Mehno: Big Ben’s radio show full of static

Commentary

PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger’s weekly radio show is on an FM station, but it’s still generating static.

Roethlisberger makes himself available for an exclusive interview on KDKA-FM (93.7 The Fan) every Tuesday during the regular season. The session lasts about 15 or 20 minutes.

(NOTE: The Roethlisberger shows are archived at 937thefan.com).

It’s become enough of a news source that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette assigns a staffer to monitor the Roethlisberger show and immediately post a summary on the paper’s website.

The quarterback almost always does the show by phone, often while he’s driving to other errands. Because of that, he’s admitted sometimes he forgets he’s on the air. It seems like a regular conversation.

That can be good for listeners because Roethlisberger lets his guard down, at least a little. His show runs less than an hour before coach Mike Tomlin holds his weekly briefing in the media room at the Steelers’ compound.

Sometimes Tomlin is asked about things Roethlisberger has said, much to the chagrin of the coach. One week Tomlin was frustrated enough to announce he didn’t intend to address things Roethlisberger had discussed on his radio show.

It’s not like Roethlisberger drops state secrets every week, but he is sometimes candid enough to make the show worth checking.

It’s a win for the station, which charges advertisers a premium to be involved. It’s also a secret delight in the hallways there because this slice of prime ancillary Steelers programming is not on the station that pays for the game broadcast rights.

Roethlisberger donates his fee to charity, so that’s good.

Is it good for the Steelers, though? Tomlin is clearly annoyed with his quarterback’s sidelight job. Last week longtime NFL media insider Peter King suggested the Steelers ask Roethlisberger to drop the show.

A few weeks ago, Roethlisberger used his radio platform to castigate rookie receiver James Washington. Roethlisberger said the message was the same one he’s delivered in person to Washington, but it’s different when that criticism is literally broadcast.

As the Steelers try to get control of the team’s culture, will management ask Roethlisberger to retire from broadcasting? They don’t have much leverage. Hall of Fame-caliber quarterbacks call their own shots.

The Green Bay Packers just fired a Super Bowl-winning coach because quarterback Aaron Rodgers was fed up with him.

But maybe the Steelers can put the request this way: Look, we’ve traded Antonio Brown to try and regain some semblance of sanity. Can you dump the radio show?

Putting it that way might work. Besides, if Roethlisberger feels a need to deliver a message, there’s always social media.

Bounce back

When NFL TV ratings were down at the start of last season, there was an abundance of theories about what went wrong.

Turns out most of them were wrong. Last week’s wild-card playoff round did record-setting business in the ratings. With part of the country socked in by snow, this week also figures to be huge.

The formula isn’t complicated: Keep the stars on the field, score lots of points and have competitive games. It’s still the favorite TV show for a lot of people.

Other direction

In a league fascinated by young head coaches, it was a surprise to see 66-year-old Bruce Arians hired in Tampa Bay.

It was an even bigger surprise to see Arians, the former Steelers assistant, give up a comfortable seat in the CBS broadcast booth after just one season.

Then again, Arians’ outsized personality and sense of humor didn’t seem to translate well to TV.

What a waste

Just when you think nobody wastes money on bad contracts the way sports teams do, you read that NBC is paying failed talk show host Megyn Kelly $69 million to go away.

Helping hand

Antonio Brown has identified Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson as one of his mentors. That may explain a lot.

Birthday boy John Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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