Interview with Jim Gintonio

Jim Gintonio, a sports reporter for the Arizona Republic, wrote a December 2000 item in his media newsletter about Bob Kemp's overnight show on One on One Sports (now Sporting News Radio).

"Kemp, who at one time was the sports editor for the Prescott Courier, could give a lesson to a lot of local hosts around the country on how to conduct a show," Gintonio wrote.

I interviewed Gintonio through e-mail on Feb. 25, 2001, about Kemp and sports radio in general. He told me that he received "as much response to that Kemp mention as I have since I have been doing the newsletter, which is about a year and a half."

Q: How long have you been listening to Bob Kemp?

Gintonio: I've been listening off and on for a couple years. I'm always interested in what other Buckeye natives have to say about the sports world.

Q: Your article last year called Kemp a "bright spot in late-night radio." What do you like about his show?

Gintonio: I like his outspokenness, and the fact that he doesn't pander to athletes or callers as many hosts do. He doesn't have to resort to cheap jokes or crudeness to enhance his show.

Q: The trend today in sportstalk seems to be Tony Kornheiser-style chatter where sports is often an afterthought. This seems odd to ask, but why don't more sports talk hosts talk about sports?

Gintonio: Interesting that you should bring this up. I've taken Kornheiser to task a few times in the past couple of years because I have never liked his show. I know this is a minority opinion, but I think sportswriters should stick to sportswriting. We have a few writers on our staff and at area newspapers who are or have been regular radio show hosts or daily guests and I have written about that many times, always incurring their wrath. As for the crux of your question, I believe talk show hosts, especially those on the local level and Phoenix has more than its fair share of them, think they have to be stand-up comedians. I believe it all goes to the fact that many don't want to spend the time they need researching the issues. So instead of applying themselves and working harder to get better, they think they can appeal to what they see as the base instincts of their target audience, males 25-54. Being a part of that target audience, I object to that. I don't care about their dates or home life. I don't care if they have car trouble. I don't want to know what some trash-talking producer thinks about anything. They think they're being clever to bring in crude comics or talk guy talk for half their show. I don't. What these guys need to strive for is credibility. Evading the sports issues just points to the fact that they are not prepared or knowledgeable enough to do a 3 or 4-hour sports talk show. Everyone these days thinks he has to be a Jim Rome clone.

Q: Kemp is religiously devoted to sportswriting, reading dozens of papers each day on the Internet and interviewing journalists often. Of the writers he brings on, who are your favorites?

I haven't heard his show when he has had on writers. Sorry. But a few of the guys I regularly look for are Bill Livingston at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Bob Cohn at the Washington Times, and Bob Kravitz, who was in Denver but I believe has moved elsewhere recently, to name a few. I don't know if Kemp has had any of these guys on. Rick Reilly and Scott Ostler, I think, are two of the best columnists in the country.

Q: Would the sports world be a better place if no one could use the R word and Pete Rose and Dennis Rodman were banned from discussion?

Yes and no. I think Rodman should be banned from discussion. Whatever he says or does is, and has been, irrelevant. As for Rose, I don't like some of the things he does in terms of self-promotion, but there has never been any doubt in my mind that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. If we kept every ne'er-do-well out of Cooperstown, the place would be half-empty.

Q: The last question is one that must be asked of anyone who is devoted to his show. What are you doing up in the middle of the night?

I try to listen to him at least 3-4 times a week. I work a lot of odd hours at the paper doing a lot of general assignment work in addition to my media column and stories. I've been listening to sports talk radio for a long time.

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