As The Dissident, J.J. Colagrande turns his critical eye on Miami culture. This week: Lay off Le Batard already, everybody.
Yesterday, The Dan Le Batard Show broadcast nationwide for the first time on ESPN radio, ESPNradio.com, the ESPN Radio App, and Sirius Channel 84. His show, the highest-rated in our market, still broadcasts exclusively for a Miami audience from 3 to 4 p.m.; then the 4 to 7 p.m. hours are picked up nationally by ESPN.
That's prime time for radio. Rush hour. Huge.
Dan promised listeners, as well as readers in the Miami Herald, that he would keep the show Miami-centic, and he delivered guests including LeBron James, Jimmy Johnson, and Ryan Tannenhill.
But last week, some callers and texters in the Miami audience criticized Le Batard for compromising the show and making adjustments to popular sketches (like "douche or no-douche"). However, yesterday's debut was evidence that the show hasn't changed at all.
He certainly didn't abandon his cohost, John "Stugotz" Weiner, nor his producer Mike Ryan, who are now suddenly thrust onto the national stage. Also, Le Batard's father (Papi) is handling the voice intros with his heavy Spanglish accent. This show is still very Miami.
Before the first national show aired, Le Batard even promised Miami listeners they'd be the texters for the show, acting as producers of content. If the boys keep the show's format the same, we can expect segments with Ron Magill from Zoo Miami and the quick-witted Bomani Jones, both of whom should perform well on the national stage. (If Le Batard is wise, he'll abandon Tuesdays with Greg Cote, an unfunny Miami Herald writer, which makes for extra, extra awkward radio.)
The bigger issue here, of course, is Miami.
The Le Batard launch is yet another example of the Magic City's rise and evolution. The national psyche is fascinated with Miami. It's a major media market in the U.S., ranked 16th in television and 11th in radio. But when it comes to the national media's interest in other cities, Miami often feels more like number three, behind Los Angeles and New York. The news coming out of South Florida is consistently fascinating. We have a multicultural, Latin-infused culture, natural beauty, film and fashion industries, the Miami Heat, and Art Basel. Because of those things and more, people across the country are more interested in Miami than in bigger media markets such as Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and maybe even Chicago and San Francisco.
People just can't get enough of the 305.
Le Batard and Stugotz are further ambassadors of our awesomeness. Even though yesterday's inaugural national show was a bit of a clunker (Dan seemed nervous and kind of choked), luckily Stugotz stepped up with radio swagger. But yesterday was an outlier, not an indicator. Fans of the show know its strengths: creating awkward radio; deconstructing sports, cultural issues, and pop culture with self-deprecation and smart psychology; and simply being funny.
Le Batard might anger people on Twitter, and he might actually be too smart for most of the U.S. But if he keeps it real and does his thing, he'll represent Miami just fine.
J.J. Colagrande is the author of the novels Headz and Decò. Follow him on Twitter.
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