Michael Lombardi used the official launch day of the new Cleveland Browns radio homes to reach out to both 92.3 the Fan and ESPN 850 WKNR. He called in to The Fan’s “Kiley and Booms” first and later called KNR’s “The Really Big Show,” with Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer. I listened to both interviews because I wanted to hear some insight into what the Browns did this draft, and maybe what the mindset was regarding certain decisions. Now that it has all sunken in over the course of the day, it is absolutely amazing how different the two shows ran their interviews to basically arrive with the same, minuscule amounts of information.
Kiley and Booms (conspiuously named after the show’s hosts, Kevin Kiley and Chuck Booms) seemed to operate like attorneys complete with Kiley injecting a “Can I finish?” when Lombardi started to speak too soon. Booms followed it up by listing all the players that the Browns had in for visits that they didn’t end up drafting, insinuating that because they were brought in for a visit that the team had interest in acquiring their services. The two hosts seemed more interested in reading their questions1 than what Lombardi would provide as an answer. Contrast that with Tony Rizzo who asked questions and then shut his mouth and let Lombardi talk.
You could argue that Mike Lombardi said barely anything in either interview and I would have a tough time disagreeing. Lombardi used some vague language about the differences between working in the media and working for a team personnel department to avoid telling us what he really thinks about Brandon Weeden. On the one hand, I understand completely why he gave the answer he gave, I certainly would have liked something juicy. I mean, really, who wouldn’t? When talking about trading picks, Lombardi spoke about taking a wide view of building a team and how the draft wasn’t the end of the player personnel department’s responsibilities. Again, nothing juicy, and really pretty vague.
So in the end, the differences between what Kiley and Booms accomplished and what Tony Rizzo accomplished were remarkably similar, but the way they both arrived at those endpoints couldn’t have been more different. When asked about not trading down, Lombardi took a long time to basically tell us that the perceived drop-off on the board from Mingo to the next group of players was too great to justify trading down. Meanwhile Kiley and Booms were busy trying to force Lombardi to confirm their yes-or-no question about if there was anyone in the draft during the two traded picks that could have helped the team immediately.
I know the negative schtick. It does well in the ratings and they’re pretty popular with their audience, but I’ve heard this time and again where Kiley and Booms have guests on and then barely let them talk. The day before they did it to Clark Judge from CBS and a long time ago they did it to my Monday morning podcast guest, Scott Raab, when he was trying to promote The Whore of Akron. I admit they do very well with regulars like John Telich and Tony Zarella, but non-regulars are a bit of a trend at this point. The point of having a guest on is not to force your agenda — positive, negative or otherwise — but to hear what the guest has to say, even if you disagree vehemently. If you do disagree vehemently, which I think we can all presume that Kiley and Booms do, all they did was make Lombardi a sympathetic figure.
You can prod the guest in different directions with the questions, and if they are evasive you can call them out on it. But to continually filibuster your way through an interview listing off names of players who visited the team as if they are pieces of evidence in a trial pretty well defeats the purpose of inviting someone on the show.
Tony Rizzo almost seemed to be speaking to that after Lombardi had departed. He was remarking how evasive Lombardi was as Goldhammer pointed out that Lombardi’s laugh seemed like a defense mechanism to try and disarm every question he was asked. I’m paraphrasing a bit because I don’t have audio, but Rizzo summed it up perfectly — and this is why in the battle of Lombardi interviews he owned the day. “I’m not going to attack the man because some of you all don’t like him,” Rizzo said. “I’m here to get as much information out of him as possible.”
On this day, the amount of information received wasn’t a ton, to be perfectly frank. The paths taken to arrive at this empty pot, however, could not have been more different.
Booms started the segment prior to the interview by saying he had his “list” ready but didn’t want to “tip” Lombardi on the questioning in the event he was already listening. [↩]