Finebaum slaps listeners and makes them like it

By Hunter Ford
If you are a regular listener of the Paul Finebaum show you will know what I’m talking about whether you want to admit it or not.

Finebaum is without peer as the most aggravating personality in the Alabama media. He pulls a double whammy on his audience by boxing their ears, thumping their noses and, strangely, luring them back time and again for more.

I went to see a speech Paul made in Huntsville recently. I was fortunate enough to sit next to John Pruett, the former sports editor of The Huntsville Times. Pruett recently retired after four decades of service to the Times. Pruett started in the mid 1960s and has seen the Alabama sports scene evolve from the glory days of Bear Bryant and Shug Jordan to the current whacky environment we now find ourselves in.

I asked him if he thought Finebaum had made a difference in the way sports are covered.

“There’s no question about it,” Pruett said. “Not only his show…when I first got to know him he was a reporter. He brought a style of journalism to this state…hard hitting investigative stories and very opinionated columns. I would say he changed the face of sports writing in Alabama more than any other person I know of. He’s so different.”

Finebaum writes and says things that get people genuinely upset.

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“There’s no doubt about that,” Pruett agreed. “You get somebody with his controversial style…he says what’s on his mind and doesn’t hold back. Just myself, I’ve been a friend of his for many years, but I don’t agree with everything he says or writes. That’s not the point. The point is that he holds the interest of his readers or his listeners.”

What would Bear Bryant do if confronted by Finebaum?

“That’s a good question,” Pruett said, laughing. “(Bryant) had a way of dealing with things. Back in the old days we would occasionally ask tough questions… ‘Why did you do so and so?’ Bryant always had the same answer. “I was trying to win the game.” How do you follow up on that? It was so different then. There were very few other coaches of that era that would have had to deal with much criticism. There was no Internet or talk radio.”

Pruett said the Internet has had an effect on newspapers and newspaper columnists. He pointed to the recent departure of Huntsville Times columnist Phillip Marshall who will now work for a website.

“We lost a really good writer in Phillip,” Pruett said. “He came from good stock, his father was Benny Marshall (longtime Birmingham News sports editor). The Internet has had an effect on newspapers and a lot of good writers are moving towards the Internet.”

Paul actually answered my question about how Bryant would have dealt with him, and I didn’t even have to ask. During his question and answer period with the audience, a fairly irate fan asked Finebaum “If talk radio didn’t exist would Mike Shula not have been fired?”

Finebaum responded in perfect form.

“No disrespect to those of you that might own convenience stores, but Mike Shula couldn’t manage a 7-11. He might could handle the Slurpee counter. You know, Bear Bryant had some problems in the late 1960s. Some people thought he’d lost it. But he came back and had a pretty decent decade in the 70s if I recall. Can you imagine Bear Bryant dealing with Paul Finebaum in 1969? I can. I would be at the bottom of the Warrior River.”


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  1. 1

    And people don’t life Finebaum for the reasons you stated. He’s not biased, hell the guy graduated from Tennessee. He enjoys flaming up the Alabama fans just as much as he does the Auburn fans. One day he’s dining with Nick Saban, the next day he’s firing off at him for questionable disciplinary procedures. Unlike most sport personalities, he’s not afraid to speak his mind and that’s why you can’t help but love the guy.

  2. 2
    Shane is a BLOGGER

    Hunter, Great column. FineScum is like what Richard Pryor said about a crack pipe. You put it down for good but you keep coming back.

  3. 3

    Personally, I don’t listen to Finebaum anymore. I’m an admirer of what he has accomplished, but his style can only be described as tabloid journalism, and at best he is insincere.

    Years ago I had the opportunity to sit in a couple of shows with him, and during commercial breaks he was very candid about what he was doing. I asked him “You’re just stirring the pot, getting people worked up so that they’ll listen, guaranteeing a listener base so that your ad reps can sell advertising (to turn a healthy profit), aren’t you? Paul grinned from behind the mic and said, “You’re further along than most.”

    Like I said, in the same way the casino owner makes a fortune by taking your money and making you like it, if that’s how Paul is able (and wants to) to make his millions (and he has), good for him. This is America.

    But I listen to Dunaway and Brown in the same time slot on AM 690. In my opinion it’s a much more entertaining show, they are Bama homers (and admit it), but are still objective enough to banter with anyone else who calls. But the biggest difference is, whereas EVERYTHING on Finebaum’s show is negative, theirs has a positive approach. If you’ve never heard it, I encourage you to do so. And Auburn fans, Jim is a Bama guy, but they are pro Auburn too. You just get the feeling that they aren’t out to create a story is all I’m saying.

  4. 4

    Finebaum is a poser. He’s really transparent in the way that he stirs the pot. He just knows how to manipulate his listeners and he does it methodically.

    I’ve often thought I’d have a sour demeanor too if I had to talk every day to that collection of head injury victims that make up his caller base. I might listen to his show for a few minutes every few weeks, and it’s the same old thing — with the same old idiot callers. They couldn’t pay me enough to do that job.

  5. 5

    In an earlier post, I praised Finebaum. But I have to say, as I did in that post, he is a shit mixer……Intheknow… I agree with Dunaway and Brown. They have a good show. But you know something? Some folks, and I won’t name anyone..Dawson.. sorry, I had something in my throat….maybe I need to eat some cornbread..ahem, some of you know what I meant by that, anyway….call in to anyone that will listen, with his bogus predictions. Not just 1 show, but EVERY SHOW, ALL DAY. Now I understand his passion, but I will never get his stalking like, alzheimers, pedophilific…yeah, I made that up…man crush on every KID that is on the Bama roster. His pick?….Bama to win the National Championship. Now I know this IS a Bama site, but come on, how many of you echo that?

  6. 6

    HEY! I like Paul Springer, and oh yea if anyone thinks hes a bamma you can forget that I lived in North Alabama and
    up there TENN vs BAMMA is bigger than the IRON BOWL ! DAMN ITS ONLY 7 DAYS TO KICKOFF>>> WOOD BABY WOOD!!!


  7. 7

    Finebaum actually knows nothing about football. He is the laziest reporter in the business. What he does have going for him is a fan base made up of about 70% Bama fans. I am talking about the real lunatics of that fan base.
    I know plenty of Bama fans, who are cool, but Finebaum’s group of followers is the delusional types who need EVERYTHING to be PRO-BAMA or WHATEVER is wrong with their rivals. They need it daily. They have no life without it. From the outside looking in, it’s pretty pathetic and embarrassing.

    Finebaum’s program would not make it anywhere else. Good for him that he knows the ELEMENT. I could use a Sharpie and write Got 12 on a dirty white t-shirt and sellout thousands. It is what it is and Finebaum loves to stir it up.

    Unfortunately there are a few Auburn contributors (and I do mean few) who do not do help Auburn’s cause. The ones that do “Tell it like it is” are quickly spoken over by Paul. Paul also takes his fair shots at his peers who are responsible for covering Auburn. At least these guys do their homework and speak to players or coaches instead of the common fan. Like I said earlier, Paul is a lazy commentator. His job is to schmooze his Bama monopolized fan base. His paycheck does not say, “For your outstanding effort in sports Journalism!” It probably says, “For your outstanding effort in keeping the Bammers happy!”

    The good news is most Auburn fans can sit back and laugh out loud while listening to the Bammers repeat the same meaningless things over and over again. It’s nice to be on Top and the BammerNecks can’t stand it. War Damn Eagle!

  8. 8
    Bama Fan in NYC

    You barnies have got to be kidding me! I’ve heard Mr. Finebaum sugarcoat The Alabama PolyTECHnic Institute just as much as I’ve heard him sugarcoat Alabama.

    I bet the true reason you guys hate him so passionately is because he’s married to an Alabama alumni. I wouldn’t put anything past you overly AUbsessed anti-Alabamians (notice how referred to you as that instead of The Alabama PolyTECHnic Institute fans).

  9. 11
    Shane is a BLOGGER

    Think about this. Have you ever seen FineScum, his wife and Shame together at the same time? Shame=Wife?

  10. 12
    shane blows paul daily

    whats knew finebaums been bitch slapping shane since the begining of time.but dont tell him because he dont know.

  11. 13
    JC in Tusc

    The show is a joke, I check in to see if there is a decent interview, otherwise I’d rather listen to my tires hum along the road that hear the 4th grade nyah nyahing from both sides.
    On a business note, I wish I could answer a telephone for 4 hrs and get paid…

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