Friday, October 21, 2011


Craig Shelton
Written by: Craig Shelton
Date posted: 10/21/2011

Allow me to begin this story with a borrowed line from the piece of work that is ESPN College Game Day analyst Lee Corso, "not so fast, my friend!"
Lance Zierlein & John Granato

Just when we we're all ready to crown the new Sports Talk 790 morning drive show (The Big Show) kings of the airwaves, a veteran in the game, steps up to remind us that, he'll have a say in who's actually putting on the best brand of entertainment in Houston's morning drive sports talk format. I've listened to John Granato on 1560 The Game in morning drive post John & Lance (Zierlein) breakup, as he's partnered up with Sean Pendergast, Travis Rodgers, and my personal favorite, John Harris.

I have yet to tune in to John Granato and have the immediate negative sensation that I've experienced when listening to his former co-host Lance Zierlein, when I have listened to the Sports Talk 790 Big Show. That negative sensation I speak of is by no fault of Zierlein, but more so an incorrect equation, in the inexact science of radio chemistry. Zierlein, Adam Wexler, and Matt Jackson doesn't add up in my view as a long term winner for Sports Talk 790.

Though I'm a fan of Zierlein, I almost immediately recognized the holes in him being paired with Wexler and Jackson. To the contrary, when I listened to John Granato, his transition appears a lot smoother at 1560 The Game. Surprisingly enough, with Granato, there's no immediate negative sensation or "oh oh" factor. Maybe we should have all seen it coming? When you really think about it, there's no reason not to expect John Granato not to put on a quality product.

Granato has hustle skills and is a salesman by nature, with leadership attributes. Granato is quick on his feet with timely humor, but can be temperamental in a controlled manner, which feeds into his on-air approach. In other words, the guy has pride and add to that the component of what hip hop icon Ice Cube once said in a verse, "I started this sh*t"!

John Granato and Lance Zierlein definitely helped start the current wave of sports talk entertainment in Houston. We accept humor injected into our sports feed largely because of what we were fed by John Granato & Lance Zierlein. Therefore, the expectation of how we expect to be entertained by our local sports talk hosts in Houston, is a direct result of the almost decade-and-a-half of success of the John & Lance Morning Show.


Take into consideration John Granato's bold move in leaving CBS/Sports Radio 610 to launch KGOW 1560 The Game, and the type of self-confidence and vision it takes to make that decision, amid the success he was enjoying at CBS. When you compartmentalize that dichotomy, it lends a look into the fiber of Granato's competitiveness.

I don't see a scenario where 1560 The Game will surpass SportsRadio 610 or the secondary market leaders in listener ratings. I say that because of the 1560/Yahoo national format dominating their programming, not as an indictment of the assembled talent at 1560. Local talk simply rules the day in Houston sports talk, it always has and always will.


Sources have indicated to me that one issue that brought the original version of 1560 down was an absorbency in structure regarding payroll. Much of that fat has been trimmed via departures of key out front personnel and less visible personnel to the public. The argument could be made that if Granato was to move on for greener pastures, it could be a "win-win" for both Granato & 1560/Yahoo Radio.

If Granato was to leave 1560 for a better personal career choice financially, who could fault the guy for that? Not me. That would leave 1560 with a hole in the morning drive slot, but Sean Pendergast could be serviceable in that slot at lesser cost. With 1560's predominantly national format, they could remain sponsor-dollar friendly, with less overhead in staffing. In effect, 1560/Yahoo can lose the ratings war, but maintain a bottom line premise of success? (Just a thought.)

What I expect to see happen in regard to Granato long-term, is speculation to say the least. But I expect that in time, a 1560TheGame competitor will make a run at Granato and throw some significant ca$h his way in an attempt to greatly improve their stations cache of talent. Obviously, I'm not inside the Granato think-tank, but based on his career resume, it wouldn't shock me to see Granato on the move if the money train comes rolling down the tracks with his bank account as a destination. Perhaps if Sports Talk 790 intends to have a true "Big Show" they'll be the ones calling and a J&L "the remix" version could be in the cards?

Let's be honest folks. We all know John Granato & Lance Zierlein can survive independent of each other and have success.
 But when it comes to enjoying true chemistry in sports talk radio in Houston, the harsh reality of the situation is, the majority of us all enjoyed them both much more when they were together.


Craig Shelton

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Doug Van Horne said...

good post and I agree with a lot of it except I can't see Granato leaving 1560. He is a part owner of that station and I can't see any other station taking him in.

Lance is awesome but I would be remiss if I didn't say that I have never been a fan of Matt and Adam. Ever.

They both have horrible voices and are quite irritating when they try and debate each other. I can't stand Matt Jackson's Napoleonic complex and him constantly trying to prove he is a smart guy. We get it Matt. You are smart. So am I, but I don't spend every waking moment of my life trying to prove it to the rest of the world. As for Adam, he is nice enough but he is about as entertaining as anal warts. His voice doesn't irritate me as much as that chainsaw cadence that is MJ though.

Then when you combine those 2 with Lance, who is smooth and genuine, its just like you said Craig. Bad chemistry. Oil and water. It could improve and I will continue to listen but I think that has more to do with my general disdain for Craig Larson, than it has to do with actual entertainment value. I listen to Sean and Travis' show pretty religiously but I feel every time I listen to the morning show, I am rewarding Larson for his role in driving all the talent away (chance, lz, solis, frank, etc) I just feel like I need a shower after listening.

Lance would be better off by himself with just a producer to bounce ideas off of and banter with. Re-uniting with JG at 790 sounds great in theory, but its pretty much impossible. I do think that John Harris would be a great matchup for LZ but I think 1560 would offer him the spot next to JG before they let him defect to 790 ala LZ.

I appreciate the blog Craig. Good stuff and not afraid to call it like you see it. Maybe we will see a JG and LZ reunion one day. I would gladly take a LZ and John Harris show in the meantime.

StevoinHTown said...

I don't listen to Wexler since he left 610. The few times I did, I got sick of his condescending, know-it-all delivery. When he was cut loose of his slot, I figured that slot would get better. It was replaced with Barry Warner. Now I get to hear a washed-up old blow-hard has-been chew, smack and chomp food every night. One night the dude actually puked on air after stuffin' a bagel in his pie-hole. To this day, I have no idea as to why any GM would allow ANYONE to eat on air. It's disgusting. I jus' figgered Warner got pictures of somebody...