Weighing in On Chris Christie, by Mike Downey


Of all the blabbermouths in all the world, which one did WFAN radio in New York City invite to host a sports talk show? None other than the notoriously big guv, gubernatorial gadfly Chris Christie, the beach-chair quarterback from New Jersey who will not be receiving a similar invitation to replace David Hasselhoff or Dwayne Johnson for the next ‘’Baywatch.”

How did corpus Christie do? Well, while subbing for the vacationing Mike Francesa on the air July 10, the Jersey boy did just about everything except sing “Walk Like a Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”

He chatted, prattled and batted around topics galore. He offered pointed criticism on sports of all sorts. He assessed the New York vinicity’s worst natural disaster, otherwise known as the Knicks. I myself could never do intelligent talk about the Knicks, mainly because I have no clue how to pronounce Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina or Mindaugas Kuzminskas. I’m lucky if I can say Lonzo Ball.

If this served as Christie’s audition for his next occupation, it definitely stirred up a whole beehive of buzz. Not since Ralph Kramden's appearance on “The $99,000 Question” has anyone made his New York media debut with such bravado. Whether the guy’s nerves were or weren’t bothering him in the beginning, by the end he was oozing self-confidence. Compared to him, Howard Stern is humble.

The segment of C-Chris’s radio gig that got a lot of attention was the call-in part involving listeners. “Mike from Montclair” in particular was of note. He had a few things to get off his chest. He insulted the host’s posterior for posterity. Mike did not begin by saying, “Hi, first-time caller, love your show.” No, he let loose with a “fat ass” crack and got increasingly nasty from there.

The guv took that shot across the bow and returned fire.

“I love getting calls from Communists in Montclair,” he said.

(I, not being from New Jersey or anywhere near the Tri-State Area, am unaware if the community of Montclair is experiencing any kind of red scare.)

“You’re a bum,” Christie added, yet again doing a very fine Ralph Kramden.

OK then. What more would WFAN want from a call-in show’s host? It is one of the few professions in American in which the customers are told they are wrong. Insulting the audience is a major factor in sports radio. The host invites callers to call, then hears what the caller has to say, then tells the caller that he or she is a total idiot. Or, you know, a bum or a Communist.

I was employed principally by newspapers. Being patient with a complaint was never the easiest part of the job. If an angry reader phoned — happy ones rarely did — you tried to tolerate the antagonism, reassure the caller that it was an honest mistake or an honest difference of opinion, then cope with the inevitable “cancel my subscription.” I believe many subscribers canceled their subscriptions multiple times. They threw it like a dart. “Cancel my subscription!” Oooh, that’ll teach you, you stupid paper boy, you. Hahaha. Now you’re in hot water with your boss! Wait’ll he found out I canceled my subscription because of you!

Radio callers expect the worst. The host is quite likely to tell them to stick their call up their iPhone. If you call a show and call the host a “fat ass” or a “jackass” or a a politician or worse (although that’s about the worst thing you could call somebody), the host generally doesn’t say, “You’re right, caller. I’m lame.” He or she probably will cut you off in mid-sentence, hang up and tell the other listeners what a jerk you were.

Peculiar way to run a business.

I have high hopes that, once Chris Christie is out of the government game for good, WFAN gives him a permanent seat in the studio. A big leather Barcalounger or a beach chair, whichever furniture makes him the most comfortable. Mike him up. Make him co-host of something with a cool name: “Mad Dog and the Guv.” “Pardon My Pardon From the Governor.” Get that baseball player Coco Crisp to be his co-host and call the show “Christie and Crispy.”

I can hear future shows now:

“OK, let’s take our first call. Howie from Long Island, you’re on.”

“Hi, Chris. Which NBA team do you think will win the most games this season in New York?”

“The visiting team. Thanks for the call. Gary from Cooperstown, you’re on.”

“Hi, Chris. I like guys with big swings. What do you think of Judge’s?”

“I prefer the conservative ones. Thanks for the call. Floyd from Paterson, you’re on.”

“Hi, Chris. How do you feel about boxers?”

“I like big, roomy ones. Much more comfy than briefs. Thanks for the call. Sully from White Plains, you’re on.”

“Hi, Chris. What do you think the Jets’ chances are?”

“I think they can land on the river. But I’ve closed the bridge. Thanks for the call. Neely from Camden, you’re on."

“Hi, Chris. Are you optimistic about the Islanders?”

“I’ll give them that damn beach back when I’m good and ready. Thanks for the call. Brady from Toms River, you’re on.”

“Hi, Chris. What’s your opinion of the Giant quarterback?”

“I don’t know. How big IS he? Thanks for the call. LeBron from Jamestown, you’re on.”

“Hi, Chris. How do you feel about Steph Curry?”

“I absolutely love Indian food. The spicier the better. Thanks for the call. Donald from Washington, D.C., you’re on.”

“Hi, Chris. Are you doing anything besides sports radio to help make America great again?”

“I am. I am keeping out of politics for the rest of my life. Thanks for the call.”

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