Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sports Radio-Mike North

So when we are kids say from Kindergarten to 6th grade, driving around with our parents there is a habit that we all inherently pick up. That is listening to the radio. The stations we listen to will differ based on the parents.

I have some friends who listen to NPR and say they always have. I have some other friends who know the words to all the oldies because that is what their mom or dad would play in the car on trips to Grandma's house.

For me it was talk radio. My mom grew up listening to WGN Radio 720AM "The Superstation" and so in my formative years I did to. So as I have grown up, I have rarely been one who listens to music, but instead listens to talk. 16 and a half years ago a station with the call letters WSCR hit the airwaves in Chicago and ever since has been my station. The Score as it is known was the first dedicated sports station in Chicago and has gone through three dial spots 820AM, 1160AM, and now 670AM.

When The Score first started it was only on during the daylight hours so depending on the time of year, that is how much sports talk you would get. I think 5:30 is when "The Heavy Fuel Crew" Dan McNeill and Terry Boers would sign off with their trademark "See Ya, We're Taillights."

A new medium of sports coverage was born, and soon the Score had competition from ESPN 1000 and all around the country stations popped up with Sports Talk. For the record, WFAN in New York City was on before the Score.

Today one of the only voices that had been on the Score for all those 16+ years left the station after a long contract dispute. Mike North is his name and he is that guy that represents the glorified "American Dream" we all like to talk about.

North dropped out of high school, joined the army, bounced around jobs in the city including a hot dog vendor at Wrigley and Comiskey. He opened up several hot dog stands in Chicago and was quite successful at it. A couple customers of his were radio execs and he did some work on some local stations in Chicago and in 1992 was the co-host of "The Monsters of the Midday" with former Bear Dan Jiggets.

16+ years later North has become a force in Chicago Sports and one of the most recognizable voices anywhere. A true Chicagoan with a flare for the dramatic and outrageous North carved out a loyal following and audience and 5 years ago was rewarded with a $1.5million/year contract.

Not bad for a high school dropout with a background in hot dog stands.

North actually was a finalist for the Imus show gig on WFAN after his comments. North had controversies of his own with some of his blunt comments over the years. He doesn't have much of a filter and in this world of political correctness it got him in trouble.

Almost every ethnic group around has had a problem with North and recently Bob Costas featured him in his Sports and Media documentary 'Costas Now'.

I write about North because I feel like I grew up with him to a certain degree. I have heard this guy talk more than I have many people in my family. He's a tough minded little guy from Chicago and while my accent isn't as thick I have always told him we are similar, except he refers to himself as pasty and I am very tan. lol.

North will go on to another station and be successful, but he and many other personalities on the Score (Mully and Hanley, and the whole Boers and Bernstein crew) and a couple on ESPN Radio 1000 (Danny Mac, Harry, J-Hood) are part of my everyday routine especially now that I drive to and from work everyday and can stream them straight from my computer during the day.

Sports Radio has some goofball personalities, but overall I think it has been great for the fans. It is a place to call and vent, to get information, and is a community in and of itself. A place where callers can play manager or coach or talk to an athlete directly.

Before WFAN and WSCR there were sports personalities out there but they were jock sniffers. Guys who threw softball questions to guests and walked the fine line. Sports Radio introduced the Shock Jock to sports and now athletes are afraid to go on many of these shows or refuse to.

There are bigger issues out there than Mike North leaving the Score, but 'Pappy' as he is called is my headline of the day, and while I know he will be alright, I will miss him on the Score and will listen to him where ever he goes.

Some great Mike North Sound can be found on his website at:

And here is one of his most famous moments ever when White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen called in unannounced and swearing up a storm.

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