Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Written by: Craig Shelton
Date posted: Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In the beginning, the sports gods created the heavens, the Earth, the NFL, NBA, & MLB. Then the sports gods had several kegs of beer before they collectively began working together on creating God's son. No guys, not him, I'm speaking of God's other son, my man, John Lopez, aka the "sports Jesus" as I like to affectionately refer to my man, John Lopez (aka J-Lo) of the Sports Radio 610 Morning Show.

You guys can hear John along with the voice of the HoustonTexans, Marc Vandermeer, weekdays 6a- 10a on KILT Sports Radio 610 (Houston's Sports Leader).

John I want to say thank you for your time in conducting the Q&A with HMW and I'd like to get things started by opening the floor to you to make an opening statement to your listeners and fans.

Thanks to you, Lesbo, for watch-dogging the watchdogs. It’s a valuable, if often under-appreciated service. And it’s one of the biggest reasons I wanted to take you up on the offer to come on here and talk a bit. I often say that my job is to not be afraid to have a skeptical eye. Now, some may interpret that as being negative. But our whole country was founded on asking tough questions and not being afraid to challenge convention. I try to do it, however, with a touch of sarcasm when I think it’s appropriate, or humor, because we are more than anything in the information and ENTERTAINMENT medium. I get what HMW is attempting to do and hope you guys have much success.

HMW: Thanks J Lo man! Ok brother, let's get things going by beginning with you giving the readers a brief bio on your career resume.

LOPEZ: It’s been a wild ride that I wouldn’t change for the world. Grew up in San Antonio in a lower-middle class family, but I never felt that me or my four brothers and sisters were left wanting. I was a pretty good football and basketball player, and I loved to box, but realized once I tried some college ball at Blinn JUCO that writing and talking about it was the best way for me to make a career of it. I feel like Forrest Gump sometimes with the path my career has taken. I’ve gotten to travel all over the world because of the bouncing ball. I’ve seen events and been to places that fans could spend a million dollars on and still not get to experience I’ve been able to experience. I also got to coach a lot of kids with big dreams on the summer basketball circuit for several years. More than a dozen of them earned Division I scholarships. I may be as proud of that as anything. When I realized the newspaper industry was dying, I stumbled into a small business that was good to me. Then, the broadcast medium and called and I’ve been lucky to land at SportsRadio 610 with Marc Vandermeer and (program director) Gavin Spittle.

HMW: John obviously you're a dedicated family man, as I often heard you refer to your wife and kids on your show. Please John, share with us some insight on how you manage your heavy plate of professional obligations, up against your personal time with your family.

LOPEZ: Nothing gets in the way of time with my family. Nothing is more valuable than the time you spend with your kids and your wife. Sure, I’ve been gone for long stretches. I’ve missed holidays and family events. But when I’m home, I spend as much time as possible with my wife, two sons and daughter. I probably spend more time with my kids than most dads and they’ve turned out great. The oldest is a senior at Texas A&M and is the election commissioner on-campus. He was a state-ranked swimmer and basketball player. The middle boy is a senior at Atascocita High School and was quite a good football player. The Princess is on the dance team.

HMW: You know John, in listening to your show over the past months, one of my favorite moments was hearing your humble tone in speaking of your father and his death. If you will John, please allow us inside your thoughts and share a bit with the readers on how your father influenced you as a father and a husband?

LOPEZ: Like I said, we may not have had a lot growing up, but the last thing we were was poor. My dad never knew his dad, who fought in World War I and died of Mustard Gas poisoning before my dad was born. My dad’s mom – my grandma -- was a sharecropper who picked cotton in South Texas. My dad never missed a day of work in 36-years as a Civil Servant. Not one. So, I learned a lot about work ethic, toughness, being dedicated and the importance of family from my dad. I also learned not to play games with people. If you think something, say it. It’s always better.

HMW: Thanks John for sharing that with the readers.
Let's change the mood a bit and talk some about your role on Sports Radio 610

Morning Show. Often John, you take on the villain roll with your edgy and often controversial takes on issues. You have shown to be fearless in that regard and thick-skinned (I like that by the way). Talk a bit about your approach to morning radio &radio in general

LOPEZ: It’s not controversial to me! Actually, I never mind when people come back at me and we mix it up. I call it, “healthy conversation” all the time. It goes back to being tough and not playing games. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I hope everyone thinks about a dissenting, or maybe a skeptical, opinion. I just tell myself every morning to be honest about my feelings. And I’m real good at leaving the show in the studio. I can’t tell you how many people I meet in social settings, or at a remote show, and they tell me, “I didn’t used to like you, but …” It’s hilarious.

HMW: So John how do you respond to the guys that say you're just throwing things out there to get a reaction and your not genuine in your takes?

LOPEZ: Well, here’s another thing people always tell me when they meet me and talk with me for the first time away from the studio or at a social setting. They say, “Hey, you talk just like you do on the radio. You sound just like on the radio.” That, to me, is the greatest compliment I get. All I do is tell you what I think. If I believe it, I say it on-air. Yeah, sometimes I put some jelly on it for emphasis. But anyone who thinks I just throw stuff out there, well, I don’t. It’s called my honest opinion.

HMW: John, when you're sitting home with a cold one have some "me" time. I'm sorry J-Lo, I should have said, "Jesus" time, what do you watch on the tube man? Give us your three favorite non-sports tv shows?
LOPEZ: This is kind of embarrassing, but I’ll tell you honestly.

#1. American Idol

#2. Glee

#3. Big Bang Theory

HMW: Lol ..John if you could tell one caller, e-mailer or texter to "GO TO HELL" who would it be and tell us why?

LOPEZ: What do you mean, “if?” Nah, seriously, the on-air stuff I love. I respect the guts some callers have coming in with a dissenting opinion, knowing that I’m going to come hard at them. It’s the spineless, anonymous, no-account A-holes on message boards and such that really should go to hell. It’s easy to be tough and brave when no one knows your name and you’re hiding behind a pseudonym. Hey, if you really have a problem with something I’m doing and want to talk about it, I’m easy to find. I put my name and e-mail on every blog and column that I write. I have a Twitter account and Facebook. Everyone knows when I’m at a remote and come out and see me. My face is pretty recognizable on the Houston sportscape. Come on by and talk. I’ll buy a few rounds.

HMW: In my person opinion J Lo, I believe you have breathed energy into the 610 Morning Show and you're a perfect personality opposite Marc. John please tell us why you believe CBS Radio chose you as the guy to pair with Vandermeer?

LOPEZ: I think it’s because of the things we’ve just talked about. Marc’s strength and reputation is that he cares. Mine is that I don’t. We have the exact same family values. We share many of the same friends. We both want to super-serve our sponsors, clients, and listeners. But we take different roads to the same end. And I don’t think anyone thought Marc and I would click as well together as we have. I consider him one of my best friends and I know he considers me the same. Before we got together, the morning show was flagging. Since we’ve started the show, we’ve been the highest-rated sports show in any time slot for six of seven months. That’s not because of me. It’s because of us.

HMW: Tell us a bit about working with Marc and what has been the biggest positive and talk a bit about the biggest challenge in working with Marc also?

LOPEZ: He’s the best man in radio in this market. Period. He has no weaknesses on-air. Because he’s so good at the controls and being the conductor, I can free-flow. That’s why we work. As for the biggest challenge? I think he’s got the biggest challenge. Sometimes, when it’s my turn to talk on a topic that’s hot, he gets this look on his face, like, “oh, don’t get us fired today, please.”

HMW: John, I always like to ask guys to acknowledge a couple of guys in the business whose work you respect. Give me a couple of names (no 610 guys please) in the market whose work you respect and why?

LOPEZ: I think Charlie Pallilo is Air Google. I’d love to see him with a partner again someday, because I think that would bring out his very best. But he’s good at getting to the nuts and bolts. I don’t listen to Lance anymore for obvious reasons, but I liked him in the past and respect him. And
David Dalati should have his own show, where he can let his personality come out a lot more. He’s one of the most clever and funniest guys out there and everyone knows his reporting prowess.

HMW: John tell us your take on the best thing(s) about your station, Sports Radio 610?

LOPEZ: This station has a clear direction now. It’s also more about super-serving the fans. Gavin’s been great for everyone here. There’s a sense of creativity that SportsRadio 610 never had before. He always talks about the, “playbook” and it’s a very well-defined script of plays, if you will, for the shows and station. But there’s also room to know that if the play breaks down, we’re allowed to go all Vince Young in overtime against the Texans and just do whatever wins.

HMW: John, you're program director of S/R 610 for a day. Tell us the one thing you would do to further improve your station?

LOPEZ: Fan Fest (May 8) is going to bring the personalities and listeners together like nothing that’s ever been done before. I would do more of that. Billboards that feature our on-air staff instead of only the brand, if it’s in the budget. I think people want to know what Marc is really like. I think people want to have a beer with me and Josh, which can be arranged. I also want our younger talented guys to get more air time whenever possible – not at my expense, of course.

HMW: John I was very critical of you in a HMW article a couple of months back, when I ranked Houston sports personalities. John, do you feel my criticism of you was fair and if not please elaborate on your thoughts?

LOPEZ: Dude, nothing you say bothers me. I do a show and tell you what I think. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t take what you say and think. I don’t agree with it and I can’t say it was not fair. I mean, I don’t think it was fair, but that’s my opinion, not yours.

HMW: What's your take on Titan Rick?

LOPEZ: He’s an interesting cat. Every once in a while he’ll say something compelling and fresh. Usually, it’s the same old garbage. He has a huge personal investment and relationship with people involved with the Titans, as I understand it, so I get why he’s notoriously off-base. But at least he has the guts to call … although, his calls disappear when the Titans suck.

HMW: John, I believe Houston sports fans aren't the best educated fans and I believe its due to them receiving bad info and partisan takes from "some" in the sports media. What are your thoughts on my statement?

LOPEZ: I think you’re right. Too many members of the media in this town mistake a player being friendly with a player being their friend. Players, coaches, and front-office personnel could care less about having a friend in the media. They’re real good at playing the media and acting cool. And that’s how they get so many folks in the local media to protect them. I like a lot of people on the local sports teams. I hate saying bad things about guys I genuinely feel are good people with good intentions. The best example I remember is the day after day that I totally ripped Brad Lidge. Everyday, I found myself apologizing to him, telling him how much I liked and respected him. But I had to do my job and that was talking and writing about the job that he wasn’t doing.

HMW:  John what are your long-term personal goals with your radio career?

LOPEZ: I think Marc and I have a show that could be a hit nationally and/or on morning local TV in simulcast fashion from our studios. It may not ever happen, but that’s an honest goal.

HMW: John I believe a good radio personality is opinionated, educated, and willing to leave the listeners agitated by speaking honestly as opposed to reciting the company line.

John, talk about the dynamics of bringing the straightforward honest approach you bring on air, while balancing your station's relationship with the Texans & Rockets?

LOPEZ: People in this town and Tracy himself genuinely believe that I hate the man. Nothing could be further from the truth. He’s a genuine humanitarian. I just saw through to what Tracy really was on a basketball court a long, long time ago. I want to make the Texans and Rockets happy. But I want to make listeners happy more.

HMW: Carl Dukes, David Nuno and yourself John, are the only three full-time minority hosts in a city with four major sports talk stations.

There are NO women full-time host on air in the sports-talk radio format in Houston.

John, please share your take on the lack of full-time women and minority talent on air in Houston and how do we improve the situation?

LOPEZ: I think it’s a joke. I thought it was a joke a long, long time ago. I hate Affirmative Action and don’t think there’s a place for it in our society. But why is Manu Ginobili a god in San Antonio? Why is Yao Ming a god to the Asian community? Why do black people clearly and often go to great lengths defending black athletes – even those who create havoc and heinous crimes, like Mike Vick? It’s because sports fans enjoy and are proud of those who reflect their culture on the sports field. Fans want to see their own faces on sports fields. Doesn’t it make sense they want to hear their own voices on broadcasts?

HMW: John, here's your opportunity to have a shot at HMW and tell the readers your thoughts on Houston Media Watch?

LOPEZ: I’ve got no problem with HMW. I would tell you if I did. I don’t agree with everything you say, but that’s what makes it fun.

HMW: John, thank you for the chat. Man, it was great and we appreciate your honesty. We also want to say thanks to Sports Radio 610 for all you guys are doing over there in providing some fun and entertainment.

Lesbo's Final Take:
Its my opinion that John Lopez has been the shot in the rear that morning show radio has needed from the moment John & Lance bolted from Sports Radio 610 to start up 1560 The Game. Andre Ware was and is a talented "nice" guy and therein was the issue with he and Mark Vandermeer as morning hosts. Two "nice" guys going out of their way not to step on feet while keeping the sponsors happy was doing absolutely nothing as far as providing entertainment value for their listeners. Insert John Lopez and immediately you put "salt in the game" as we say in the "hood" (salt is a good thing by the way in this context), energizing the 610 morning drive show. Marc is a great lead jock and Lopez is the perfect devil's advocate to keep things stirred up. Lopez, I respect your accomplishments to this point on your show and I wish you continued sucess. I'll be watching! Thanks John!!

Craig Shelton

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the show also, John and Marc work together great and help keep me informed and updated on latest sports news. They also keep it entertaining!