Friday, June 10, 2011

The Mark Viviano Show signs off for the last time

Since the inception of I’ve enjoyed the unique vantage point of being a fan with access. In other words like all of you I love Baltimore sports, wear the fan badge proudly on my sleeve, struggle at times to be objective and invest a ton of emotional energy in my favorite pastime.

Perhaps the main difference between me and you when it comes to the Baltimore Ravens is access to the team and to information. That privilege didn’t just fall out of the sky. It was largely the byproduct of persistence and perseverance while remaining respectful.

That and some professional direction and guidance selflessly offered by Mark Viviano.

Not long after the launch of, I met Viv through a mutual friend, Danny Coker (another great guy) who then worked at Bandaloops in Federal Hill and now is a co-owner of Bartenders in Canton.

Viv joined me for dinner at Bandaloops one evening and during those few hours I was a sponge happily absorbing all of the information and advice he willingly shared to help move our site in the right direction and create a springboard for me to move forward in my then newly adopted career in journalism.

Viv had little to gain from the meeting but he took the time nonetheless. And while I learned about the nuances of sports media, I learned more about him – the man off the camera and behind the microphone. He is grounded, balanced, sincere and a willing listener. He keeps his emotions in check so as not to cloud his objectivity. And perhaps most importantly he isn’t a guy with an overinflated sense of self-worth who gives praise more comfortably than he accepts it.

I listened to Viv often during his 6 ½ years on air at CBS Radio – first ESPN 1300 and then eventually 105.7 The Fan. Having done some radio myself I often marveled at his smoothness; ability to effortlessly segue in and out of unrelated topics; his acceptance, tolerance and big-brotherly control of an egocentric sidekick who couldn’t be any more of a polar opposite to the host of the Mark Viviano Show.

I’ve admired the way he can weave pop culture and Americana into sports talk and keep it engaging despite a listener’s desire for him to stick to sports. And his ability to really listen to an obnoxious and obviously uninformed caller and glean some value from it is a developed craft that can’t be achieved without a high level of focus.

Viv is not and never was a homer and consequently he’s had his critics from a Baltimore audience that has always loved a homer. But if that is the extent of the collateral damage for being professional and objective my guess is Viv is ok with that and would probably add his oft repeated exclamation, “I get it!”

After today, WE won’t get “IT” – Viv’s brand of intelligent sports talk radio, as Mark Viviano signs off for the very last time.

And that’s another loss for Baltimore.


BitterSuburbian said...

I only wish I listened to him more. I couldn't stand the Bulldog. I was always hoping Viv and Kenny would get to work together.

Great blog post. It does seem like a big loss to local radio.

Sweet Lu said...

Nicely done Tony. I agree with everything you've written here and for those that think Viviano was a bit snotty or condescending, they are the same fans who believe the league has it in for the Ravens. Simply ridiculous!

Thanks Viv. All the best to you and while no one is saying it, I think there's more to this story.

Sheila Tequila said...

Viv has class and style and like Tony said, he's all the things Damon Yaffe is not. I'll miss Viv but the blow is softened incredibly by the firing of that insufferable windbag Yaffe.

Hope you return in some form soon Viv without that rabid canine.

Joey B said...

I sort of prefer a homer but that said I can appreciate Viv's talents. I think he would do very well on a national radio show but I do think he needs to be a bit edgier and opinionated. Good luck Viv!