Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Grumpy sports commentators lose platforms

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 4:36 PM

By DAVID MARTIN

Middle-aged white guys who cover sports in Kansas City are getting harder to find.

dave_125x150.jpg
Earlier this year, Fox 4 sportscaster Frank Boal stepped away from Crunch Time, the 810-WHB radio show he hosted with Dave Stewart (pictured). Jeffrey Flanagan's Page 2 column appeared in The Kansas City Star for the last time on November 8, a casualty of McClatchy Co. downsizing. Last week, Crunch Time disappeared altogether. And today comes word that Jack Harry's 38 Sports Spot will no longer run on KMCI Channel 38.

Boal, Stewart (Metro Sports) and Harry (KSHB Channel 41) remain visible. Still, the moves eliminate a level of grouchiness and hidebound thinking that sports-information consumers may not miss.


Crunch Time was the weak link in an otherwise entertaining WHB lineup.

As a host, Boal tended to revel in his ignorance. One day, Boal complained about the music being played as the show

bumped up against a commercial. Occasional co-host Kevin Harlan, who

is not exactly the arbiter of hip, gently informed Boal that the song

was by the Killers, who are, you know, pretty popular.

Boal's departure did not lift the level of dialogue, though. In his comments and

questions, Stewart had a penchant for underlining his insider status.

Many of his takes could be categorized as "Things are different now,

and I don't like it."


And Flanagan's column didn't break enough news to make up for its lack of

mirth and insight. In February, Flanagan criticized ESPN for parting

ways with Sean Salisbury, a football analyst widely regarded to be a

douchebag. A former Royals beat writer, Flanagan's refusal to embrace

more advanced baseball statistics seemed tantamount to malpractice.

Harry's leathery outbursts against Chiefs boss Carl Peterson appeal

to some. But it's a fine line between being plainspoken and being uninformed. It

wasn't too long ago that Harry wanted to run off Mizzou football coach

Gary Pinkel. In the spring, he guaranteed the Royals would finish .500

or better.

Harry also acted like a dick when my colleague

Eric Barton called to ask about a boneheaded news segment aired on Channel 41. In the

piece, Harry vouched for a smoking-cessation clinic he was also paid to

endorse, a fact not shared with viewers. In a phone interview, Harry questioned Barton's professionalism. But his news director eventually conceded the station had been in error by not airing the segment with a disclaimer.

Harry deserves credit getting off cigarettes. Maybe he can put the same effort into not being the broadcasting equivalent of an old man on the porch, shaking his first.

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