Wednesday, April 28, 2010



Written by: Craig Shelton
Date: Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wow! So it has come to this ha folks? Now I have to admit that my "KRUNK" meter is on extra-grind for this Q&A! This time HMW is proud to sit down with a man that has more voices than Mike In DA has baby-mamas!

A man that when he started in radio at then 610 RADIO in '95, artists like Bruce Springsteen & Salt-N-Pepa were in the spotlight (Damn!). The 49ers beat the Chargers, 46-26, in Super Bowl XXIX, Tom Glavine was MVP of the World Series and yes, ooooooh yes, the "mighty" Houston Rockets swept the Orlando Magic, 4- 0, in the NBA Finals! A man that's not afraid to slam some suds with the commoners and just have a good damned time, Lance Zierlein of 1560 THE GAME!
Lance man, I gotta say big, big ups to you, John Granato, and the entire family over at 1560 THE GAME! We're extremely grateful to you and your fantastic station's support of HMW. You guys have been great and we want to acknowledge your kindness, as we launched the HMW blog...thanks again!

Well man lets get it going and open the floor to you Lance to make any opening comments.

Good to be talking to the Lesbo and his readers. At the end of the day, we all pretty much come from the same sports talk family where we have celebrated and argued over the years, so I feel like we are all part of one, big dysfunctional family.

HMW: Lance let's get started by you giving our readers a brief bio on yourself in your own words.

I grew up in a sports family with a dad that was coaching football since I was one. Unlike many of the sports talk hosts in the city over the years, I was raised in Houston and grew up a fan of all the local teams. I grew up playing all the major sports, but basketball was easily my favorite sport once I hit junior high, since I was coming up with Phi Slamma Jamma and some good Rocket teams. I went to Lamar Consolidated High School in Richmond and did a couple of years at Tulane University in New Orleans before heading back to Houston to finish at UH. I created a football handicapping company that also specialized in NBA Draft coverage and was doing radio shows in Houston, Baton Rouge, Miami, Michigan City, Oklahoma City, and on nationally syndicated "Prime Sports Radio" by the age of 24. I started doing a weekend show at newly created 610 radio with Nate Griffin back in 1995 and then, along with John Granato, took over the morning drive time slot on 610 in 1997 at the age of 27. I also write for the Houston Chronicle as well as the website. Brief enough?

HMW: Perfect man, you know Lance, back in the day, you & John enjoyed ratings on your Morning Show, that equals the present day collective share of ratings of all four sports talk format stations combined, presently in Houston. Lance tell us what's happened to the Houston sports talk radio market & how do we work to collectively fix things?

That's a great question since nobody has ever really posed it to any of us in the past, so I'm glad you brought it up. I think when John and I left 610, it splintered the market in ways that nobody imagined it would and the pie just got divided into a ton of pieces. Add to that the fact that satellite radio has gained in popularity and I think we are up against much more competition than ever before and I just think it gets divided now more than in the past. I can't speak for the other shows, but I think our morning show is still pretty similar to how it has always been, but we've had to fight signal issues, people not knowing where we were on the dial, and trying to change people's listening habits which is much harder to do than you think.

HMW: Being that you and John have had prolonged success in the Houston market, what would you attribute the longevity of your success to?

Having fun on the air. If we didn't have fun with the show (and fun includes arguing with each other and callers in my opinion), we wouldn't want to keep doing it. People who are headed into work want to get their day started with some energy and something that entertains them and that is what we've tried to bring over the years.

HMW: Lance, I'm sure you've seen it all over the years working in media for over a decade. Give me your thoughts on the lack of women & minorities working in the Houston sports talk media. Also, give us one recommendation on a fix for the problem?

I have seen an increase in minorities in the sports media workplace, but it hasn't increased as much as it probably should have over the last 20 years. In terms of fixing the problem, I think management on television and radio have to be willing to take some chances and get outside of their comfort zone in terms of finding talent. To believe that all of these program directors on TV and radio have the same taste and opinion as all of the listening audience is silly. Sports fans are a diverse group and the sports media doesn't necessarily reflect that and I don't have a way to fix the problem other than making hires and giving guys chances in different areas. I think the same thing goes for women, but that is a much, much tougher fight for them. I think women like Patti Smith and Alyson Footer have established themselves, but I'm sure it took much longer than they anticipated because sports fans are, by nature, sexist creatures.

HMW: Lance, give some insight into the recent misunderstanding between you & Dylan Gwinn of Sports Talk 790?

I just had a couple of people tell me he was ripping me and that I didn't know what I was talking about when it came to football. I shot back on him the next day and that was that. I'm a 13-year host and a football writer who has been featured on websites and radio shows around the country and he is a traffic reporter who does two hours in the midday. It's squashed. Well, it is now, right "Mighty"? On a serious note, he's doing what he does and I respect that. For being a guy in the market for such a short time, he thinks pretty highly of himself as some "guardian of the fans" which is a cheap way to try and trick his listeners, but he isn't boring in terms of his commentary or his delivery, so I can respect that.

HMW: Great answer, so let's lighten the mood a bit for the readers now. Lance give us a peak inside Lance & tell us something interesting about you (serious or otherwise) that we all would be surprised to know?

My life is pretty much an open book with how open I am about it on the radio, so I don't know that too much of it would be interesting or even a surprise. I guess what might surprise people is that I plan on getting involved in public service or my church after I'm done on the radio.

HMW: Lance, talk about your long-term working relationship with John Granato & what's different about it now, as opposed to say, 10 years ago, when you guys were only a few years in as a unit.

I think it is just like a marriage. Once you are with someone for as long as we've been together, there is a level of comfort which sets in. We don't have to call each other every day and talk. We also can argue about topics without it carrying over into other segments, which it used to do back in the day.

HMW: Lance what has been the best thing about having the opportunity to have worked with John & what's been the most difficult area of growth for you guys as a unit?

The best thing is that he allows me to be me. He is okay with me doing my imitations, going on rants, coming up with skits on the fly, and doing the creative things that I like doing. He is the one who saw that in me and encouraged me to show that side on the air more often when we first started. As for difficulties, I would say that once you've been with someone on the air for that long, there isn't much new about them anymore, so you can get stuck in a rut if you don't find different topics to mix into the day-to-day grind. I already know where he is coming from and he knows where I am coming from and that can lead to things getting stale if you're not careful.

HMW: You know for me, Lance, what I loved about the show when I began listening to you & John in 2003, was the hilarious interaction between the callers & you & Granato. Name your Fav 5 callers all-time &  tell us why you chose your picks?

5. Red Raider Kevin - You are eliminated since you are writing this, but your brother is still in play. I've always liked the fact that I never know what Kevin's angle is going to be. He might joke around like when he was talking to the girl at the gas station or he might be dead serious about a topic. Either way, he isn't always predictable in terms of which side he is going to back and he'll take on all topics and all opinions.

4. Brad in Spring Branch - I can't say that I always love his calls, but when it comes to getting a reaction from people or saying some of the most memorable things on the air, it is hard to top Brad.

3. Dime Bag Mike - He came on the scene back in 2002 and only called the show about 6 times total, but each time he called was magical. On his last call to the show, he smoked a bowl live on the air and with the smoke still in his lungs coughed out "Go Texans".

2. Longhorn Scott - He's fearless and almost a caricature of what people think Longhorn fans are like. He is willing to verbally joust with anyone, but he takes his opinions very seriously. If you get caught slipping in a "crossfire" with LHS, he will embarrass you.

1. Collie - He was the ultimate race-baiter and he could get people really, really mad, but once you stopped taking everything he said so seriously, he was really funny. I didn't often agree with him, but people loved or hated him. There was no in-between.                                                                             

HMW: Lol give 3 names of callers that just kept/keep you pissed off and why?

1. Cowboy Bill - His racist comments got so bad that we had to kick him off the air. It was like he wasn't even trying to hide it by the end. That's really the only one I can think of. I don't have problems with most callers as long as they bring something to the table.

HMW: Lance tell us what's the single greatest thing about 1560 The Game as a sports talk station?

It is easily the ability to take chances and be creative. We work for local ownership and we're not run by corporations in New York who are looking at stock prices all the time. We have leadership that lets us do our jobs and allows us to take chances.

HMW: OK Lance, you're Program Director of 1560 The Game for a day, tell one thing you would do to improve your station?

I would make the scope of the station as broad-based as possible without selling our souls. I think we need to continue to reach as many demographics as possible because I feel like there are still a lot of people out there who don't really know who we are or what we are about and who aren't giving us a legitimate listen.

HMW: Give us 3 names of sports talk hosts in H-Town that you respect & why? (No 1560 hosts please)

1. Tie - Ralph Cooper and Marc Vandermeer - Coop has been doing his thing longer than any of us and it is unfortunate that he hasn't been exposed to a bigger audience because he's not afraid to mix up opinions and piss people off sometime. Vandermeer is different. He's not looking to stir controversy at all, but I'm cool with that because that isn't who he is. He's not a fraud. He is who he is and tries to balance talk show with play-by-play duties. While his show and my show are way different, I still respect him.

2. Adam Wexler - I brought Adam aboard my weekend show when I first started because I knew that he knew his sports. His personality and delivery on the air needed work, but he's worked on it over the years and I think he's made great improvements. He's got an underrated, dry sense of humor as well.

1. Charlie Pallilo - He's old school in his approach to sports talk, but he's very well-prepared and you know when he gives you info, it is going to be pretty solid and not just a guess.

HMW: Lance, let's change up the tone a bit. I know you're a dedicated husband & dad & you're blessed with a lovely wife & beautiful kids. Please share a little insight into what the dynamics are in balancing family life when you're a public figure, with the demands of radio & being a member of the sports media?

My life has changed a lot from when the show started. I'm not able to get out to the games as often as I would like because I'm trying to balance show Lance with home Lance and one of the things I've had to sacrifice is not being out to as many games because my time at home is also needed with four boys and three of them who are 5 and under. I'm very proud of my wife and my kids and I have no problem bringing up stories about them on the radio, however, they can't just be topics on the show. I have to make certain sacrifices and give the wife and kids the time they need as well. Now that we have DVRs, that is much easier to do, since I can catch up on games after I get the kids in bed.

HMW: Lance, as you know, I have a music industry background, but I'd prefer my kids not to get into the music industry. Based on your experiences over the past decade or so, would you approve of any of your kids following in your footsteps & joining the sports/entertainment/media community?

Oh hell yeah! Come on in! This job allows creative people to do their thing and it is the only thing I've ever LOVED doing. My dad is a coach and I don't think he wanted my brother to get into coaching on the college or professional level because of the stress it brings, but that isn't the case in my line of work. We have stress too, but I know I have it much better than most people do when it comes to the daily grind.

HMW: Lance in a recent HMW article I wrote, I tagged you as the best NFL & NCAA football mind on radio in Houston. Tell us who you respect in the Houston sports talk media per sport (leaving out 1560):

1. NFL - Charlie Pallilo - So much of the NFL is just seeing as many games as possible and reading as much as possible and he certainly does that.

2. NBA - John Lopez. I agreed with you on this one. He keeps up with the NBA (I remember when he was with 790 - I can't hear him now) and he's solid with his opinions.

3. MLB - I guess I can't say Richard Justice since he is a slam dunk (and he's a baseball writer), so I would say Adam Wexler.

HMW: Lance what's your take on the HMW concept of a media watch group?

Conceptually, I think it is okay, but I think I'm already seeing that it is tough for you guys to be "watchdogs" when there are many more directions you can go with it. A true watchdog just hangs out until something is going on that they need to call someone out on. To me, HMW's writing is becoming more commentary oriented which I'm cool with. I like hearing opinion. That is way different than being a watchdog organization. I would like to see HMW continue to be diverse with its topics and then maybe do what David Barron should be doing which is offering commentary and information on the local media scene. I see that as the ultimate direction of HMW, but hey - I could be wrong.

HMW: Give us your take on HMW members, Lamont & Mike?

Lamont: I've been very impressed with his writing so far and I love that he's more diverse than I realized. I have a diverse background when it comes to friends, food, music, and movies and I like running into people who surprise you. Soundgarden reunion tour? Really, Lamont? I didn't see that one coming.

Mike In DA: He's always been a good writer, but I think he lets his personal biases get in the way too often. He tends to harbor resentment towards people and then uses his writing as an opportunity to exact revenge. I think that is a weakness. I respect his background and his love of sports and nobody is better at digging up information on the fly. He's probably one of the best in the country.

Lance if you had no choice but to do a new show teaming up with a new partner, name 3 guys you would consider working with? (No 1560 guys please):
1. Jeff Van Gundy - an obvious choice.
2. Rodney Williams - a good friend and a guy who I've been arguing sports with since high school
3. Jose Lima - he's got to be available by now, right?

HMW: OK Lance, let's say your starting a new sports talk station & it's your task to staff the station, choose your lineup of 3 guys/gals for the morning; two for mid-day; 2 for drive-time; 2 for nights; 3 for weekends. Please explain your picks.

That one is too tough because I think you have to open it up to the interviewing process or you would never find out what kind of talent is out there. For me to create a lineup, I would have to have a bunch of people go through an interviewing process and get to know their personalities before I matched them up and figured out how it would work with the overall theme of my station. That question is just way too broad based for me to answer without having a bunch of different and new people to consider.

HMW: Wow! Man that was sweet and I just want to say thanks again Lance. You have been a great supporter of the HMW movement & it's greatly appreciated. Let's close it out with your final thought man. Take it anywhere you please.

Thanks for supporting my show over the years and thanks for reaching out after I left 610. That was a scary time for me and I appreciate the love that listeners gave us and me back then. Now get y'alls asses back on the phone and break me off a call from time to time, foolz!

Lance I'm not sure I know where to start with you man, but to be totally honest, I have to start by saying, "Thanks man!" You have been a source of good advice for me personally (now only if I would listen & use it - lol) and you have never let us down when it comes to entertaining us as listeners. To avoid being remiss, an attempt to skate around the fact that you've been a mentor in some ways and a good dose of reality on a personal level at times. I'm sure I'm breaking every rule of non-biased journalism by my comments to an interviewee, but hey, my pledge is to be honest, not professional. Thanks Lance, my man, for being real & entertaining the city's sports fans for so many years & best wishes for your future success!

Craig Shelton
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1 comment:

Earlis said...

Wow this is hott...dam hott

maybe I should listen to the show hmm

Been doin 790 early AM.. Hmm even

Wex nem need to ask Stella how to get they groove back.
They left something at 610 they don't flow like they use to
it's a transitional phase right..they use to flow like poetry
or cornbread and redeye gravy um just sayin..

But yo Lance how bout some full diversity and not just on juneteenth and cinco de mayo..

David Barron now ya know

Yo Craig where my tee shirt??
Don't do me like do me like Ralf nem
they been waitin 3 weeks for some chicken.

Seriously I like this interview it gave feel for
what Lance be like and he is a sharp young fella the
dude really said something rather than just spewin forth pat or canned responses he was very
thoughtful and informative..