Here's the pitch: Gary Bettman hosts a weekly radio show on XM Satellite radio, called "NHL Hour". He is the first commissioner in pro sports to do so, offering an unprecedented way for fans to interact with the commissioner of their favourite sport, through emails or phone calls.
I actually enjoy the show, maybe I like hockey a little too much. I think it is a good thing for the NHL to do, get themselves out there, speak directly with fans, etc.
However, if you think any of those people calling in to the show are real, last week the show offered up pretty much iron-clad proof that they are not.
It all started on the January 10th episode...(that's the iTunes link to the episode)
I downloaded the mp3, and at the very end of the show, co-host Bill Clement signs off, they play the 'end music' and it fades out...then, you can hear a slight shuffling of papers as a microphone is left on, THEN you hear league disciplinarian Colin Campbell's voice saying, and I quote:
"...for these people to get on the phone, do they have to say that lead-in..." at which point somebody abruptly fades the microphone off!
So, there you have it, I am NOT making this up. The callers this week were particularly fake sounding, one guy even started off with "I think you're the best commissioner in sports!"...OH COME ON! They hadn't been that absurd up to this point, mostly it's just "Hi Gary, thanks for doing this, you're doing a great job", etc etc. I think there's been a couple "it's an honour to speak with you"'s that I found fairly questionable.
Plus, I used to work in talk radio, and fake callers for us were merely a tactic to fill the hour...on the music stations, if no one was calling in (perhaps because of the wretched music they'd play), fake callers requesting Britney Spears were fairly common, or they'd make the receptionist call in or whatever and conveniently request the popular songs of the week. Or, the callers are actually real, but they're so excited to be on the radio that they'll say whatever you tell them.
I think Colin Campbell didn't believe for a second, as none of us do, that anyone, anywhere, anytime would have that much admiration for the most hated commissioner in pro sports, Gary Bettman. So Colin felt compelled to ask if the callers are forced to pile on fake praise for Gary, before they are let on the show. I think we know the answer to that question. Maybe he should have asked that question in the elevator, instead of ON THE AIR!
Shame on Bettman, what an ego this man has. And he wonders why he gets booed everywhere he goes...even expansion cities boo this guy, remember the Columbus draft?! Fortunately, Gary wasn't on the air anywhere at the Winter Classic, the outdoor game they had on New Year's Day. I assume it's cause he didn't want to get booed on international television, with so many new hockey viewers watching for the first time.
Download the mp3 today and see for yourself. I cut that part of just the ending for myself, so I can enjoy it over and over! I'd post it here, but I think it's against Google's policy or something, dunno I only got to page 2 of 75 of the user agreement.
I'm surprised no one at the NHL caught it and edited it out before posting the show on iTunes, but maybe it's a rogue sound editor who hates Gary as much as we do just letting it through, cause it's an easy fix to cut that off. I'm assuming the same audio went out live over XM, but I don't know. Either way, embarrassing stuff.
If Gary Bettman really was the best commissioner, or at least half as good as he thinks he is, wouldn't I be posting about his latest brilliant move to help the game of hockey, instead of his latest public embarrassment? I just like knowing that Colin Campbell didn't believe it either.
Can't wait for this week's show...