Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Free Tony Bruno!

By Rick Morris

Tony Bruno is no longer performing his daily talk show on Sporting News Radio. He will be under contract for a few more months, but has been pulled from the air pending expiration of his contract.

As somebody who's been with for almost five years (well, four years and ten months), I can legitimately say that he's been the biggest influence on my work. I don't consciously imitate anyone, I'm too much of an individualist for that, but you can definitely tell that I'm a fan by some of the traits he has that I try to incorporate in my own way. Specifically, he's not afraid to try to inject humor and goofiness into sports discussions (and unlike most hosts, he understands that some of the best comedic material can come from making yourself the butt of some jokes), but also, he will show you his deep level of knowledge from time to time and not adhere to any radio "norms" about dumbing topics down for the audience.

I heard Bruno for the first time in the early '90s when he and Chuck Wilson were doing their awesome nightly show during the early days of ESPN radio. Wilson had a straight-laced, wholesome persona that meshed so well with Bruno, the smartass from Philly. So many shows try too hard to come up with an "Odd Couple" pairing and few ever work because it's hard not to sound contrived. Bruno and Wilson worked because, like truly great entertainers, they didn't try to force anything. They were simply themselves and they let their stylistic differences speak for themselves without trying too hard to call attention to them. In so doing, in a strange kind of way, they blended perfectly and just had incredible chemistry. To this day, when I talk radio with people, I always mention the pairing of Tony Bruno and Chuck Wilson and anyone who remembers them always agrees with me about how great they were together. Bruno's subsequent solo shows over the years have been outstanding as well, as he has worked well with anyone assigned to him.

I've done many shows during my time with STN, but one of my fondest programs was the first one I was on, Reality Check. Proving what a small world it really is, my old high school friend Dave Adams was one-third of the crew, along with our friend Ron Glasenapp and myself. Ron was the lead host and performed more of a neutral bus-steering type role on the show. As it happened, Dave has somewhat of a Chuck Wilson-type personality and as I mentioned, I have some tendencies toward a Bruno-type style. Our chemistry was really great together, and I felt it was a fitting tribute to that old ESPN radio program, when the hosts just clicked together so effortlessly just being themselves.

In a business increasingly hard to succeed in without being a corporate guy who fits a certain mold, Bruno is again going to be looking for a national platform for his great skills. You can keep up with his efforts in the meantime at his personal website and on his message board. He's not bashing Sporting News Radio at either place, so despite my frustration with the fact that I am deprived from listening to his program, I won't either. I will, however, in the spirit of the headline to this column, appeal to the Powers That Be at Sporting News Radio to reach a settlement with Mr. Bruno that will allow him to get on with his professional career as soon as possible. Like most of his fans, I feel it's the least they can do for him.

1 comment:

Tony Mazur said...

This isn't just the first time. Not even the second. This is the THIRD TIME Tony Bruno has been cancelled in Akron.

But what do you expect? It's Clear Channel. They LOVE it when under qualified, untalented schmucks pollute their airwaves. Why do you think Maxwell and Triv are still on the air?