Scott Torgerson's Story: Columbus Loses Prominent Voice Amidst Undefeated Season
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Everyone has moments in their lives they wish they could change.
For radio broadcaster Scott Torgerson, his mistake cost him his job.
A month ago, Torgerson was a part of the No. 2 radio sports talk show in the U.S., collaborating with Mike Ricordati to host "The Common Man and The Torg" on 97.1 "The Fan," the flagship home of Ohio State University athletics. Today, he is trying to figure out the next step in his life.
Earlier this month, Torgerson posted on his Twitter account that ESPN broadcaster and former Michigan standout Desmond Howard should "get fired or die so that I can watch Gameday again." After realizing that the tweet could be taken the wrong way, Torgerson rushed home that afternoon and removed the tweet while offering an apology on his account. He recommended his own suspension upon arriving for work the following Monday, and 97.1 obliged, suspending him for two weeks.
During the suspension, ESPN analyst and former Buckeye quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, who broadcasts alongside Howard on College GameDay, lashed out against Torgerson during his weekly talk show on "The Fan," an ESPN affiliate. The gauntlet appeared to be thrown down by ESPN for "The Fan" to make a tough decision on the future of their most successful talk show and one of their most beloved broadcasters.
According to Torgerson's radio interview with Columbus's 610 WTVN this past Monday, "The Fan" responded by offering Torgerson two options early last week: resign, collect a small severance and never speak of the Twitter matter again, or be fired without any severance. Torgerson chose the latter, and Ricordati announced his former co-host's termination on the air soon after.
The backlash by Ohio State and general sports fans in the area has remained loud and passionate. A "Save the Torg" page has launched on Facebook, and its 11,700 members as of Tuesday trumps the Facebook page dedicated to "The Fan".
While "The Fan" is taking more heat than an OSU football coach following a loss to Michigan, Torgerson has tried to move on by reaching out and apologizing to the Howard family and to Herbstreit. He knows he made a mistake and is taking responsibility for his actions, but he doesn't think the punishment fits the crime. Torgerson also asked his fans to continue to listen to Ricordati's revamped radio show while also thanking various members of the station's staff for their support and friendship during his time there.
Torgerson is currently staying busy while working on a podcast for his new website. He hopes the high ratings he enjoyed with Ricordati will make its way into his new venture. He says the goal of his old show with Ricordati was simple, but powerful.
"We wanted to entertain," Torgerson said via e-mail. "We didn't take ourselves too seriously. We had a method to the madness, but we are just honest dudes who let our listeners in. We did everything our bosses told us not to.
"Too many guys on air treat fans like they are dumb," he said. "I tell the brutal truth. You may not like it, but honesty is good. I also like to entertain. If you like hearing about Travis Hafner's batting average against right-handers, I am not your guy."
Despite working in seven different cities that included two different stints in Phoenix, Torgerson and his family that includes three young children consider Columbus home.
"The people (here) have serious passion, and NOTHING beats the Midwest," Torgerson said. "When I tell people Columbus has 1.8 million people in the area, they don't believe me. We judge cities by sports, and the city is known for the Buckeyes. (We have) the Crew, we have the Blue Jackets, (but) most sports fans don't know who they are."
This new age of media has been and will continue to be a game-changer for both society and the professionals that make their living with their voices and writing abilities. Tweets can be fired off in the heat of the moment, going viral to millions in mere seconds.
In more traditional writing mediums such as newspapers and professional news websites, editors remove what could be emotional and controversial material before it is sent out to the public. That's just one reason why Twitter can be a dangerous means of communication.
While he does feel remorse for his tweet, Torgerson feels that media mediums such as Twitter should not be taken as seriously as other forms of journalism. More importantly to Torgerson is the fear that the type of broadcasting that led to his and Ricordati's success is a dying art.
Did Torgerson deserve to to be fired for his tweet?
"The vocal minority is winning. Good radio that's edgy is a thing of the past," he said. "People say you can do a good show without being edgy. I am not sure sounding (like) ABC Family works (for) me."
Time slows down for no one, and in the midst of Torgerson's termination from "The Fan" and his fans' vocal boycott of the station, Ohio State continues to pile up wins, and is now 9-0 after Saturday's victory at Penn State. Once a primary means of happiness in Columbus, it almost seems as if the Buckeyes' success is a much-needed distraction away from the storms that have arisen on the airwaves over the past month.
People will eventually move on and find other things to be passionate about over time, and Torgerson would be among the first to tell you that. He hopes that day comes sooner than later, and that people eventually remember him for a career that climaxed with Torgerson and Ricordati interviewing President Obama earlier this year.
He may have filled the airwaves with his humorous stories and punch lines such as "My Guy," "Let Him Live" and "Citgo," but Torgerson says he still has many more stories to tell and punch lines to introduce to future audiences. He's keeping them secret for now, but not for long.
"I can't give away any stories; I save them for on air," Torgerson said when asked to share some of his broadcasting memories. "I should write a book."
There's at least 11,000 fans in Columbus and around the Buckeye state that would be in line for that book signing.
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