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The Best in LA Sports Talk Radio

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The good people over at Los Angeles Magazine recently named Tony Bruno as LA’s best sports talk radio host. While Bruno is a fine radio personality, we beg to differ with their conclusion. So that’s why, we here at LAist have compiled our first ever review of LA’s sports talk radio hosts, with our own top-4.Why a top-4? Well, outside of the top-4, there’s really no one else worth listening to. Here’s our list:

1.) The Jim Rome Show on XTRA 690/1150 AM, 9 AM-12PM
Without question, the dean of LA sports talk radio. Some of you may claim that Rome doesn’t qualify, since he’s more of a national host than a local host. But Rome does his show out of Los Angeles, his roots are in SoCal, and he exudes California better than any local radio host anyways.

Rome always says that it takes two weeks of listening to his show before you can really love it, but LAists begs to differ. Now you can play The Jim Rome Show to anyone for the first time, and it’s hard not to find the show irresistible, hilarious, yet insightful at the same time. You pick up the inside jokes and the Jungle gloss as you go along. And you quickly find that there is no sports talk radio program as elaborate and well-produced as “The Jungle.”

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The key to the show’s success is of course, Rome, who after ten years still talks about sports in a fresh way, with a level of perspective that no other radio show (Mike and the Mad Dog included) approaches. You may not agree with him, but you have to have to respect him for both his presentation and level of thoughtfulness. Jim Rome isn’t for everyone. But at this point, he’s for most people. And you don’t even need to be a clone to like him.

2.) “The Big Show” with Mason and Ireland on ESPN Radio 710 AM, 1 PM- 4 PM
Have you listened to this show lately? If you haven’t, then LAist recommends you turn it on as soon as possible. Steve Mason and John Ireland—who used to do the morning show on XTRA with Jeanne Zelasko doing traffic—have returned to LA and are even better than they were before.

It is impossible to listen to this radio show for more than 20 minutes without laughing hysterically in your car. Mason is even more of a jokester than he used to be, and Ireland plays the straight-man role to such perfection that he sometimes comes across as more funny than Mason. Most of the little gimmicks they do—like “Crossfire” where callers vote for which host they agree with—work really well.

How good is this show now? Recently Fox Sports Net’s Van Earl Wright was filling in on the Loose Cannon’s show on rival XTRA from 12-3. What did Wright do after the show? He phoned in just like any average caller to comment about which Fourth of July party he’d rather attend, Mason’s or Ireland’s. You know you’re good when the competition is listening and calling in for fun.

3.) Sports Night with Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton on XTRA 690/1150 AM, 3 PM to 7 PM

We won’t deny for second that Hacksaw is, well, really weird. But we still like him anyways. No one in sports talk radio does their homework more thoroughly than Hacksaw.

“Hey, Hacksaw, how’s Arkansas doing in recruiting for football this year?” a caller might say in July.

“Boy, I’ll tell you, they look really weak at linebacker, but you’ve got to like what they did on the offensive line,” Hacksaw might respond without the slightest hesitation. “And with that we’re getting an update… Dateline: Raleigh… The fifth-leading scoring defenseman on the Carolina Hurricanes will miss the next two games with a strained back. (Insert player’s name you’ve never heard of here) felt a twinge in his back during a morning skate-around, and will not play in tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oliers, or Tuesday night’s contest in Pittsburgh. The Hurricanes are said to be considering calling up the 19-year old fourth round draft pick (insert other name you don’t know) playing for Yakima of the WCHL.

“And with that, I’m opening up a special line for NHL fans. What do you think about the Hurricanes chances at the number-six seed in the East? I want to know what, you’ve got to say,” Hacksaw may add. “Poway! Garden Grove! Rancho Santa Fe! Los Feliz! I want to talk sports with you! And where are my Chargers fans! Now, Jim on a car phone in Escondido, wants to talk about the Detroit Lions this season. Jim, do you like the move to release that backup right guard?”

Once a friend of mine swore Hacksaw blurted out “I want to HEAR from a NATIVE AMERICAN!”

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Yes, Hacksaw is weird, but he knows what he’s talking about. It’s also a shame he’s no longer doing play-by-play (he made some borderline racist comments), because he’s one of the best football announcers around.

While LAist wishes his show varied a bit more from the question-and-answer format, and we wish Hacksaw wouldn’t turn random trade rumors into real trade scenarios, we love that how after listening to Sports Night we’ll learn a lot more about sports than we knew before. And we love Hacksaw’s voice and delivery.

4.) The Tony Bruno Show on XTRA Sports 690/1150 AM, 5-9 AM

Bringing Tony Bruno to LA after he left ESPN Radio was an absolute coup. Bruno is often funny, and usually makes salient and insightful points. He’s well-respected and gets top-quality guests. He’s borrowed aspects of other shows that work like Jim Rome’s fake e-mails from sports personalities or objects. But overall, Bruno simply takes a more normal sports talk format and executes it as well as anyone around.

Next time we’ll give you our LAist picks for the worst four sports talk shows in LA.