You are missed on the radio by fans – are there plans for you to get back on air soon?
I am going to be starting a new show on the new 970 ESPN on January 3rd. I’ll be on the air from 10 to 11 am….and then when the Steelers season is over, and Tunch and Wolf are no longer on, I will expand my show to 10-12…and it will stay at that time from that point on.
What are your thoughts on the state of sports broadcasting today – has it become too reliant on gossip and shock as it competes with the internet? What are some of the up-and-coming Pittsburgh broadcasters you think highly of?
I’ll be honest and say I don’t listen to a lot of sports talk radio…hardly any at all. I’m in it, and I’ve been dealing with my Own shows for years now, so I prefer to listen to music when I’m in the car.
I don’t know about other markets, but I think in general, sports talk radio is pretty tame in Pittsburgh compared to otherm markets like New York and Philly, for example. And I think the reason for that is…the market here doesn’t appreciate a whole lot of it. Obviously, there are some guys who are doing it very successfully. Equally as obvious is the success Mark Madden has had and is having. But Mark is able to do it first of all with a solid foundation of sports knowledge. Plus he has great intelligence and wit, which is what it takes to pull that off.
As far as young up and comers, this is an older market, so I think the sports announcers tend to be a bit older. Clearly, I’m a Big Guy Junker fan. Bob Pompeani as well. Ken Laird is a terrific reporter, and Jim Colony is not only good…but unique. I Also have to give shoutouts to my FSN colleagues as well.
How as an announcer do you stay true to news and avoid opinions in discussions. And how/when do you decide to cross that line and offer opinions?
I think it depends on what hat I’m wearing. When I was a sporta anchor on Channel 4, I tried to do it straight, and save the commentary for when I was actually doing a commentary…and labeled it as such. Sports talk radio IS about opinion…if you don’t have one…generally a strong one…then you shouldn’t be on the air! SportsBeat was as popular as it was because people basically tuned in to hear the opinions of Stan and Guy.
What are some of your best (and worst) experiences reporting on Pittsburgh teams and players over the years?
Certainly the 3 Stanley Cups and the Super Bowls the Steelers won since I’ve been here. But the best story I ever covered here was Mario’s comeback in 2000. That was magical. The worst? Two of them. The death of the Chief, Art Rooney Sr. And the horrific accident to Gabe Rivera which ended his career…and subsequently sentenced him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. I have never gotten over that.
What are your thoughts on the litany of NFL fines and how the Steelers players, coaches and the front office have handled the situation?
I applaud the league for its objective, but not in the way they’ve handled it. They’ve got a lot of work to do in the offseason to explain exactly what they want from the players. James Harrison may or may not be a league target, but he has been too stubborn. You can indignantly claim you’re being victimized, but all your doing is costing your team 15 yards with each hit. At some time, you have to change what you’re doing. Even Mike Tomlin has said that.
How has this team changed under Tomlin over the past few seasons and what are your thoughts of him as a head coach. How has he differed from Cowher and even Noll?
Tomlin is an interesting mix of the previous two. He keeps his distance from the players like Noll, but they never doubt he’s got their back. He’s not as close to them as Cowher was, but he still is closer and engages them more than Chuck. I think Tomlin is a man of tremendous character and ethics. I admire him as a person first, before I admire his coaching abilities.
What would surprise us about this Steelers team and coaching staff? Any under-the-radar young players or strategies we should look out for?
Despite his problems of a year ago, and some this season, I think they’re still very high on William Gay, and wouldn’t be surprised to see him start at corner next year. Especially if Ike Taylor leaves via free agency.
We hear a number of fans express concern over Arians as a coach/play caller. What are your thoughts on this – is this just an issue of lofty fan expectation or are there real issues with Arians?
I have always had two big issues with Arians. I firmly believe in a strong running game…and to have that, especially with this offensive line, you need a fullback. Arians uses a tight end instead, and I’m sorry, a TE is never going to be as effective at the point of attack as a Dan Kreider type. Secondly, I don’t think Arians is as good at play sequencing….meaning calling a play in the 1st quarter just to set up something later in the game. Whisenhunt was a master at it.
What does the Pittsburgh Power, the area’s new team, have to do to be successful?
I don’t think they will be, no matter what they do. True, Pittsburgh is a great football town, but it’s also a very discerning football town. I think, after the curiosity wears off, they’ll see that this is a novelty rather than the kind of football that will satisfy the hard core fan.
What are some of the blogs/sites you rely on for sports news now?
ESPN, NHL.com, NFL.com….and the local team sites.
Do you see competition between the area’s teams for PR/audience share – and how does that occur if so?
I don’t think It’s direct competition, but I do think that the successes of one franchise puts additional pressure on others to succeed.
Anything you’d like to add/further thoughts for Pittsburgh Sports Daily Bulletin Readers your work and Pittsburgh sports in General?
Just a huge thank you to all those who have watched/listened/supported me over the years…through several moves up and down the dial. It means everything to me, and you guys are the reason I keep at it, trying to give you the best I’ve got every time I go on the air, no matter where it is. I hope you’ll tune in when I start the new show on 970 ESPN. I also want to thank all those who sent best wishes during my recovery from open heart surgery!