Recently, I was allowed to sit down with Tim Allen the host of "Milwaukee's Real Post Game Show" on sports radio 1250 a.m.
I had the privilege of going into the WSSP studio during a Brewers game and hanging out with the Post Game Show crew to do the interview. I must admit, I had a total blast. Tim and the boys not only made me feel at home, but they invited me to stick around for the show after our interview. Talking baseball with someone as passionate as Tim was a real pleasure, and to have him invite Brewerfa.net to be a part of his show is quite an honor.
If you have an opportunity to meet Tim Allen in person, I'd recommend you do it because he is a great guy and he could talk Brewers baseball for hours with you. Until you have the opportunity to see him do a road show, you'll have to settle for this interview.
Before I move on, I'd like to tell you that I had never really interviewed anyone before and Tim made my job quite easy.
During preparations for the show, I could see Tim Allen and Zak Grim (the show's producer) prepare for that night's show. Zak was loading audio clips of an interview that Steve "Sparky" Fifer did with Ned Yost on Fifer's Morning Drive show earlier that day. During that interview, Yost unveiled his lineup that featured Koskie in the three hole and Jenkins down at #6. Tim was selecting key quotes while conversing with Grim, listening to Bob Uecker call a ball game, and answering my questions. Tim never missed a beat.
For the sake of simplicity, from here on out I will be known as BF, Tim will be known as TA, Zak Grim will be known as ZG, and Tim's call screener and live update giving guy Jay Stew will be referred to as JS.
BF- How long have you been in Milwaukee?
TA- I was born and raised in south east Wisconsin. First ball game was around '72. I was 8 riding on the back of my dad's motorcycle. My second game was Cub Scout day and I remember having like $5 in my pocket. Back then, I was rich. Hot Dogs were like 60 cents.
BF- What else stands out in your mind about those first games?
TA- (while yelling at Doug Davis, that night's starter) Walking through the tunnel and seeing that beautiful green grass. It was a day game, and the colors of the stadium were amazing. My son has that same feeling that I did, and sharing that with him is unreal.
Tim had a smile come across his face while talking about those games and I knew how he felt. Tim was showing me at that moment that he was as addicted to baseball as most of us are. Tim recalled the pure love of the game.
BF- How did you get into broadcasting?
TA- I was playing in a band, and the lead singer was a DJ at a local station. In between songs we'd joke around and do his on air shtick, and I'd mock him. He'd often say "You should go into broadcasting." and I'd think "well, I don't know, maybe." Each time at practice, we'd do the same thing.
BF- He just kept harping on you?
TA-Yeah, he said it's really easy. I was 21 or 22 at the time and I had no idea what I was going to do when I grew up. One night I lay in bed and even though I wasn't very religious, it was pretty much the only time I asked God for "something". I asked for him to give me the direction. Don't plan on giving me something for free, I plan to work for it, just point me in the right direction. Give me some sort of sign though. The next night at band practice, the lead singer said "I talked to the P.D. and they said that I could go and hang out there for a while". I decided that I needed more, so I went to broadcasting school and it went from there.
BF- Did you want to do music, or sports, or what?
TA- I'm a broadcaster first. Regardless of the format I've done rock, contemporary, top 40, talk radio, sports radio, country, I'm a broadcaster and wherever I am is what I do. Instead of pigeon holding myself into just sports due to the lack of opportunity, I do what is available. I got into sports radio in late '88 or '89 with WAUK part time. I was also sports talk director of a station in Kenosha as well. I think I'm still cutting my teeth in the sports talk world. If you want my opinion, sports talk personalities tend to want to impress the hard core sports fan. The hard core sports fan is going to take what's given to them. They are going to take it, because there are few or no other alternatives. You broadcast to the masses. You will always have the hardcore sports fan; he's going to tune in no matter what. You want the masses. That's who you want to convert. You want the F.M. listener to tune in to you and understand what you're talking about with their favorite team.
At times, you need to bring the listener along with you by holding their hand. The masses sometimes don't know all the things the hardcore fan knows, and you need to include those kinds of fans.
Tim then referenced his "Hot Stove Show' an off season baseball program and told me that once he and ZG would talk lineup possibilities, the phones would stop ringing. Casual approach fans don't get some of that in depth stuff.
ZG- That almost geek-like stuff is tough for casual fans. They listen, but it is almost background noise to them because it's all these names and it gets so technical that it's overwhelming.
TA- That's right.
ZG- People like you, the Brewerfan guys love that stuff. You guys know that stuff better than anyone. Us big sports fans get off on that stuff.
BF- How do you balance that sort of stuff or satiate the hardcore fan's appetite?
TA- It's tough, and it's a case by case basis. Throw out Jack Zduriencik's name, you have to preface it with his title. Sometimes, if the phones are dead, Zak always tells me: "Talk trade, that always gets the phones going." and he's right. It includes the listeners. All of them. It lets them run the show.
ZG- it satisfies your had core guys too and lets them break out their numbers, and talk along too.
BF- How do you take it when people blast you or the show?
TA- Nobody's the expert. The masses do not do that, and if you're ripped it's by hardcore fans. So really I'm not going to bury myself in numbers, or stats, that's not my style. I'm a fan first of all. I find the glass is always half full. This particular show is based on fans of the team. We are here to talk about the team and how to do things with it.
BF- How did you develop your "style"?
TA- Lots of people call it being an instigator. I just start conversations, I be myself. I'm grateful that WSSP lets me do a show in my own way which is rare. I'm lucky. I love my job. I get paid for it. Nothing's better.
BF- How do you think that Milwaukee has grabbed onto the idea of your show? I've been here all my life, and I have not seen anything like your show. How is it being a "pioneer" in Milwaukee sports radio?
TA- The timing was good because the team is on an upswing. As the Brewers get more competitive, we'll get even busier. Up until 4-5 years ago, WTMJ didn't even offer as much as they do now after a show. We are the 33rd largest market in America, and 12 minutes after a MLB game there's no coverage? I thought that was a big waste. Brewer fans can't get enough, and it's mostly just us and Brewerfan.net. The masses are aware. (Time then talks about the Brewer game that was ongoing mentioning a Fielder home run Arroyo was pitching) I don't think it's me. I think a lot of people could sit in this chair. I don't want any pioneering credit. It's a pleasure doing this. I love it. Will we do this next year? I don't know. I hope so. I'd do it bigger and better even.
BF- I'd be lit up if I didn't ask the obligatory "How'd you hear of Brewerfan.net, and why are we working with you?" question.
TA- Sparky (Steve Fifer) told me about the site sometime ago. I'm not sure when, but I'd get online and check it out, but I've never posted. I've never called a talk show either. He told me about it and I was like "Alright!"
I look at what Brewerfan.net is, and it's the online version of this show. It's as simple as that. Although you're international, we're after the same local crowd. How can we not do good business together? We're both more successful for it. (We then both yelled at Damian Miller for a poor at bat)
As Tim needed to step out and prepare for the show a bit more, I had an opportunity to talk with Zak Grim. I wanted to find out how he got involved with the show.
BF- How did you get into doing sports radio and specifically WSSP?
ZG- 18 months ago this wasn't even in my mind. I was a History Major I've since added Mass Communications to that. I wanted to be a History Professor. To tell you the truth, I was driving along one day and I had been thinking about doing something in broadcasting. I'm a huge sports fan.
(Grim then professed his love for the Bulls and the Cubs) When the Sosa/McGwire run was going on, I realized how sports can transcend itself and become an everyday type of thing were everyone everywhere knows a player or an event. I drove past a 1250 billboard I wondered if I could get an internship somehow. I had nothing lined up for that summer, I tried, a week later I was here doing stuff. I'd arrive at 4:45 a.m. and leave here after 7 p.m.
My first real job on the air was the "Hot Stove Show" with Tim.
Stew James finally had a free moment and walked into the studio to join us. Stew is a very upbeat and humorous guy who once worked at a radio station nicknamed "the Wolf." James was told to make up a bio page for that job, so he made up a "Rock, Paper, Scissors" championship event in which he strained one of his hands in 1997.
James not only screens the calls, but prepares updates, gathers statistical information for the show's needs, takes care of sponsors, and several other behind the scenes tasks.
When asked how he got the WSSP gig, he said:
"Through Tim, I was with him on the Wolf."
TA out of nowhere showed up to add that James was his right hand man. James also was a student in one of the classes Tim teaches in the broadcasting field.
At that point, I mixed up Stew James' name and called him Jay Stew. I was met with a brief pause and then the proper amount of belittlement and then somehow some J.Crew jokes were added in to the conversation.
Earlier I mentioned Time Allen's teaching. He taught radio at Gateway for 5 years. When Tim gets players on his show for post game interviews, he needs to be rather political about it. Obviously, he can't say a guy is horrid, but he can somehow ask them about current struggles. Tim takes an interesting approach to conversations with players/managers. Tim's idea is to ask himself what the player may do if he were in Tim's shoes. There are always going to be questions that are touchy for some players but the listeners want the answers to them. Tim's listeners seem to always take priority from what I've noticed.
For those of you that are avid listeners of the show, I asked how the "Tim-portant Scale" (a humorous term used to rate the necessity of a particular game). I got an answer I half expected, it seems as if the term just came out of casual conversation one day and ZG gets the credit for it.
During my time with the crew of "Milwaukee's Real Post Game Show our conversations were all over the place. Not only are the guys fun to be with, but they are very welcoming. The passion that these guys have for Brewers baseball (ZG the Cub fan included) is at levels I've only seen amongst the biggest of baseball fans, and that's pretty impressive. The knowledge of the team and baseball in general is paralleled by a select few. The zeal towards their jobs is all too rare in today's world, and I hope to have that experience someday. Tim mentioned to me early in the interview how much he loved his job and that fact became quite clear to me as the evening went on. From hanging out in the studio I learned how fluidly these three guys work together, and how much they compliment each other.
I'd like to thank WSSP as a whole, Stew James, Zak Grim, and especially Tim Allen not only for the great time I had with them, but for allowing Brewerfan.net to be a small part of an incredible show. Milwaukee's Real Post Game Show is an idea that was overdue in the Milwaukee market and WSSP's idea to give us Brewers fans 2 hours of great baseball talk after the games is appreciated. If you are in the Milwaukee area or can tune in via internet, I'd highly recommend listening, it's a great show.