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Sports Talk: A Journey Inside the World of Sports Talk Radio Hardcover – October 2, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; First Edition edition (October 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074340694X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743406949
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,214,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Sports Talk: A Journey Inside the World of Sports Talk Radio, Alan Eisenstock addresses one of the most popular and addictive radio programming formats in the country. Sports talk shows (dubbed "smack" by chronic listeners) focus on sports teams and players, and provide fans with an outlet to voice frustrations. Eisenstock, a confessed lifelong sports talk enthusiast, travels the U.S. to interview some of the most prominent show hosts in an attempt to discern why the format is so compelling. Interviews with Boston's Eddie Andelman, Chicago's Mike North, and New York staples Mike Francesa and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo provide amusing anecdotes and histories, but nothing terribly satisfying emerges as justification for sports talk's overwhelming popularity. While some of the interviews are engaging, a few are uninspired. The best endorsement for sports talk comes from one of Eisenstock's early experiences listening to Ed "Superfan" Beiler in Los Angeles:

Sports columnists and TV pundits don't know what to make of him. We, the legion of his followers, don't care. Hell, we're not even sure we like him. We certainly don't always agree with him. But we always, always tune in.

Sports Talk is definitely for smack listeners everywhere. --Michael Ferch

From Publishers Weekly

"Fan" is the operative word in these breezy, inside-the-booth sketches of the reigning personalities in sports radio's huge electronic community. The premise is a sharp elbow to the ribs of Howard Stern and the radio shock-jock industry: compulsive, mostly male listeners put sports talk in first place among moneymaking radio formats (WFAN in New York City is the largest ad-billing station in the entire country). A professional sitcom writer and self-confessed addict of sports radio, Eisenstock here indulges his impulse toward new journalism, never resisting the strong pull of his own attachment to his subjects. With ardor and the occasional grain of salt, he gestures at but never quite reaches the "heart and soul" of the form established by pioneers like Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton, with his XTRA Sports show on the "Mighty Six-Ninety" in San Diego, the "Stinkin' Genius" and "The Brick." The result is a smoothly written road trip diary to six cities by a guy-culture anthropologist who interviews other guys at a virtual frat party; it yields lots of anecdotes and interesting insider chat, but remains a fan's shapeless, sometimes entertaining tribute. "Mike and the Mad Dog" and a half-dozen other hosts are interesting characters and the fact that sports radio is the forum for connecting to a larger world for millions of men is real meat for sociologists and business writers but Eisenstock's loyalties to the ritual bonds afforded by the medium might have been better served by a long article in a sports magazine.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Tournour on October 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Alan spent an entire day with me in studio and got a behind the scenes look at my show and listeners. I loved reading about the other hosts around the country who have exciting stories and follow their passion. This is a must read for the diehard sports talk radio fan or the average fan who wants to learn about the specific stories of sports talk radio. I look forward to his new book and enjoyed reading Sports Talk multiple times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BlindLemonPeel on January 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's reasons like this book that I listen to sportstalk radio... the little dramas that play out on the air, the unique personalities of the callers, the great dialogue... Eisenstock has a terrifc ear for all of this... i'd love to know the whole story why Romie refused to be intereviewed for this book, and still don't understand why Mike and the Made Dog are considered the gold standard... to me they're just irrititating... the stories in here are terrific, particularly Eddie Endleman... what an enjoyable read!!!!!!!!!!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As someone who works in the business and has actually crossed paths with some of the personalities profiled in this book, I enjoyed it a great deal. I especially appreciate the author presenting the hosts as the intelligent, rational people they have to be to do this job as opposed to opting for the mouth-breathing idiot caricature bitter print guys love to trot out to bash us. Nice work and a very good read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark L. on November 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed SPORTS TALK. The narrative pulls you in; the author makes you feel as though you are behind the scenes, really seeing the inner process of the top echelon of sports radio guys. I found the book to be very insightful, and not at all superficial; a wonderful, in-depth read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was the 1970s, and Alan Eisenstock was a young writer on the West Coast when he first discovered himself drawn to a mysterious voice on the radio who mocked Dodger Dogs and bad Coliseum seats and called himself "Superfan" before getting himself thrown off the air.

More than 20 years later, Eisenstock is still listening to sports radio, only now he's meeting with various sports jocks, both the success stories and the strugglers. He wants to know just what makes them tick, why they are able to create worlds so involving that people like him can sit and listen for hours while others go further and become "callers."

I couldn't put this one down. It's not that Eisenstock plunges into a lot of juicy sports controversies. There's mention of whether Gil Hodges should get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, an atypical outburst by Rick Pitino, and why black athletes excel in certain fields of endeavor more than whites. But all that is secondary to the main focus of this book, which is the people, those that listen, those that call, and those that host.

Papa Joe Chevalier in Chicago gets a call from an attractive-sounding woman who wants to wish him a Happy Valentine's Day. Will he take her number? Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton in San Diego hides behind hideous orange sunglasses, opening up after much prompting only to shut down again abruptly. JT The Brick in San Fran is able to do eight straight hours of live radio with the help of just some creamy pastries, but can he find his car for the ride home?

New York's Mike Francesa and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo enjoy their status as sports talk radio's gold standard, enough to almost enjoy being with each other.
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