Who’s gonna believe they’re getting an unbiased opinion on this one?
Then again, does it really matter? What opinion really is completely unbiased, including those of “reporters” for newspapers such as the Kansas City Star?
Truth is, with the odd exception there’s no such thing as an unbiased opinion.
First a little history…
Once upon a time there was a local sports radio call in dude who went by the name Husker.
I heard Husker one time on – I believe – 1340 AM and and called host Denny Trease to track him down. Unbeknownst to most listeners, his real name was Greg Hall.
Greg was one of the youngest in a large family of Nebraskans and he’d relocated to Kansas City. A die hard Cornhusker and Chiefs fan, Hall became a regular on KMBZ 980 AM, 1340 AM and KCTE-AM, a new station former Channel 4 weekend TV sports nerd Kevin Kietzman had signed on with.
In other words, when it came to sports talk radio Hall was everywhere.
And a clever rascal he was…
“For some time now a sports talk junkie who goes by the name of “Husker” has been making the rounds of area stations doing variations on David Letterman‘s Top 10 theme,” I wrote in the Kansas City Star in late 1994. “His identity: Greg Hall , a free-lance ad creative writer. His latest effort: A schtick on Chiefs honcho Carl Peterson‘s booting of former Chief Nick Lowery from the sidelines during a recent game. It’s called the “Top 10 Reasons King Carl Kicked Nick Off of the Chiefs Sidelines. ” Some highlights: “Carl can’t stand seeing anyone but him in an expensive trench coat; Nick was reading a copy of The Kansas City Star ; Carl’s last suit from Peter’s Clothiers shrunk. ” And the No. 1 reason: “There isn’t enough room on the sideline for both Nick’s and Carl’s hair. ”
For me it was love at first sound byte.
Less than two weeks later I presented Hall’s “Top 10 reasons Dan Cofran had a family of Czechoslovakians waiting in line at 13th and Locust.”
The former KC councilman had hired the Czechs to stand in line for three days in order to get Cofran’s name first on the ballot for KC mayor.
“The Czechs figured waiting in line would be less boring than watching the Chiefs game; Cofran’s family was unavailable because they were vacationing in Czechoslovakia; the Czechs were cheaper than hiring out-of-work Royals.” And the No. 1 reason: “You didn ‘t think Cofran was going to stand out there in the cold, didya? ”
From that point forward, I used Hall’s Top 10 lists and other clevernesses in my column on a regular basis, until some dude by the name of Jason Whitlock showed up in the sports section and adopted Hall as his daily muse.
Hall had been faxing his radio and TV soundbites column to the sports section at the Star every week and to the extent that they did or didn’t appreciate his efforts, somebody there kept calling Greg and asking him stop wasting their precious fax paper.
A year or so later, I made the hookup and Art ordered the sports editor to hire Greg.
Without getting bogged down in the details, the rest is history…
Fast forward to 2009 after my layoff from the newspaper when I called Greg and asked him to join forces with me on KC Confidential. Because I’d taken my severance check in January of 2009 instead of December of 2008, new Star owner McClatchy wouldn’t let FYI section head Mary Lou Nolan hire me to freelance the column for a year so I’d decided to launch KCC. Greg had matriculated from the Star to radio to the Johnson County Sun, Platte County Landmark and The Pitch and was out of the biz.
Those who know Hall know he’s kind of a hot head, and taking orders while being paid next to nothing had not been his strong suite. However, we’d remained tight and he thought the timing was right for KCC to make zillions.
Alas that was not to be the case.
So Greg came on board free of charge in the heady, early days of KCC and as the site grew I started paying him anywhere from $100 to $350 a month to blog five times a week. Tony joined later and did the same for $100 a month.
That said, Greg is a very sports-minded dude – very competitive.
And as had been the case with Hall’s website sports waves, the bottom line was disappointing and Greg became a bit frustrated with wanting to micromanage KCC.
In short, Hall felt that I wasn’t doing a good enough job on the ad revenue side.
He was right, however making ends meet on a local website is easier said than done.
And so after two or so years behind the mast, Greg let me know – similarly to his message to readers on his website last week – that he was going to take a break.
However it sounded far more ominous.
Which resulted in a somewhat caustic breakup than neither of us had anticipated.
So off Greg Hall scampered into the wide world of online blogging – doing pretty much exactly what he’d done on his original faxes, in the pages of the Sunday Star, the Sun. Pitch and KCC.
Capturing soundbites by the likes of Soren Petro, Nick Wright, Don Fortune and Kevin Kietzman off the radio and adding his often caustic comments was a dream comes true for local sports media devotees, but a nightmare for sports talk radio hosts.
And as infamous KC Confidential comments section habitué smartman used to say, “Without Greg Hall this sign ain’t nothin’ at all.”
However after taking a couple month dip in readership immediately following Hall’s departure, KCC’s traffic nearly tripled (whew).
And I remember Greg writing something early on about getting his site’s traffic up to 10,000 unique visitors a day to catch up to KCC. Unfortunately I don’t think he ever made that goal on a consistent basis.
Based on outside evaluations, Greg’s site languished at a fraction KCC’s traffic in it’s early, formative years. And based on my experience with Google ads, he went from taking in $350 a month at KCC to probably $25 or less on his own site.
I will say this…
When it came to attracting reader comments, Greg Hall was the king.
However, as many of you know, comments are but a very small indicator of readership.
So when Greg wrote last week that he was closing down his website because of the “embarrassing” comments he’d been getting, it rang hollow.
Greg’s comments where far more civil than KCC often get, even though I’ve tackled the subject of cleaning up the comments section several times. And it’s totally not that hard to do; screen a few bad words and maybe put someone like Harley’s IP address on the approve-before-posting list. It’s s
Greg may believe he’s exiting Stage Left because his comments were not as scintillating as they once were, but I don’t buy it.
Knowing Greg, I think he gave up the ghost because again he was unable to convert his craft into a reasonable – if even only a small – paycheck. Not many people relish working five days a week for free – present company excluded. And how much fun can it be playing to an ultra small readership?
Now here’s a little secret:
On numerous occasions Greg told me readers always believed he spent hours and hours slaving over the radio and TV, writing down all those quotes.
The bottom line being radio sports talk show hosts put their feet in their mouths all too often
And now Greg Hall is gone again, an all too sobering reminder of the fact that we get what we pay for. And he’ll be missed, despite our small scale falling out.
It’s funny how many people – Craig Glazer, The Stomper, Will Gregory and others – who told me they truly enjoyed Greg’s columns on KCC, yet for some reason didn’t bother to follow him over to the New World of his website.
Here’s what I suspect though…
I think Greg’s a solid citizen – a dude who loves his family, his job, sports and his life – and one who will celebrate all of the above until he one day finds a way to share his special talent with locals again.
Guess we’ll see, right?