Saturday, July 02, 2011

V 1370 "Robs" Baltimore of a listening pleasure

A few years ago when V 1370 contemplated a format change from their then Lifetime Channel-like psycho babble to sports talk, I met with station GM Bob Pettit to discuss the possibility of hosting a themed show there.

Pettit asked me for my opinion on the format switch and I told him that Baltimore was ready for a sports talk station that could do the things WNST used to be able to do but deliver the product with a radio signal stronger than the hamster driven static that WNST has always been saddled with. Even when powerhouse 105.7 The Fan came along I told Pettit that if he positioned his product correctly, they could still be a force.

I believed that if he could recruit talent; see the world of sports through the eyes of a Baltimore sports fan and not that of corporate America; AND avoid the ego problems that have destroyed WNST, they could be successful.

I reminded Pettit that Baltimore loves an underdog and that Avis does pretty well being No. 2 to Hertz.

Unfortunately Pettit’s knowledge of sports is limited and because he really isn’t a Baltimore sports fan he couldn’t wrap his mind around my message. How else do you explain the “brilliant” programming decisions like joining the Washington Wizards and Notre Dame football networks?

Real Baltimore-centric there Bob!

1370 wasn’t much on spending to promote the station either, unless of course you think a few stickers slapped to telephone poles around town are considered a media blitz! Many months, sometimes more than a year would go by and sports fans in Baltimore never even heard of Fox 1370.

How is a salesman to market 1370 as a viable platform to promote a company’s products if people don’t even know the station exists? And how are they going to build the station if no one advertises?

No, Pettit didn’t get it!

And that more than anything else probably doomed the station formerly known as Fox 1370 from the start.

Of course by far the biggest tragedy in the demise of sports talk on 1370, is that for the time being one of the best sports talkers in town is without a microphone. Rob Long brings insightfulness to his program. He thinks outside the box and considers all angles to a story before delivering his unique perspective. He is quick on his feet, challenges callers without disrespecting them and he remains a fan without losing his objectivity.

Rob is a pro and talents like his will rise above this clumsy transition.

One of my favorite all time movies is Shawshank Redemption and for some reason as I write, I’m reminded of a scene when Red reflects upon his friendship with Andy Dufresne who has escaped from the Shawshank prison:

“I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone.”

Rob Long is built for things bigger and better than the “jail cell” of V 1370.

And I have no doubt that he will surface soon and his feathers will shine again.


Anonymous said...

Perfectly said Tony. Rob Long could always be counted on to provide interesting and thought provoking talk. He had a great mix of local and national guests and he never took himself too seriously. He also respected the listeners and callers and even if he disagreed with them her never took it personal. He was the only show I called and him and the Super Producer were always gracious hosts. I felt like The Rob Long show was like a neighborhood barbershop where everybody had an opinion but Rob held court. He will be missed, hopefully he and Phil land somewhere soon.

Radio Gaga said...

Rob is solid. That station was/is not. Stan the Fan was ok. Coleman was like nails on a chalkboard. Rob will surface somewhere and we'll soon forget about 1370 when he does.

Anonymous said...

Here's a solution to Baltimore's sports talk problems. Follow closely. This plan is a winner:

1. Find a station with a decent signal
2. Fill out the line-up card as follows: Rob Long 6-10am; Bob Haynie 10-2pm; Ken Weinman 2-6pm; Steve Davis 6-10pm
3. Watch 105.7 and WNST circle the drain