P.J.R.: Sigh ... the Curmudgeon might actually miss The Punk
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I was on a few days of vacation from Hubbard Broadcasting in early February of 2010 when summoned for an off-site meeting with the big boss. This was a Wednesday and she informed me that AM 1500 the Talk Station would be no more.
Come Monday, we would be a sports talk station. The general-interest morning show (5:30-9) Reusse and Company was kaput, and I would be working noon to 4 p.m., two hours solo and then two hours with Joe Soucheray on a daily reprisal of our long association on Saturday Sports Talk.
"OK, then,'' I said.
We were in limbo for a couple of months name-wise after the start of the new format on Feb. 15. The affiliation with ESPN could not be made official until April 12, which wasn't a bad thing, since that also was the date of the Twins' first regular-season game at Target Field.
The Twins were our radio partners back then, until they decided in 2013 to take the product to their own station -- known affectionately as KTWN97 in honor of the average number of defeats for the ballclub in this decade.
It only took a couple of weeks of the format change in 2010 for me to go to the next-to-the-big boss and say, "Four hours is a whole bunch of radio. I think I need a partner for those first two hours.''
The gentleman said, "We'll work on it,'' and soon he was offering possibilities. One was Phil Mackey, a 24-year-old part-timer at another sports station who at the time would have been appreciative of President Obama's effort to raise the minimum wage.
We had a sit-down one morning and decided to give it a shot, The Reusse + Mackey show started on March 23. We went to another hour, noon to 3 p.m., a year later. In February, the Reusse + Mackey portion of the day became 4-6 p.m.
My radio life here at Hubbard had been the long partnership with Soucheray, first on Sunday Sports Talk (we were fired), then on Monday Night Sports Talk (we returned in September 1983), then on MNST and Saturday Morning Sports Talk, and finally on Saturdays after Joe invented the village of Garage Logic and Mondays went away.
Years later, it was 13 months of early mornings with Jay Kolls, Bob Berglund, Kenny Olson and John Burns. They were younger on average than me by quite a margin, but gentlemen who didn't blink if I mentioned my all-time No. 1 movie, "Dr. Strangelove.''
That was not going to the be case with Mackey. He was going to turn 25 on May 20, 2010. I was going to turn 65 on Oct. 17, 2010. The other involved party was Cory Roufs, the 35-year-old producer.
The view of the sports world for Mackey and me was as different as you might expect in several areas. The one that people mention frequently is Mackey's appreciation for the modern method of evaluation for a player's performance - mostly in baseball, but also now the rage in basketball.
Mackey calls these methods "analytics.'' I call them "new stats.'' That tells you something.
The occasionally heated discussions over the value of WAR and so forth (to parrot Jerry Kill) were not the disagreements that were most-interesting. The fun came during the 60-to-90 minutes when we were in the small producers' room working on show material and a plan.
There was a good one a few weeks ago, when the Pioneer Press' Tom Powers wrote a column stating that the Vikings should trade Adrian Peterson.
Boom. Mike & Mike were debating the merits of the Vikings trading Peterson in the morning and they were discussing it on our mid-morning show, and maybe on the Skip Bayless comedy hour for all I know.
"Our lead today is obviously Peterson,'' Phil suggested in the prod room.
"The Vikings aren't going to trade Peterson,'' I said. "We can mention the idea, but I'm not going to beat it to death.''
I always know we have a serious disagreement when Mackey says "PAT'' in capital letters.
"PAT,'' Phil said. "It's what everybody is talking about. Listeners want to hear our opinion on this.''
"I believe in talking about reality, and this is not going to happen,'' I said.
"Then say that,'' Phil said. "Tell us why it's not happening. That's the opinion people want to hear.''
I grumbled and went to do the 3-4 p.m. hour with Sooch. First thing I heard walking in the studio were ESPN people talking about what to make of the idea that the Vikings should consider trading Adrian Peterson.
"OK, we'll start with it at 4,'' I grumbled to myself, and I must say, it turned into a fun, feisty 10-12 minutes.
Come Monday, Phil will be with Judd Zulgad for the mid-day show (Mackey and Judd) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and I'll be doing the 4-6 p.m. show (The Ride with Reusse) with Roufs as producer/sidekick and Capable Chris Reuvers for assistance.
As Reusse + Mackey goes away, I have to say that in close to four years, the Curmudgeon probably learned more from the Punk, than vice versa.
--PATRICK JAMES REUSSE.