To borrow a phrase from his show, Dan Patrick went against the the grain and it's paying off.
Patrick, who left ESPN in 2007 and started his own morning sports radio show, which is now simulcast on television, has built a loyal following among sports fans who prefer his thinking man's approach to the testerone-fueled-jock fests that make up most of the genre.
"He doesn't talk like a sports-talk guy," said Steve Koonin, the president of Turner Entertainment Networks and a huge consumer of sports radio. Patrick has an "intellectual irreverence" missing from most talk jocks who lean toward a "screaming" and "ranting" approach. "Patrick," Koonin observed, "connects information rather than opinion."
"I don't need to yell at you to make a point," Patrick said between bites of a salad at the Seven Seas Restaurant, which serves as the de facto watering hole for his staff. "I would hope the point makes the point, not me and how I deliver it."
Patrick also has differentiated his show by sharing the limelight. Borrowing a page from Howard Stern, Patrick made his team into an instrumental part of the show. The Danettes — executive producers Paul Pabst and Todd Fritz, operations director Patrick "Seton" O'Connor and blogger Andrew Perloff — are not just the behind-the-scenes crew. They are also costars who banter one another and Patrick between guests.
Pabst, Fritz and O'Connor were ESPN refugees whom Patrick brought with him when he started the radio show in 2007. Perloff, nicknamed "McLovin" because his nasal twang is reminiscent of the character in the teen comedy "Super Bad," is a Sports Illustrated writer and often the whipping boy for Patrick and the rest of the gang in part because of his Ivy League degree and tendency to act like a know-it-all. "McLovin showed up one day, and then never left," Patrick cracked.
Patrick, who has a side career appearing in Adam Sandler movies, including this year's "Just Go With It," is even willing to share that stage with the Danettes. But he admits to an ulterior motive. "If you're an extra, you're treated subservient. They need to be humbled."
Read more about "The Dan Patrick Show."
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Dan Patrick (right) and his crew ; Todd Fritz, Andrew Perloff, Paul Pabst, Patrick O'Connor at their studio in Milford, at their studio in Milford, Conneticut. Credit: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times.