As mentioned on Tuesday, we were discussing writing a Gambit about our favorite on-air talent at the local sports-talk radio station, KFAN. This is that Gambit.
Hi-Fi, the Big Ticket, Bump… the best KFAN host is Dan Barreiro. None of the other hosts/shows can cover so much ground; talking about sports, politics, and beyond. And he does his show with intelligence, wit, and even some low-brow humor from time to time. He’s been named “Best Sports Talk Radio Host” by City Pages in 2005 and 2006. He’s the only host on KFAN that can pull fans in from the other AM stations in town. The only negative thing I can say about the show is the sidekick, Justin Gaard. Gaardsy brings little to the table besides being a (not-so) smart-ass. Gaard does a fine job of steering Barreiro, but tries to get his own thoughts and opinions in too much. But despite that, I give Barreiro the edge over the Powertrip.
I started listening to KFAN in September of 1996, when I was a sophomore in college. The first show I heard was The Common Man show. I liked it. Common was and is a unique listen, and provided a good alternative to the only other sports talk radio I’d heard up to that point (Sid Hartman and Dave Mona). I kept listening to Common over the next couple of years, while gradually adding a couple of other national offerings from the station– The Fabulous Sports Babe in the mornings, and Ferrell on the Bench in the evenings. After college, I traded in those shows (and Common) for Bob Yates and Jeff Dubay in the mornings, and Chad Hartman and Dan Barreiro for the evening commute. Long story longer: I’ve listened to a lot of hosts and shows over the past fifteen years.
Coming in a close second is the Power Trip Morning Show. This is a surprise. When I started working at UHG in 2006, I was driving into work for the first time in six years, and didn’t think I’d enjoy Mike Morris and his bobos. Too much football. Too much AC/DC. Too many fart jokes. And, all of that was true. Oddly, though, I listened to them enough that I ended up liking the personalities enough that I could gloss over the content that wasn’t in my wheelhouse. Even though I’m back on the bus these days, I still listen to the Power Trip each morning as I’m getting ready.
The winner, though, is Dan Barreiro. Back in his Strib days, he was easily my favorite columnist to read. While a little negative for my tastes (he’s the anti-Sid!), his acerbic prose was thoughtful and enjoyable to read. That translated well to the radio, even moreso after Hartman moved to his own show in 2001. He spends at least half of his time talking about things other than sports, and talks intelligently about them. He can rant and rave, of course, but that’s not his normal style, unlike many national sports talk radio hosts. While famously long-winded, his questions to both athletes and non-athletes are probing and move well beyond the superficial. (Although, if he’s truly impressed by or enamored with a particular guest, he does get pretty soft– find his interview of Bill Cosby on KFAN.com as evidence.) What I like most of all, though, is how he combines a bit of arrogance with an honest self-deprecating style. I don’t find many people with that combination, and it’s why Mr. Barreiro is my pick.
I’m not a huge fan of the sports talk genre in general, but I’ve found that most of the shows on KFAN work for me because they don’t involve callers to any large degree, instead relying on hosts, sidekicks, and guests. You know, actual talent. I don’t listen much, but I’ve found The Power Trip to be amazingly funny at times (and borderline unlistenable at others). I like Paul Allen’s bit. He’s consistent, and he has good guests. If you really want a Minnesotan treat, do yourself a favor and tune into The Fan Outdoors. It’s an ah geez dere extravaganza, like the movie Fargo come to life.
But I’m on board with these other two yahoos that the Dan Barreiro show is the cream of the crop. Consistently entertaining guests, interesting topics, and intelligent conversation, almost even more so when the topics aren’t sports-related. The Bump gets my nod of approval for sures.