Thursday, July 17, 2014




Craig Shelton

It would stand to reason with the ratings success of former NFL players, ND Kalu & Greg Koch, on their show "IN THE TRENCHES" on Sports 790, the think tank at CBS Radio/Sports Radio 610 (610) would have learned a competitive lesson.

Kalu and Koch bolted for greener pastures at Sports Talk 790 (on the west end of the AM dial) after they became discontented with the lack of opportunity at 610 to expand their careers beyond spot appearances as guest hosts and weekend broadcast hosts. Under former 610 program director, Gavin Spittle, Kalu & Koch were not viewed as viable options (as a tandem) to host a prime time show together. Spittle believed in a "point guard - two guard" system with his talent casting system. Spittle viewed both Kalu & Koch as two-guards who'd be better fits cast alongside a "setup man" the likes of a Mark Vandermeer or to a far lesser degree, a guy like former CBS Mad Radio host, Brad Davies.

Gavin Spittle's scouting report on Kalu & Koch was accurate in theory, but it failed to account for the X Factor in entertainment likeability.

ND Kalu & Greg Koch aren't enjoying the success that they're enjoying because they're awesome radio professionals. Kalu & Koch are Houston's highest-rated sports talk show because they're former NFL players who happen to be really likeable guys that cater to their listener base.

You can't account for those attributes in annotated charts or graphics. They don't teach likeability at Syracuse University's School of Broadcast Journalism.

Purely for purposes of full disclosure, admittedly, I'm not a guy with the tough guy-street cred cache, that some noted local sports talk hosts enjoy. If I did enjoy such respect in the dark and ominous community of the gambling underworld, as Tony Soprano-like figures in the Houston's sports talk sphere command, guys like Sean Pendergast, Nick Wright, and noted Mafia hit man, the notorious Matt Jackson, I'd bet my money on former Texans first-round draft pick, Travis Johnson.

Johnson's tenure at 610 mirrored that of ND Kalu, Greg Koch, Ted Johnson, and Matt Murphy, all ex-NFL players. Of all the former ex-NFL players to get a start at radio via Sports Radio 610, only former Texans, Seth Payne and Travis Johnson, were obvious no-brainers for future success at an accelerated rate.

From the first moment Travis Johnson took the mike in evening drive as a guest, his every word was "must listen radio."

Over Travis Johnson's first couple of months making guest appearances on 610, Johnson was heard on average approximately 20 hours a week. That frequency on air coupled with Johnson's polarizing personality, made it easy for Johnson to quickly become "appointment radio".


According to information we've obtained at HMW, Travis Johnson was ultimately cast in the same box as Kalu & Koch, in that he's viewed as a power hitter more so than as a Jose Altuve-type table setter. The same for former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson. That assessment from 610's program director would preclude any optimism related to there being a possibility of a "Johnson & Johnson" show to challenge the Kalu & Koch beast on SportsTalk 790.

It's safe to say that was a bone-headed miscalculation by the Sports Radio 610 think tank not to take a run at Sports Talk 790's NFL player pairing with a pairing of their own ebony & ivory NFL duo in Travis Johnson & Ted Johnson. Instead, the decision to pair Ted Johnson with Sean Pendergast and Rich Lord was made, which made about as sense as the decision to hire Matt Murphy made. There's just no measurable upside to either decision.


Sources tell HMW that the 610 pay scale calls for time-and-a half rates to be paid to part-time talent like Travis Johnson. Going under the assumption that this information is accurate and the associated numbers we received are correct relating to Johnson, had Travis Johnson maintained his time-and-a-half rate, he reportedly received during the period he averaged 20 hours a week on air, his annual rate would have been in the six-figure range, had he received the same rate of pay over a 5-day work week. Hosts are paid for 6 hours who host 4 hour shows, to compensate for show-prep time. That may explain the massive drop off in hours we eventually began hearing Johnson on air after his first two months with CBS.


When it was all said and done, all Sports Radio 610 offered Travis Johnson, according to our information, was a once-a-week show on Sundays for three hours. This did not sit well with Johnson according to our information.

Reports say Johnson was told he'd be cast in a larger role.

Interesting enough, Sports Radio 610  found a role of advancement for Ted Johnson as the third wheel in evening drive on "THE TRIPLE THREAT,"  but according to our information,  never bothered to speak to Travis Johnson about the opportunity to fill the position when Ted Johnson moved to evening drive opened up.

Only time will tell if Sports Radio 610's alleged snubbing of Travis Johnson is a mighty George Springer-like swing connecting on a fastball over the plate,  or another untimely Chris Carter missed swing at a breaking ball in the dirt?

I'm betting on the latter (keep your eye on Travis Johnson and Sports Talk 790).


Steve said...

Don't care for T Johnson. Koch and Kalu are good, likeable hosts WHO HAPPEN to be former NFL players.

lockmat said...

Travis was awesome. His talking points were controversial for the same reasons Innes' used to be - because they're blatantly honest and not the run of the mill opinion.

He's better than Koch and Ted Johnson, easily. He's funny and has better explained points.