Your're next: How many callers are to many on talk radio

The Baltimore Sun

Posting this week's sports media notes while wondering whether I should be concerned how the cactuses in the background of the Accenture Match Play golf telecasts make me think of Quick Draw McGraw:

* I was having a discussion this week with a colleague about radio sports talk shows, and he was of the opinion the best shows were the ones that had the most guests and took the fewest calls. In fact, he said it was optimal for a show to take no calls from listeners at all.

I wouldn't go that far, but I would agree some shows lean too heavily on callers. The problem then is you end up with monotony - same topics, callers echoing the opinions of other callers or the host.

At this point, who really has a fresh take on the Ray Lewis situation?

I couldn't tell you the exact ratio of guests to callers a program should have, but, in the long run, the shows that hold your interest feature more interviewing and less "longtime listener, first-time caller."

* Speaking of radio interviews (please note the seamless manner in which the column flows), Jerry Coleman's talk with ex-Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister on Fox Sports 1370 contrasted in tone with that of Anita Marks' on 105.7 The Fan last week.

Coleman didn't exactly badger McAlister, but he did press him on the matter of his relationship with coach John Harbaugh. In the end, McAlister wasn't that much more revealing to Coleman than he was to Marks, but a listener could hear hints of how McAlister might not have quite cozied up to Harbaugh.

Part of the difference can be accounted for by the week that went by. Marks - to her credit - got McAlister not long after he had heard the Ravens were cutting him loose. McAlister had more time to absorb the news by the time Coleman spoke with him.

* The Maryland-Duke game on ESPN was easily the highest-rated sports show in Baltimore on Wednesday night, drawing an average audience of 74,000 households. That translates to 6.7 percent of the audience, a pretty decent number considering the competition. Airing at the same time were American Idol on Channel 45, which averaged 162,000 homes between 8 and 10, and Criminal Minds on Channel 13 with 147,000 homes between 9 and 10.

* The Golf Channel's Wednesday coverage of Tiger Woods' return in the Match Play event averaged 12,000 Baltimore households between 2 and 6 p.m. That's a lot of eyes on a weekday afternoon.

* You feeling any buzz for the World Baseball Classic? Even ESPN's Peter Gammons, who works for one of the networks carrying games, acknowledges it "was a great novelty the first time ... [but] it's lost steam."

Part of the problem is timing, during spring training.

"I don't know what the right time is," Gammons said during a conference call Wednesday.

As for another topic that was hot around baseball before steroids overrode everything, neither Gammons nor fellow commentators John Kruk and Steve Phillips say we'll see a salary cap in the majors. Nor do we need one.

"The Yankees might have spent a lot of money and they might have overpaid ... but they make other people rise up to meet them," Kruk said.

Gammons said: "Baseball in the last 30 years has had [19] teams win the World Series. ... The lack of a salary cap has been really good for baseball."

Phillips said the players union would never let it happen, and "you don't need one for teams to be competitive."

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