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PEOPLE TALK: BRAD RITER

Three hours a night, Brad Riter talks sports on WGR radio. He takes phone calls. He offers opinions. He's irreverent. His on-air Truth Detector buzzes at the first sign of jock insincerity. He walks the line between sports-talk host and someone who likes to make you laugh. At age 30, Riter is a new voice in this sports-radio town.

PT: You look like a sports-radio guy.

BR: I had more of a mind for TV, but I didn't know what I would do on TV. I wouldn't put me on TV. I don't want to be on TV -- anymore. You're not supposed to know what I look like. I'm on the radio. I feel like I'm anonymous. I'm sitting in a little room and talking into a microphone, which makes me really comfortable because I feel like people don't know who I am.

PT: What is your on-air asset?

BR: I'd like to think that I relate to people. I don't want to be the guy who is reading you batting averages. People get into arguments about those things at bars. I don't need to do that. I like to be a person more than anything. The entertainment value is much more important than the informational value, even though I realize a lot of people rely on us for information. I've got that, but I don't want it to be the focus. If I'm not enjoying myself, then I don't think the show is good.

PT: Are you more Les Nessman or Dr. Johnny Fever?

BR: Definitely Dr. Johnny Fever. We have our news people. We have our reporters. I want to be more rock 'n' roll than sports geek. I want to be more fun than fact. That makes it sound like I don't care about the facts. I do, but I don't think that's the heart of what's going on. I like music. I like movies. I like other things that appeal to people who listen to me.

PT: How do you know if you are entertaining?

BR: I don't. I know when I think I am. I have my producer here. I have the guy who's doing the 2 0/2 0 sports update. If they're into it, I feel like I'm on the right track.

PT: What's the term when no one calls?

BR: Hell?

PT: Do you tell your friends to call?

BR: No. I've had friends who called, and I'd rather not know it's them. And I've had friends who called who used fake names; I haven't known it was them. Not because I'm dying on the air and need a phone call. That's never the case. If I can't get through 16 minutes without a phone call, then I shouldn't be doing this.

PT: Are there topics you know won't elicit a response?

BR: You get nothing on the NBA. There are things that are good for a while and then just go away. A few years ago, if nothing was going on, I'd start talking about whether Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. Nobody wants to hear that anymore. Steroids now are kind of like that. For a while they were hot.

PT: If you were to interview any living person, whom would you choose?

BR: Interviews with dead people are terrible. They don't even answer. Probably a musician. Steve Earle, a guy who's been through a lot, and who puts a lot of thought into what he puts out there. He isn't afraid to be controversial. My only problem there is I like him too much. I almost would rather sit and listen to someone else interview him while I'm feeding the questions.

PT: Are you a good sport?

BR: Like can I take losing? Yeah, I'm a pretty poor competitor. Sometimes I root for the other people. If I'm playing a sport with a friend of mine who I know will take a loss really poorly, I'd rather they just win.

PT: Do you have groupies?

BR: They're not the kind you want. They're guys -- not that I need groupies. I'm fine, but the appeal of the AM talk- show host to women is non-existent.

PT: What percentage of your audience is women?

BR: Very small. Our target is males 25 to 54. If women are listening, too, great, but they're not in the plan. Usually it's my one gramma, my mom sometimes, my sister, my girlfriend once a week maybe.

PT: Did video kill the radio star?

BR: In the literal sense, video created new radio stars. It killed the ugly ones.

PT: You don't realize how important of a role radio plays in the lives of many people.

BR: I do know, but I forget. Everybody has at least one radio. It's weird to me when somebody makes a big deal out of meeting me. It's bizarre.

PT: If you were not doing this, what would you be doing?

BR: Something in an office. Something dull and boring with creativity dying to get out. I don't have the formal training to do anything, but I look at most people and I could probably do what they do. I'd just have to work at it a little bit. This is the kind of job where I would show up today and they say I'm out. I'm not prepared for that, but I recognize that could happen and I'm not fearful at all about finding somewhere I can fit in.

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