*Above picture is property of Michael Grey, via Facebook.
This is the 40-Something Files!
A weekly take on the state of Seattle Sports through the lens of a guy whose four decades of fandom has earned too many scars, and seen too few celebrations.
Now that baseball season has started, it literally took less than three days for these new and improved Seattle Mariners to look all too familiar. After a stellar opening day, fans were left scratching their heads about the next two night’s oddball lineups, an underwhelming ‘Kuma outing, and excessive stranded base-runners.
Our reward for absorbing the lack of instant gratification that an off-season of “upgrades” promised to deliver? A day off.
A DAY OFF ALREADY! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
Look, schedule makers, we just settled back into the nightly groove of tuning into Root Sports for an evening’s dose of new and/or dashed hopes. An off day is the last thing we Seattle fans need!
A well-deserved day off three or four series’ into the season would be much easier to tolerate. At least by then we’d have some sense of how accurate the national hype dogging the 2015 M’s has been. However, one pretty game and two pretty ugly games in, it does die-hard Mariners fans little good to have an extra 24 hours to stew, when there is so much still left to learn about this year’s contingent.
For me, it was obvious as soon as the final out was recorded to end the three-game season opening series. In order to fill the void delivered this early, spring evening, courtesy of the ever-mystifying MLB schedule makers, I was finally going to have to write about a topic I’ve been meaning to put forth for several weeks now.
More than once I found myself catching up to his subtle comedic notes, as opposed to the more typical pre-pubescent sports talk humor, that other hosts in town deliver like a ton of bricks.
Being a life-long fan of Seattle sports teams, just as I’m sure is the case for most fans from other cities, the passion for sports manifests itself in more ways than just catching the games. There’s reading the sports section of the local paper, and watching local and national sports shows for the highlights. (There’s columns like The 40-Something Files!) There’s the endless supply of commentary, camaraderie and rivalry to be found within the networks of social media.
And, of course, there’s sports radio.
For many, those doses of sports radio throughout the day (from the wake up alarm, to the commute, to listening via computer while “multi-tasking” at work, to listening through our smart phone apps at the gym, or on a walk, or at a coffee shop) are our closest connection to the latest news about our favorite teams and the daily happenings of the sports world in general.
We become so accustomed to the voices delivering the content we absorb through the clock radio or the car stereo, or our headphones, that we really feel like we could grab a beer and talk sports with these folks, just like we would with our buddies.
At least the ones we can tolerate, anyway.
Recently, there have been shifts in the landscape at 710 ESPN and Sports Radio 950 KJR whereby listeners have found themselves having to redefine their listening patterns, in order to find the right station at the right time that delivers the right approach for them. I have yet to tune in to 1090 The Fan, but that day is drawing near. As for 710 and 950, the kind of sports talk I enjoy seems to be dwindling.
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Which brings me to Michael Grey.
I suspect many of you who are reading this because you can relate to my perspective on the general experience of being a sports fan in this town, either really enjoyed Michael Grey’s short lived time here on our radios, or would have, if you had the chance to catch one of his shows.
In his most recent role with 710 ESPN, he was doing a two-hour set, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., delivering what I considered to be a more intelligent, well thought out discussion on the topics of the day. That’s not to say the guy was taking himself too seriously, because he wasn’t.
Part of being intelligent about sports and sports talk, is maintaining the proper perspective on what it all means in the grand scheme of things. Michael Grey had that perspective, and delivered it with a smart sense of humor.
Then, one day, a month or so ago, he was off the air without a trace. Unceremoniously let go. Any evidence or explanation for the sudden silencing of his voice, swept under the rug by the powers that be at the station.
Judging by the reaction on Twitter (a case like this being one of the more valuable uses for the schizophrenic social networking beast), he was unanimously well-liked by the listeners. I don’t remember seeing anyone “happy” to have him gone from the local airwaves.
There was plenty of speculation as to what may have caused the dismissal, but little support for it, and definitely frustration at the fact that there was no explanation whatsoever from the 710 ESPN side, as to what went down.
Fans of the show, who seemed to genuinely feel bad for the guy (and themselves) for what had taken place, were left feeling, for lack of a better word, robbed.
Fortunately, after some time passed, “The Michael Grey” (as he had come to be referred to thanks to his active interaction with fans on Twitter, with his twitter handle being just that) reappeared ready to tell his side of things and get his voice back out there via the internet’s answer to terrestrial radio – a very basic, homegrown podcast.
As someone who enjoyed Michael Grey’s style and approach in a medium that seems far too often to cater to the least common denominator of sports fans, I was happy to stumble upon his voice once again. And wouldn’t you know it, within the first few moments of his first episode, he rewarded listeners with a little recap of what actually happened at 710 ESPN, and why it went down the way it did.
Take a listen to the podcast’s first episode, The Show To Be Named Later, and get acquainted or reacquainted, as the case may be, with one of the better sports talk show hosts to ever be on our airwaves, let alone get taken off them.
For those who used to dig Michael Grey’s show, you will appreciate finally getting the lowdown on events that led to his leaving the station. Unfortunately, even if you listen to both episodes in full, you’ll only get glimpses of what he brings to the table as a sports talk personality.
The podcast itself, the brainchild of the other voice on the show, Owen Murphy, who bills himself as a coach of on air personalities in the arena of sports radio, created the show to give listeners a “look behind the curtain” at the making of a show. This theme just doesn’t allow Grey to riff about current sports topics enough to satisfy listeners looking for a reboot of his gig at 710.
Hopefully, Michael Grey will eventually resume his sports talk radio show for a rival of his former employer, and he’ll hit it out of the park.
With a little luck, when The M’s resume the 2015 campaign vs. the rival A’s, they’ll do the same.