The sports media landscape is so overrun with content, opinions, and canned ESPN bullshit these days that it might seems silly to mourn the loss of a local radio station. The local media are often mocked by national outlets for their homerism, outrageous opinions, and general reliance on toilet humor for laughs. And yet, I can’t help but feel sad that 790 has converted over to the dark side and taken on syndicated ESPN programming. 790 was basically the 99x of talk radio—they pushed the boundaries, held events at the Cheetah, and most importantly made me laugh almost every day.
Of course, 790 wasn’t perfect. It was poorly managed, evidenced by their poor signal strength and lack of an FM presence. Steak Shapiro is not the Rupert Murdoch of Atlanta as he’d have you believe, but I always appreciated that 790 pushed the limits of propriety by having such a great freaking time on seemingly every broadcast.
The on-air personality that I’ll miss the most is Mike Bell—gonna change that Twitter handle anytime soon, bud? He’s a genuinely nice guy that I’ve met at a couple of the station’s events over the years, and I was a huge fan of his straightforward opinions and constant thrashing against the restraints put on him by his producers. I once saw him participate in a Bear Fight—a race to drink a Jaeger Bomb and Irish Car Bomb in succession—against the owner of Churchill’s. I chose not to partake for fear of losing my man card after intense vomiting.
Bell is a guy who knows how to make things interesting; he intuitively understood that I tuned in for entertainment value above in-depth sports analysis and predictions. That’s why I follow sports in the first place—it’s entertainment, not life and death! Half of sports is an excuse to drink; I don’t need Peter King shoving his self righteous bullshit about “icons”, “leaders”, and “values” down my throat. I’d rather hear Dave Archer interrupt himself with, “Ohhhhh, those are real!” during his Falcons analysis as he broadcasts live from the Cheetah.
That’s the main idea that 790 understood that ESPN never will. Sports are a form of entertainment, and I want to be regaled with escapist drinking and sexual escapades as I consume my sports news. Where will I learn my ebonics without the 2 Live Stews? Was there ever college football analysis as good as the Southern College Football Show with Wes Durham and Tony Barnhart? For that matter, who will I hear do Foghorn Leghorn impressions now that Mr. College Football is no longer on the local AM radio dial? And Wes, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, don’t leave the state of Georgia! There are no other candidates worthy of winning Georgia Broadcaster of the Year–they’ll simply have to discontinue the award.
We all saw the writing on the wall when Nick Cellini made an ill attempt at humor when he impersonated Steve Gleason, getting the entire Mayhem in the AM cast canned. One misstep in a business that broadcasts to the masses in a large media market can unfortunately be the undoing of something great. The Mayhem cast may have had deep Yankee roots, but they were the foundation of the sports programming on the station, setting the table for the station’s excellent lineup. So thanks for the memories to all the guys who really understood exactly what I wanted from sports coverage. Hopefully our little site can do its part to fill this void and give fans who like to pair their sports with a healthy dose of partying a voice in this city.
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