Tampa sports radio
The explosion in internet availability has shrunk the gap across the Atlantic dramatically in recent years. Not just Buccaneer websites, but game commentaries on the radio and even live streaming of games for British fans.

And then you have radio links from the States. Outside of my devotion to a dedicated 1980s radio channel, you can listen in over the net to Tampa-based radio stations to keep up to date with the latest Buccaneer news. And the two main ones are 1010 Sports, a CBS-based station, and WDAE 620 out of Clear Channel.

The shows
To say that there is a rivalry between 1010 Sports and WDAE620 in the Tampa sports radio world is along the lines of understatements that said the Titanic had a little accident. But in terms of program quality and content, it is like comparing a Ferrari to a Skoda. A beat-up Skoda driven by a pair of drunken kids at that.

You can listen to both shows from the UK through the wonders of internet streaming if you so desire. JP Peterson's show on 1010 runs from 8pm to 11pm UK time whilst the Ron and Ian Show on 620 is a 2pm to 5pm affair.

Standard of guests on the show
This really is no contest. Joining Ron and Ian will be a guy Ian goes fishing with, some chap who works out at Ron's gym and a quack with a herbal remedy for genital herpes.

A normal week on JP's show will have the likes of Rick Stroud talking about the Bucs, Erik Erlendsson from the Trib on the Lightning, various Rays players and officials, and even some guy from the UK covering the British sporting angle. I guess it was summed up the other week when I was delayed 24 hours by former World No.1 Jim Courier talking about Wimbledon in what would have been my slot.

The callers
The standard of the regular caller to Florida sports radio is along the same lines at Talk Shite here in the UK. "My team's better than your team" and "It was definitely a penalty from where I was sitting.... at the other end of the pitch". You know the sort of caller.

The one difference is that JP will let a caller express their opinion and come back on his comments. Ron Diaz is just so keen to hear his own voice that he cuts people off after a few seconds even if they were about to announce the following week's winning numbers on the Powerball lottery.

The production staff
No talk station can survive without a top production staff behind the scenes to arrange guests, field calls and provide witty soundbites and comments. This again is where 1010 Sports walks all over WDAE620 with Dave "Big Papi" Ortiz in the chair for JP. Over at 620, Justin Pawlowski and Darek Sharp used to have a very good reputation amongst the Buccaneers and Tampa sports writers, but they seem to have been dragged down into the mire in recent months. This is a shame as Justin was pretty talented at one stage.

Ratings
It is always a bone of contention amongst stations around the world about ratings figures. Apart from the fact that realistic figures are as easy to obtain as a drink out of a Scotsman, it is not always a true reflection of success. Case in point - the National Enquirer gets about two million sales a week but everyone in the world knows it's full of ****. Someone needs to explain that analogy to Ron Diaz because I don't think he understood it when I got it over to him.

Quality of comments
Having spent a morning on the Ron and Ian show, I can definitely vouch for the fact that neither of them are capable of speaking accurately about Tampa sporting events. Ron doesn't even watch any of the local teams and Ian spends his Buc home games drinking in his den with his buddies as he was fired/resigned from his former radio gig interviewing Jon Gruden (delete where you think appropriate) so he has a grudge against the franchise.

Yes he can talk about playing offensive line in the NFL but that was a decade ago and it soon wears thin. The two of them rely on what they read in front of them in the Trib and the Times in the advert breaks in the show. I know because I've seen them do it.

When it comes to 1010 Sports, take JP on any sporting topic and see how much he knows. OK well apart from cricket then. He has been covering the Tampa sporting media for long enough to have a justified reputation.

And finally
One could easily say that I have a biased opinion on this in that I work for one station and not for the other any longer. That is a true fact but if we are going on facts, then it is no contest between the two shows. I wrote three years ago that the Ron and Ian show could be a lot better if they could be bothered to do their homework. They could not have actually gone further down the toilet since that time. Now they have been surpassed and their time has gone.

How to listen to the two shows
1010 Sports - Click this link and then the "Listen live" button on the top left of the home page
WDAE 620 - Click this link and the select Sports stations - WDAE is on the second page

Paul Stewart, July 2009