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An Interview With Jerry Coleman

B Mitch, hugging his best friend Jerry Coleman.

As most of you already know, significant changes are afoot at our local sports talkers. My colleague Paul Farhi wrote about many of them in today's paper: the end of "The John Riggins Show," the end of Steve Czaban's "The First Team" on WTEM, the end of "The Dan Patrick Show" on WTEM, and the simulcasting of programming on several of the Red Zebra frequencies with WTEM the flagship. (Read fan reaction here.) Further personnel changes are rumored; among those cited by DCRTV, which I've also heard, would be the pairing of Doc Walker with a partner, possibly from the previous Redskins Radio staff.

All of these things will affect my life, especially during the long rides to and from Ashburn starting next week. But more than any of that, I'll be affected by the absence of Jerry Coleman, the station's all-purpose reporter who was recently let go. The sports media (co-ed) fraternity in D.C. is fairly small, and Coleman was one of its most distinctive and omnipresent members, covering literally every pro team in town. I'll remember his run-in with Joe Gibbs, his incessant talk of tropical vacations, his incessant talk, and especially the way he always let me listen to the sound of his amusing interviews that I missed due to technical mishaps and my manic inability to stay put in one place. I always asked him for help, because he was the most approachable guy in that room. Apparently, it's something JLC and I agree upon.

Anyhow, Jerry is currently in Florida on a pre-planned vacation, which would have allowed him to show up, refreshed, in Ashburn for the start of training camp. Now, obviously, his plans have changed. Our e-mail Q&A follows.

What brought you to 980 in the first place?

I had been at 980, before working in Baltimore for seven years at 98 Rock and WBAL doing their AM drive sports.

How exactly does one guy manage to cover the Redskins, Wizards, Caps, Nats and whatever else you've been covering for 980?

I was hired as Redskins beat reporter by Program Director Chris Johnson originally, and then in the offseason I would be assigned to cover the other locals' practices and games: Wiz, Caps, Nats, Maryland, G-Town, O's., Cap Hill steroid hearings, Tiger, etc...and always seemed to run into the BOG .

strong>How would you describe your reportial relationship with the Redskins?

My relationship with the Skins was very solid. Went through two years of ups and downs with the guys from Coach Gibbs on down, and they were always professional, personable and most importantly for my needs -- talkative!

A lot of D.C. fans seemed never to forgive you for having grown up in Baltimore. Do you root for the Ravens at all? Was it hard to cover D.C. teams while living in Baltimore?

It was extremely difficult at first trying to explain to my buddies, family and former co-workers that covering the Skins was not only a JOB - but one I actually enjoyed, despite the hatred a lot of Baltimore folks have for anything D.C. (I now see the other side, and perhaps I can apply to be a "Beltway Prime Minister" and bring the two cities together. We could certainly use Camp David.) I grew up in Baltimore County - covered the Ravens for seven years and rooted for the Colts. (So deep down inside, the Ravens are my team to root for.) But it has NEVER affected my objectivity. Making the 70-mile drive from Owings Mills to Ashburn only demonstrated my passion, and love, for the job! Sometimes odd to drive from one market into another....

What was the most memorable event you covered while with 980?

Joe Gibbs retirement announcement's a CLOSE second (as well as the day he called to apologize for yelling at me) to the Roger Clemens hearings. The Rocket lying and defying, with the world watching....You could cut the tension on Capitol Hill that day with a chainsaw!!

What was the worst assignment you had while with 980?

Worst assignment was waiting about seven hours for T.J. Duckett to pass his physical a couple of year ago. It seemed to take forever, and in the was all for what?

Can you compare the passion levels you felt from the various D.C. sports fan bases; i.e., which was craziest?

The Redskins games and playoff run after Sean Taylor's death was pretty emotional, really almost unmatched. Next would be Zim's "walk-off" on Opening Night, and then when American University advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Sports talk radio is famous for the opinions, but you were mostly in a "just the facts" role. Did you ever wish you could have been more of an opinion-slinger?

I was able to contribute an opinion or three when I joined 980's talk shows. I never ran from expressing myself, as anyone who worked regularly inside the Skins' media room will explain.

When you found out 980 was being acquired, were you worried that your own reporting about the Redskins would be compromised?

I wondered whether there was going to be enough room.

So when did you find out you were being let go, and how were you notified?

Learned in an amicable face-to-face meeting last Thursday with the Program Director and the Assistant Program Director.

How would you assess the future of sports talk radio in the D.C. market? Do you think Redskins Radio and friends will remain the only game in town? Is that worrisome?

Since I am not there any more, not fair to answer that one.

Do you think 980's treatment of the Redskins/Daniel Snyder will change?

D.C. sports fans are a wise group (without any help from Mike). They will want it reported objectively and fairly. The new bosses, I felt, before parting ways, understood that.

Do you think the local media treats the Redskins too gingerly?

D.C. media has been about 99 percent fair, from my perspective.

Fans of every team in D.C. believe that the Redskins get too much coverage and their own team doesn't get enough coverage. Are you sympathetic to such claims?

The Skins are the most popular, so that is why their coverage overshadows anything. I feel it's just a response to people's needs. D.C. is a Skins, and big event town. (From Beckham's first visit, to Opening Night of a ball park, to Game 7 of a playoff series.) There can be passion and noise at the "proper" time.

What changes/ would you make if you were running a sports talk shop in town?

I would dedicate more time to baseball. D.C. has a Major League team that deserves attention, no matter how bad. It's not Triple A.

What's the future hold for Jerry Coleman? Want to say in the sports radio business?

I absolutely want to stay in sports radio (in this area, is the preference). I had a dream job covering D.C.'s best teams! And I will miss the pros on, and off, the air at SportsTalk 980, despite losing my wrestling battles with B-Mitch. They were the BEST!

When and where can we find the Jerry Coleman blog?

My next blog is coming...stay tuned on that one. But one thing is for sure, it will be hard to miss my mic flag, or voice.

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 17, 2008; 12:31 PM ET
Categories:  Media  
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I am not fan of WTEM. But to fire someone in this economy is unreal. You are telling me Coleman could not have done a night show with all the dead time they have? They have so much national radio.

I had my run ins with Czaben too. But never want him fired. He has a family.

Why did they have to fire Coleman? Its not like he was a big money stiff just rotting.

I just hate Snyder. And i hate Cooke more for not keeping the team in his family.

I am firm believer that the horrible luck of great coaches like Gibbs and Spurrier failing so bad. Sean Taylor getting gunned down is all a direct effect of Snyder taking over the team and firing everybody including the old women. What goes around comes around.

Snyder fires people like human beans are just chips to be thrown away.

Posted by: Martin | July 17, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

but check this out as well

Posted by: dan | July 17, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Martin, I hopefully say this on behalf of everyone who read that interview. Your comment makes absolutely no sense.

If the economy is bad, that means businesses aren't making money (and are willing to be bought out). There is always collateral damage when that happens. I'm sorry to see good people go, but to assert that a company should not fire people because it's hard to find a job and they have families? Wow. How would your rankings go? More kids, the longer you stay? If a kid's in college, he costs more, so that guy gets to stay the longest? I'm interested in your business model.

And hate Snyder all you want, but saying he's responsible for Sean Taylor's death is the most irresponsible thing I've read all day...and this is on a BLOG site. it's stuff like that why people hate blog commenters. So thanks for that.

Posted by: Dan Levy | July 17, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Dan Levy, he also thinks Steve Spurrier is a great coach.

Posted by: inchesfromyourface | July 17, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Too bad. I liked Jerry and Czaban did a fabulous imitation of him.

Posted by: Jimbo | July 17, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow. That dude's head was going to pop clean off.

Posted by: | July 17, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Mike & Mike < First Team (lesser of 2 evils - at least Czaban's show skews local. M & M are self-promoting clowns)

Colin Cowherd < Dan Patrick (Patrick is entertaining, Cowherd is the one who essentially said Sean Taylor deserved what he got - nice move Danny Boy!!)

Doc Walker = Consistently terrible

John Thompson = Consistently terrible

Pollen / Czaban = Living on borrowed time

Posted by: Stalk Much? | July 17, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I agree with everything you say except for the unfortunate murder of Sean Taylor. The Redskins will not win a Super Bowl as long as Snyder owns the team.

Posted by: @ Martin | July 17, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Hey Martin - time to go back on the meds...

Posted by: "human beans"? wtf? | July 17, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

You may have found Coleman to be such a great guy, but I too worked with him years ago and I and many of his co-workers found him to be an annoying, droopy eyed, mumble mouthed jerk-off. I nearly put him through the studio window one night that we unfortunatly had to work together because he pissed me off so badly. I will remain nameless just because I feel like it and because he doesn't deserve the satisfaction that I like many others that have worked with him hate his fake ass. Good riddance to him. Hopefully we will never have to hear him EVER again in either the DC or Balmer markets!!

Posted by: ZM | July 17, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I thought Jerry was quite fair to the Redskins and was the work-horse of 980. I had plenty of respect for him...but it was quite unfortunate that people like Czaban, Linn and Doc showed little to no respect or professional courtesy. Jerry was the ultimate pro and that always showed on the radio. I hope he gets a network job and blows away his old 980 friends.

Posted by: KevinNfl Springfield, VA | July 17, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Jerry Coleman will be missed from WTEM, but he's a talented guy and will land on his feet somewhere in sports talk radio. I remember his run-in with Coach "Joe" and I admired Jerry for standing his ground. Riggins and Larry Michael would have been cowering in the corner

Posted by: Good luck Jerry | July 17, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey, why tell Martin to "go back on the meds"? The "meds" are probably contributing to him seeing human...beans. Just say "no" to meds!...Just say "no" -

Posted by: Bridge | July 17, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The worst part of this is whole takeover thing is getting rid of Dan Patrick in favor of Cowherd.

The Dan Patrick show, in my opinion, is by far the best national sports talk show going these days. Cowherd is unbearably bad. I guess I'll have to suck it up and listen to music or something during the day now.

Posted by: ... | July 17, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

While everyone is worried about whether Snyder will allow criticism of the Redskins on his stations, to me, the most compelling question about this Snyder takeover of sports radio has still not been answered: Will WTEM become an all-Redskins, all-the-time station? (Or at least even more than it already is.)

Already Phil Wood was told that the station didn't want to "go forward with a baseball show at this time" (Phil's words last weekend). Will Dan and his minions order that non-football topics be de-emphasized? Will Larry Michael and his year-round Redskins Park show be fit into WTEM? Will March on WTEM, for instance, be devoted to NFL free agent talk and not the NCAA tournament? Just wondering....

Posted by: Fingerman | July 17, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse


Going to miss your updates and coverage. Best of luck.

Probably the best thing for you getting out from under Snyder's evil empire.

Posted by: Denise J. | July 17, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Good comments. Funny you mention Phil Wood. I think he's been the best person on sports radio since day 1.

Posted by: @ Fingerman | July 17, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Well since were all posting radio reviews. Here is what I think.

Czaban's am show is great, guess I'll have to get XM now. M&M suck beyond sucking and I will not listen to their self promoting corporate schlok, its awful.

Doc. He is ok but I never liked the lame crew he insisted on hanging with. I must be the only person in the world who still does not know who Mr Byrd is or why he is on the radio. Doc and Al were much better than just Doc.

Dan Patrick- Unlistenable, except for when KO makes an appearance. I agree with none of KOs politics, but he is really funny and smart too. DP's IQ is about 50 points lower than KOs.

Cowherd-Take or leave.

John Thompson- Take or leave, he has grown on me a bit. Al I like. B Mitch I like but not on radio, its just not him.

Sports Reporters. Excellent. Esp when they have Loverro, Knoche or Weisman on. Those guys are good. I hope they do not stop having these guys on as I have heard they are planning.

Riggins- Terrible radio host. Good as a 3rd wheel. His side kicks are actually decent (esp compared to Docs sidekicks). Too bad they might be without a show.

Finally Fox Sports Radio in general is Waaaay better than ESPN.

Posted by: Jimbo | July 17, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"You may have found Coleman to be such a great guy, but I too worked with him years ago and I and many of his co-workers found him to be an annoying, droopy eyed, mumble mouthed jerk-off." - ZM

Yes, the rest of us now know who the more professional person is between the two of you.

Posted by: Walk The Line | July 17, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Here's the new lineup, starting this Monday:

6-10 Mike & Mike
10-12 Cowherd (no third hour)
12-2 D. Walker / K. Sheehan
2-4 Thompson / Mitchell / Koken (lose one hour)
4-7 Sports Reporters

Riggins becomes Redskins "analyst" and will be on Sunday game coverage (presumably pre- and post) and the Monday day-after shows. He will also make appearances on the daily 980 shows.

Walker also becomes sideline reporter for Redskins game broadcasts.

Posted by: Steve | July 17, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Someone better tell Coach Thompson he only has to phone-in 2 hours, not the usual 3....

So this is the only game in town now, huh? Sigh... How do I subscribe to XM/Sirius again?

Posted by: New Lineup = Me Throw Up | July 17, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Dan Patrick going away is an absolute travesty... whats going to happen to 730? no programming? hopefully this will spark a new sports talk channel in the market. Sounds like XM is in my future,

EFF Snyder in his FACE

Posted by: utt | July 17, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Why are they pairing Walker with Sheehan? The only reason why Walker's show works is that there are no white dudes on it. P.S. I'm a white dude.

Posted by: Walker/Sheehan?? | July 17, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm not the biggest Czaban fan but these other guys make him seem palatable.
I will sort of miss "The First Team" for the "'80s Rejoin" segment, though. (All five minutes of it.)
Czaban trying to make Scott Linn uncomfortable with questionable radio material is kinda funny, too.

Posted by: Arlington Pimp | July 17, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

First, I really can't believe Snyder plans to keep people like Doc Walker and Czaban on the radio instead of Dan Patrick. In addition, Kevin Sheehan and Gary Braun need some lessons in respecting former athletes. I've always enjoyed John Riggins and all the shows he's done on TV and radio. Sheehan and Braun were much too cool and really belong in that Larry Michael "I love myself" class of people that don't deserve to be employed in the market. I hope Dan Patrick's show finds a way back to the DC airwaves...however, this market has a real talent problem.

Posted by: Ralph:Waldorf, Maryland | July 17, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Surprised to hear Sheehan will be put with Doc, though it should help. Sheehan is talented, but please take all these guys off masn. I came home early one day and had the misfortune of seeing those guys. I prefer my own mental image of what radio guys look like. Its taken years to come to terms with Czabans ghastly visage. Now this.

Posted by: Jim | July 17, 2008 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Czaben should be fired because he is a wack job with no background in sports.

And Doc Walkershould be given 1 extra hour.

Don't put Sheehen on the show.I am tired of the the forced street vs suburban mix. Its too forced. Sheehen is not talented. He is boring. Docs show works because its like a barber shop.

Riggins should replace Czaben.

Posted by: Martin | July 17, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

"ZM" - wow- You are GUTLESS a puss for not giving your name! - are you hiding b/c you still work in radio ( ie: a bitter board op ?), or, just because you are afraid Coleman will probably get another BETTER job than You. ? lol

Posted by: kevin marks | July 17, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Sheehan is staying on board, he desserves it. While I'm not sure if this pairing will be the best, he deserves to stay around, cause he absolutely carried the Riggins show.

Posted by: Aaron | July 18, 2008 12:35 AM | Report abuse

"Czaben should be fired because he is a wack job with no background in sports."

He should be fired because he hasn't played professional sports? Come on now, don't be stupid.

"Riggins should replace Czaben."

Okay, now I know you can't be taken seriously.

Posted by: Walk The Line | July 18, 2008 7:47 AM | Report abuse

I wish they would allow the stations to split the morning programming so that The First Team could stay on the DC airwaves. Mike and Mike were funny for a minute 9 years ago, but now I cannot stand the sound of them. Czabe at least brings the funny and I like the pace and tone of his morning show. I guess I need XM to hear him in the am. I hope that The Sports Reporters stays on. Its at least a more or less objective Redskins slurp-fest. I worry about the long-term effect of the Snyder takeover. Will anyone remain objective about the Skins? Also we already get Redskins/NFL Football overload on the radio at the expense of our other local teams. (John Thompson being the sole exception, he gives college bball and the NBA some love. And at least tries to cover the Nats. This whole Snyder buying up half the planet thing is getting really annoying, he has ruined the Redskins, will he now ruin the last decent sports station on the DC airwaves (WTEM). The Redskins radio stations were not that good, I liked having Sportstalk 980 as an independent voice. . .no more.

Posted by: cwb3 | July 18, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

MUCH more blood shed to come in days, wks, and months 1801 rockville pike

Posted by: jeff | July 18, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Bummer. I thought this was going to be an interview with Jerry Coleman, the radio voice of the San Diego Padres. I was hoping for some analysis and predictions for the second half of the baseball season. Guess I'll just head back to Nationals Journal instead.

Posted by: Wrong Jerry Coleman | July 18, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I never really got to "know" Jerry Coleman. I listen to 980 a lot, but Jerry just wasn't around long enough. I did always think Czabe busted on Jerry unfairly and he did a good job of defending himself.

Does this leave Bram as the Redskins reporter for Red Zebra on non-game days? I hope so. I really like Bram and thought it should have been B-Mitch to leave 980 when their dustup occured on-air.

As for Riggo, he was a great Redskin. I wanted and tried to like his radio show, but I just couldn't. He was an awful radio host. The show was better when Gary Braun and Sheehan were on the show alone.

I really liked the pairing of Doc and Al from a few years ago and I wish they'd put Al back in that spot and move Kevin Sheehan to the JT Show. I'm glad Sheehan's coming back to 980 though, he's very good.

I can see a coming problem with the lack of non-Redskins coverage though. The good thing is that the JT Show (if allowed) will always give us good coverage of the NBA and local college hoops because that's where John Thompson's interest is. But where's the baseball coverage???? 980 has already got a severe lack of baseball coverage unless Thom Levarro is on The Sports Reporters! Poor Phil Wood, he's gotten the shaft from every sports radio station in town now...twice. Phil's a great radio host, it's just a shame he's in the DC market and DC TV/radio programming execs don't care about baseball.

Posted by: Chris | July 18, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I never liked the network or the personalities, but I actually agree with an earlier post.

Mike & Mike < First Team (lesser of 2 evils - at least Czaban's show skews local. M & M are self-promoting clowns)

Colin Cowherd < Dan Patrick (Patrick is entertaining, Cowherd is the one who essentially said Sean Taylor deserved what he got - nice move Danny Boy!!)

Doc Walker = Consistently terrible

John Thompson = Consistently terrible

Pollen / Czaban = Living on borrowed time

Posted by: Stalk Much? | July 17, 2008 2:10 PM

It's hard for me to be a sports fan and read some parts of that interview. I see so many problems I have with local coverage in that interview. DC isn't just a big event town. That mindset hurts DC sports.

Posted by: sitruc | July 18, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

That was nice of you to give this guy so much pub, Stein. The best resume he could have put out there.

Posted by: UMD's Burning Couch | July 18, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"I would dedicate more time to baseball. D.C. has a Major League team that deserves attention, no matter how bad. It's not Triple A."

Best quote from the interview, but the fact that Red Zebra had a problem with two hours per week of diamond talk with Phil Wood tells you all you need to know. What a contrast to places like New York and Boston where baseball literally drives local sports talk radio.

Posted by: Mike, Fairfax | July 18, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Danny Boy has officially ruined all sports talk radio in DC. Why the FCC allowed this Napoleon to obtain a monopoly of the air waves is disturbing. Big Brother is now in charge. Look forward to any objective criticism coming out of 980 to end by the completion of this year's football season.

ESPN is a joke. It has turned into MTV. It is a bunch of tv and radio channels that like to scream "look at me, look at me!!!"

Mike and Mike are about as talented as a one legged man in a butt kicking contest. Colin "I'm so full of myself that I can tell the rest of you how to think" Cowpoke couldn't stand up to Dan Patrick even if you provided him with a ladder. He has the mysterious hour, or whatever it is know why his show isn't aired for that hour in the morning, it is because he is a no talent hack.

A note to Danny boy about... Here is something that I learned from working as a lobbyist. The thumb rule when constituents write to their representatives is that each piece of correspondence was equal to at least 10 voters. Maybe you should take a good look at all of the negative comments regarding you're "venture" into radio.


A former Redskin's season ticket holder

Posted by: chris | July 18, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

I think it's about time sportstalk radio got a shake-up in this market. I hope Kevin Sheehan brings Doc down to earth and we never have the ability to hear Czaban again. However, I really hope Mr. Snyder realizes how phony Larry Michael is and we get someone like a Mike Patrick to call the games.

Posted by: SkinsFan78 Alexandria-Va | July 19, 2008 7:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm trying to understand the business decision - they talent they have fired consistently gets better ratings and better reviews than the talent they have retained.

First Team is far and away better than M&M and gets better ratings. Same for Dan Patrick who benefits from the horrificly-bad Colin Cowherd.

At least Riggins is being put out of his misery.

Posted by: SJM | July 19, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

SJM, costs.

Posted by: sitruc | July 19, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Alternatively, not a slow news week but a revisiting of an excellent Sheinin profile in light of Hamilton's inspiring performance in this week's home run derby (which you probably didn't see because it wasn't football).

Posted by: Josh Hamilton's fake mom | July 19, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Oops - wrong item. hehe.

Posted by: Josh Hamilton's fake mom | July 19, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

The ratings argument doesn't hold water. Heck, a dial tone on AM-980 would get better ratings on Snyder's trio of rimshot stations.

Posted by: Steve | July 19, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Oops .. that should be "get better ratings THAN Snyder's trio ..."

Posted by: Steve | July 19, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Just came back from vacation. Sad to see Phil Wood let go. I really enjoyed listening to him. Having counter-programming to WTEM made my drive home so much more enjoyable. Probably more time listening to satellite radio now.

Posted by: Larry | July 23, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

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