Here is a link to my Thursday column about radio sports talker Damon Bruce. The full column runs below:
The new FM all-sports radio station, 95.7 The Game, just made a desperate move, a sad move. Its management hired Damon Bruce for its crucial 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. slot — drive time — and let three good people go.
It is not my habit to write about negligible people like Bruce. I avoid the negligible — negligible insight, negligible tact, negligible talent. But what 95.7 did is important in a bad way. It also is instructive.
Hiring Bruce illustrates the biggest difference between print journalism and broadcast journalism. Broadcast journalism cares less about quality and more about ratings. It has to. We all understand that. There’s no such thing as bad publicity or good publicity. To broadcast journalism, it’s either publicity or no publicity.
Hiring Bruce will create publicity. I’m writing about him, so I’m part of the publicity campaign. The Game, losing its battle to KNBR, needs all the publicity it can get. I understand what 95.7 is doing and I sympathize. It’s still a shame, and it hurts the station’s image.
Bruce is not famous. He’s infamous. A while back, the entire nation was talking about him, not in a good way. He went on the air and ranted against women. When I say he went on the air, I mean over at 1050, KNBR’s junior-varsity station. He couldn’t make it permanently to 680, the sports powerhouse, didn’t have the credibility or the flair or the charm.
Surely you remember what he said. To catch you up, here are a few snippets:
“A lot of sports have lost its way and I’m going to tell you it’s because we have women giving us directions.”
“I enjoy many of the women’s contributions to sports. Well, that’s a lie. (He laughs.) I can’t even pretend that’s true. There are a very few — small handful — of women who are any good at this at all.”
And this quote is the topper: “All of this world of sports, especially the sport of football, has a setting. It’s set to men. That’s the setting. We’re not changing it for you (women). It’s a man’s world. It’s the last place where men will be men. This is guy stuff. It’s unfair in the world of men. You learn that early. Sports are set to the dial of men, and I’m not going to allow it to be changed.”
That last image, the dial image, is interesting, vivid. Let’s linger over Damon Bruce’s dial.
The Giants banned him from covering the postseason in 2012. I checked this with the Giants to get my facts straight.
When the Giants clinched the division, they staged the usual champagne celebration in the clubhouse.
The room was crowded. Wives and girlfriends were there. Some women wore T-shirts and some T-shirts were wet with champagne.
Bruce photographed some women with wet T-shirts and tweeted out the sexually revealing photos — real adolescent behavior.
The Giants were appalled. They informed Bruce his press credential did not entitle him to take photos of women in wet T-shirts and tweet them out. The Giants revoked his credential for the postseason, including the World Series, because his behavior fell short of a professional standard. They banned him from covering the Giants at the crucial moment of the season and banished him from the press box.
Does Bruce have a problem with women?
It sure seems like it. I can’t begin to analyze his problem. I’m not a shrink. I just know one thing — this is the new afternoon drive-time guy on The Game. Women listeners beware.
I wrote to the program director of 95.7, Jason Barrett, and asked why he hired Bruce.
He responded, “As it pertains to Damon, I think he’s an extremely talented on-air personality who provides strong opinions and an entertaining presentation and, with 10 years in the market, he knows and understands the Bay Area sports landscape pretty well. Of course, he’s got his fans and he’s got his critics and any good personality in this industry is going to have both.
“Our radio station has made great strides the past 33 months with our target audience of men 25-54 going from 33rd place when we started to seventh in January 2014 and we are making this move to take even bigger steps in the months and years to come. We are committed to this format, we are in it to win and we believe Damon will play an important role in helping us take that next step.”
In his media blog, Rich Lieberman pointed this out: Bruce will compete head to head with KNBR’s Tom Tolbert, a superstar. I believe Tolbert will murder him. KNBR must be celebrating the departure of Bruce. Now, he’s somebody else’s problem.
Some — I would guess many — reputable local journalists have refused to appear on Bruce’s 1050 show and, I believe, will continue to avoid him at 95.7. He has become a pariah.
He will make a temporary splash at 95.7, short-lived. He will last for a while. Then he will get fired and he will fade from our lives as negligible things always do.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.