Friday, January 27, 2012

Rock On... Jim Rome Leaving ESPN For CBS

Welcome, what is up! Thanks for clicking onto Rock Talk! I've got a great Friday post for you. You'll get my take on the now defunct television show known as Jim Rome Is Burning (JRIB), how big of a guilty pleasure it was, how the show was Jim Rome's wet dream come true, and what walking away ESPN means for him going forward. Let's get burning!

Fire Extinguished
First of all, what an amazing run this show had. From May 6, 2003 until today, Jim Rome polluted the biggest sports network for thirty minutes with his cynical rants, condescending interviews, look-at-me forum segments, and cheesy correspondent pieces every Friday. Noxious gases were practically spewing from his mouth through the TV screen. Nauseating! Hey Jim, was having a three hour nationally syndicated program on the airwaves and being the 36th most influential radio host in 2011 not enough for your ego? Apparently not. You just had to see yourself on television, didn't you? Because here's the big deal, it's one thing to have a background working in television as a springboard for spawning your own TV show. It's a whole new ballgame when you're thrust into television because you happen to be a radio personality. And don't give me that rebuttal of being on TV all these years is a sign of viewer loyalty. It isn't, that's just what happens when your television show is on the sports conglomerate known as ESPN. You wouldn't have a fraction of that loyalty if you were on some little regional sports network somewhere in southern California where you reside. The people who've tuned into your afternoon TV show all these saw a man who wanted more and more attention than what was offered on the radio. And with your departure to CBS starting in April, you've just turned the audacity knob up another notch.

Pyromania
And yet, there was something about JRIB that kept me coming back for more year after year. Maybe it's because his show preceded my favorite ESPN show in Around The Horn. Maybe it's because he had a sharp wit to match his acerbic tongue. Maybe it's because he actually made a few valid points amidst his ramblings. Who knows? Either way, it extended my afternoons into an hour and a half block of must-see sports talk shows with JRIB at 4:30, Around The Horn at 5:00, and Pardon The Interruption at 5:30. That started probably around 2006. All of a sudden, Jim Rome went from some guy I never even knew to a guy whose show, dare I say it, I actually looked forward to when I came home from school every weekday. Talk about classical conditioning. It's like every day I went without watching his show, God killed a kitten somewhere. And I like cats. A lot. Ergo, I made a conscious effort to watch JRIB every day I could. So to that, I say thanks Jim for helping save the lives of hundreds of kittens. The world is a lot furrier thanks to you.

Some Like It Hot
Now don't think Jim Rome gets off that easily. He may have lived the dream of every sports fan in America by mouthing off his opinion and getting away with it on TV for nearly nine years, but he's a double-edged sword, to be sure. He's the kind of friend you want to punch in the face every time he talks smack about your favorite athletes and teams, but he's also the same guy you'd take a bullet for if he ever defends your favorite athletes and teams. He's as entertaining as a group of monkeys wearing propeller hats blowing on kazoos, and what he lacks in the entertainment department, he makes up for with his soundbites he'll drop ad nauseam on the radio. While their usage was thankfully curtailed on JRIB to an occasional cameo, it just meant more time for him to talk about how he's right, and how everything he says is gospel. And pray tell, is that goatee of his on purpose? Because nothing says antagonist greater than a goatee. And it would surprise me none if he knows all of this, too.

Fanning The Flames
The irony of it all is that Jim Rome's not going off the air anytime soon. It was reported earlier this month that his coverage with CBS will begin with the Final Four of the men's NCAA basketball tournament. Great. I've got one more reason not to tune into March Madness. First, CBS got rid of Gus Johnson (ha ha?), and they counter that by adding in Jim Rome. That's a lot like Fox replacing the legendary Pat Summerall and hiring Joe Buck as his successor back in 2002. And play-by-play commentary hasn't been the same on that network since. Even more daring is that Jim Rome will have a similarly formatted show to his old ESPN program simply called "Rome" on Showtime. Wow. On the originality scale, the score for his title would be in the red. Just when you thought he would simply stick to radio, he's taking his television act to an even bigger audience. I wonder if his head size will expand by a few eighths of an inch during this time. Guess I'll have to find out come April.

I wanna thank Jim Rome for being such a big target for me to aim at. Can't wait to see you on a big time network and your pompous attitude in all of it's glory. And thank you for reading my Jim Rome-esque burns. See you next time. I am out!


Jim Rome portrait courtesy of SportsBusinessDaily.com

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