Media Review: Roundtable on WJOX

I decided to take at least one hour of my life and devote it to listening to the major sport radio programs around the state (or at least the ones available online or over-the-air in the Birmingham-Tuscaloosa-Anniston I-20 corridor.)

I had planned on listening to the Opening Drive this morning, but a few commitments kept me from being able to listen. So, I’ll try to grab an hour to listen to that Friday morning or early next week. On to Plan B.

The Roundtable show airs Monady-Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. It features on-air personalities Lance Taylor and Ian Fitzsimmons. I said personalities instead of sports journalists because even the hosts claim to be entertainers rather than journalists.

And that is precisely the problem with the show.

Listening to sports “experts” in a newsroom, or on talk radio is different today than a few years ago—gone are real journalists and in their place are blowhards. Everyone wants to make the sardonic ESPN SportsCenter type comments.

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Does anyone remember when SportsCenter was about sports instead of the wisecracking hosts? I think that was back when MTV actually showed music videos. And when Australian Rules Football, or America’s Cup yacht races were shown on the total sports network.

But sometime during the 1990’s ESPN lost its way. Entertainment trumped sports. It was about the same time NBC ruined the Olympics—turning it from a celebration of athletics into a daytime soap opera with personal profiles of athletes.

Talk radio/sports radio has followed the same path. Hiring blowhards instead of journalists.

Who knew these guys would make me yearn to hear Herb Winches and Ben Cook again?

While Winches had his Miami Dolphin story, he was still someone who took his job seriously. He was interested in keeping the hyperbole to a minimum, and talk about sports.

The sad thing about the show is that both Fitzsimmons and Taylor know sports. They just hide it behind obnoxious turgidity.

Mostly the obnoxious behavior comes from Fitzsimmons. He tries to push fans into a reaction by saying outrageous things. Taylor was much better prior to Fitzsimmons.

One of the highlights of the program was an interview with a real journalist. (I’m using that term very loosely here…). Birmingham News columnist Kevin Scarbinsky appeared on the show during the 11 a.m. hour. Topics included the basketball situation at Alabama, Indiana’s NCAA situation, and the Clemens testimony before Congress.

Scarbinsky was far more interesting on the radio than in most of his columns.

Late in the 11 o’clock hour, the show spent time talking about entertainment instead of sports. Same for the noon hour.

A credit to Fitzsimmons and Taylor is the show is much better when those two are talking than when listening to callers. I’ve often said the worst things about the Paul Finebaum show are the callers.

One laughable moment was when Fitzsimmons called NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell smug. Fitzsimmons then said Goddell destroyed the Patriot Spygate tapes because the NFL had something to hide. It begs the question, who is he hiding it from? Loud mouths on talk radio?

Ultimately, shows like the Roundtable raise questions about why people listen to sports and news talk radio. Why do people listen? Usually it is for information, not entertainment. Presentation matters, but the Rountable’s presentation often ruins the experience. It is worth listening to, because both hosts are talented; however, it could be much better if the hosts focused on reasonable talk instead of bravado. They should stop trying to push buttons, and focus on the storylines of sports in Alabama.


Add Yours
  1. 1

    The direction taken by sports shows may be a form of evolution from what movie critics did to develope a following. The more insulting their critique, the funnier people thought it was and people read the reviews who didn’t really care about going to the movie. The gay community started invading this facet of the newspaper business because they were very good at doing ‘catty remarks’. Hey, could that be the next step in sports journalism……Hmmmmmmmm….????

  2. 2
    Stuart Henderson

    I think just the opposite. Lance Taylor sucks as a radio host. He started as a fill-in. His real gig is ad sales. As a talk show host he’s a pretty good radio ad saleman

  3. 3

    Careful CR, Ian and Lance (mostly Ian) don’t like internet criticism. They’ll try to take subtle jabs on air.

    Not that I don’t think you can handle that, but I just don’t care to hear them get even more annoying. Good post btw.

  4. 4

    You mean they can read? WTF?!?! 😉

    I’m just kidding. just kidding…

    I think Lance Taylor is the most interesting part of the show. He’ll often share some insightful opinions.

    As for the ad sales, if he can do that, he can kick ass on air.

  5. 5

    As someone working in the sports media, my opinion is that the worst thing that ever happened to Sportscenter — a show that used to govern my daily schedule — was Dan Patrick and Keith Olberrmann, not because they weren’t good … because they were TOO good, TOO successful, which meant that a) network execs and producers wanted their sports anchors to be like them and b) every aspiring sports anchor (EVERY aspiring sports anchor) tried to model his behavior after them.
    But they’re not, and it’s really miserable for the rest of us to watch them fail trying.
    Just one man’s opinion.


  6. 7

    Great observations on the Round Table. Ian Fitzsimmons is an absolute joke. The only thing he likes hearing more than his own voice is…well…nothing. It’s a lazy program with the same “expert” guests on each week, most of which they suck up to in hopes of perhaps being “remembered” for that next gig. Lance is somewhat tolerable, but Ian reminds me of that slacker at the office who comes in late, leaves early, but tries to look busy when the boss is around. In my opinion, the station would do better to flip-flop the Round Table with Jim Rome, AM to FM.

    I hope you continue doing this look at Birmingham Radio. I have some opinions on The Opening Drive, but am interested in your take. I’ll offer this nugget though; Al Del Greco couldn’t be objective if his life depended on it. He is a typical Auburn spinmiester, not letting the truth get in the way of a good opportunity to promote Auburn. Because of this, he lacks even the slightest shred of credibility. Jay is definitely pro Bama, but his can look at things with objectivity. Anyway, keep it up.

    And listen, I don’t know who you are, but when I read your stuff on here, it’s like I’m writing it myself. I stop by the site almost every time I log on because you are first and foremost truthful, there’s no spin and you seem well-grounded in your thoughts and opinions. They have merit, and aren’t just spin. Keep up the good work, man (or woman…again, have no idea who you are!)

  7. 8

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I’m working on an Opening Drive review now. I listened for a few hours on Friday. I’ve listened and formed a few opinions…I’m thinking I might make a few people irritated by my thoughts. I should get them posted sometime this weekend.

  8. 9

    I was considering writing a blog about the Roundtable recently, when I had to suffer through an hour of these blowhards trying to talk over each other while discussing Lindsay Lohan’s breasts or something like that.

    Ian is a poor man’s Jim Rome – nothing more. When he was on JOX several years ago, he basically stole Rome’s act and passed it off as his own, until JOX picked up the Jim Rome Show and Ian was exposed for being just a bad impersonator of Rome. And hey, I don’t even LIKE Jim Rome. Ian constantly insulted his listeners and made fun of Alabama sports fans as being hillbuilly rednecks who only care about college football and NASCAR. And when he left Birmingham to go to Columbus, OH, he often mocked the state to his new listening audience because he “knew” he would never have to come back. After stops at Columbus, Dallas, and wherever else, he landed back here – probably because he had nowhere else to go (hell, everyone had already heard Jim Rome before) and has brought his same narcissistic, pretentious, condescending voice back to Birmingham.

    Fact is, if your JOB is to talk about sports – something most American males do anyway WITHOUT getting paid – you should know your stuff. There is no margin for error. And these guys fail miserably to offer me anything that I could not get from sitting at Happy Hour at my local sports bar.

    Here endeth my soapbox…

  9. 10

    I know those guy’s suck, especially Lance (metro sexual) Taylor. However, you can’t ever say douche bag Winches was ever even listenable. He was without a doubt the biggest douche bag to ever walk thru this red neck state. Best thing he ever did was snort the line and call the pros that got his ass run from TV in the 80’s. Bottom line, Ben Cook was Howard Cossell compared to Winches. Thank God I never have to listen to his Lovoy’s meatball pimping ass ever agian. He was the worst I have ever heard, and I have heard Dunnaway and Brown.

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