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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.”

Will he?

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 lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

 

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Comments

38 Comments

  1. Kevin

    Maybe Lowell but I’m tired of Tom and Ray Ratto. They’re juvenile and just awful. I’ll listen to Bruce just as an alternative.

    March 12th, 2014 11:36 pm

  2. MJ

    I think the more important story is that 3 men lost their jobs, and for who, for what?

    Whats really strange to me about Barretts comments is that he said they went from 33rd to 7th from when the station opened until now, but the 2 mainstays of that station were John Lund, who comes off as a middle-aged pervert sometimes, and the “rise guys”. They were the only group on that station this whole time whose format didn’t change one bit, no new hosts, no new tricks. So these guys helped bring you to 7th…and you dump them. There truly is no loyalty anymore.

    95.7 is floundering, and its sad, because that station started off with great. A commentator on BASG listed every single lineup they have run out there, rise guys only ones never modified, but overall this station brings in guys and they leave within 6 months. When Bruce fails, and he will, Bruce won’t be the only one packing…so will Barrett…but then again, should a guy who calls himself a “pimp” deserve any less?

    March 13th, 2014 12:13 am

  3. ASM

    The Giants being concerned about professional behavior is laughable after years of the sad Bonds fiasco. Please read Game of shadows again and do point out any excellent standards of professional behavior they seem to have tumbled into recently. Bruce criticized Sabean harshly for all the years of ineptitude and was unwelcome. Therein lies the crucial difference between the Bruce and the other hosts: he criticizes teams harshly for their failures while the others invite the front office over for a round of chuckles. no wonder none seems to be at risk to lose his gig. KNBR would be on a level playing field with any other station if not for their broadcast arrangement with the Giants and Niners, if you think that is false please do continue to be bathed in glorious and cutting insights delivered almost all day. if you can mangage to stay past the chuckles and inanities you do deserve a medal.

    March 13th, 2014 12:27 am

  4. Rob

    I happened upon 1050 not long ago and Bruce was engaged in a rant against the Cohns. Really nasty. Imitated
    Lowell for a good part of the program strongly attacked Grant’s blog on the Jed York trip to Miami. I did not listen long. Still have to agree with Kevin. Tom and Ray are tiring.

    March 13th, 2014 6:46 am

  5. Larkin

    Im sure this column has nothing to do with Damon Bruce calling you a hack on air time and time again. Way to stoop to his level. I guess age doesn’t always bread wisdom.

    March 13th, 2014 7:00 am

  6. Larkin

    “Breed”

    March 13th, 2014 7:01 am

  7. michel

    He is such a non player in the area. Does not even merit your time to write about this guy.

    March 13th, 2014 7:13 am

  8. Elknarps

    I was going to heap praise on Tom and Ray, but Kevin’s comment makes me pause. They do at times act juvenile, led by Tom. Ray might go along when not telling Tom to stop. But when they stick to talking points and on occasion disagree the exchanges are informative, mostly led by Ray.

    On 95.7 I felt Chris Townsend and Rick Bucher work well together, good chemistry and timing. I agree with you Lowell, hiring Damon is a step backward in quality.

    March 13th, 2014 7:35 am

  9. Dennis

    It is funny, as a consumer, listening to print journalism talk about broadcast journalism and broadcast journalism talk about print journalism. You both think the other needs the sensationalism in order to have success. At least that was what broadcast journalism was subscribing to the motives behind your recent Kaepernick article.

    I agree with Kevin above. Sometimes Tolbert can be fun to listen to and sometimes very boring. At no time can I stand listening to Ratto.

    I will listen to Bruce for the same reason I come to the CohnZohn: in both cases you will find a man with an opinion. While I may not like or agree with the opinion I most certainly do respect the courage it takes to voice it. And I also enjoy the debate that will certainly follow. I find it – shall we say – entertaining. And that is really what it is all about.

    March 13th, 2014 8:07 am

  10. Dan

    Why is every “Sports” station the number one sports station in the country.

    March 13th, 2014 8:16 am

  11. Ben

    Two points:

    1) Nothing 95.7 does will accomplish anything more than to delay their inevitable crumble; there’s no way they can compete with KNBR’s signal or their deals with SFG, 49ers and Warriors. So I guess point #1 is they’re irrelevant.

    2) Of all his sins, I can’t be mad or disgusted at hearing about Damon Bruce in the locker room taking photos of women in wet T-shirts. Sexist? Check. Disrespectful? Check. I’d probably do it too? Check.

    March 13th, 2014 8:18 am

  12. doug

    Lowell….since you are on YSTL a lot and YSTL only uses personalities from “the game” and not KNBR……the next time you and Bruce are on the show sitting next to one another should be very interesting.

    March 13th, 2014 8:43 am

  13. Dennis

    I understated the term “opinion”. I meant to say “controversial opinion”.

    March 13th, 2014 8:50 am

  14. Stan

    And the bigger picture? Bruce makes woman out to be failures in sports…while the 3 white males were fired..and another (Bruce) is hired to replace them. I mean,on BOTH sports radio stations white males get fired…and the GM’s replace them with more of the same as sports hosts.
    And now tell me that affirmative action isn’t trashed by both KNBR and 103.7.

    March 13th, 2014 9:15 am

  15. CohnZohn

    doug, Don’t expect to see Bruce on YSTL any time soon.

    March 13th, 2014 9:25 am

  16. Steve the cat rescuer

    Bravo Lowell, I’m giving you a standing ovation. One of your best, if not the best, columns. Your evisceration of Bruce and 95.7 is surgical in its precision.

    Recently I took up a new hobby – target shooting. Now one would think shooting sports are the domain of men. I’m sure Bruce would. But think again. Many of the champion shooters – in all disciplines of the sport – are women. Not publicized to any degree, but an interesting fact nevertheless.

    I listened to Bruce a few times when he replaced Larry Krueger, who was banished from KNBR for five years for something far less egregious than Bruce’s many indiscretions. My first and very brief impression of him was an egotistical know nothing who bullied opinions on his unfortunate listeners. I made it through two shows and never returned, so it was not surprising to learn of his anti-women rant, anti-Lowell/Grant rant, issues with Radnich, and his inability to get along with everyone at KNBR. I guess he is universally despised at the station, although I must say it was gutless of KNBR not to fire him immediately after the Giants clubhouse incident.

    I was unaware that he was banned and his credential revoked. What amazes me is that the Giants (led by Felipe Alou) went after Krueger with a vengeance and ultimately got him fired, but didn’t insist that Bruce be let go as well.

    95.7FM is circling the drain. Strangely their morning show, from which the three talking heads were fired to accommodate the reshuffled program schedule, was supposedly their highest rated program. I rarely listen to Tolbert and I’m sure Bruce has his fans, but I don’t expect him to last much longer in this market.

    March 13th, 2014 9:46 am

  17. chris

    nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!

    March 13th, 2014 9:48 am

  18. Matt

    Bruce is difficult to listen to or take seriously . . . he often insults callers he doesn’t agree with, is intentionally disrespectful to callers and others, and even results to the juvenile practice of calling people names. Among those issues, as well as the ones that are pointed out about how he has treated women, here is one I’ll never forget: he objectified and sexualized female athletes during and after the 2012 London Olympics (I suppose that may have happened other times, too), including the women’s gymnastics team, which as you likely know was primarily made up of girls under the age of 18. I can’t say that I’ll miss listening to Bruce.

    March 13th, 2014 10:10 am

  19. Mark M

    I have no problem whatsoever with occasional juvenile behavior. I welcome it and find it refreshing at times.

    But I still won’t listen to this guy, same as ever. His senseless rants against Sabean, demands that we should bring in Manny Ramirez of all people or our team is full of idiots, made me realize what a sensationalistic loud clown he was. Tolbert is a far superior talent. Ratto (a good curmudgeon) is the closest thing to the Razor in the area and that dynamic just works. But it’s clearly Tolbert’s show now.

    Tying Bruce’s success to the Game’s doesn’t bode well for that station. I’ve got to believe it’s the beginning of the end for them which is a shame.

    March 13th, 2014 10:22 am

  20. Dr. Feelgood

    My memory is foggy, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Damon Bruce the source of “…brain-dead Caribbeans, hacking at slop…”? Didn’t he get discarded once previously for that insightful commentary?

    March 13th, 2014 10:44 am

  21. CohnZohn

    Dr. Feelgood, That was Larry Krueger.

    March 13th, 2014 10:53 am

  22. Stan

    Speaking of very bad broadcasting..I have heard two locals -Kreuger and Korzimor-call Jonathan Martin “A snitch”..and how can he overcome that they asked? First of all..he’s not a snitch. And if taking abuse is what they think he should have done..well,join the 21st century.
    Funny how those types of broadcasters think so much like gangbangers when you get down to it. The same Neanderthal Cro Cagnom man,lizard brain,fight or flight, thinking. The same.

    March 13th, 2014 10:55 am

  23. jason

    I don’t understand why you feel this junior varsity sports talker is worthy of a print column. Maybe a blog entry, but not valuable print space.

    March 13th, 2014 11:49 am

  24. Kommon Senze

    I used to listen to the local sport talk shows much more frequently, but, since getting siriusXM, I find myself listening to national sports programming a lot more. If there was an interview I wanted to hear, I’ll download the podcast; that allows me to be a bit more selective. When I do tune in, I find the banter to be fairly forced and repetitive (e.g., Kate Scott and Larry Krueger telling Gary that Lee Hammer wants him to get to the traffic report sooner.. again; Gary talking about how he likes Kesha Cole, but doesn’t get Ke$ha.. again).

    Maybe it’s just that my attention span has changed. I would remember listening to Gary and then Pete Franklin back when Gary had the noon time gig, and being able to listen for much longer stretches. I do miss Ralph Barbieri’s interviews, even though I started to tire of his and Tom’s shows, too, before he was unceremoniously canned.

    As for 95.7′s groups, none of them really stuck out. I thought there were a couple people in the early going (can’t remember the names) who tried a little to hard to be the ‘alternative’ to KNBR by really ballyhooing Oakland and Oakland teams. It would have been better if they just talked about Oakland teams, instead of always having to point out that they were the only station that really focused on Oakland (the self-referential/self-promotional talk just detracted from the overall flow of their shows). Thankfully, that seems to have passed.

    And Damon Bruce? To me, he sounds a lot like Larry Krueger to me (both vocally and in the way he sometimes structures his arguments). Krueger seems to have found that balance of not being too much of a know it all, which makes him actually appear more knowledgeable. Bruce, on the other hand, is insufferable about how much he knows, and it’s that aspect of his personality that I think makes him, ultimately, off putting. When you layer in his growing public misogyny (i.e., he seems to have just said “I’m not going to hide that I’m a ‘Man’s Man’ anymore”), I agree with the general sentiment that his stay at 95.7 may be short lived.

    March 13th, 2014 12:32 pm

  25. Dr. Feelgood

    CohnZohn
    Ah, yes. Thank you.
    Why can’t I separate those two?

    March 13th, 2014 1:12 pm

  26. J Canseco

    Sports talk is unlistenable and contributes nothing.

    March 13th, 2014 2:42 pm

  27. PhD

    Terrestrial radio is dead. As are newspapers. I had to laugh at the station manager pointing to their increase in ratings claims. Yea, of the 150 people listening we moved up in our target demo.

    March 13th, 2014 2:44 pm

  28. Neal

    Come on Lowell, give me a break

    I loved your column until you said Tom Tolbert is a Super Star, Tom is a blow hole, who can’t ask a question to a guest under 1000 words, Ratto is just a bore, and he talks a word or two and then 5 seconds of painful silence. Damon hates women, I don’t listen to KNBR, it is the Game or music and won’t listen to Damon either. Yes Tolbert is very immature, as earlier comments as noted.

    March 13th, 2014 8:26 pm

  29. Streetglide

    Ray Ratto is hands-down the worst sports blabber in the area. Bill Williamson is far worse but he “writes” for espn.

    But the Fat Man… jeez what could I say to describe him that would make it past the censors? Ratto is a fatuous, bloviating bag of a man who should just sit at the end of a geezer bar muttering to no one in particular about how that Cassius Clay guy would have gotten murdered by a real boxer…

    Like that…

    March 14th, 2014 2:53 pm

  30. MRO

    Lowell, you want to avoid the negligible? Then why would you even mention Rich Lieberman? Are you kidding me w/ this guy? He’s a complete and total wack job. Embarrasses himself on a regular basis. Do yourself a favor and ignore him. He’s nuts.

    March 14th, 2014 8:26 pm

  31. chris

    yep sports talk radio is fading fast……….all style and no substance……and the style seems to be to act like a 15 year old. Tolberts a great guy and when he talks hoops he’s right on, but really cannot carry a talk show by himself. Ratto doesn’t help him as much as Ralph did in the 90′s before his illness. Miss the days of Dave Newhouse Bruce McGowan and even Ron Barr.

    March 15th, 2014 11:19 am

  32. Matt in Newark

    The more I read about Damon Bruce, the less I like. When he first came on KNBR, I thought he was a more humorous Larry Krueger–young enough to connect with the demographic, but also critical of the home team.

    However, his taking the negative side for the sake of being provocative (or maybe he’s just negative) after a Giants win made Giants fans tune out. He was banished to 1050AM and probably lost a lot of his regular callers (e.g., Sportacus) who helped entertain the listeners. I couldn’t listen because Damon’s show is during work hours.

    His recent rant against women reporters was stupid and outdated, and the damage self-inflicted. His new competition, Tom and Ray, is as others have already described. Tom can be goofy to boring. Ray is knowledgeable and funny, but lately I’ve sensed from Tom a “you didn’t play the game” dismissal of some of Ray’s comments. There really isn’t much choice locally for drive-time radio.

    March 15th, 2014 12:36 pm

  33. Stan

    David Brenner dies at 78? Gee,he was one of those who I think of as hip and young back when. I read later he lied about his age. Got away with it. I know I couldn’t. Not now!

    March 16th, 2014 9:39 am

  34. MJ

    Matt in Newark

    You have to question someones credibility who said, at the time of his draft, that Vince Young would be a better pro than Alex Smith and that the niners should have traded Smith to get Young. This was following Smiths rookie season but still, the guy was so dead wrong on Smith and Young both. If Young thought he had it tough in Tennessee, and had those emotional issues, just imagine if he had been playing in SF during the last days of Nolan and the days of Sing/”We Want Carr”/Troy Smith times.

    March 16th, 2014 5:01 pm

  35. Brett

    I don’t care what Damon Bruce says….Danika Patrick is hot!

    March 17th, 2014 3:15 pm

  36. Neal

    Lowell

    Are you ok? It’s been a while. I would hate this article on Damon be your last.

    March 17th, 2014 6:01 pm

  37. Stan

    Wrong,.wrong,wrong…and wrong you are Lowell on Mike Vick should sign with the Raiders. Vick may have served time..but amoral crimes I don’t forget. The man would have grabbed your cat and fed it to dogs while laughing. To me,that’s not something he can ever change..hide the glee and satisfaction he gets from sadistic behavior to animals is all he can do just like roaming child molesters do in society for their lust.
    Frankly, Radnich can go to hell defending Vick because of the ghetto effect. Unless Vick has the IQ of a 8 year old,I’m not forgiving.

    March 17th, 2014 7:01 pm

  38. Bill Haywood

    KNBR should have fired Damon Bruce for such misogynistic remarks against women. His “voice-alike”, Larry Krueger, was fired years ago for comments about former manager Felipe Alou: “brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly”.

    Damon’s comments were even worse than Krueger’s. Ironically the two sound identical on the radio! Damon rarely supports his opinions with solid facts and often speaks before he thinks. Damon talks about Indiana too much (if he likes it that much, he should go back there!). Good for KNBR that he left, sad that 95.7 hired him.

    June 11th, 2014 1:24 pm

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