Big Lead Sports Bar



With the Pittsburgh sports talk show wars heating up, WXDX's Mark Madden booked a tremendous lineup of guests, a "Cavalcade of Stars", in his words, to coincide with the debut of 93.7 The Fan last week. The lineup was like a who's who of Pittsburgh sports personalities, featuring A-listers like Sidney Crosby, Ben Roethlisberger, Jamie Dixon, Dick LeBeau, and Jack Ham; but it was one guest towards the end of the cavalcade that would end up causing the most stir of all.

During an interview with MMA star Frank Mir, comments made by Mir to Madden about fellow MMA'er Brock Lesnar wound up traveling far beyond Pittsburgh - and today they wound up on the front page of Yahoo! - a lofty achievement for a story in any field, let alone one that originated from a Pittsburgh talk show.

What was all the buzz over, you ask? It would be this statement from Mir, which rocked the MMA world, to say the least, with my emphasis added:

"A lot of individuals are so worried about being politically correct, I'd rather go ahead and say what's on my mind than to sit there and come up with some PC 'Oh, the guy is a great fighter and I have a lot of respect for him.' If I don't mean it, why is it even coming out of my mouth? ... I want to fight Lesnar. I hate who he is as a person. I want to break his neck in the ring. I want him to be the first person that dies due to Octagon-related injuries. That's what's going through my mind."

Crazy, Tyson-esque stuff indeed from Mir, and I can definitely see why it caused such a stir in the MMA community. But I have one bigger question: where has the Pittsburgh media been on this international story that started in their own backyard?

Remember this story? Not a memorable moment for ESPN 1250, in retrospect. But I'm not bringing it up for reasons of accuracy or to embarrass the station. These things happen. I'm bringing it up because it spread like a bad case of poison ivy through Pittsburgh news outlets and beyond as soon as it was reported.

I'm not saying that interest in Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar comes anywhere near that of a potential Steeler coordinator firing; rather, my point is that the local media has come to the point of virtually ignoring any real news to come out of Madden's show.

Of course, I'm looking first in the direction of Bob Smizik of the PG. Smizik's blog has become a sounding board for local sports media talk - a rarity among Pittsburgh news outlets. But coverage of Madden on Smizik's blog has been practically non-existent. For a person who prides themselves on coverage of the local sports media scene, Smizik's silence on Madden has been deafening, other than a few casual mentions here and there. No mention of his "Cavalcade of Stars", no mention of the Mir incident that spawned from Madden's show, no mention of Madden's revealing interview with Big Ben, nothing.

It's been well-documented that the two are not exactly best buddies. I think the 2008 Smizik article, "Madden's unbridled act hits new low", would be Exhibit A in that discussion. But personal relationships aside, news is news. It shouldn't be put through a filter of who likes who. Maybe the fact that Smizik is writing via blog instead of a regular column gives him more leeway in the area of what he covers and what he doesn't; but to his readers, who clearly represent a huge interest in sports radio news, he's doing them a disservice by ignoring any Madden news. Of course, no one else in Pittsburgh seems to be willing to mention Madden either, so Smizik is definitely not alone in his stance.

Personally, I've never hid the fact that I've been a longtime Madden listener, even if it costs me points with some of you. But that doesn't stop me from mentioning his competition either, as witnessed most recently by an article I wrote praising Ron Cook and Vinnie Richichi's interview with Frank Coonelly on Wednesday. And I have certainly not agreed with the majority of Cook's opinions over the years.

I've been on a kick lately of saying that the changing media landscape has been a big victory for Pittsburgh sports fans, because the quality and quantity of talk, guests, and news has all been stepped up a notch since The Fan launched. The outlets that end up with the most comprehensive, interesting, and coherent thoughts are going to succeed, and the others will eventually fall by the wayside. Media consumers will ultimately be the judge of who is reasonable in their coverage and who pushes certain agendas. Sometimes, I just wonder if all of the people in positions of power actually realize that.

No need to hammer Mir for crossing idiot line [Yahoo!]

Mir says he wants Lesnar to die: Will he get suspended or fined? [Yahoo!]

Mark Madden [105.9 The X]

Madden's unbridled act hits new low [PG]

Bob Smizik's blog

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BURGH08 said...

I heard the comments first on Jim Rome's show on ESPN that happened to be on when I was on the treadmill. Never knew it was said on Madden's show.

Was a loyal listener of Madden, but since he left ESPN can't stand that format. Despite apparent ratings to the contrary, he seems like a dog that was neutered on the X.

As for the 'pub', it's different IMO. If Madden scored the Coonelly interview, that would have played and he would have gotten credit for it.

Quite frankly, a MMA fighter making those comments? Not even close to a big deal as to Madden or Pittsburgh.....

BURGH08 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RP said...

Really? You're asking where the buzz is for this? Seriously Don, please put your Madden love aside here. I generally really like what you do, but this is taking it too far. This is not a story, please get back to sports.

Jonny Van Mundegaarde said...

I'm a pretty consistent listener of Madden while at work on mondays and wednesdays, and found it funny that he was flippantly disregarding the "other" sports talk station, yet the timing of the Cavalcade was obvious.

I love Madden when he talks hockey, but between his bashing of callers (some of that is actually called for, he has some real dumbasses call his show), his obsession with Bree Olson (anything that puts an image of his arousal in your head is quite frankly puke-inducing), and the music interruptions, I simply find him...meh.

His glory days of 1250 are behind him. Yes he gets the ratings, but it's nice to see The Fan give him some competition. And i'm sure things will pick up for him when the NHL playoffs start...

Hanlon7117 said...

Mark Madden is a study in wasted potential. The guy is a natural on the radio, is knowledgeable and isn't afraid to challenge the conventional Pittsburgh-sports wisdom - HOWEVER, his shtick of being the "Howard Stern" of Pittsburgh sports just wears thin on me. If his show was less about him and more about sports, I would listen every once in awhile.

Also, MMA? Really? Let's just all discuss who John Cena will be "fighting" on Monday Night Raw while we're at it. Perhaps I'm beginning to get old at 26, but MMA has to be the stupidest fad since POGS.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

Madden's hockey knowledge is second to none. Same wit his knowledge of the porn industry.

His self promotion and omiscient attitude is what turns me off the most. I guess you would need to be constantly talking yourself up over the radio if you actually looked like Mark Madden, though.

Chip said...

Yeah, Mondesi, you seem to have left a few names out of "The Calvacade of Stars."

Teagan Presley. Bree Olson.

Now I have nothing against porn stars. In fact, I'm sure they're wonderful young ladies. And I like Mark Madden. He's an entertaining guy and I'd rather listen to him than any of those snoozefests on 1250 or Fan.

However, if you are SERIOUSLY wondering why Madden doesn't get respect from "legit newsmen" or serious media outlets, there's your answer. He's a clown, an entertaining clown, but a clown nonetheless. And I feel sorry for anybody who honestly thinks of him as a serious sportscaster.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly. Madden is really knowledgeable and is surprisingly on point during interviews. He continues to impress me with his knowledge and ability. HOWEVER, he's an arrogant SOB. He puts down callers (some deserving but most not so deserving), and pumps up his ego.

Why did he become ratings champion? Well, he knows he appeals to the 18-35 crowd, of which I'm a member. We don't listen to AM radio, so he jumped to where his fans are. He also jumped to the 18-35 station (The X). Good move. He also ramped up his format to appeal to the audience - they don't care about Pitt or Penn State, but rather porn stars, MMA, Penguins, and Steelers. No high school sports, very little national talk, refuses to talk baseball even when relevant.

The Fan will steal all the others who want quality sports talk on FM, and/or those who can't take alternative rock or Madden's lousy attitude. I wish him well, but I'm a Fan guy. I don't like listening to Madden. I can't have him on when I'm with my wife. Sorry, Mark. I respect you, but you're not my type. I guess you'll bash me because I live in Bellevue (when you grew up in the slums of Etna - go figure).

Anonymous said...

I by no means wish death upon anyone, but I like that this guy said what he actually thought - he's right about too many PC athletes just saying whatever they're "supposed to."

I guess it would've been a little different had an NFL or any other more mainstream athlete said such a thing, but I still thought it took some balls to say that and I'm glad he did.

Too many interviews all sound the same - the same stuff he mentions about respecting him, he's a great guy blah blah blah. I like this guy.

As for MM, he seems to know his stuff about hockey and Steeler football, but I really can't get past his dick-making of all the callers. I know that's his "shtick," but I'm tired of it, and I only listen to it when in Pittsburgh once a month or less.

Rege said...

Jeez, what the hell did Mark Madden ever do to you guys? You MM haters blather on like this dude stole your Prom Date and got her pregnant. Grow up. Critics and media peers alike don't like him because they DON'T have the stones to say the critical things he says about Pittsburgh Sports untouchables (Bettis, Whines Hard, Malkin, ETC.) They hate him out of jealously. The MM haters that are also listeners, are borderline carbon copies of the leftys that watch Bill O’reilly and Beck then complain.

Anonymous said...

Rege, you couldn't be further from the truth. If you actually did more than simply read the words we wrote and used your brain to consider why we said the things we did, then you just may understand. I guess thats what happens when you have an education from Bob's School of Business out there in Moon Township. Like my response? That's the kind of crap I don't like to hear on the radio from MM.

I want to hear fan-driven talk and discussion on Pittsburgh sports. I don't want to know which crab-laiden porn star Mark drooled over on his lunch break, hear him boast about going to Mark Bulger's wedding in Las Vegas (what's next - bragging about going to Tyler Palko's bachelor party?), or ripping into callers much like I am doing to you. Most of his callers are blathering ignorant yinzers who waste time by calling in to tell Mark they agree with him. Thanks. As if their listening wasn't enough.

Mark is arrogant. He's annoying. He's crude. The station he is on plays terrible music. He talks Penguins and Steelers 365 days a year. I'm 27 and I would have loved MM in high school and maybe college, but then I grew up and forgot about his 'Alan Cox talks sports' schtick and enjoy educated opinions who actually allow callers to share opinions. I called Mark once and he didn't like that I was talking Pirates in April so he cut me off then ripped into me because I'm from Wexford. Jackass purposely bought a townhouse at the Waterfront to hang around athletes and feel important. Hope he feels like a king now that he can go back to his Shaler high school reunion and not talk about WWF all day like he did before he reinvented himself.

Rege said...

It’s called entertainment -get over it. Nobody is holding a gun to your head to listen to him. I think the callers that get all pissed and defensive are some of the funniest moments of the show. Seriously , you have to be a complete moron to actually call in and expect to change his mind on an opinion, or make smarter comment than him, or bring up the Buccos.. Most of his callers get what they deserve. He found a gold mind firing up Steeler yinzers and 13 year old Pensblogers. Why screw with his highly successful business model.

Anonymous said...

That's a shame that you honestly believe he is a 'supergenius.' Madden has his schtick and it only works with a certain audience, who just so happens to be the target audience of the network he is on. Its more perfect positioning rather than Madden himself getting all the credit. Madden is Alan Cox talking sports. That's it. If not for the radio, he would be a fat hung-over yinzer with a WWF & porn shop in Etna or Sharpsburg.

Actually, I'm surprised he hasn't shown up on the Megan's Law website.

Rege said...

I've never claimed he is supergenius. I'll take him over Cookie, Paulsen, or Paul Alexander any day.

BURGH08 said...

I'm not a MM hater, but you are right Rege: Nobody is putting a gun to anyone's head to listen to him.

That's why nobody in this area cared or spoke a peep when the actual topic of a MMA fighter came up.