Denver's not supposed to have three Sports Radio stations.
There are markets twice our size that don't. Yet, this four-sport town seems to have enough fans - and enough Sports Radio junkies to keep show hosts blabbing all day. One station plugs in syndicated stuff, mostly from New York and Connecticut, to fill in some gaps. Another plays National Baseball games. But, for the most part, local sports chatter rules the Denver airwaves.
Folks speculate all the time that one of our three sports-specific signals will get snuffed out. You'll hear rumors that one is for sale or that one is losing money or that a bloody, violent coup is planned at another. Yet, still, three stations seem to be thriving - which is awesome.
There's 104.3 the Fan (the big dog), 102.3 ESPN (don't call it the Ticket) and Mile High Sports (the little brokered station that could). All of these are weather tested, having survived some lean times.
Each station has its strengths. Each has its weaknesses. Most time slots offer, at best, one show worth listening to. Some slots have two. But only drive time has three. From 3pm to 6pm Denver listeners have an embarrassment o' riches.
There's The Drive with Big Al and Dmac on 104.3 the Fan
Sports Radio's King of the Hill is unquestionably Darren McKee (Dmac) at the fan. He's a former FM shock jock with a P.R. rap sheet and couple of kids. Dmac's a family man, an amatuer athlete, a musician, cyclist, runner, philanthropist and total douchebag. Somehow it works for him. He's the top Sport Radio personality in town, even if Sandy Clough is way better than him.
Dmac's persona is that of a sleazy used car salesman who secretly donates half his income to an orphanage. He has recently made waves as a Superbowl correspondent with the latest on cougar activity in Indianapolis and as a court reporter, transmitting the blow-by-blow from the Perrish Cox trial.
He shares the air with none other than Alfred Williams, a former Bronco and Buff with a personality the size of an Escalade. Alfred's not just some jock who was handed a microphone. He's an accomplished broadcaster and a fun Yin to Dmac's Yang.
The Drive is a fantastic show. It's tempo is perfect for afternoons. It's far looser than most and nothing is forced. The guys are absolute naturals and toally relaxed.
Both hosts have wonderful access inside the local teams and they are able to draw top-shelf guests.
The show gets silly at times, as Big Al and Dmac like to yuck it up. But it's also very real - and, when compassion or soberness are the order of the day, these guys deliver.
But there's also C.J. and Kreckman in 102.3 ESPN
Nate Kreckman is fucking hilarious. He's also insanely well prepared and deeply intelligent. He's a pro's pro when it comes to Sports Talk Radio. Nate represents an entire "generation" of Sports Media personalities currently working in the Denver market who have National talent and National aspirations. He would love to be syndicated - an honor recently bestowed on one of his co-workers, NFL insider Cecil Lammey.
Nate takes a button-down approach to covering local sports. He speaks in measured tones and brings dry humor, sound logic and passionate opinions to the table.
His stable mate at the local ESPN radio affiliate is Charles Johnson (CJ), yet another former C.U. Buffalo who has made his way onto radio.
Kreckman largely carries Johnson's water. Not that C.J. is a slouch. He's not. He's pretty good. And he has a hearty laugh - which comes in handy sitting across from Kreckman. His performance might stand out more if he weren't paired with such a dynamic partner. He's certainly a local treasure and a stand-out in the community.
The show is unafraid, distinctive and listener-friendly. It's tough to change the station - especially during interviews. C.J. and Kreckman are masters at this. If the same guest were to call into all three drive time Sports progams in Denver, these guys would ask the best questions.
And now there's Afternoon Drive with Mac and Goodman.
The new kid on the afternoon block couples two Denver Sports broadcast veterans with two vastly different styles.
Eric Goodman, much like Les Shapiro at 102.3 ESPN, is kind of the guy everyone loves to hate. His delivery is intentionally arrogant and all-knowing. He feels as though it's important for him to know more about the Denver Sports scene than you do. Otherwise, why the fuck would you want to listen to him. Goodman takes unpopular stances unapologetically.
He's a relative newcomer to radio, having paid his dues on TV. He was once CNN's National Sports anchor and Westword named him Best Television Sports Anchor in 2008 for his work on Fox 31. He was also our most recent guest on the South Stands Denver Fancast (show 113)
Mark Macintosh, who welcomed Goodman onto his show last month, is a much less cynical sort and a former Television personality in his own rite. He has the personality of a motivational speaker and is an absolute expert on the local teams.
Goodman replaced Jimmy Dugan on the show formerly called "Mac and Doog". He's better than "Doog" was. He has to be. Afternoon drive is tough. Goodman also happens to be very popular with sponsors and has proven himself to be adept at carving out a living.
These three programs compete inside the most lucrative slot in terms of listener-ship and not just with each other, but with music stations, podcasts, satellite and on-demand programming.
Having three quality Sports Radio shows working the 3-6 PM shift is a bonus to Denver listeners - a pot o' gold.
It just sucks when they synchronize their commercials.