Paul Finebaum, who runs a talk radio program from Birmingham, Alabama, sells the sleeze that the masses are buying. And man are they buying it. He provides a daily dose of college football gossip in a state where college football is the one and only game. A close coorelation would be to desrcibe what he does is to imagine him as US Magazine (or any other celebrity gossip rag) and college football, especially the teams in this region, as Hollywood. Nick Saban and his Alabama Crimson Tide and Tommy Tuberville and his Auburn Tigers are the main principals. To his credit he is good at what he does but keep one thing in mind; it is entertainment you are listening to. It isn’t knowledge, it isn’t wisdom, it isn’t prophecy, and it probably actually makes you dumber.
Let me caveat this by saying that I have heard Finebaum speak in person and I believe him to posess a great intellignce. He is certainly no idiot. I also have known people who call into the show and know them to be rational, intelligent people (although my own wife would accuse me of not possessing those faculties when it comes to Alabama Football) so I am not saying that every caller is a moron, even though the vast majority are.
Let’s be honest, Alabama is chock full of ignorant people. I love this place and there are many, many fine folks that dwell within its borders, but Alabama isn’t known as a bastion of intellignce and openmindedness. Everyone of the Legion of Stupidity is listening, intently to Paul weekday afternoon from three to six. Most of them are trying to call in and ask Paul a question or give them their opinion. The funny thing his Paul tends to scoff at most of them yet they keep coming back.
See, Paul plays both sides of the board and generally praises the team winning and kicks the team that’s losing. It appears to me that when people win they want to crow about it and tell the losing team how pathetic it is and when people lose they want to blame someone-usually the Coach or Quarterback- and tell the winning team how their day is coming. In our sick and twisted instant gratification society Paul has the crack that keeps us buzzing until we get our next hit.
In this state which harbors one of the nations biggest and ugliest rivalries it is the place to have your say and boy does it seem that the uninformed and irrational need to say it the most. A lot of people want to discuss football every single day regardless of the time of year around here. Paul gives them the water cooler (maybe feeding trough or all-you-can-eat Ryan’s buffet line might be better analogies) to gather around. Also Auburn’s rise and Alabama’s entrenchment in mediocrity has made it fertile ground for the last several years and as long as one is wining and one is losing people are going to try and figure out why, or rather bitch about it. You’ll hear Alabama fans calling him an Auburn lover most of the time and then when the tables turn, like early this season, Auburn fans call him out for being an Alabama and Saban disciple. The truth his that he is neither; he’s just selling whatever gets people to listen at the time. The worst thing that could happen for him would be for both teams to go undefeated until they played one another. Of course then the build-up to the Iron Bowl would be a ratings bonanza.
I’ll tell you a little more about me; I don’t listen to him. Not with any regularity -mainly if there is some serious breaking story- and not that I feel above the folks who do, although at heart I probably do. The truth is listening to it usually makes me frustrated and angry. I love my alma mater and I don’t enjoy hearing other people put it down. Even less than that do I like people, who claim to be fans of my school, represent it in a negative way. And almost to a man (or woman) thsese folks that call in come off like clowns and Paul plays to them and eats it up. People are listening and advertisers are paying. In the end isn’t that what it is all about?
I myself am passionate about Alabama Football. That’s not an admission; I have been told that by several of my friends. I’m sick of hearing what other people feel and think and honestly it’s kind of disturbing to think that many people aren’t doing anything useful all afternoon. I generally don’t feel that my opinion matters enough to risk putting myself out there enough to be ridiculed… Wait a second, I’m blogging and that means that anyone with internet access can read these thoughts… I’ll just hang up and listen.