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Upon further review, Dan Patrick does it his way

After leaving ESPN, the host has a radio and TV show that injects civility into sports chat discourse, with silliness on the side.

June 19, 2011|By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times
  • Radio and TV sports personality Dan Patrick, center, and his crew, Todd Fritz, left, Andrew Perloff, Paul Pabst and Patrick O'Connor, at their studio in Milford, Conn.
Radio and TV sports personality Dan Patrick, center, and his crew, Todd… (Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles…)

Reporting from Milford, Conn. —

There are generally two types of sports talk shows: loud and louder.

And then there's Dan Patrick. The former ESPN anchor who along with Keith Olbermann helped establish the cable channel in the cultural zeitgeist through their dry wit and repartee, has carved out a second act as host of a sports talk show that relies more on brains than brass.

Broadcasting on radio and simulcast on television for three hours every weekday morning from a converted apartment here known as the "man cave" Patrick — backed by his four sidekicks, "The Danettes" — has created a hit that has become an important stop not only for athletes but actors, musicians and the occasional super model. "The Dan Patrick Show" (heard and seen here on KLAC-AM, Fox Sports West or DirecTV's Audience Network channel) has a radio and TV audience of more than 2 million a week and north of 2.5 million when his online following is factored in.

Patrick's program, known to fans as the "DP Show," is not a testosterone-fueled, bombastic jock fest. There are conversations, not rants. Callers actually have something to say, rather than insults to bark out. Yes, it's a sports show, and yes, beautiful girls are occasionally ogled. But it's a sport show your girlfriend can enjoy.

The cool-headed Patrick, who left ESPN in 2007 after clashing with management, has a wry way and often takes a contrarian view. While most sports talk shows spent last week bashing LeBron James and the Miami Heat for their stunning loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Patrick countered that "eventually we will be sympathetic" toward James, much the way tennis fans embraced the bratty Jimmy Connors in his later years.

He also is willing to take on authority figures and sports icons. He had a debate recently with NBA Commissioner David Stern about high school players turning pro in which Stern cracked that he hangs on Patrick's "every word like the tablets handed down on Mt. Sinai."

A few weeks later, after another one of his former teammates said Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs and the cyclist issued his standard denial, Patrick said, "It's a dirty sport, and I'm supposed to believe he's the only guy that never cheated."

Patrick has Hollywood's ear too. Last year after he criticized HBO's "Entourage," creator Doug Ellincalled in from France to defend the show. More recently he passed on golf tips to Justin Timberlake, and, of course, there was his supporting role in the Charlie Sheen versus the world drama when the TV star used Patrick's show to vociferously air his grievances with everyone involved with his CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men."

Patrick's low-key approach differentiates him from other radio shows such as "The Jim Rome Show, "The Loose Cannons" (Pat O'Brien, Steve Hartman and Vic "The Brick" Jacobs), "Petros and Money" (Petros Papadakis and Matt "Money" Smith) and "Mike and Mike in the Morning" (Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic).

"He doesn't talk like a sports talk guy," said Steve Koonin, the president of Turner Entertainment Networks and a huge consumer of sports radio. Patrick has an "intellectual irreverence" missing from most talk jocks who lean toward a "screaming" and "ranting" approach; "Patrick connects information rather than opinion," Koonin observed.

"I don't need to yell at you to make a point," Patrick said between bites of a salad at the Seven Seas Restaurant, which serves as the de facto watering hole for his staff. "I would hope the point makes the point, not me and how I deliver it."

It's not uncommon for discussions to veer from sports and into questions of social etiquette such as where to place one's hands when hugging someone else's girlfriend or how to walk the red carpet at a big event. Patrick, 55, often plays the father figure to his much younger staff.

While most sports shows blast heavy metal at listeners going in and out of commercial breaks — known in the industry as bumper music — to match the volume of their over-the-top hosts, listeners of the "DP Show" get an eclectic mix that can include Louie Armstrong or the New York punk band Television. If a Rush or AC/DC song is played, it is with the appropriate amount of irony attached.

"I don't like it to be labeled a sports show," Patrick said. "We've created almost a 'Truman Show,' where you're looking into this little world we've created, and we let you look in, warts and all."

Patrick has differentiated his show by sharing the limelight. Borrowing a page from Howard Stern, Patrick made his team into an instrumental part of the show. The Danettes — executive producers Paul Pabst and Todd Fritz, operations director Patrick "Seton" O'Connor and blogger Andrew Perloff — are not just the behind-the-scenes crew. They are costars who banter one another and Patrick between guests.

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