The Elusive Ticket Formula

Shirtless Norm loves Deep Night Ticket

This is a thought that has been kicking around my head for some time.  What does it take to define what makes the Ticket so great?  Obviously, the formula is not easy to come by because if they had figured it out, they would replicate it in all the major markets.  We could try to define it in particular compartments, such as “guy talk with sports mixed in”, but that is such a narrow definition.

One of the critical components of the formula hit me this morning, while listening to Corby talk to the Musers about the bet for the Great Game (Mustache Wheel for one month).  The first big part of what makes the Ticket special is that pretty much everything that they do is for the listener and not themselves.  I think back to all of the other radio stations I have listened to over the years, and I never remember any of them going to the self-deprecating lengths to “mine radio gold”.  Probably the closest I can think of is some of the stuff that Kidd Kraddick has done, but nothing even comes close to the things the Ticket Boys do to make good radio.  Whether it is making fools of themselves playing hockey in front of thousands of people,  growing mustaches that make them look like idiots,  or playing bad renditions of songs in front of TicketStock, the Ticket hosts actively go out of their way to make themselves uncomfortable to benefit the listener.

Musers Mustache

Muser Mustaches

The other major part of the formula (and I believe this is the most critical) is that there are no walls between shows.  Whether you listen to the Fan, ESPN radio, or pretty much 99% of all other talk formatted radio stations, you NEVER hear hosts interacting between shows.  This happens both on the air and off the air.

Can you even imagine for one second Randy Galloway and Newy Scruggs going on a campout together for 3 days?  What are the odds that the Morning Drive guys will face off with the Afternoon Drive guys in a baseball game at some spare Philadelphia sports talk station? Pretty low, I would imagine.  Even something as Wife-Swap days wouldn’t ever happen on the more buttoned-up stations because you probably have some program director who yells about how that isn’t “traditional” radio.

This walled garden approach is why ESPN Radio and The Fan will most likely never dent the ratings of The Ticket.  It seems to me that they make radio for themselves and expect people to listen. The Ticket makes radio for the listeners, and aren’t afraid to put themselves in an odd spot every now and then just to see what happens.  Put me down as one person who appreciates all of the things the Ticket hosts do on a regular basis to make radio magic.

As a final note to anyone who works at the Ticket that might read this:  The Woodford Reserve Musers’ Campout was just about the greatest two days of radio that has ever been made.  I have never laughed harder than when Yoda, Avery Johnson and MushMouth sang U2.  Please, please, never take things like that away from us.


9 COMMENTS

  1. AP
    May 04, 2010 08:30 Reply

    Wow, Jub rocks that toothbrush mustache so very well…

  2. Good Good
    May 04, 2010 09:47 Reply

    I can’t even begin to put into words how much the Ticket rocks. So I guess I’ll just say,

    “It’s fun to do bad things!”

  3. Sparky
    May 04, 2010 10:02 Reply

    Maybe I’m just too cynical, but… how much of that camaraderie is genuine? It seems like they’ll all good buddies, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s just show persona we’re getting. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Campout like I loved the Compound but let me ask you this – would you want to be put into a campground and forced to interact with your co-workers for 3 days in a row? My best guess is that they’re like us — they like some of their co-workers, they dislike some, and the rest are just “okay.”

  4. PowerDown
    May 04, 2010 10:45 Reply

    Sparky, I agree with you to a certain extent, but if some people don’t like each other, they do a REALLY good job of hiding it. 🙂

    I am sure that there are cliques within it, but having listened for a long, long time, I have seen plenty of people that weren’t able to break into the fraternity that they have created and didn’t last very long. I remember that it took forever for Bob Sturm to be embraced, and he had to pay his dues to get to that point.

    I have no doubt that there are plenty of behind the scenes things we never hear about, but for the most part, they all seem to get along really well, and that, to me, is the key to the whole thing. If people didn’t get along, I think it would be pretty apparent to us listeners. 🙂

  5. Sparky
    May 04, 2010 10:56 Reply

    PD: I see your points, and I think I agree. I can think of examples of people who didn’t make it into the fraternity (Doogie, Skip, Rocco). I hope you’re right, but let me ask you this — at what point did you feel there was tension between Greggo and Mike? It turns out that they hadn’t spoken off the air in, what, 18 months before he was fired? Not counting the very very end, I, for one, couldn’t tell based on their on-air interaction.

  6. PowerDown
    May 04, 2010 11:04 Reply

    POW!!!

    Good point…I don’t remember ever thinking there was something wrong…I do remember thinking that Greggo always sounded like he had a cold or allergies..whoops!!

    We need someone on the inside to give us the scoop. I know that there are times when I can detect tension with Fernando never showing up to Ticket events, but other than that, my pea-sized brain doesn’t detect much if anything. 🙂

  7. Mike
    May 04, 2010 19:18 Reply

    I think Ben & Skin are a good case study for this. Sports talk? They know more about sports than most Ticket hosts. Guy/life/pop culture talk? They can do it. Bits? They have some decent ones. But on the whole their show just doesn’t work nearly as well as those things would suggest.

  8. Alex
    May 05, 2010 13:18 Reply

    I think one of the things that makes The Ticket so great is that, not only do they admit when they are wrong or when things haven’t gone as planned, they celebrate it! They don’t strive to be some perfect FM show where everything is SO well-rehearsed…or, rehearsed, anyway. Also, they could puff their chests out and say that they’re the #1 station in the most coveted demographic and act all high and mighty… but they don’t. I appreciate that humble approach, even if it might be part of “the brand”. On the flipside, they constantly get themselves into pickles with their Ticket Braggadocio, just like we do with our buddies all the time: “Sure, I can eat three plates of jambalaya and then jog back to the hotel… UURRRP!” I like them because I can identify with their on-air personas.

  9. May 09, 2010 19:17 Reply

    a major reason the ticket stands above the rest is because many of the personalities are extremely intelligent. Gordo, Sturm, Rhynes would top the list, but ALL of the hosts just “get it”. Regardless of the book after book #1 rankings, the on-air staff still embody the underdog and clubhouse mentality that other stations lack. Their reign will not stop until they stop it themselves. A true jem amongst local radio. Stay hard little ticket…

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