Generally, when we regale our reading public with the sonic salve we find ourselves jamming on repeat, we're talking about tunes. But lately, this ear has been drawn more to the talkers than the players.
I'm a sports radio commuter, and ESPN Radio is my general go-to. But lately, SiriusXM's 'The Football Show' has been making a run for my morning loyalty. It features a somewhat-rotating cast of characters, but former New York Metrostars general manager and soccer raconteur Charlie Stillitano gets a lot of run, as does veteran broadcaster Phil Schoen and former Chelsea voice Neil Barnett.
But it's the singular voice of Ray Hudson that keeps me tuned in. The former Newcastle man also played in the NASL with Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay, and coached the Miami Fusion and DC United of MLS, but he was made to talk about soccer. He's by turns erudite and lunatic in his evocative use of the language and his unbridled passion for the game. He's also got one of U.S. sports' most distinctive accent, his Wearside brogue a lilting, careening thing.
Check out this compilation of his greatest broadcasting hits from 2007. I can't think of an equivalent in American sports, unless you gave Gus Johnson a thesaurus, the compiled works of the greatest English authors, a Geordi lilt, and an eight-ball of coke.
If Hudson gets me to work, then I'm happy to have Bomani Jones to take me home. His voice is distinctive both in the way it sounds and the things it says. In a sports radio landscape long dominated by polished, stentorian, mostly white voices, Jones' patois is sui generis, an artifact of his Atlanta/Houston upbringing.
He's also smart as hell, with masters degrees in economics from both Claremont and North Carolina. A former music critic, he seamlessly mixes sports with politics, race, and popular culture in a style that's unlike anything else on the radio. There aren't many people in sports radio that teach me things on a regular basis, but Bomani Jones is one of them. And I'm not learning something, I'm at least thinking about things in a different way - Jones' comparison of Allen Iverson to Tupac Shakur drew on literary, cultural, and sporting allusions in framing both men in ways totally new to me.
He called into his own show from a vacation in France to talk about Prince's passing, and wrote an insightful remembrance on Playboy.com. He's a renaissance man in a Victorian era.
Dumb racists hate him, too, as is in frequent evidence on his Twitter feed, which is a one-man trolling session for people who aren't smart enough to realize that they're being manipulated like puppets.
Lots of people listen to music when they run, but I find myself needing something upon which I can concentrate, rather than background and beats. Men in Blazers has been my go to for some time, but recently I've taken a wonky turn.
Vox.com's The Weeds podcast is, admittedly, a nerd-fest, a political, legislative and public policy deep dive leavened with the occasional f-bomb and self-mockery from co-hosts Matthew Yglesias and Ezra Klein. But on a weekly basis, it digs way deeper than the usual media fare on a one or two subjects. Dave would be interested in the March 25 episode, which tunnels into public education policy. That is, if Dave has any time left over after 24/7 recordings of his own podcast.
It's not all been radio and podcasts, for sure. Since my kids don't suffer my interest in sports radio, I have a chance to catch up on the pop music. Aside from the new, dark, and predictably great (his first-ever Billboard number one, even if that's only in the vinyl listings) Bob Mould record, SiriusXM has been playing live and recorded sets from Coachella 2016 and earlier festivals. Gheorghies will dig hard on the Run the Jewels set from last weekend, but The Arcs, Foals, and CHVRCHES also delivered. None moreso than Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, though. Those dudes are for real as a live act.
What am I missing out on, people of Gheorghe?