The 10 Best Sports Talk Radio Hosts in the Country

Posted on by wade evanson (wadevanson)
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Over the last two decades, sports talk radio has burrowed its way into mainstream media. For better or worse, many of these guys have, are, or will be making millions informing, entertaining, and unfortunately antagonizing you, I, and everyone else willing to tune into any or all of them on a daily basis. While the majority of them are covering much of the same things, most do it in very different and unique ways.

Some have partners, others work amidst a group, and a select few rely nearly entirely on themselves to spin their daily yarns. There are morning, afternoon, and late night guys to get you through those road trips and commutes, to and from work, and any other idle time you may have to kill. Some are found on terrestrial radio, some over satellite, and others via daily or weekly podcasts. You'll find Smak and Herds, Republics and Danettes, and Clones and Richards in and around any of the soon-to-be-named it or not.

As a long-time listener/sometime caller to many of which I speak, I consider myself a quasi-expert in regards to the Sports Talk medium. I grew up with one, survived others, and have recently been introduced to a couple who made the grade. So without further adieu, I offer you the following list of sports talk performers.

Honorable Mentions

In no particular order, here are the guys who are good but didn't quite make the top 10:

  • JT "The Brick" - Sorry "Brick," but your style and sidekick drive me through my sun-roof. I can handle a little arrogance from my radio orator, but between your over-the-top takes and your toady Looney's goofiness, I'm quickly moved to the nearest musical distraction.

  • Stephen A. Smith - Somewhat entertaining, but his delivery rates somewhere between Lloyd Christmas' "most annoying sound ever" and a test from the American Broadcasting System. There's a reason he lasted but a few months on my local radio affiliate.

  • Doug Gotlieb - Doug, Doug, Doug. In spite of a good friend of mine's borderline man-crush on you, I have to give two giant thumbs down to your 80-grit version of sports talk entertainment. Gotlieb makes Glenn Beck look like the poster child for humility. Admittedly, I thoroughly enjoyed Jim Mora Jr's recent dismantling of "Douger" during an on-air interview; sometimes you get what you deserve.

  • Jason Smith of "All Night" - Simply put, too nice. While Jason's show can get you through a round-trip voyage to your favorite take-out establishment, any experience longer than an hour is risking involuntary sedation. You need a bit of an edge to crack the Top 10.

  • Freddie Coleman - One of my last cuts prior to making the grade. I like Freddie, but he sometimes gets a little too complimentary of...well...just about everyone. I enjoy a little hyperbole here and there, but my man takes it to another level.

  • Mike Francesa - Mike's known primarily for the long-running "Mike and the Mad Dog" show which aired locally in New York for nearly 20 years. Admittedly, I've never heard more than a sound bite or two of the once "dynamic duo," but my experience listening to Francesa solo, coupled with his previous tenure on CBS, left me lukewarm. With that being said, his popularity in the largest market in our great country left me with little choice but to include him in some way, shape or form.

The Top 10

The Top 10 was judged based on a combination of delivery, level of creativity and overall ability to carry a show. In the case of multiple hosts, chemistry played a major role.

10a. Gavin and CIP

This is a bit of a "homer" call on my part, but Gavin Dawson (now of 105.3 The Fan in Dalllas, TX) and Chad Doing (currently of 95.5 The Game in Portland, OR) previously hosted a morning show in Portland that rarely disappointed. While both somewhat "green" at the onset of their show, their dynamic chemistry coupled with Dawson's professional delivery took them from broadcast rookies to substitute hosts of Jim Rome's nationally syndicated program. Since Dawson's exit more than a year ago, 95.5 The Game has failed to recreate a combination anywhere near the formidability of the aforementioned two.

10b. Dave Dameshek

You've likely never heard of Mr. Dameshek, but I've followed this guy from Adam Carolla's old radio program to ESPN's Dave Dameshek Podcast and through his latest low-key effort, the "Daves of Thunder" podcast on the Adam Carolla's ACE Broadcasting Network. Dameshek overcomes a voice which on an annoyance scale rubs shoulders with the likes of Steve Urkel, Janice from Friends, and Fran Drescher, with wit, unique vocabulary, and in-depth sports reference. Likely an acquired taste, but certainly under-appreciated.

9. Steve Czaban

I first heard Steve a couple years back when he hosted the then "Steve Czaban Show" on Fox Sports Radio. His show offers a perfect combination of information, intelligent conversation, and humor. He now does a morning show Monday thru Friday for Sporting News Radio, in which he touches on everything from football to golf to NASCAR. Czabe's worth a listen and won't bore you with redundancy.

8. Petros Papadakis

Working since 2007 on the "Petros and Money Show," Petros Papadakis is a breath of fresh air in spite of his Dameshekesque (See the aforementioned #10b) voice that only a mother could love. I first stumbled upon this ex-USC tailback doing color commentary for Fox Sports Net football broadcasts and enjoyed his perspective. I've since listened to him on the radio, as a guest on the Adam Carolla Podcast, and periodically offering his perspective to local broadcasting pundits. He's smart, humorous, and annoying...all of which make him good.

7. Mike & Mike

As a staple for ESPN Radio over the last 10 years, Greeny and Golic complement each other nicely. They're JUST sappy enough, JUST funny enough, and JUST knowledgeable enough to enjoy them semi-regularly. They're far from my favorites, but while they teeter at times on hokey, they're relatively safe to lend an ear.

6. Colin Cowherd

Being in Portland, I was listening to Cowherd when he was humble, quick-witted, and unique, but since his arrival at ESPN he's become predictable and arrogant. What was once a highly entertaining show has grown to be a soap box for Colin's minor-league comedy skits and obvious attempts at contrarian thinking in an effort to boost ratings. Sadly, his success has gone directly to his head and subsequently his show has suffered. His broadcasting professionalism has him on my list, but his conceit and aura of superiority has him in a rapid descent.

5. Bill Simmons

In some respects he's not really a "sports talk" guy, but his B.S. Report is one of my favorite listens. A little simplicity goes a long ways, and Simmons' 45 minute conversations regarding sports, reality TV, and anything pop culture bring a surprising amount to the table. His guests range from childhood friends to hall of fame athletes, TV personalities to politicians, and movie stars to authors. There are essentially no commercials, and due to such it lacks that media interview feel. I'm a sucker for legitimate conversation and Simmons' product translates as such.

4. Scott Van Pelt

I enjoy SVP because he plays well off of his partner, Ryan Russillo, coupled with his well-rounded knowledge of sports, relative willingness to speak his mind, and innate ability to communicate. His downside is that he tends to conduct his interviews as if a fan of his subject which often borders on bootlicking, but his overall return on my investment of time generally weighs in on the good end of the scale.

3. Jim Rome

Rome is, for the most part, grandfathered in during any discussion regarding Sports Talk Radio. I've been listening to him for upwards of 20 years, and while he's lost a bit of his edge, at his core he brings a lot to the table. Aside from being an extremely polished product, Rome's "jungle" offers a good mix of information, interviews, and listener contribution. He does and always has encouraged "smack" from his callers and celebrates such with his annual Smack-Off. If you've never experienced it, I highly recommend you take it in -- it truly is rhetoric at its best.

2. Tony Kornheiser

This selection might raise some eyebrows, but Kornheiser's radio show is one-of-a-kind. It's aired locally in the Washington D.C. area and via podcast to the masses, where I stumbled upon it more than a year ago. While sold as a sports show and qualifying in some sense, it often finds itself tangled up more in current events, Tony's personal dilemma of complicating the uncomplicated, and the many examples of cashing in on celebrity. Few in life have the ability to act in every way like a curmudgeon, but do so with the likability of Mr. Tony. This show and its cast of characters exemplifies the product of good chemistry and should be applauded for it.

1. The Dan Patrick Show

Six months ago I would never have thought I'd be saying such, but this is the best that Sports Talk Radio has to offer. Much like the aforementioned Kornheiser, Patrick and his "Danettes" (his show staff for which he includes in the everyday banter) offer beautiful chemistry to its clientele. Patrick himself brings his name from ESPN Sportscenter fame, his knowledge as a broadcaster from decades of doing such, and personality and charm which seem to include all and alienate very few. While sometimes a tad cheesy, Patrick for the most part gets away with it due to a heightened level of just seems to be him.

So it be said, so it be done -- my top 10 of the Sports Talk Radio World and why I consider them such. While I'm sure many of the "clones," some of "the Herd," and very few of "Dan Nation" would argue their place in line, my alleged expertise has positioned them appropriately.

Think differently? Feel free to weigh in...unlike some of the listed pundits, I'll listen.

Are you a fan of Sports Talk Radio or not?

27746 views & 4 votes

Debate It! 5

Couldn't agree more on the top 2, but Petros just drive me nuts.

Posted By Michael Clyde,

@Michael Clyde He's definitely got a face for radio though -- maybe that's why he was replaced as the host of Pros vs. Joes.

Posted By Rebecca,

Pros vs Joes? Tell me that show isn't still on? If so, Petros' subpar looks are the least of its worries!

Posted By wadevanson,

Pros vs Joes could easily be called: Check Out Which Athletes Didn't Save Enough Money.

Posted By AllenScribe,

@AllenScribe You could be on to something.

Posted By wadevanson,

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