Brad Marshmont and great sports talk radio.
Don’t want to jinx anything but.. the Bruins are looking really strong after last night’s shutout. The local radio had some stats about how the team who wins a 3OT game almost always wins the next game and are 5-2 winning the series. That hasn’t happened with the Blackhawks. What has happened is the “Ken Dryden effect.” Throw enough shots on goal that are saved and it gets in your head and you start trying to be too fine picking corners. I think Rask has gotten to the Blackhawks; I know he got to the Pens.
Anyhoozles… if you’re watching any hockey playoffs and you’re not a hockey guy.. you’re noticing pesky Brad Marchand. His line (centered by Patrice Bergeron with Jaromir Jagr on the other wing) is the #2 Bruins line but my favorite. (I’m a big Bergeron fan.) Marchand is getting his points but mainly, Marchand is doing his usual bugging-you-by-out-working-you deal. If you’re just noticing Marchand, you’re a tad late to the party. At least one noteworthy casual hockey fan knows Marchand:
“Brad Marchand went into the season playing on the fourth line, but the Little Ball of Hate shrugged off the rookie jitters and—” Barack Obama wheels to locate him, “What’s up with that nickname, man?—scored five goals in the last five games of the final series … to lead the Bruins to the championships.”
But speaking of Marchand’s rookie year, let’s do go back to 2011. It created one of the great sports radio moments in my memory and set the bar for ‘good sports radio talk’ that hasn’t been matched.
Quick Boston radio history.
Felger and Mazz do the drive time show for 98.5 The Sports Hub (get it? Hub? Boston is the “Hub of the Universe?”). Mike Felger covered the Pats for the Boston Herald; Massarotti was the Sox beat guy for the Herald first then the Globe.
The Sports Hub itself only started in summer 2009. Prior to that, WEEI had Boston sports talk to themselves and had become a caricature of arrogant blow-hard radio hosts. You know the type. A caller who might offer a criticism of the station would get a ‘look at our ratings’ response. And if that caller’s critique/suggestion included wanting to talk about the Bruins, derision ensued. WEEI had become a mean place that succeeded through monopoly. Eddie Andelman built your station? Yeah definitely kick him to the curb and make fun of him. Dale Arnold’s your only ‘nice guy’ and only hockey guy? Fire him after 20 years because you can pick up a retired utility ballplayer with a Framingham accent to talk more Red Sox.
The hubris was especially remarkable since you don’t have too drive far to hear WFAN and through it, understand that sports fans tend to be a smarter group than a typical host/program manager thinks and tend to have interests beyond the local teams; beyond the quarterback on the local team.
When 98.5 launched, Felger and Mazz immediately overtook WEEI’s drive time show. (Dennis and Callahan in the morning was the one smart + entertaining show on WEEI and it may still be #1.. not sure.)
This brings us to the Bruins’ 2010-11 season and their eventual Stanley Cup win. Early that season, the Bruins brought up the little, scrappy forward from Halifax, Brad Marchand. He was one of those energy guys you put on the fourth line to fore-check the hell out of the other team’s top line. The Linseman/Burridge if you’re a Bruins fan; Pat Verbeek from the Whalers/Devils. Recent examples might be Alexandre Burrows on the Canucks or P.K. Subban on the Canadiens.
“When a talk show host talks down to you, don’t take it.”
The main point we’re plodding toward is how Marchand’s special talents led to an all-time great radio moment. What you’re going to hear is a radio talk show host, without irony, eating his words. You’ll also hear the birth of Brad Marchand’s unofficial nickname, Marshmont.
Teeing it up, the clip is from February 2011. In it, the producers have found audio of Felger ragging on “The Marchand People” five months earlier. Flash forward to February and Marchand’s got 15 goals. Here’s Felger. (Just play the first five minutes.)
“Marshmont” guy lives to this day. Whenever I see Marchand, I think of this clip. Classic. But the larger point:
“When a talk show host talks down to you, don’t take it. Because often times you are right and we are wrong.”
Exactly right Mike Felger.
I might have missed it, but I’ve never heard a Cleveland radio guy say something this true.* In fact, pretty much the opposite. From the listening I’ve done, the WEEI model seems firmly in place in NEO: talk about local pro teams only; go for the easiest story; assume you-the-host know more than the listener.
Hey it works for me: it leaves all number of untouched discussion topics available for review here. Fresh sports takes are what we want. I’m happy to talk Alec Ogletree and Ryan Miller and Moodys ratings. What does Chip Kelly’s up-tempo mean for Browns’ sub-package defense? I’ll plow that field.
The good news is that sports talk abhors a vacuum. If you haven’t caught Sportstalk A -> Z with Andre Knott and Zac Jackson, give it a chance. I don’t think you can accuse either host of big-timing their viewers/readers. (Hell, Zac sacked up and participated in Cheddar Bay the last couple years. His MAC picks were money except for his blind spot with Akron.) I like what they’re building. I expect with the pending Fox Sports 1 launch we’ll be seeing more of them and that’s goodness.
* Leaving Drennan out of this. I can’t get ABAO out here; I’ve always liked Drennan.