I don’t really listen to music when I’m driving in my car — I like to learn while I drive, and I prefer podcasts related to my industry and life.
But if I’m not listening to a podcast, it’s sports-talk radio.
Recently, I wrote a piece on the demise of the American-based operations of 89X, the alternative radio station in Detroit. And if you’ve known me for a while, you know my dad worked in radio for 25 years, and my musical aspirations were inspired at an early age by being with him at concerts and at his radio station.
Needless to say, radio and music, and the production of each, has been a part of my life for decades.
And at a time when streaming is taking over, and terrestrial radio is dying, I’ve found two reasons for fans of great radio to tune in daily: Dan Patrick and Mike Valenti.
Patrick and Valenti are two guys in the sports-talk radio world who I believe are doing radio the right way, two gentlemen who, in my opinion, are unsung heroes in the radio industry today.
Content is King
Think about it: How often these days are you watching TV or listening to the radio, and there is a filler topic, or something which is obviously intended to provoke a reaction (or simply be controversial) instead of educate?
Most sports-talk radio hosts are infamous for filling time with silly, catch-all topics — “Hey, gang! What’s your favorite soup in the wintertime?? We’ve got open lines, people!!”
Instead, Patrick and Valenti look for ways to move a current story forward.
If there are multiple ways a story can unfold, they want the result that gives them the most beneficial content for their audience. They are rooting for radio. If a story is dead, they find the next best story which will resonate with the majority of their audience.
Rather than grab for the low-hanging fruit, Patrick and Valenti choose to elevate the conversation.
That’s not to say they don’t joke around like kids on a school bus from time to time. But they pick their spots. They know that simply being goofy for goofy’s sake isn’t what great radio is about.
Great radio is about CONTENT!
Both The Dan Patrick Show and The Mike Valenti Show are well-produced, and the show’s producers are part of the on-air (and on-screen) activity. The whole crew knows that content is the name of the game, and they work within their unique abilities to deliver the goods again and again.
And everyone’s personality is encouraged, rather than tamped down and made to fit into a corporate mold. Over time, you get to know their individual personalities. (Even Katy Perry has her favorites on The Dan Patrick Show.)
Dan and Mike are the bosses, and they set the tone. They’ve earned their clout by being their authentic selves, standing by their team, and being inclusive of all of their listeners, save trolls.
Most importantly, they tell the truth to their audience, no matter how painful.
Valenti is the first one to tell a Detroiter that any of their teams stinks. For example, even though he went to Michigan State, he’s not a “Sparty Slappy” — when MSU is garbage (which they’re going to be for a while), he lets you know, with no regret in his heart.
As a result of being forthcoming with the truth and delivering great content on a consistent basis, Valenti’s show has been the highest-rated sports-talk show in Metro Detroit for years, amassing among the best local ratings of any show in the country.
In this Age of Spin, so many talking heads maintain a contrarian position in order to sustain attention (I’m looking at you, Skip Bayless).
Patrick and Valenti keep our ears (and eyes) glued by way of their authenticity, their encyclopedic sports minds, their ability to ask the right questions to get to the right answers, their standards of radio excellence, their nods to relevant pop culture, and their depth of knowledge of the human condition.
In my view, sports are the ultimate reality TV. It doesn’t get more real than sports.
Anyone can analyze what’s going to possibly happen to Rick Grimes in the next episode of The Walking Dead all they want, but they must acknowledge that they’re analyzing a fiction which has already been written — the next episode is already produced!
Sports are, for the most part, unpredictable, and athletes are real people, making real money, in a real industry, affected by the real culture we live in. They’re not following a script (unless you count the WWE).
The Dan Patrick Show and The Mike Valenti Show are my Talking Dead.
The greatest athletes in sports are human beings who: made personal sacrifices to pursue their dreams; set goals to achieve measurable growth to take their careers to the next level; remain accountable to themselves, their coaches, and their teammates; built a reputation for excellence at their craft; spent countless hours of time learning, training, and practicing to be one of the best; operate with a high level of intensity; respect the game they play, and the players involved, including their opponents.
The same can be said of Dan Patrick and Mike Valenti and their respective crews. They are thought leaders in their industry. They’re at the top of their game right now, and they deserve your attention.
Because they may not be around much longer.
An article in last week’s Detroit News says Mike Valenti is being courted in New York City to take over for Mike Francesa at WFAN. This makes sense, considering Valenti’s on-air partner of nearly two decades left the show in April for medical reasons; the only team with immediate impact potential in town — the Detroit Lions — severed broadcasting ties with the station due to Valenti’s criticism; and Valenti isn’t renewing his MSU football season tickets due to their level of suck.
As for Dan Patrick, he has had several surgeries in recent years, and often jokes about retirement.
My point is, these guys aren’t going to be operating in the same capacity at some point, and I don’t know if anyone is going to be able to fill their shoes.
They are unique personalities. And they are true radio men, with values concerning much more than just their show’s ratings.
If you’re not into sports, that’s cool. My girlfriend isn’t into sports at all, and even she watches The Dan Patrick Show with me. Mind you, I don’t force her! She just likes the show and is entertained by it, and I’m grateful she prefers it to the network morning shows with their fake glee.
But the bottom line is, whether you like sports or not: If you want to be entertained but not pandered to, all while enjoying two radio titans riding the crest of the wave of their industry, tune in!
The Dan Patrick Show (9am-12pm EST)
The Mike Valenti Show (2pm-6pm EST)
#DanPatrick #DPShow #MikeValenti #radio
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