Sports talk radio is not as popular as political talk but does have a loyal audience. Los Angeles is the second largest market in the United States. The LA market for ESPN 710 is interesting because of the options entertainment wise; listeners will change the station or even listen to music if they become at all uninterested or upset with the point of view of the hosts.
Los Angeles’s largest fan base is with the Los Angeles Lakers. KSPN AM 710 has been the Lakers station for the last 5 seasons. 710 broadcasts locally all of the Lakers games and will talk Lakers 365 days a year. This commitment makes sure the ESPN radio station stays on top in the overall ratings in the market. The announcers John Ireland and Mychal Thompson that call the games for the Lakers also both have their own show on the station.
The play by play announcer for the Lakers John Ireland hosts a show with Steve Mason from Noon to 3pm, Monday thru Friday. The Mason and Ireland show has been on air for 11 years, the longest of any other show on 710. Mason and Ireland talk Lakers very heavily all year long; they are also the only hosts in the area that are both Lakers fans. During football season they talk about the NFL overall like any other show, Mason is a San Diego Chargers fan and Ireland is an Oakland Raiders fan. 710 is the USC Trojans flagship radio station, covering the school’s football and basketball games. Mason is a USC fan and hosts a show during football season talking about the team’s last and upcoming games. Ireland, a UCLA Bruins graduate balances the heavy USC talk with the other side of LA’s collegiate athletics. Mason is an avid baseball fan and is a fan of the Dodgers. Ireland really knows very little about baseball and is only interested in talking basketball and football. The local fans tune into to hear the duo talk about Lakers and local college balanced talk. Mason and Ireland are both hard to relate to, they are really corny white guys that are not in touch with a younger generation. Mason and Ireland’s chemistry together however are strong and their segments like “Fast Track” are very entertaining.
The color commentator for the Lakers is former Laker and NBA star Mychal Thompson. Thompson co-hosts a show on 710, 10-Noon, Monday thru Friday with co-host Mark Willard; Willard is a native Northern Californian and is a fan of the exact opposite teams that are covered in the Los Angeles area. Willard cheers for the San Francisco Giants, 49ers and Golden State Warriors. Both hosts have an association to the Warriors, Mychal’s son Klay is a star for the team. Thompson loyalty to the Lakers goes back a long ways however after being with the Showtime Lakers and winning titles with the team as a player. Thompson has been the color commentator for 2 of the Lakers championships and has been on the radio in the LA area for a long time. Thompson also has a son (Trayce) that is a minor league baseball player in the Chicago White Sox organization. The show between Thompson and Willard is only slightly entertaining due to Mychal’s quips and comments. Thompson is a legend in the LA area and local fans love to hear his commentary on sports. Willard who is nicknamed Monkey Brain by Mason and Ireland is completely clueless most of the time and offers very little to the show.
The best show in my opinion on the station is Max and Marcellus. Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley host their show 3pm-7pm, Monday thru Friday. Kellerman is a boxing analyst for HBO and Wiley is a former NFL star that played for the Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills. Kellerman grew up a New York Knicks fan but since moving to LA, his allegiance has been to the Lakers. Wiley is a front running Los Angeles Clippers fan that’s loyalty is reliant upon the team’s success. The two have a good chemistry and are really fun to listen to. Both guys are Ivy League educated from Columbia. This intelligence is shown in the shows discussions, the 2 guys are very entertaining even if it is just talking to each other about non-sports topics. Wiley is a contrarian that will sway his opinion against Max’s or to the unpopular side just to argue. Max is a complete know-it-all that thinks he can talk any sport there is. Kellerman’s knowledge of most sports is extensive but between Max and Marcellus their baseball talk is lacking. Max can talk about the New York Yankees all day but his overall view of baseball is not on par with the other sports. Marcellus is not a baseball fan at all and it is apparent that he could care less about the sport.
Overall ESPN 710 is a station that is worth listening to especially if you are a Lakers fan. The freeways of Los Angeles are constantly congested and the drive is made easier while listening to the station. Thompson is one of the best color commentators of any sport in my opinion, Thompson before calling the games with Ireland called the games with now New York Knicks announcer Spero Dedes. Dedes and Thompson were so entertaining together that I used to watch Lakers games and mute the television while listening to the radio broadcast of the two. Ireland is nowhere near the play by play man that Dedes is and the games are harder to listen to with Ireland. The USC football games are called by Pete Arbogast and Paul McDonald. McDonald is a former Trojans player and both he and Arbogast are die hard USC fans, making the broadcast for the fans of the team easy to listen to. The USC basketball games are broadcasted on 710 and the announcers are Chris Fisher and Jim Hefner. The USC basketball team has never been a national threat and takes a back seat to the UCLA Bruins in the LA area.