by Kent Sterling
Building The Fan was endless fun and presented a series of challenges that were as puzzling as they were predictable. Anytime a radio station automates even a single daypart – for those who are radio neophytes, automation means a computer is in charge of the audio – there is a huge risk of double-audio, dead air (silence when there is supposed to be noise), and occasionally a show from another station popping on.
Not being averse to placing hurdles between myself and success if the success can be bigger because of the hurdles, I hired two complete broadcasting novices to be the signature talents for the brand. When looking for talent, I wanted three things – unquestionable work ethic, a unique and honest perspective, and an ability to listen. Kravitz and Eddie both fit that bill perfectly. You can disagree with Bob Kravitz, but if you ever doubt that he believes everything he says or writes, you are wrong. I worked with Bob for over two years, and I never saw him care more about the response of friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else to make the effort to lie or try to manipulate.
Eddie is a different cat. No one out works Eddie. He prepares like a fiend, and can’t wait to get into the studio for the show. He repeats what I’ve always said the show should represent, “the best three hours of his day” with a mocking tone, but I truly believe he loves doing it. He will do anything he’s asked, once the need for that thing is explained. He is eager, well-informed, and as you know if you have ever listened to the show, knows everyone.
People listening to the show always accuse Eddie of being pompous. He isn’t. He is so far on the other side of pompous that he can’t see it from the part of his brain where he lives. Eddie is focused, and if you don’t engage his focus, you are not interesting to him. That is true of many very successful people. Show me a person who will listen attentively as others blather on and on about nothing, and I’ll show you an ambitionless and unchallenged soul. That’s not Eddie.
Putting these two guys together was a huge risk, but I trusted that they would find each other interesting and they fit what I wanted the station to be – smart and challenging. They work hard and they trust each other. They still don’t know a damn thing about radio, but with Michael Grady’s help the radio part of the equation is being handled.
Did I mention Michael. He is one of those guys who I believed instantly would be an enormous success. Successful people are talented, but more importantly do what it takes to be successful. There is no challenge that Michael ever rejected or duty too ponderous for his time. Show me a person who achieves and I’ll show you someone who says yes reflexively. Michael says yes, and then delivers better than what was asked.
There are things about doing talk radio that are transparent to the listener, but are hugely important. It’s one thing to be able to talk about sports for three hours. It’s another to build a daily three-hour show. Shows have structure – repeatable parts that air at the same time everyday. Without them, three hours is a really long time – both for the talent and listeners. Kravitz and Eddie were uniformly trusting and participatory in the process as we put together the “Five O’Clock Fight” with the help of Steve Reynolds, consultant to some of the best radio shows in the world.
They continue working without me, and I don’t miss them because the show sounds just fine six weeks after my demise. The only reason I would miss the work would be if somehow the show got screwed up and I felt I could help. It’s not. Kravitz & Eddie is what it has been, a really, really good radio show that happens to be about sports.
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