And yet there exists the local fan with the long memory and the bleeding heart, and for this person there are Joe and Doug.
Back on the air at Phil Trani's, the actor and former Ram Fred Dryer called in; he and Lasorda got to reminiscing about seeing the Hollywood Stars play at Gilmore Field. David Vasay, the 27-year-old producer of "The McDonnell-Douglas Show," worked his black book, the one with the phone numbers -- home, cell -- of pro athletes and their agents and team publicists. Laker greats (and friends of the show) Jerry West and Elgin Baylor went on the air. So did current Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak, even though last year, as the Lakers flamed out in the playoffs, McDonnell and Krikorian were calling him "Asleep at the Switch Mitch." Marge Hearn, widow of Chick Hearn, paid her regards and a respectful hush fell over the room.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday February 04, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 22 words Type of Material: Correction
Radio producer -- An article in Sunday's Calendar misspelled the name of David Vassegh, the producer of "The McDonnell-Douglas Show," as Vasay.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday February 08, 2004 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part E Page 2 Calendar Desk 0 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Radio producer's name -- The last name of "McDonnell-Douglas Show" producer was misspelled in an article in last Sunday's Calendar. His name is David Vassegh, not Vasay.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday February 08, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 24 words Type of Material: Correction
Radio producer -- An article in the Feb. 1 Calendar misspelled the name of David Vassegh, the producer of "The McDonnell-Douglas Show," as Vasay.
But Lasorda continued to be Lasorda, and Vasay finally put the black book down. For McDonnell and Krikorian, another afternoon drifted into evening on the wings of old anecdotes, bad jokes and arguments that will never end.
There are now four all-sports radio stations in the L.A. market. KSPN, McDonnell and Krikorian's station, is owned by ESPN Radio, which is owned by Disney. Extra Sports (690 and 1150 AM) is owned by Clear Channel Communications, while KMPC (1540 AM) is owned by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, whose Vulcan Ventures acquired One on One Sports Network in 2000 and changed the name to Sporting News Radio.
In radio, corporate mergers have led to charges that the airwaves are growing ever more homogenized. The debate has particularly coalesced around the Texas-based giant Clear Channel, owner of more than 1,200 stations across the country and which has employed a strategy of eliminating local DJs and talk show hosts in favor of streamlined playlists, canned DJ banter and syndicated talk personalities like Rush Limbaugh.
A similar trend has taken over sports talk, which is what makes the survival of "The McDonnell-Douglas Show" a fluke. On KSPN, most of the talk is syndicated. The voices scream at you from some nonplace (it's actually Bristol, Conn., ESPN Radio's headquarters), a vast chattering class of ex-jock insiders and twentysomething "Sports Center" anchors hyping and shouting.
It is somehow reassuring, then, to hear Krikorian reminisce about the days when he was the only beat guy covering the Lakers on the road full time. It was 1968 and he was working for the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner. The team paid for his airfare and hotel and even gave him a per diem. On the plane, as Krikorian is fond of recalling, he filled in when West, Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain needed a fourth for a game of hearts.
Unlike the big sports radio personalities like Jim Rome, McDonnell and Krikorian worked the endless nights in the bowels of arenas, hanging around practices and locker rooms. The athletes were more accessible -- or at least not apt to be on their cell or portable DVD players.
Krikorian, in his day, drank with the coaches and brought dates into Dr. Jerry Buss' box at the Forum. McDonnell simply showed up. Night after night after night. For a while there, he says, he had his own key to Dodger Stadium.
None of which means "The McDonnell-Douglas Show" is high art (some days it's not even low art). Thursdays feature the regular segment "Who Do You Want to Kick Out of L.A.?" (Last week, would-be Dodger owner Frank McCourt won in a landslide.)
McDonnell, nicknamed "The Big Nasty," frequently calls people (callers, general managers, whatever) "idiots," and he is often a surly guardian of his airwaves. For all the trashing they do, they are also not above fawning over celebrities (their Abdul-Jabbar interview was an hourlong valentine). Krikorian, who is not a natural broadcaster, is prone to odd, flowery language ("That has to be one of the most stunning revelations ever uttered, Joe," is something Krikorian seems to say weekly, if not daily).
Like all sports call-in shows, theirs is supposed to be about the hot topic of the day, spun for maximum bombast. "I would flirt with her," McDonnell said the day Kobe Bryant was charged with sexual assault in an Eagle, Colo., courtroom.
"I talked to a prominent NBA executive who told me this guy is squeaky clean and doesn't mess with the women," Krikorian floated.
The show is much more refreshing on days when there isn't a hot-button issue, when McDonnell and Krikorian mostly just talk to each other.