Talk radio is, in
fact, the perfect lightning rod for discontent and rage that have no other way
to ground. When Congress was preparing to give itself a 51% pay raise two years
ago, the voters burned up the phone lines to get on the air, and their
indignation forced the lawmakers to back down (temporarily). That established
call-in radio as one of the most effective platforms for expressing voter
In sports, the
issues are usually local, and the feelings are often intense and, occasionally,
out of control.
honeymoon with the Orioles turned sour a few years ago, largely because of the
vituperation of Baltimore fans. Murray had been their darling when he came up
from the minors in 1977, but in '87 and '88 he slumped, and the fans who had
worshiped him were worse than disappointed—they felt betrayed. So they took to
He was dogging
shows in the Baltimore area whipped the callers into a froth. Murray tried to
ignore the fury, but his friend Floyd Rayford, a journeyman third baseman,
listened to the shows avidly and told Murray how badly he was being ripped.
Rayford evidently couldn't help himself. Murray took it hard.
When he was
finally traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in December '88, Murray talked about
the vast relief he felt to be getting away from the Baltimore fans and "all
the negative things." He was referring not only to the booing at the park
but also to the calls in the night.
In New York, the
wife of Mets left-fielder Kevin McReynolds grew so weary of the abuse he was
taking on WFAN that she herself called in to defend him. More and more, when
players complain about the way they are treated, it is not the press or certain
writers or even "the media" they have in mind. It is the fans with
their radio voice, calling night after night to express their unvarnished