The Denver sports radio landscape is always changing. We live in one of the only cities in America where the number of shows is so vast. We have three primary all-sports stations as well as news stations with heavy sports content. It’s impossible to listen to every show and, even if you could, your favorites would change with the shifting tides.
Radio lineups get moved around, hosts get new co-hosts, talents get new time slots, stations switch formats and even get sold. Great Denver sports radio is a constantly moving target. So which are the top shows in the Denver market today? As a sports radio junkie, I feel uniquely qualified to answer this question and, even if I am not, I am going to.
Inevitably, some very good programs will be omitted from this list. It’s only a top-7 after all. There are several that I really enjoy listening to that I wouldn’t necessarily include here if for no other reason than the content is more “guy talk” than raw sports. The Sports Nooner with Gil Whitely is a perfect example. So don’t feel badly if your favorite isn’t listed.
#7 Denver Sports Nation Radio. Mile High Sports Radio, weekend days 2-4 PM, various.
I have to confess to having a certain bias toward DSN radio. Before the show ever existed I was a listener and frequent caller to D in Denver’s podcast on Blog Talk Radio. I followed D and his partner, Adam Kinney when they went to 102.3 ESPN and appeared as a guest on their first real show.
Adam Kinney and D in Denver have really spread their wings over at MHS. They’ve gotten more confident and have begun working in guests from the local sports blogging community, which is an aspect of their show I really appreciate. They’re segment “logging on” gives air time to smart, talented people who would not otherwise be heard.
I do with that the show were in a more convenient time slot. It’s often “bumped” for other programming and, since it’s on the weekends I don’t get to listen as often as I would like to.
Denver Sports Nation is highly interactive and it represents the “every man” sports fan better than any other show in town.
#6 The Brandon Spano Show with Brandon Spano. Mile High Sports Radio, Weekdays, 8-10 pm.
Brandon Spano is brash, loud and obnoxious in the style of popular satellite radio hosts. He lists Jim Rome among his influences which comes as no surprise. Spano likes to “bring it” and has firm, unwavering “takes” on everything from the NFL to boxing. He likes to mix it up a little bit with other local media types as well, which is always fun to hear.
The Brandon Spano show has a tongue-in-cheek feel to it, despite the fact that Spano himself is usually dead serious about whichever topic he happens to be ranting about on a given night.
Board operator / producer Zach Fogg gives the show stability and is afforded more mic time than he is on other MHS shows. Fogg is one of the brighter young commentators in the Denver sports media.
#5 Gametime Decision / Ridin’ Shotgun with Cecil Lammey. 102.3 ESPN, Sundays 8-11 am, various.
It borders on criminal that Cecil Lammey isn’t a daily presence in Denver sports radio. He is far and away the brightest NFL mind in town as well as one of our most likeable local personalities. It just so happens that he has a large National presence as well.
Prior to 102.3 switching from “the Ticket” to the ESPN format, Lammey was on every day in the afternoons. His show, Ridin’ Shotgun, was short-lived but awesome. After the switch-over he was moved to weekends where he still kicks a ton of ass. His Sunday morning fantasy football show, Gametime Decision, is set-your-alarm-for-it good – possibly the best weekly fantasy show in the USA.
Lammey appears in various time slots throughout the year as the 102.3 ESPN programming lineup shifts. In whichever spot Lammey is found, he includes callers expertly. His shows always have a great “rock and roll” feel and his producer, Rob Wagner is an ideal Lammey sidekick.
#4 CJ and Kreckman. 102.3 ESPN, weekdays 3-6 pm
I’ve never been a huge fan of Charles Johnson, but he is good enough not to knock the luster off of Nate Kreckman, Denver’s most naturally funny sports radio talk show host. Kreck’s reputation is that of a hyper-prepared, intelligent and likeable guy and it comes across on the radio quite well. He laughs easily and gives the impression that he’s having a great time.
While Kreckman is a national-level talent living in Denver, Charles Johnson (CJ) is a local sports icon with deep roots at the University of Colorado. He’s heavily involved in all kinds of community activities and serves as a familiar sidekick to the talented Kreckman.
#3 The Drive with Big Al and Dmac. 104.3 the Fan, weekdays 3-6 pm
Former FM radio “shock jock” Darren “Dmac” McKee is as “wacky” a personality as you’ll find on your radio dial. He’s part sports fanatic, part used car salesman and part stand-up comedian. He also has a sincere, sweet side that allows him to easily identify with Denver Sports fans.
Alfred Williams is, well, Alfred Williams. He’s a giant in Colorado Sports with a National Championship and a couple of Super Bowl rings to prove it. As a veteran of both the CU Buffs and the Denver Broncos, Alfred can hardly move about the city without being recognized, which is unusual for a radio star.
Together, Big Al and Dmac offer a nearly perfect balance of skill, experience and humor on their show. It’s consistently great, day after day and the fun is never forced.
#2 Clough Talk with Sandy Clough. 104.3 the Fan, weekdays 9-noon
Sandy Clough is not for everybody. He’s somewhat dry compared to flashier hosts and his measured delivery, complete with his notorious pregnant pauses, render his an acquired taste. But, like most acquired tastes, Clough rewards those who enjoy him with a lot of flavor.
To put it simply, Sandy Clough is brilliant. He is a sports radio savant. Clough almost always works alone. He’s as well read as a College professor and his knowledge runs so deep that he has forgotten more about the sports scene in Denver than other hosts will ever know. He thinks on a level that nobody else does, which allows Clough to frequently conceive the basic points that other shows will run with in a given news cycle.
You can count on Sandy Clough for an intelligent, measured and compassionate assessment of any story. He doesn’t suffer fools lightly. Clough takes many callers, but they had better be on point because a Sandy Clough tongue lashing is never kind.
Clough talk was recently shifted from evenings to mornings on the Fan and I, for one, could not be happier. The new time slot allows me to listen to Sandy every day. Program Director, Nate Lundy deserves the “lineup move of the year” award.
#1 The Press Box with Kiszla and Burns. Mile High Sports Radio, weekdays 7-9 am
Again, I have to confess to having a certain bias toward this show. Host Peter Burns has been enormously supportive of the South Stands – both the blog and the podcast – and I consider him a “pal”. It’s with sincere objectivity, though, that I have adopted the Press Box as my favorite Denver sports radio program.
The combination of Burns, a young, active, socially connected import from Texas and Mark Kiszla, the legendary sports columnist from the Denver Post is the most intriguing in town. The two work surprisingly well together and they bring vastly different points of view to their morning show.
Burns and Kiszla have contrasting delivery styles. Burn is quick and quippy while Kiszla is thoughtful and insightful. Burns is a social media butterfly while Kiszla has his columns through which to express his message. By becoming Burns’ co-host, Kiszla made himself more accessible than he has been in the past and he seems to enjoy talking sports on the radio. He plays the role of the cantankerous “get off my lawn” type while Burns laughs about it. It’s fun – and that’s what sports radio is supposed to be.
The tempo of the Press Box is ideal for mornings. The show is especially good when USA Today NFL writer and Denver Post veteran Lindsay Jones is able to sit in. Jones is the lone female voice in the Denver sports radio universe which is pretty ridiculous. She, like Burns, is young and naturally entertaining to listen to.