Mark's Thoughts: The Best Sports Radio in Utah Volume II

Mark WellingCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2009

Last year, I rated the best sports radio in Utah. Click here for a link to last year's rankings. There have been some substantial changes in the sports radio landscape. Yet, the basic battle still exists between the two major powerhouses of 1320 KFAN and 1280 The Zone. As far as popularity, 1320 KFAN is running away with it. Ever since David James and Patrick Kinahen jumped ship from 1280 The Zone to 1320 KFAN, 1280 The Zone's numbers have fallen steadily.

In last year's ratings I didn't include any of the national sports programs, such as: Jim Rome, Dan Patrick, Colin Cowherd, and Mike and Mike in the morning. I wanted to stick strictly to sports radio in Utah. Here are head-to-head comparisons based on the shows time slot.

1320 KFAN DJ & PK In The Morning (David James and Patrick Kinahen) 6-10AM
1280 The Zone - The John & Hans Show(John Lund and Hans Olsen) 6-10AM

DJ & PK used to be the kings of all of sports talk radio. For many people they still are the kings; however, the best work of DJ & PK are behind them. These two mail in performances every day. It seems they have gone with the David Letterman philosophy of broadcasting. Find a bit which works, and then beat it into the ground until it just isn't funny or entertaining anymore. DJ & PK found that bit. Patrick Kinahen will say something obviously outrageous; David James will then play the straight man and try not to react to what Kinahen is saying. Kinhen will then continue to go further and further to cause some type of reaction from either James or the listening audience. They will continue this formula for the entire four hours of their show. There is nothing new, nothing good, and nothing entertaining about DJ & PK.

John and Hans on the other hand have come quite far since last year's rankings. John and Hans have excellent chemistry, and they are both hungry to bring something new and fresh to their listening audience each day. The show is entertaining no matter how long or when you tune into listen to it. John and Hans have also become better at getting good interviewees for their show. The qualities of their interviewees are still slightly behind PK & DJ; however, the actual interviews themselves are better on John and Hans. When I listen to an interview I want to know something new about the person who is being interviewed. I want someone who will bring out the personality of the interviewee. John and Hans have an ability to have better interviews with their guests, even if their guests aren’t as high profile as their competition. DJ & PK tend to just suck their interviewee into their broken worn out shtick. 

I have always been a big fan of DJ & PK, but John and Hans are producing a better show than DJ & PK in the morning. It is still worth it to switch over to 1320 KFAN to catch a good DJ & PK interview, or during the commercials of John and Hans. Besides that John and Hans will keep you informed and entertained in the mornings. In fact, John and Hans might be the best sports talk show in all of Utah.

1320 KFAN - Powerhouse (Alema Harringtion and Scott Garrard)1-3PM
1280 The Zone - Jake & Gunther(Jake Scott and Kyle Gunther) 10-2PM

It is hard to compare these two shows head-to-head, the shows only overlap for an hour. To keep the layout of the article simple, I will pair these two shows against each other.

Jake & Gunther is a newer sports talk show venture. The show is slanted to really have a University of Utah bias; however, I am actually like that part of the show. Why? They don't try to hide their bias, and they still are able to give somewhat realistic opinions in regards to BYU sports. They also have the ability to give excellent insight into the mind frame of the Salt Lake, University of Utah sports fan. If you are looking for a local program when everyone else has a national show, then try Jake & Gunther. Just don't have your expectations too high.

Powerhouse has improved since David Fox left the program. Scott Gurrard has always been a steady contributor to 1320 KFAN shows. Scott Gurrard is able to deal with Alema Harrington and keep the moving and topical. The program still has some serious problems, and is for the most part forgettable. This is definitely the weakest of the shows on 1320 KFAN.

Both Jake & Gunther and Powerhouse aren't amazing shows; however, there is potential with both shows. It will be worth tuning into both shows in the near future to see if either show could hit their stride.

1320 KFAN - Locked on Sports (David Locke and Ben Bagley) 3-6PM
1280 The Zone - Monson & Graham (Gordan Monson and Kevin Graham) 2-6PM

I was in a long conversation on the golf course with my brother about David Locke. Locke is one of the most interesting sports personalities in Utah. He is also one of the biggest egos in all of Utah. My brother's opinion of the afternoon sports radio in Utah sums up my own view. My brother said, "I listen to Locke simply because you can't beat the information and interviews, but really beating out the other guys [Monson & Graham] is like being named the least smelly fat girl at the school dance.”

David Locke is an aggressive, pigheaded, egomaniac. He is also a stats geek, and has some real pull to bring in some big name interviewees (although it is hard to know how much you should credit Locke for the Interviewees he gets, and how much of that credit should go to his producers). Locke also will come with a new point of view every day. He will surprise people many times with a new point of view. The problem with Locke is the fact that he will constantly contradict himself trying to prove to people he is right. He refuses to admit he is wrong. If Locke had that ability of taking a small humble step back and look at himself and his opinions from a new point of view, then he would instantly improve his program. It doesn't bother me that Locke will stick to his opinion, but what does bother me is he will use simple shock techniques to try and drive his radio show and claim them as long held opinions. 

For example, Locke has claimed to have a few "long held personal views" about BYU football. He has claimed that BYU has always been the flagship of the Mountain West Conference, and that they are far better than the other teams in the league. He has also claimed that BYU is the barometer of college football. BYU is always the same, "non-elite" program each year, and cannot be an elite level college football program. He has also claimed that BYU is enough of an elite program to go independent, and succeed against a tough BCS level schedule. He has also claimed BYU is not a BCS level program, and BYU could never play in a BCS conference. These are just a few examples of Locke’s long held opinions. Each of these opinions Locke presented with absolute certainty on his program, and disregarded the fact he changed his position multiple times. This is just an example with BYU football, but Locke has also done this with U of U athletic teams, and the Jazz.

Locke isn't a great host, nor is he really a great interviewer. The only interview which Locke succeeds at is the interview in which he is attacking the interviewee. Locke's interviews with Craig Thompson, Mountain West Conference Commissioner, are classics. Yet, listening to Locke host the Deron Williams show was a train wreck. Also personally attending a Utah Jazz fan event where Kevin O'Connor was answering fan questions, and having Locke try to steal the spotlight and ask his own question to Kevin O'Connor was dreadful. Kevin O'Connor finally had to take control of the event from David Locke, and fans were finally able to participate and have a good time.

The desire to be a good host is there for David Locke, and he seems to be a tremendous worker which also shows in his program. David Locke could be a lot better than he is right now, and it really wouldn't have to be major changes. For now Locke continues to be good only in small servings, otherwise he just turns annoying.

My wife couldn't stand sports when we first got married, but through hard work and patience she has become quite a sports fan. I have even got her to start listening to sports radio (She really likes John and Hans in the morning). She will actually choose to listen to sport radio even when I am not in the car with her. She will listen to about anyone in the market, except for David Locke. Her comments on Locke, "His [David Locke’s] voice is whinny and it gives me a headache when I listen to it." My wife dobbed Locke the “annoying radio guy,” and refuses to call him anything but that in conversations we have about him.

It will be interesting to see if Locke can handle both his show and the Jazz play-by-play duties, and bring in a wider Jazz audience.

David Locke's ego is only eclipsed by a single man in Utah, Gordan Monson. The problem Monson has is he just isn't as informed or entertaining as David Locke. Monson really is the ivory tower intellect of sports talk radio. He only sees things one way, and he is going to spew his wisdom down to the Utah masses like sweet flowery dew drops. All Utahns are supposed to accept his opinion as sports doctrine, rejoice in the fact that Gordon Monson even spoke his wisdom to them, and continue their pointless existences.

Pairing Kevin Graham with Gordon Monson has never been a perfect fit, even though Graham has brought some interesting segments to the program. "Susan the Truth Machine" is actually a good segment, and one which Kevin Graham engineered. Graham is about as high brow as an eighth grader in a farting contest. The only difference is the eighth grader probably has a deeper voice. This odd couple of the radio just isn't entertaining, nor is it worth tuning into listen to them.

(Side note: There is also an afternoon sports program on Kall 700 Sports - Bill and Spence (Bill Riley and Spencer Checketts). It really isn't fair to include them in the conversation about afternoon sports talk, they are really that bad.)

In the afternoon Locke is by far the best listening option in Utah. If you listen to Locked on Sports you are guaranteed to get new information, and also listen to quality interviewees. Is it the best show you could imagine? No, but is the best of what Utah currently has in the afternoon? Yes, clear winner.

1320 KFAN - Game Night (Ben Bagley) 6-7PM

Ben Bagley might be the best part of Locked on Sports.Although not officially mentioned as a co-host, he is a voice of reason on Locked on Sports. He is a really good host of KFAN Game Night; a show which basically replays the best interviews and segments from the other programs on 1320 KFAN that day.Yet, Ben Bagley shows he is an excellent host, and good with opinions and insights.Ben Bagley might have the same appeal as the back-up quarterback, looks great until he is given the big job; however, right now Ben Bagley is great to listen to at night.I simply cannot see why they don’t have a show with both Ben Bagley and Scott Garrard.

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