WHAS torpedoes once-popular Louisville sports talk show

Interesting that WHAS Radio is doing away with the sports talk radio show between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. after more than 30 years, especially at a time when sports talk appears to be enjoying enormous popularity.

The station announced Wednesday that Mandy Connell, who left Louisville last year to do a general talk show in Denver, will replacing Lachlan McLean, who is leaving the station in May. Connell previously held down a 9 a.m. to noon time slot, discussing a wide variety of issues and she will do her new show from Denver. Her new time slot in Louisville will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Van Vance made sports talk radio popular in Louisville.
Van Vance made sports talk radio popular in Louisville.

The show was a personal favorite of mine, I rarely missed it during the 15 or so years Van Vance was the host. Van was so easy going, allowing callers to express their views, rarely interrupting them or cutting them off. He was especially knowledgeable about University of Louisville athletics, simultaneously serving as the UofL play-by-play man. He retired in 1999 and was succeeded by Tony Cruise until Tony was picked to be the host of the morning drive host.

McLean became the sports talk personality in 2004, bringing with an often abrasive style that he believed was required for the job.  He was often argumentative with listeners, criticizing their opinions, and often resorting to cutting them short and hanging up on them. He also employed an approach intended to deliberately antagonize listeners, especially when it came to the UofL-UK rivalry.

McLean also appeared to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing University of Kentucky sports. I say “appeared” because I quit listening to the show several years ago because he was so negative. He was suspended by the station for two weeks in 2007 for reading a UK fan’s malicious poem about a UofL football player’s legal problems. McLean also had a paid segment of the show devoted to UK sports.

I have no statistics to back this up but it was probably his attentiveness to UK sports, at the expense of UofL, which drove many listeners away from the show. This combined with the growing number of locally-oriented sports talk shows on other stations and the fact that WHAS sold exclusive rights to Kentucky over UofL has never been received well in Louisville.

Mandy Connell is well versed on many topics, including local sports, and should have an entertaining show. But WHAS has lost a sizeable segment of audience for the time slot that may never return.

U of L basketball pits Deener vs. McLean

The bad fortunes of athletic teams can divide more than the fan base.

Lachlan McLean, the WHAS Radio sports talkshow host who earns a paycheck by irritating his listeners, appears to have ticked off a fellow broadcaster — Drew Deener, the play-by-play announcer of University of Louisville games on WHAS 11.

In a recent posting on his blog, McLean created an elaborate chart purporting to show that Kyle Kuric had not improved during four seasons with the U of L basketball team. What McLean is attempting to really prove with his “productivity by minute” chart is unclear, but the numbers indicate that Kuric has been conisistently effective.

What’s even more certain is that McLean’s approach is a backhanded shot at Rick Pitino’s ability to develop his players.

Deener, also the host of The Early Birds on WKRD, takes McLean to task on his WKRD blog, applying McLean’s analytical technique to the career of Michael Jordan, which indicate that Jordan’s stats were also consistent over 14 seasons in the NBA.

Deener concludes:

“Clearly with Lachlan’s show getting pre-empted almost every night, he’s got a lot of time on his hands.  So much so, that he’s come up with the worst fu$&@$$# theory of all time …

“Sounds ridiculous…not to Lachlan McLean…because, as he told us, the only true way to measure a player is productivity per minute.  We know Kyle was on pace to become a 100 percent free throw shooter his Freshman year (2 for 2…colored in red on Lachlan’s freaking pie chart or whatever the hell that is), until Pitino clearly messed that up.

“Bite me Lachlan, now I know why everyone hates you.”

That should make McLean’s day, having added a fellow broadcaster to his list of haters.