Update April 2015 — In a further display of the Deity’s all – encompassing sense of humor, this blog has made its way to the Common Man Dan Cole himself – a full five years after its’ writing. Just yesterday, Cole took it to task on his progrum. I must admit that it was a fairly humorous listen.
It’s clear that my hopes for KFAN to be overtaken in listener-ship by KSTP have been emphatically dashed. The Fan continues to mold the sporting conversation here in the Twin Cities. Yet I still hold out hope. Perhaps the child-like wonder of baseball will reach into the Common Man’s heart and create within him a new zeal for talking about the Twins – or about anything besides his latest golf outing.
Also – if you enjoy the Fan – I want you to know that I do not begrudge you your joy. Life is short & joy is good. Mazel tov.
The Olympic Opening Ceremonies were a somewhat… unique endeavor, yet there was something unspeakably redemptive that completely saved this week. The folks at AM 1500 KSTP in Minneapolis / Saint Paul announced that they were switching their radio station from news to a sports talk format.
Hardly earth shattering – you say? Fair enough. But! Consider this. There is only one significant sports talk radio station in those Twin Cities at this juncture – AM 1130 KFAN. It is a thoroughly displeasing creature. With the advent of a new rival in its own market, KFAN is sure to suffer. And that prospect engenders within me joy.
A commenter by the name of ‘midnightt‘ on the Minnesota Twins official website had this to say after the news broke:
Best news of the day….KSTP is going to an all sports talk station in affiliation with ESPN. i LOVE IT because I have thought for years that KFAN is the worst sports station in the history of sports….
And normally this website would – of course – hesitate to indulge in hyperbole. But ya, that’s pretty well said.
Radio can still be powerful. Even in the age of video on demand, a great radio host can make a connection with a listener that is truly special. Often, this successful connection will be marked by an ability to make your listener feel you’re talking directly to them – speaking to the things they’re going through and about the things they care about. It’s usually not marked by a dedication to recounting every minute detail of the host’s life. You also frequently see great radio happen when a host is clearly enjoying his/her job and deploying a fairly upbeat demeanor about his/her content and… life in general.
Alas – KFAN has stood firmly as a monument against these principles for some time.
The chief reasons behind my personal dislike for the The Fan stretch back to times spent in wheat fields on the Great Plains – and specifically to a great deal of time I invested in the cab of my dad’s John Deere tractor, plowing those fields as a young Eastern Montanan.
That task really bonds you to your radio. It’s the only thing between you and talking to yourself all day (which can be fun for a while but sort of loses its edge after several hours). Unfortunately, there is not a cornucopia of radio offerings in that portion of the world. You’re left to the companionship of bible teaching, country crooning, elderly rockers, or sports and news talk.
Rush Limbaugh was one of the big highlights of the day. The other real treasure came in the evening, when the tale of the Minnesota Twins’ game was woven across the miles by the venerable John Gordon. Yet it was the intervening afternoon hours of fieldwork that were the tricky parts to fill.
At the time, Bismarck, North Dakota featured an affiliate of KFAN’s radio network on AM 710, which filtered across the prairie to my ears. And it was when I inevitably rested the radio dial in that position that my disappointment was fostered.
My initial glee at finding a station that spoke of Twins baseball soon turned to sadness as KFAN hosts Chad Hartman, “The Common Man” Dan Cole, and Dan Barriero displayed a rather dim view of the team – which was in the midst of a ridiculous run of success that summer that would end with their winning the division crown on the final day of the season.
The Fan’s talkers taunted the team’s lightweight players & miserly ownership. They pilloried the outdated game of baseball – and it’s massive inferiority to the NFL – seemingly on a daily basis. And when things were going too well to deny for the Twins on the field, The Fan was there to remind me that doom and additional failure were lurking just around the bend.
It almost seemed that these gentlemen would rather be somewhere else. In fact, “Common Man” Dan Cole spent most of his show explaining where he’d rather be – the golf course! He was always more than willing to share about his weekend on the links.
And yet, despite these realities, they were still talking about sports. So I would often pull through for an hour or two to bide my time till the Twins’ game. Then I first heard hosts Barriero and Hartman stray from the realm of sport into their political observations.
As a card carrying member of the right wing conspiracy – hearing these gentlemen declare that President Bush led us into Iraq on false pretenses on a campaign for oil and empire was just a bit too much to stomach. And so my brief time with The Fan met its end.
Here’s hoping that a revamped KSTP can offer a palatable alternative to KFAN, and refresh the airwaves in its wake. The rumblings are that KSTP might be losing some of the local element that’s so key to attracting listeners as they take on some syndicated ESPN programming. Even so, the nature of KFAN is such that it’s challenging to imagine listeners possibly being prohibited from flocking to KSTP in droves – a joyous stamped toward better radio for all.