Ron Morgan

I know it’s hard to believe because it must be obvious that my head is full of useless information, but sometimes coming up with a topic is tough. Take this week for example.

The Cowboys hired a new head coach who has a Super Bowl ring on his finger, and who has assembled an all-star cast of coaches. Yawn!

Tony Romo is about to be lured from CBS to ESPN by being paid somewhere between $10 and $14 million per year making him the highest paid sports commentator of all time. Of course, he should be since among NFL commentators, he is the GOAT. Boring!

Tom Brady is rumored to be leaving the Patriots for another team. No material there.

Prince Harry and Princess Meghan are moving out of the palace to become common everyday folks in Canada. Wake me up when they move to Mississippi.

The Astros fired their highly successful manager and general manager over sign stealing. Who do they think they are, Pete Rose?

Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Randal Cobb and the entire starting Cowboy defense are slated to be free agents this off season. Jerry will just have to recount the socks and jocks and break out the printing press.

LSU blew out the team that had won 27 straight games and the previous year had blown out Bama. Geaux find me something interesting.

Just when I thought I’d have to call in sick for a lack of a topic, something huge happened. I accessed my I Heart Radio app and tuned in to the Ticket. My sports life will never be the same.

Mike Rhyner hung up his head set. The Old Gray Wolf is gone. There was no warning. Monday morning, January 6, he released a video telling the world he was finished.

He hadn’t even told the rest of the folks at KTCK what his intentions were. The only other person aware of the impending change was Dan Bennett the head man at the Ticket. Not even his long time sidekick Corby Davidson knew.

The all-sports radio station was Rhyner ‘s baby. He was one of the two founders.  Prior to 1994, there was no all-sports radio in Dallas. Oh, there were sports talk shows. There was Randy Galloway on WBAP, and Norm on KLIF, but those were basically three hour sports call in shows.

There were all-sports stations in other major markets, but they were call-in stations. The hosts spent the majority of their time answering calls and discussing whatever the callers brought up. There would be very little if any call-ins to the Ticket. “All Sports, All the time” was the motif, if by sports you included movies, rock and roll, flatulence, TV, food, road trips and assorted other topics sprinkled among segments on the  Cowboys, Rangers, Stars and Mavericks. Sports took on a whole new meaning.

Mike was a 1968 graduate of Kimball High School, which made him my age, and we shared several friends and acquaintances. He wasn’t a jock at Kimball. He described himself as a low profile kind of guy more interested in music.

He started out working at the rock station, KZEW, or the Zoo in the early ‘70s. There he worked himself up to doing the morning sports segment. I think that must have been the genesis of his love of sports in a less than conventional way.

I started listening to the Ticket in 1999, and little has changed there in the 21 years I’ve been a fan. Since its inception, Dunham and Miller (and the Great Gordo) have occupied the 5:30 to 10:00 A.M. slot. Ever since I started listening, the Bob and Dan show has taken the station from noon to 3:00, and the Hardline has finished out the day going from 3:00 to 7:00. The two biggest changes I’ve seen are the addition of Norm Hitzges from 10:00 to noon.  (Norm and Mike are both Radio Hall of Fame members). And, the only other significant change has been with the Hardline, when Boyd’s own Greg Williams walked away from the mike in mid-sentence to go to rehab. Corby stepped in and the show went on unhindered.

All good things must come to an end, they say. But, the Ticket will go on. Rhyner’s baby has grown up to be a major player in a major market. Other all-sports stations have popped up. The Ticket model has been copied in other markets. However, it’s kind of like Coke Classic to New Coke, Dr Pepper to Mr. Pibb, The Impossible Whopper to a Whataburger. The Ticket can be copied but never duplicated.

I became a P1 in 1999, and I remain one in 2020. Rhyner may retire from broadcasting, but at the same age, I don’t have to retire from listening. Maybe Mike is a little like Prince Harry. He can renounce his crown, but to everyone else he is still the prince.

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