Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Where Have You Gone, Mr. Kornheiser?

There was a time, in the early, formative months of this blog, that I wasn't concerned in the slightest if half the day passed and I hadn't yet come up with a topic to expound upon in this space. In those halcyon days of yore, my lunch break drive-time was occupied by "The Tony Kornheiser Show" on ESPN Radio. If I needed a topic, I knew Tony would provide me with one. Far from being just another sports talk show, Tony would touch on a little bit of everything. His show appealed to intellectual sports fans with a good sense of humor (and yes, such a creature does exist). The "Old Guy Radio" segment provided a pretty good soundtrack too.

Alas, those days are long gone, as Tony's show went off the air in March. Enter "The Herd," hosted by Colin Cowherd, which is just another sports talk show if ever there was one. I still tune in occasionally, but I have little patience for it. I love sports, but I mostly just want to watch the games and get some news. I have little use for most sports talk, which is little more than rehashing of standard opinions along with over-examination of minutiae, and an occasional call from a drunk sports fan thrown in for good measure. I don't put much stock in talking heads' views on sports--when I want a debate or opinion, I'll talk to my friends, where we can talk about the teams, players, and issues that we actually care about.

"The Tony Kornheiser Show" was an exception to all of that. When he talked about sports, Tony usually offered a unique perspective and some different insight from what was being spouted from other sports media personalities. The main reason I liked his show, though, was because it transcended sports. He would talk about pop culture, politics, current events, music, literature, whatever. That aspect of the show appealed to the Renaissance man in me, and it was often where I could cull a writing topic if none presented themselves to me through other means.

Tony said during his last days on air that he would almost certainly do another radio show on another network. To my knowledge, that has not happened yet, and it makes me sad. His show definitely appealed to a niche audience, but I think his departure from radio has dropped the standards and brought in just one more show appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Since then, I've been getting my Tony fix by reading his occasional columns from the Washington Post (registration required) and by watching him and fellow Post columnist Michael Wilbon on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption". Lately, even this has been denied to me, as both Tony and Mike are on a seemingly interminable vacation (PTI's hosting slots have been filled by Stephen A. Smith, Dan LeBatard, and Skip Bayless, none of whom possess the intellect or wit of Tony or Wilbon)--no columns have been forthcoming, and I've been skipping guest-hosted PTI in favor of my PlayStation. I'm hoping they (or at least one of them) will be back soon. Another week of substandard heads and PTI may lose its appeal and relevance.

There is hope for the future, however. This fall, a new sitcom called "Listen Up" will premiere on CBS. I'm normally not one for sitcoms or non-sports television in general, but this show is based on Tony's Post columns, and should be pretty interesting if nothing else. Starring as Tony will be none other than Jason Alexander, better known as George Costanza from "Seinfeld". The show premieres on Monday, September 20 at 8:30. That's opposite Monday Night Football, which sucks, but maybe I'll get a DVR before then.

***UPDATE (7:16 P.M.)***

Word on the street is that both Kornheiser and Wilbon are in Athens to cover the Olympics, and won't be back together on PTI until the Games are over. I am less than pleased with this news. I guess this means I can just start playing PlayStation as soon as I get home, without bothering to check ESPN to see if they're on.

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