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.
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.