Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Eric M. Eisenberg, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Daniel S. Bagley III, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Bell, Ph.D

Committee Member

Gilbert B. Rodman, Ph.D.


Media studies, Popular culture, Performance studies, Masculinity, Community


Sports talk radio is a broadcast format that has grown exponentially through the 1990's and into the early part of the twenty-first century. Academic publications about the format, especially qualitative analyses, have been extremely limited and previous radio content researchers have called for a more in-depth study of talk radio, in particular the relationships between and among callers, hosts and the listening audience.

This study examines sports talk radio as a format separate from political talk radio programming. An evolution of the format from its roots as a broadcast novelty to the modern day stand-alone genre is traced, including an examination of select individuals who pioneered the genre and advanced it against high industry skepticism.

From September 13, 2004 though September 17, 2004, programming was tape recorded both from a nationally syndicated sports talk radio program (The Jim Rome Show) and a locally broadcast program (The Steve Duemig Show). Calls from listeners of the shows were transcribed to isolate patterns and recurring themes that may be emblematic of the format specifically. In the case of The Jim Rome Show, callers were found to employ specific strategy to gain favor with the host and ultimately become celebrated parts of the show in their own right. The concept of intertextuality is introduced to help describe the strategy used by callers to Rome's show, the highest rated nationally syndicated sports talk show in the country.

Additionally, local sports talk programming is examined to isolate how callers utilize that format to deepen their experiences as sports fans by using the format as a vehicle toward empowerment. Issues of identity, both individually and as a community, come together in the study of local sports talk radio as callers, hosts and the listening audience strive together to become members of a "real" sports town.

Finally, implications for future research are discussed, including predictions of how sports talk radio will continue to influence the sports themselves and deepen and change what it means to be a sports fan in the modern era.