It’s now a part of our culture, and it’s not going anywhere. They have fun with things at our expense. But we have to have fun with it, too. Hey, and if they are talking about you, they are talking about you.

“The acceptance level of fun-and-games sports-talk radio has grown not just in this market, but around the country,” Dalrymple said. “But The Ticket is pretty smart about how they go about doing it. When it crosses the line, I can call Bruce Gilbert and it stops. But I can count on one hand the times I’ve had to do that.”

“We know them and know them to be good people,” Dalrymple said. “And besides, they throw a great high-school dance every six weeks.”

Back at Duke’s, I watch Joe The Hard Drinking Engineer, he of the maniacal laugh and Charles Manson eyes, carefully roll up electrical cables. The Ticket’s Girls Night Out show is off the air, but the crowd remains, trying to drink every last beer out of Duke’s ice tubs. For the privilege of having The Ticket in its establishment, Duke’s has paid upward of $10,000. But the investment has paid off. No other radio station in the area can draw the type of crowd The Ticket reels in. The lines at the bar are 20 minutes long.

I’m sitting with a few guys who are going to the Sheryl Crow concert at Starplex that night. “I don’t like her all that much, but there’s going to be some [women] there tonight,” one guy tells me. Then we go into a conversation that hits on the nice ass of the girl standing near our table, how the Rangers suck, the term papers we used to cheat on in college, past glory on the basketball court, how we wish more bars would serve beer in fishbowls like Fred’s in Fort Worth, the problems of paying your taxes when you are self-employed, and how the little Oklahoma cheerleader Courtney was the best one of them all.

And it struck me how our conversation over a few beers was exactly what The Ticket does. We like talking sports, but that’s not all we do. And we are a bit seedy when it comes to women, but that’s how we are wired. The Ticket has learned how to genuinely tap into the male psyche. The results aren’t pretty at times, but they get it right most of the time.

What The Ticket has done is much like what Rolling Stone did in the early seventies covering music. Before Rolling Stone came along, the music business was covered by Billboard, and the news was which bands were on the Top 100 list. Rolling Stone used the music business as a jumping off point to write about the larger issues of the day. The Ticket has done the same thing, using sports as a portal to get into all manner of things. I’m not saying they planned it that way, but they did it, and the rest of the media world has copied them. And as much as the local ESPN and Fox folks trot out their “sports journalism,” they are doing Ticket-like bits, too. They can’t afford not to.

On the drive home, the Hot Spot is previewing Big Dick Hunter’s “Hey Man What’s Up Rodeo” ride. And of course, in this baseball summer of our discontent, they are talking about the Rangers losing their fifth in a row.

It is all totally inane, all without any redeeming social value. It’s radio anthrax and radio Dada. It’s my vice and I listen more than I should. I can’t stop. And I don’t want to.



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