Dan Patrick and Mike Valenti: Unsung Heroes of Radio

Dan Patrick and Mike Valenti: Unsung Heroes of Radio

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!

Authenticity Resonates

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.

Thought Leadership

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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Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.


I Am. You Are. We Are…All Connected

Yesterday was tragic, and we can make it worse if we’re not smart.

The Boston Marathon is special, in that it’s a local event into which the community invites the entire world to take part. Those whom attend usually do so for very personal reasons; the lifetime runner who competes for a place in history, the man who finally conquered his struggle with weight loss, the person who started running as a distraction from an abusive relationship, the woman running to raise funds for her relative’s medical expenses, the father pushing his disabled child in their wheelchair so they can share in the spirit of the event…they’re all there.

English: Richard Whitehead (to the left) at th...
English: Richard Whitehead (to the left) at the Boston marathon 2009. Heartbreak hill, boston marathon 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Boston Marathon, mile 25, Beacon St., 2005
Boston Marathon, mile 25, Beacon St., 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These persons likely woke up yesterday with a positive outlook on the day that would unfold. They went through their particular morning preparations as they have done many times before. Maybe they reflected on the journey that led them to this day, going over all the difficult things that have taken place in their life and how they successfully overcame them. For some, just a few years ago the thought of running the Boston Marathon was just a dream, and now they’ll be able to realize that dream.

Culturally, the Boston Marathon is incredibly important. It fosters and enhances our sense of global community, encourages a healthy lifestyle and is one of the few sporting events we have in the world which is all about one thing…cheering. There are no boos at the Boston Marathon. People come together to cheer on strangers in the street, and show them that while they are running alone, we’re all in this together.

And then suddenly, two bombs go off. Three people die; hundreds injured; lives altered forever in less than two seconds.

Now what??

After seeing and hearing so much speculation and rhetoric, it’s obvious that the country is very confused. We are just as confused now as we were last December with Newtown, last July with Denver, with 9/11, OKC, Waco…the list goes on and on. Most of us can agree that we want the person or persons who orchestrated these events to be apprehended and brought to justice. However, the way many of us are communicating those feelings is very upsetting.

Yes, we are angry; we are VERY angry. But so was the person who caused this tragedy; and long before the bombs were planted, before the decision to get the materials to make them, before they started down a path of destruction — something happened. We don’t understand how another human being gets to the point where they decide that ending human lives is appropriate or justified, and when we take to social media to post our feelings on that subject, we expose our ignorance for everyone to see.

Let me say that again: we expose our ignorance for EVERYONE to see.

In your personal life, “everyone” includes your parents, siblings, grandma and grandpa, aunts, uncles and cousins, your boss and everyone at work, your friends from high school, your boyfriend or girlfriend, wife or husband, your fans, your clients and prospective clients, and so on.

In your digital life, “everyone” means every corporation’s page you’ve “liked”; they gather everyone’s posts and look for commonalities so they can focus their advertising campaigns around your lifestyle. It means the government and the politicians and the lobbyists who mine data to create successful political campaigns based on the current culture and sentiment across the country. “Everyone” also means anyone else in the world…including those who want to hurt and harm us.

When we display and defend our ignorance as a virtue of patriotism to our country, we send a message to the corporations, our government and the rest of the world that America is an ignorant country. Would you help a country mired in ignorance, or just take advantage of it as best you can while it is still possible??

Bottom line, the perpetrators need to be found and they need to lose freedoms — their freedom ends where ours begins. Let’s just try to love everybody in the process, and not let hate blind us to the truth…

I am. You are. We are…all connected.

Thanks for reading. Much love.


Dreams & Nightmares: Ignore At Your Peril

Someone’s dream is going to come true tonight — and so is someone’s nightmare.

There’s a Gatorade® commercial on TV featuring Kevin Durant, a small forward on the Oklahoma City Thunder and one of the top players in the NBA.  The commercial opens showing the last moments of a game in which Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade blocks a dunk from Durant, and Durant immediately rises from his bed as if waking up from a nightmare.  It then goes on to show Durant running at dawn, exercising and jumping rope in the gym, riding a stationary bike and doing clapping push-ups, lifting a 45-pound weight up and down and up and down, and then dunking emphatically in the Thunder’s arena; he does all of this alone and unsupervised.

The next scene recalls the game from his dreams.  The announcer says “…two minutes left in the fourth, Miami leads by two…”, and Durant is bringing the ball up the court, just like before.  He drives to the hoop and goes for the slam, all the same.  This time, Wade can’t block the dunk.  The commercial then ends with Wade immediately rising from his bed…as if waking from a nightmare.

Durant saw his blocked-dunk nightmare as a warning of what could happen in life, and altered his behaviors to make sure that when the situation arose in a game, he’d be completely ready.

Have you heard the phrase “we become what we think about”?  Kevin Durant likely thought about becoming a professional basketball player since he was a child.  According to bestselling author Robert Greene in his recent book Mastery, you possess a kind of inner force that seeks to guide you toward your “Life’s Task” — what you are meant to accomplish in the time you have to live.  Once discovered and born to fruition, the instructions for fulfilling your Life’s Task are planted in your dreams.  Those of the Christian faith may now be reminded of Job 33:15-16 — “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumbering upon the bed, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.”

This may sound weird, but I pretty much have the same dream every night.  The setting itself changes, but the pattern is always the same.  The dream ultimately ends with me having to do a show on drums, and for some reason I’m unable to do so.  I’m there, ready to go, but  maybe one of my drums is missing, or I’m using a shared drum kit and it doesn’t do what I need it to, or my stands keep falling down, or I’m late for the gig, etc.  Bottom line, something goes wrong and I can’t fix it.  I sometimes wake up like Durant or Wade, terrified that I was the reason that the show couldn’t go on.  In an effort to make sure that never happens, I take very seriously my preparation and rehearsal for everything I do professionally.  When show day arrives and the audience is waiting, I know I’m ready even though I’m nervous.

The NCAA National Championship game takes place tonight between Louisiana and Michigan, and for some of the players on the winning team (GO BLUE!!), winning this game will stand as the pinnacle of their achievements as a human being.  These athletes likely began pursuing their basketball careers at a very early age: getting up earlier than their classmates to run or attend morning practice; saying “no” to distractions from basketball; staying later at evening practices to work on personal performance; watching their diet and exercising regularly; years of game experience and lessons on and off the court; the list goes on.  They’ve dedicated 3/4 of their life to doing one thing incredibly well, and they are going to put it on display for the world.

Each winning team member is going to take the court tonight and be able to experience the night they’ve been dreaming of for as long as they can remember.  They are going to realize that all of their hard work did pay off, just like their parents and coaches said it would.  They will etch their names into history as the best in their sport for the year of 2013.  Tonight, one team is going to have the game of their dreams (and the other is going to live out their worst nightmare *coughCardscough.)  But the only way that will become a reality is if they respected their dreams enough to pay attention to the lessons therein, and altered their behaviors accordingly.

So, what do you dream about..?

Thanks for reading.


What Dreams May Come
What Dreams May Come (Photo credit: eric_malette)