There's obviously a market for such uncouth behavior. Franklin's show has been rated No. 1 on nightly radio in Cleveland for more than a decade; he dominates his city as no other broadcasters do theirs. He pulls in 22.4% of male listeners aged 25 to 54 in his area, and his weekly audience averages 250,000 listeners in the Cleveland area. Other knowledgeable and more civilized sports talkers—Cincinnati's Bob Trumpy, New York's Art Rust Jr. and Washington's Ken Beatrice, to name a few—have larger audiences but smaller audience shares. They also have far fewer enemies.
Franklin says some of his callers are loons who instinctively gravitate toward talk shows. Some are "out-and-out morons who deserve to be treated as such." And others are repeat callers—"It's all they have in life." The rest are intelligent fans seeking the unvarnished truth, says Franklin, "so if I think a guy can't coach or is detrimental to the franchise, then—whammo!—I go after him."
It's here that the darker side of Franklin emerges. His criticisms do possess kernels of truth but too often spill over into character assassination. Though he greased the skids for former Indians Manager Frank Robinson, among others, none of his targets has endured contumely to equal that heaped on Cavaliers owner and former WWWE client Ted Stepien, whom Franklin has nicknamed T.S.—as in Too Stupid—and accused of being "a fascist" and other terms of endearment. (Stepien sued WWWE last year, charging that the station breached its contract with the Cavs by allowing Franklin and play-by-play announcer Joe Tait to rip the team. He later dropped the suit.)
With Sweet Pete's lighter side in mind, we offer these final Franklinisms:
"What do you think this show is, kid? Sesame Street? You should be in bed by now.... You bore me, meat-head. What did you take, Tylenol for dinner?...I love to talk to intelligent sports fans. The rest of you dummies, hop inside a mummy and sew yourself up."
We confess that we yanked these lines out of context. Pete. But we have a suggestion: If you don't like it, why don't you just bug off?