Revenge of the Monkey Boy

Sports-talk radio host Scott Hastings is riding the Broncos—and his wild image—all the way to the bank.

Maybe so, but the Nuggets still didn't offer Hastings a contract the next year, and while both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic expressed some interest in him, he and Judy decided that they'd had enough of the life of an NBA vagabond. "I still have a lot of pride that I played in the NBA for eleven years," Hastings says, "and sometimes it bothers me when a little kid will come up and say, 'My dad says you were terrible.' Because I was always very serious about what I did. I played with the philosophy that Moses Malone is a better athlete and a better basketball player than me, but he can't work harder than me, and if he's going to get twenty, it's going to be the hardest-earned twenty he's ever going to get in his career. And there were probably 25 games in my career where I didn't play a second until we were one point down with thirty seconds left and they put me in to inbound the ball because they knew I was someone who would make a good decision."

"There's a part of me who thinks I could still play now," Hastings adds. "But back then, I didn't want to uproot everyone again when I knew it might only be for one more year. So I retired at 33, knowing I needed to find a new career."

Caged animals: "Monkey Boy" Scott Hastings and Susie Wargin on Sports Zoo.
Caged animals: "Monkey Boy" Scott Hastings and Susie Wargin on Sports Zoo.
Caged animals: "Monkey Boy" Scott Hastings and Susie Wargin on Sports Zoo.
David Rehor
Caged animals: "Monkey Boy" Scott Hastings and Susie Wargin on Sports Zoo.

Hastings never thought he'd be in the media -- but in retrospect, his path to the microphone looks like part of a carefully conceived strategy. In Detroit, reporters discovered that while he didn't put up big numbers, he gave good interview, which led to guest spots on a classic-rock morning show and a Sunday-evening program hosted by sportswriter Mitch Albom. In Denver he continued in this vein, regularly popping up alongside morning personalities Lewis and Floorwax on the Fox. But his big break came in 1993, when writer Scott Gummer profiled him in Life magazine under this heading: "The 12th Man: Scott Hastings is 6'10" tall. He was a high school hero and a college star. He makes $600,000 a year in the NBA. He almost never plays -- but that's his job." In the piece, Hastings scoffs at his basketball prowess and expresses his desire to someday appear on Late Night With David Letterman. That was one of the most widely read Lifes of the Nineties (Charles and Di were on the cover), and a couple of weeks later, Hastings's dream came true: The Letterman folks called, and before he knew it, he was in New York horsing around with fellow guest Bruce Willis.

Post-retirement, Hastings found himself very much in demand in Denver, moving from a gig doing sideline reports for Nuggets games to co-hosting an afternoon radio show circa 1994 with Logan on KTLK, a brand-new outlet.

At first the pairing seemed an odd one. Logan had starred in three sports at Wheat Ridge High School and was drafted by the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball (the only person other than baseball's Dave Winfield who can make such a claim) before distinguishing himself as a receiver for the Cleveland Browns and the Broncos. But he was an established and much-respected media figure, earning Colorado Sports Broadcaster of the Year honors in 1992 and 1993 (he'd repeat again in 1997). Hastings, however, was a novice, and Logan had concerns about the arrangement. But he says they were less about Hastings than about shifting from an evening slot at KOA that didn't interfere with his coaching at Arvada West to "a station that nobody had ever heard of." KTLK's studios hadn't been built yet, so the duo was relegated to a production facility that Logan describes as "this little room that was about eight by ten feet. And since you had one guy who's 6' 10" and [weighs] 260 and another one who's 6' 5" and 230, we couldn't even stand up. We were in there with this kid, Al, who I don't think had even had much training being a board op, trying to produce the show, and no one knew that we were even on the dial. Sometimes it got so bad that Al would hop down under the board and call us himself."

But from the beginning, Logan believes, the chemistry between them worked. "Scott can be off the wall, whereas I'm probably a lot more introverted, much more serious. But the two of us mesh, and I think Scott's really helped me loosen up a little. I've had a lot of people say they never even knew I had a sense of humor until I started working with Scott."

The program earned an impressive audience share during its very first ratings book, and after a year on KTLK, it was transplanted to KOA, where it's been a cash cow ever since.

Putting Logan and Hastings together in the Denver Broncos broadcast booth was more controversial. "There were some people in our building, and some with the Broncos, too, who thought, 'This is an NBA guy, a guy who's liable to say anything at any time. He's not what we're looking for in an analyst,'" Logan says. But Hastings huddled with buddy John Elway and ex-Bronco Steve Atwater in an attempt to better understand zone defenses, passing alignments and other nuances of NFL football and even had Logan draw out plays to get him more familiar with x's and o's. The grousing about his presence stopped shortly thereafter, and in 1998, Hastings blindsided members of the journalistic community by scooping them on Elway's announcement that he would play one more season. But the attention he received for doing so didn't make him eager for more such glory.

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