Channel 4 sportscaster Vic Lombardi has wanted a regular radio gig for a while now -- but he faced a number of seemingly insurmountable obstacles when it came to making one a reality. Due to the scheduling of team practices and news conferences, not to mention the TV broadcasts he must participate in during afternoons and evenings, the only workable time period was morning drive. However, he'd be committing himself to a nightmarishly long workday if he manned a standard 5 a.m.-to-9 a.m. slot, especially given where he lives -- in Golden, a considerable trek from most stations, which tend to be headquartered near the Tech Center. "I've done a lot of fill-in work for The Fan," he points out, "and after a week or so, I've wanted to shoot myself."
So why the hell has Lombardi signed up with KEPN/1600 AM, the local ESPN affiliate, for The Insiders, a Monday-through-Friday morning show debuting on Monday, July 13, that will team him with his Channel 4 colleague, Gary Miller? Because he thinks he's managed to come up with an approach that won't make him suicidal. First of all, the show is only two hours long, not four -- and it doesn't start until 7 a.m. Secondly, he won't have a long commute. After all, he'll be broadcasting from his own basement. "I commandeered the toy room from my kids," he says, joking that "they're protesting with a hunger strike as we speak."
In Lombardi's opinion, the program's length will help keep the proceedings fresher. "Two hours is enough for sports-talk radio," he believes. "After that, you start repeating yourself." Moreover, because he and Miller work together at the station, they'll be able to do show prep in the evenings as opposed to spending a couple of hours before airtime roughing things out. As a bonus, Miller lives in Golden, too, only about a mile and a half from Lombardi's address -- so he won't be stuck with a long, pre-dawn journey, either. "Gary will just come to my house," Lombardi says. "I'll get up, wake-up my kids [he's got three between the ages of three and ten], cook breakfast. Then Gary and I will have some coffee and we'll do a radio show."
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As for the studio itself, Lombardi describes it as a state-of-the-art facility. "We've got about $10,000 worth of equipment down there," he says. "And it'll sound broadcast quality -- just as good as if we were at the station." In addition, the former toy room will be outfitted with a camera connected to UStream.TV, a site that will provide a live video-and-audio feed complete with enhanced interactivity. "We did a pilot back when the whole Jay Cutler thing was at its height," he notes. "Gary and I got in front of our laptops with our cameras, and we got immediate response from Broncos fans all over the world. But the difference between that and a lot of web chats is, instead of us typing in answers to their questions, we'll read their questions and then talk. It's really cool."
On Monday, terrestrial radio listeners and UStream users alike will get a chance to hear from a coveted first interview subject, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels -- and Lombardi promises that there'll be plenty more guests of that caliber down the line. Of course, the hours will still be tough; he generally doesn't get home from helming Channel 4's late newscast until around midnight. But he thinks he'll be able to handle it given the adjustments he and Miller have already made.
"If we went the full four hours from five to nine, after about three months I'd probably stab myself in the forehead with a fork," he concedes. "But I think this is going to work. Gary and I talk about sports all the time. Now we'll just be doing it on the air."