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The Inside Track

Hot Corner

November 07, 2001|Larry Stewart

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

What: "Sports Talk"

Author: Alan Eisenstock

Publisher: Pocket Books

Price: $26

This 262-page hardcover book is proof there is at least one person who can actually stomach KXTA (1150) sports talk show host Arnie Spanier. The author, a sports talk junkie since the early 1970s when he was captivated by Ed "Superfan" Bieler, loves Spanier.

Alan Eisenstock, a television writer who lives in Pacific Palisades, says Spanier "sounds like a bookmaker gargling with glass," an apt description. But he also says he likes "the croak of his perpetual sore throat and the sheer volume of his scream."

Spanier, who calls himself the "Stinkin' Genius," gets two chapters. One of his listeners, Richard G., also gets a chapter. So does Joe the Waiter.

Richard G. is no fan of Spanier. "I can't stand Arnie," Richard G. is quoted as saying. "I'd stab him a million times." He says his voice is terrible and "he's your classic New York whiner."

The chapter on Joe the Waiter, a New Yorker, is a poignant look at a gambling sicko.

As for Spanier, Eisenstock makes a case that, off the air, he isn't such a bad guy, that he's actually a nice, normal human being. Eisenstock interviewed Spanier at a deli in Pacific Palisades and also at his home.

Eisenstock spent a day with Lee Hamilton at XTRA (690), but he doesn't get into any part of the controversy that cost Hamilton his play-by-play job with the Minnesota Vikings. That happened after Eisenstock finished writing the book.

New York's Mike and the Mad Dog, Boston's Eddie Andleman, Chicago's Mike North and onetime Jim Rome smack-off winner JT the Brick are among the others profiled in the book.

Rome declined to be interviewed and Eisenstock points out ESPN Radio in Los Angeles made its debut after he finished the book.

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