On Tuesdays, often has guest columns penned from one of the many sports radio hosts whose interviews you see here frequently on SRI. This week’s column is courtesy of Jon Weiner, aka “Stugotz” from the Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on 790 the Ticket in Miami. When Jimmy asked to write a column for him. I agonized for weeks about what I should write about. I’m lying, I didn’t. Jimmy voted our show #1 in the country (by the way Jimmy, the check is in the mail) as it relates to conducting interviews, so I figured why not interview the man whose name is on our show, Dan LeBatard. Basically, I’m lazy and figured this would be easy and hopefully interesting. Enjoy.
Jon Weiner: Jimmy voted us # 1 sports radio interviews in the country – said our guests seems to have fun and we have fun with them. Why do you think that is?
Dan LeBatard: “The questions are different, I hope. It isn’t what they get at their locker. It is human. We aren’t there to simply extract noise that fills out our stories. It’s conversational. Light. Relaxed. Talk to people about stuff they are passionate about, and they’ll want to talk. Talk to them about stuff that anybody talks to them about every day, hard to engage them.”
JW: Who are the top five guests that you think we’ve had on the show over the last 7 years?
DL: “I want guests who are smart, honest and unafraid. That’s my holy trinity. Fun and funny helps, too. My favorites are Dan Rather, Charles Barkley, Pat Riley, Chris Rock and, oddly, Pat Sajak.”
DL: “Gerald Wallace.” JW: Wallace was awful; I think you called him by him his wrong name. I thought you would go Zach Randolph there, we played 10 questions with him and we stopped at 5.
Guest you thought would be the best that turned out being awful?
DL: “MC Hammer.”
JW: Guest you thought would be the worst that turned out being the best?
DL: “Philly Phanatic.” JW: We had Chuck Norris on years ago, we built him into this mythical creature, the build up was enormous, it felt like the whole world was listening to our show that day, you’ve never thrown it to me for the first question before or since that day. Why did you decide to it that day? By the way, thanks, I blew it. DL: “Because it would be funny to act scared. And because I actually was.”
JW: You’ve taught me a lot about interviewing over the years – what’s the most important part of conducting a good interview?
JW: It’s amazing that we pull that off considering that I barely listen. What do you most want out of our guests?
DL: “Passion. Be engaged. Be honest. Be relaxed, playful. Take what you do seriously but don’t take yourself seriously.”
DL: “Droning brainwashed clichés”
JW: What’s the best you’ve felt about an interview after it was over? For me it was Cody Ross recently. You?
DL: “So hard because so much of this stuff is disposable. You choose Cody Ross just because it was five minutes ago, and that’s the limits of your memory. I’d say having Dan Rather break down crying while telling a story about war because of the weight of the man telling the story and the story itself.”
JW: We had Dan Rather on?
Think I know you answer here, but what’s the worse you’ve felt?
DL: “Wanted to throw up in the parking lot when Tim Hardaway told us he hated gay people because I knew the avalanche that was about to hit him. Just talked to him about it this weekend. Can’t tell you how much respect and admiration I have for him that he never blamed me for that. A lot of athletes would have. A lot of fans and other people DID. That was the height of accountability on Hardaway’s part, but I wouldn’t wish national shame on anyone, and I didn’t like being anywhere near it.”
JW: If I gave you the choice of interviewing Derek Jeter or The Iron Sheik, who would you want and why?
DL: “Depends on which Jeter you are giving me. If you give me a Jeter who is actually going to be honest, I’d prefer to interview him. But because the sports idols who are most beloved are always also the most benign, I doubt I’d be able to coax relaxed honesty out of him. So give me the entertaining crazy person instead.” JW: You’ve always told me, good or bad, “make sure the interview is memorable.” Explain that.
DL: “Most interviews just sit there. Famous person comes on and, 15 minutes later, no one remembers what was said. What’s the point of that? All you are doing is showing off that your show can get famous person on. It is incumbent upon us to make the person on with us interesting. We fail all the time. The more spectacularly we fail, and the more obvious that is, and the more we wallow in that misery, makes it different and memorable. It is entertaining to hear us squirm. Sports radio needs teams that are either 15-1 or 1-15. Same for interviews. You don’t want an uninteresting 8-8 interview.”
JW: We have people and entire teams who refuse to put guests on with us anymore (no joke) – anyone on that list we keep make you laugh the hardest?
DL: “It is hard for me to imagine that we have a feud going with both the Memphis Grizzlies and King Kong Bundy.”
JW: You were new to local radio seven years ago (Sports Radio) – what do you love most about it?
DL: “The laughter”
JW: What do you like least about it besides me and the rest of the Jet fans?
DL: “The cruelty”
JW: On a scale of 1 to 10 how uncomfortable are you talking about our show and yourself?
DL: “I’m not uncomfortable talking about our show at all. What I’m uncomfortable is talking about how GOOD it is. I’d rather talk about how bad it is.”
JW: I think we’re at our best when we’re out our worst – does that make sense? You agree?
DL: “I don’t agree with that. I just like that we can enjoy being bad and let people look behind the curtain instead of being self conscious or defensive or masquerading in pretend polish. For better or worse, usually worse, what happens on our show doesn’t happen elsewhere because others are a) too professional to let it happen or b) too professional to revel in it if it does happen.”