No words. No words are needed.
Outdated, out of touch, and seemingly out of ideas, ROOT Sports Northwest is quickly becoming the Aurora Mall of local sports television. Those of you in your late-twenties or older may remember Aurora Mall, a once-proud shopping center in North Seattle that was razed in the early-nineties in favor of a Costco, a Home Depot, and a handful of smaller storefronts. The mall fell victim to a lack of tenants, a lack of shoppers, and ultimately a wrecking ball. Perhaps it could have been saved with a little effort from owners. Sometimes effort is all it takes.
Much like Aurora Mall, ROOT Sports Northwest is losing tenants and shoppers in its own right. Less than a year ago, the Pac-12 Network debuted and began broadcasting a number of sporting events that had previously been aired on ROOT. For fans, the change was a welcome one, as ROOT had done little to endear themselves to viewers over the years. With low-quality technology (Do they have HD yet? No, seriously.), lackluster original shows, and on-air personalities that failed to relate to viewers, ROOT wasn’t giving its customers what they wanted. When the Pac-12 departed, an exodus of the viewership commenced.
Months have passed and ROOT has continued to struggle. Look at their daily programming lineup and one can’t help but cringe. But rather than write the network off as a joke that will die a slow death, I’d like to think we can still save the region’s premier (by default) local sports network. How are we going to do that? With the help of Twitter, I asked people how they would go about improving ROOT. This was what they had to say.
1. Create fresh local programs that people actually want to watch.
When I was a freshman in high school, I had a friend, Stephen, whose older brother would frequently give me a ride home after class. Every afternoon, without fail, Stephen’s brother had the AM dial tuned to 950 KJR. And every afternoon, as the three of us rode home, we listened to Dave Grosby and Mike Gastineau talk about sports.
Prior to that point in my life, I hadn’t really been exposed to much sports talk radio. Sure, I listened to games and postgame shows and the like. But the rest of the time, I lent my ears to music. R&B, hip-hop, and goofy soft rock that years later would somehow work its way onto my iPod and become a novelty of sorts. Sports radio, back in those days, just wasn’t my thing. Until those rides home my freshman year.
Groz with Gas, as it was called, was an odd show to me. Here were two middle-aged men dissecting the local and national sports scene, all while joking around about nearly every subject they touched on. It was different, unlike anything I’d really experienced before. These two knuckleheads would banter and giggle, and we would do the same. They entertained us with jabs at a Godawful Sonics bench, a floundering Mariners bullpen, a perennially mediocre Seahawks squad. They managed, somehow, to make failure funny. And here we were, as teenagers, enjoying the humor.
I believe in my friends. They’re good people. All of them. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t be friends with them. It’s that simple. Not that I’m some expert on relationships or anything. But I feel like I’m a pretty decent judge of character. And what my friends have is quality character worthy of my faith. There’s no doubt in my mind. As a result, from time to time I use my bias towards these friends of mine to sell the world on the things they represent.
Today is one of those moments I’ve chosen to be selfish about a few of my friends. You may have heard of these particular people in passing before. They are, in no particular order, Ian Furness, Jason Puckett, Josh Sabrowsky, and Ashley Ryan. They all work for Sports Radio KJR (950 on your local AM dial; 102.9 on local FM), they’re all good at what they do, and they all happen to thrive at their jobs from 1:00-3:00 p.m. each weekday. Furness is the lanky Canadian host of the show bearing his name; Puckett is the plucky, wise-cracking everyman sidekick; Josh is the easy-target/producer; and Ashley is the girl who knows sports and has boobs…or something like that.
I’ll tell you what it is first, then I’ll give you the back story. It is a weekly podcast featuring myself, producer extraordinaire Josh Sabrowsky, traffic diva Ashley Ryan, and the Tacoma News-Tribune’s Ryan Divish, hosted by Sports Radio 950 KJR, published through 950KJR.com and SeattleSportsnet.com, and available through iTunes.
There you have it.
So how did this come to fruition?
Very simply, it started with a karate emergency. And for the record, “Karate Emergency” is now my new favorite quote. Because nothing says “emergency” quite like karate.
Josh and I were headed to play some pickup basketball with my brother at the Northgate Community Center on Thursday evening. We go every Thursday for open runs. We play ball with high school kids who talk a lot and make us feel better about our fading game and aging bodies.
Shameless self-promotion, I know. Not that anyone should have any shame in promoting themselves. Screw that. From now on, I’m calling it Super Fun Self-Promotion. The connotation is decisively positive. And we’re having Super Fun, which is always a good thing. So consider this Super Fun Self-Promotion and not shameless. Win.
That’s what makes Ashley Ryan special. Not only does she say things that will make you giggle, but she does so unintentionally in front of thousands of listeners.
For those of you who don’t know Ashley, she comes to you live each and every weekday from the State Farm Traffic Center. You might hear her on various ClearChannel stations throughout your radio dial, but she’s arguably most famous for her work with Sports Radio 950 KJR.
That’s where this audio clip comes to us from. I just happened to be tuned in on Wednesday afternoon when Ashley uttered the sentence you just heard in the sound bite. In context, she was speaking directly to my good friend Josh, who was reading a lengthy list of guests scheduled to join host Jason Puckett for the afternoon show. Out of context, she had a Grade-A “That’s what she said” moment.