Monday, March 11, 2013


Vince Young and Chance McClain

Chance, I like to first thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions.  With the recent events at 1560 The Game, I thought it would be pretty cool to get some words from someone who worked in management.  There are a lot of unknowns surrounding exactly what’s happening at 1560.

I really do not care for the anonymous sourcing and would like for you to share some information with the HMW readers.  In other words, my questions will be very direct.

Every time I have referenced your name with Craig Shelton, I always received the same statement, “Chance is super talented”.  One night, you made the comment, someone should do a “tell all” book about 1560 and that’s was my opening to get you on HMW.

Q.  When did you get into radio and what was your position?  How did you meet Lance Zierlein and John Granato?  Do you regard the two as friends? 

A.   My first week working in radio was Super Bowl week, when it was in Houston. It was a fire baptism. I met John and Lance in the late 90’s as any listener meets a host, at a remote. I had made a couple songs about Houston athletes and sent them to them. They liked them and played them on the air so we became friends and remain friends.

Q.   I apologize if my timeline is off but can you shed some light on the migration of you, Lance and John to 1560.

A.   Not yet. Sorry.

Q.  It is my understanding that you were one of the original 1560 employees, upon accepting employment with 1560, what was the vision pitched to you?  At the time, who were your superiors (chain of command) and can you elaborate on their positions?

The vision wasn’t pitched to me. The vision was constructed by a team of which I was a part. We aimed to make an independently owned sports radio station that lacked shackles of unnecessary corporate oversight. We wanted to make a family and invite listeners to be a part of it.

Q.  At the time, how did you feel about the vision presented to you?

A. I loved it.

Q.  I can remember a few years ago at about the same HMW was trying to get off ground the ground, we learned you had been fired.   I know this may be a sensitive topic but can you give the readers the run of why you were let go?

A. It’s not sensitive. My philosophy of what made radio work was not aligned with that of David Gow and the newly acquired management team from Sporting News Radio. I wanted to be live and local 24/7. They wanted to be leverage local and national talent and shows. I had no interest in the 1990s style of sports radio. They loved the big, compressed voices talking down to the audience. I believed in wild, esoteric, and offbeat shows. They believed in a tight clock, narrow focus, and scripted shows. I was a fan of spontaneity.
They weren’t. I wanted to be authentic, transparent, and honest. They wanted to use smoke and mirrors and historically effective audience manipulation methods. Ultimately, I wanted to get it right for a small and loyal audience and allow that audience to grow. None of these things were in the vision of Mr. Gow and Larson.

Q.  Again, my timeline could be off and this could be after you left 1560, but what are your thoughts about Craig Larson, Yahoo and this invasion of national radio?  Has 1560 failed?  Can it be salvaged and how?

A. To borrow a reference from Lord of the Rings, Larson was a Grima Wormtongue to David Gow’s King Theoden. He was doing what he thought was right and what served his best interest and Gow is a fan of people telling him what he wants to hear. So the two got along swimmingly. Personally, I have no hate for Craig. In the corporate world people are just names on a spreadsheet and the ‘audience’ is a number in an Arbitron report. Craig is from the corporate world. He is an adept player at the corporate game. I am terrible at it.

Can 1560 be salvaged? No, of course not. It may stay on the air but the original vision is a vapor. 97.5 is making money and Yahoo Sports Radio is supposedly making money so the Gow Media Machine is making money of which 1560 is a component.

Q.  From what you can recall, what was the scuttlebutt amongst the family about the coming of Yahoo.

A. Speaking to Sporting News Radio, we all hated it and everything it represented. We wanted to use SNR overnight to replace Sports Byline, which was a garbage network. That’s it. We got so much more than we wanted and it was cancerous. SNR was a failed enterprise, hemorrhaging money. It was a virus. 1560 is the third radio station that it destroyed. They misrepresented the number of stations they were on and over-represented everything about themselves to their clients and to David Gow. They would include any station that carried anything they programmed, even if it was only one sportsflash on the weekend, on their roster of affiliates. In my opinion, David was less concerned with what he deemed to be clerical errors than he was with the allure of owning a network.

Q.  I could be wrong but three of the last “1560 Old heads” are Sean Pendergast, John Granato and John Harris, do you think their jobs are secure?

A. No. Again, they are names on a spreadsheet to Gow, Tepper, and Larson. Fortunately, they can only get better since the radio station is pulling zeroes in the ratings. Unfortunately for Larson, Tepper, Morales, and Vexler…they are names on a ledger as well but these guys are gifted in the art of survival.

Q.  I always hear “Gamers” talk about the beginning of the Game and the talent you guys had.  Do you feel the first crop of 1560 talent could battle in the ratings and shit talk in the current market?

A.  Yes, that collection of guys would be very competitive in today’s market. My last month as PD we were the number one sports radio station in the market, as reported in David Barron’s Notebook last week. We went from a flatline in the ratings to first place amongst the four sports station in 10 months. The month we added Brando and SNR, August of 2009, we slipped to second and it has been in a free fall since then, finally bottoming out last month with zero impressions in the market.

Sports Radio 610’s success is buoyed, ballasted, and anchored by The Texans. Please don’t read that as a discredit to the talent or the work of Gavin Spittle. Much like the Texans, 610 ‘sticks to the playbook’ and they are out-traditionaling the competition. The shows are constructed with a straight man and a wildcard. They follow the formula well and have built a vast audience. They are not really competing with 790, 97.5, or 1560 any longer. They have their eyes on The Arrow and The Buzz.

  • 790 has ample talent but no leadership. They are an unoriginal bore. 
  • 97.5 has less talent, even less leadership, and is even more boring. They have an FM dial position and that’s it. 
Q.   Outside of yourself, who do you feel sorry for the most (former or current) employees at 1560?  Who got it the hardest and can you expound.

A.  I don’t feel sorry for myself. I stuck to my guns and when the writing was on the wall I stopped caring. Who do I feel most sorry for? It’s tough to say. There has been so much mistreatment. Obviously, the people that left successful careers for greener pastures have been hit hard. Adam Clanton was criminally hosed. He was an intern when I was at 610 and I helped get him on board there. He’s like a brother to me and I hate to see him out of a gig. I am glad that the Taskmaster got on at 740 but I felt bad when they whacked him. Nunee Oakes was the first to go and John and I had to fire him ourselves, that was bullshit. Shreksican’s termination was a shock to me. He had been loyal to Larson despite years of slop work. Nuño and Raheel left and have found success elsewhere.

I feel awful for Granato, Sean, and Harris. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do. We all had the same dream. The highs we shared were very, very high. They walk the same halls but are surrounded by zombies chasing a different dream. People on death row watch their peers take that last walk and are forced to contemplate their own expiration. Those three guys have watched a lot of friends take that walk.

I feel sorry for the Gamers, for sure. A lot of them think we betrayed them. They’re right, but it was not a willful betrayal. Without that core group of people there was no 1560 The Game. They bought the shirts and took pride in what we made. They were tentative at first, naturally afraid they would be used and their fears were realized under our watch. We tried, we failed, and they were betrayed. I hate that.

But the person I feel the most sorry for is Frank Bullington. Frank left a successful career in the wine business to build something amazing. He walked away from it cold. There was nobody more emotionally invested than Frankie the Bull. That dude was loyal to the cause from day one until he quit. He left the station disgusted and remains so. He’s back in the wine world now, kicking ass as always, but he is built to entertain and that creative force is muted.

LM's clarification: I usually do not do this in my Q&As (insert new material) but I want to apologize to Chance for the wrong word usage. I wish I could have used another phrase rather than "feel sorry for yourself" and like Gary Kubiak "That's on me".

Q.  Back in the day, I would get pissed off because I could not get 1560’s signal in certain parts of the city.  In detail can you please explain to the readers exactly what the issue with the signal was?

A. The details would bore your readers, unless they get off to dissertations on ground conductivity, atmospheric skip, and RF filters. The simple version is that 1560 has a shitty footprint with limited day and night overlap. John and I combated this with compelling content. People will suffer through a dilapidated signal for quality content. When the content degraded, the signal’s shortcomings were always pointed to as the reason.

Q.  In hindsight, what would you have done differently within your parameters?

A. I don’t know. Stayed at 610 under Bill and Laura? No. That sucked. Fought harder to keep Brando off our air? No. I would have been fired. Played the corporate game to preserve my job? No. I would have a nervous breakdown. My job as PD was to deliver content and later, ratings. I did my best but it was not good enough for our sales team to meet Gow’s expectations.

I found myself working in a different environment than I set out to create. I had different goals and a different plan. When I got axed, it was a sign to everyone at KGOW that shared my philosophy. They were to do things the new way, quit, or get fired. The people that remain at 1560 abandoned the philosophy. The rest of us were a simple matter of deleting a row in an Excel spreadsheet.


I would like to thank you for sharing your comments and if my questions were all over the place, forgive me.  As we do with all interviews, I would like to extend the floor to you.  Feel free to elaborate on topics I missed, your thoughts about HMW. Etc.  The floor is yours to close it out.

Chance: The things we did at 1560 were magic. They didn't seem like it at the time, but looking back, it was pure magic.

I reached out to another "Old head" from 1560 The Game to get a comment.

Lance Zierlein
I understand the move that 1560 made in moving Sean and John to the afternoons and adding Dan Patrick into their lineup.  I don't think it was a bad move at all and I understand why they did it from a revenue standpoint.  I wish 1560, David Gow and all my friends over there the best of luck.  The station is much different than when I went came aboard on November 1st of 2007, but every station goes through changes and 1560 has gone through more than most over the last couple of years.



gcastr said...

Chank was the $hit!

Earlis said...

Good to the straight up how it went down report...Yeah when they started I thought this could da hubba hubba hot chit...but...they changed the flow and now I get to hear all
I don't know they may sell the station huh...for the money...who knows..but sittin on the property is smart for the sale price will rise up and up over time....The Airwaves really should belong to the people because it is a natural resource...I am dating myself but in the 70's that a big issue hell even more so the 60' about corporate misuse and ripoff of a natural resource...if you read the original writing when the
FCC was set you will say, well dam...did they flip the script or what..hail yeah..and it sucks..
I must admit 610 has impressed with those numbers...they draw in the listeners...for real..
all kind of talent out be absorbed by rival stations..but the friggin shot callers are on some other shyt...