Jones, Giger: contrasting styles

Talk about lucky.

Fans of sports-talk radio in this area have the benefit of choice and diversity, with the two hosts who consume the most hours of airtime each week taking different approaches to their broadcasts.

The shows can be heard on ESPN?Radio 1430 in Altoona and ESPN Radio 1450 in State College.

This past week, with the release of the Paterno Report, again provided some examples of that stark contrast in styles.

One host, Steve Jones, the longtime voice of Penn State football and basketball, works not to offend. He often sounds so calm.

Airing from 1 to 3 p.m., callers are usually limited to his show, and it sometimes sounds like a soliloquy, with Jones practicing a somewhat professorial tone and regularly punctuating points with “All right?” and “OK?”

With guests, Jones often leads into conversations with “You and I both know ” as he positions himself as an expert on equal footing with anyone else on the show.

He’s informed and low key.

For those who want a host who’s not reactionary, it’s Jones. He offers opinions (on things like the quality of Jim Boeheim’s 900 victories or how a national radio host conducts interviews), but with something like the Paterno Report, he can frustrate listeners.

Because he’s so close to the topic, Jones is uniquely positioned to at least offer some perspective. But, also because of that proximity, he does not seem interested in stepping into the fray.

The other host, Cory Giger, a sports writer for the Mirror who has covered Penn State, college sports, the Altoona Curve and more, works not to bore. He offers a bit more bombast and sounds so hyped.

His show airs from 4 to 6 p.m. and the drive-time slot ensures more callers, as well as the related action and reaction. It’s anything but bland.

He’s hardly an over-the-top sports shock jock, but he’s going to share his opinion. Giger also encourages his regular array of guest experts (including me every Friday) to offer their insights, and he credits them with making good points or sharing things he did not know.

In addition, whether Giger agrees or disagrees with callers, he usually gives them room to state their case.

He can frustrate some listeners as well (especially so with the Paterno Report and other no-gray-area topics) mostly because he wants to share an opinion and take a stand. He’s not unreasonable, but he works to evoke a reaction, and it’s generally good radio.

Both shows have a role, and both have loyal listeners – as well as those who would rather listen to anything else.

Overall, though, sports fans are lucky to have the different approaches.

In sports-talk radio, that diversity, that sharing of ideas, generally produces worthwhile broadcasts.

Tuner tidbits

n Who knew Katie Couric (or at least her producers and show bookers) had such an interest in sports? Her interviews of Manti Te’o and Sue Paterno were fair and well done – a standard for which many full-time sports types should strive, especially on those specific stories.

n Fox Sports kicks off NASCAR’s Sprint Cup regular season with its coverage of the Daytona 500 next Sunday, Feb. 24. There are no changes in the broadcast lineup, with Chris Myers back as host of the pre-race show and Mike Joy calling the action with analysts Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip.

Steve Sampsell covers the broadcast side of sports. He’s on Twitter@talkingtvsports, writes at online, and may be contacted at with comments and story ideas. His column appears in the Mirror every other Sunday.