The new FM all-sports radio station, 95.7 The Game, just made a desperate move, a sad move. Its management hired Damon Bruce for its crucial 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. slot — drive time — and let three good people go.
It is not my habit to write about negligible people like Bruce. I avoid the negligible — negligible insight, negligible tact, negligible talent. But what 95.7 did is important in a bad way. It also is instructive.
Hiring Bruce illustrates the biggest difference between print journalism and broadcast journalism. Broadcast journalism cares less about quality and more about ratings. It has to. We all understand that. There's no such thing as bad publicity or good publicity. To broadcast journalism, it's either publicity or no publicity.
Hiring Bruce will create publicity. I'm writing about him, so I'm part of the publicity campaign. The Game, losing its battle to KNBR, needs all the publicity it can get. I understand what 95.7 is doing and I sympathize. It's still a shame, and it hurts the station's image.
Bruce is not famous. He's infamous. A while back, the entire nation was talking about him, not in a good way. He went on the air and ranted against women. When I say he went on the air, I mean over at 1050, KNBR's junior-varsity station. He couldn't make it permanently to 680, the sports powerhouse, didn't have the credibility or the flair or the charm.
Surely you remember what he said. To catch you up, here are a few snippets:
"A lot of sports have lost its way and I'm going to tell you it's because we have women giving us directions."
"I enjoy many of the women's contributions to sports. Well, that's a lie. (He laughs.) I can't even pretend that's true. There are a very few — small handful — of women who are any good at this at all."
And this quote is the topper: "All of this world of sports, especially the sport of football, has a setting. It's set to men. That's the setting. We're not changing it for you (women). It's a man's world. It's the last place where men will be men. This is guy stuff. It's unfair in the world of men. You learn that early. Sports are set to the dial of men, and I'm not going to allow it to be changed."
That last image, the dial image, is interesting, vivid. Let's linger over Damon Bruce's dial.