Media Review: The Opening Drive on WJOX

Tony Kurre, Jay Barker and Al Del Greco host the Opening Drive on WJOX. The show airs 6 a.m.-10 a.m., and features sports talk with some entertainment talk. Kurre provides a balance between the two famous football players.

The Friday show included talk of the upcoming Daytona Race with a racing legend, basketball talk, and the Daily Dish, a segment on celebrity gossip and lest we forget, callers.

The callers on local talk radio are horrible. In many instances during the Friday episode of the Opening Drive, the callers varied between inaudible and incoherent.

If you are going to call into talk radio, PLEASE have a modern telephone with a reasonable microphone. If we can’t hear or understand what you are saying, it doesn’t matter how excellent your point might be.

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For the most part the guests were informative on the Opening Drive, including Barry Booker of Fox Sports Net. Booker was insightful for a number of reasons, including one statement that said more about the Alabama basketball program and the coaching staff than he intended for it to say.

During one comment on the state of the conference heading into post-season, Booker said many teams have considered the Tide an easy conference win. Booker went on to say the Tide was playing better, and it wasn’t necessarily the case that Alabama was an easy win.

However, Booker is right about something here. Other teams in the conference look at the Alabama basketball program as a cupcake.

Gone are the days when C.M. Newton and Wimp Sanderson put regular top quality teams on the floor. Today with a large investment in basketball, Alabama is getting less than ever before.

When evaluating the Alabama program, Booker’s comments forced me into an even starker realization about Mark Gottfried and Alabama basketball.

When sports radio provides moments of insight like this, it is worth listening in.

The Opening Drive also spent time talking about the Memphis-UAB game. I yawned.

I remember the time when I would watch Alabama and UAB basketball games. In high school, I’d watch the Sun Belt conference tournament on Channel 42, and the next week watch the SEC tournament. Both teams would consistently be relevant. And to my delight, Alabama would win more times than it lost in the SEC tournament. Those were great days to be a basketball fan. Not so much great days for football, but they weren’t as bad as the wilderness years of the late 90’s, and early 2000’s when both sports sucked.

Whatever the case, the conversation on the radio evoked some deeper thought and sadness about the status of basketball in this state. It is sad what has become of hoops here. I love basketball. But I haven’t been able to watch and enjoy Alabama basketball since last season.

As for the hosts, I found them a mixed bag. They all have plusses and minuses.

Tony Kurre is borderline profane. He almost always finds a way to interject something about being naked into a show. His sex comments find themselves forced into many conversations the way someone with Tourette’s shouts obscenities.

Fortunately, Kurre is funny. He brings some personality to the show, because the other two hosts are as interesting as a piece of dry toast.

Al Del Greco is an Auburn spinmeister. His purpose on the show is to spin the day’s news (good or bad) for the Auburn faithful. I can see him now, waiting by his fax machine to get the daily talking points. I think Tommy Tuberville was Del Greco’s source on Saban’s interest in LSU. I don’t remember Del Greco making any news on Tuberville’s flirtation with every college job opening.

Nonetheless, Del Greco adds some perspective. His points are often useful. And understanding how a rational Auburn person is spinning a situation can be useful. Listening between the lines always yields clues about the status of the Auburn family. Unlike idiot talk radio callers like I-Man or Bobby on the Finebaum show, Del Greco’s spin speaks volumes.

I like Jay Barker. I really do.

But Jay tries so hard not to offend anyone, he winds up babbling. Does anyone talk more, but say less than Barker?

He is so politically correct in trying to not offend listeners that any point he tries to make gets obscured. The only times that doesn’t seem to the be case is when he provides anecdotes of his own football experiences.

Last week when talking about issues facing J.P. Wilson under a new offensive coordinator, Barker provided some interesting comments about going from Mal Moore to Homer Smith’s offense while at Alabama. That was fascinating. Topics like that provide context for issues facing all football teams in transition.

The Opening Drive has potential. Kurre, Barker and Del Greco each contribute something to the show. As the Opening Drive celebrates its second anniversary, their is room for improvement. I am hopeful the show continues to improve.