END OF AN ERROR

LEE “HACKSAW” HAMILTON

 Another sports radio icon is out of a job. This one had been coming for a long time.

Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton has been dropped by XTRA Sports radio in San Diego. Hamilton’s firing (errrr “mutual parting of the ways”) likely marks the end of a 21 year run in the southern California market.

Not only was Hamilton a longtime NFL play-by-play announcer with the San Diego Chargers, but he was one of the first superstars of sports talk radio. People tend to view the sports talk radio world from a New York/Boston/east coast prism, but before there was a “Mike and The Mad Dog” or WEEI the nation’s FIRST all sports station was anchored by one man. That man was Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton.

Anyone who was from southern California not only grew up listening to “The Saw” but likely practiced an impression of him at some time. Hell, the first couple years that Jim Rome was on the air his entire schtick was to make fun of Hamilton, do impersonations of him and generally do everything just the OPPOSITE of how Hamilton ran his show. You’ll notice that Rome is successful. Hamilton, unfortunately, has had his career spinning in a downward spiral for the better part of a decade.

The sad truth is Hamilton may have been the worst talk show host who ever lived. Most people would find it unbelievable that a guy could survive for over two decades in the nation’s number two radio market yet absolutely SUCK (the signal from Hamilton’s station reached LA and he even had a show there for a couple of years though he was always based out of San Diego.)

You had to hear Hamilton to appreciate how REALLY bad he was. His “style” was to read a litany of unrelated sports stories over the air then yell, “React!” to his listeners. If they didn’t call in Hamilton would scream at them and chastise them for not calling. If they did call in it was a string of unrelated calls on topics that Hamilton was NEVER informed on. That might have worked in 1975 when you were the only guy in town with a sports wire and a microphone, but through the years with the advent of the internet, ESPN  and satellite tv So-Cal radio listeners gradually became aware that Hamilton was worse at his job than anyone in America. Yet, in his career obituary, written this week in the San Diego Union Tribune by Jay Posner, Hamilton implores, “Who wants to hire the best sports talk show host in America?”

It was this combination of utter incompetence melded with enormous ego that literally made Hamilton the real-life Ted Baxter and such a legend. Even people who HATED his show listened every day-at least into the ’90s.

I’ll never forget being in San Diego to cover the Super Bowl one year in the late ’90s and turning on XTRA specifically to hear Hamilton. Basketball player Damon Stoudamire had just been traded. Not only did Hacksaw get the team wrong, but for some reason he constantly mispronounced the player’s name as “Stood-er-MEER.” And he misprounounced Stoudamire’s name every half hour in his updates ALL DAY LONG. Keep in mind, Stoudamire had not only played in the freakin’ Pac 10 but had been a star. He played against UCLA and USC four times every year. Even more embarrassing, Hamilton used to be the play by play voice for Arizona State basketball (Stoudamire went to Arizona.) I vividly remember being EMBARRASSED just to be from southern California while Hamilton was announcing.

On top of that, after 11 years as being the Chargers play-by-play guy, he lasted all of ONE GAME with the Minnesota Vikings because he also happened to be an unrepentant racist. An African American newspaper exposed racist comments made by Hamilton on his talk show. The article was written by the father of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Hamilton’s career has been plunging downward ever since. And the guy NEVER changed, never worked harder and never got any better. He was a dinosaur who refused to adjust. I remember the last time I heard Hamilton’s radio show (he had been demoted to weekends). I was driving from San Diego to Anaheim for a UFC event. It was during the NFL season and he was talking to some guy who had written some boring HOCKEY book. I literally remember shaking my head and CRINGING.

By the time the end came Hamilton was so insignificant that the Orange County Register placed the news of  his departure towards the end of their radio column. Five stories AFTER they wrote about Pet Place Radio moving to a different day on KGIL. How’s that for summing up a 21 year career?

The final insult came recently when Hamilton went begging for the announcing job at lowly Boise State University. He wasn’t even one of the four finalists for the job. This was a guy who had done NFL games, Pac 10 and network radio who is a California broadcasting Hall of Famer. What a shame.

It’s popular now to claim the internet and blogs did in Lee Hamilton. Posner’s piece contends as much. He writes that these days anyone can comment on message boards and blogs. According to Posner, “No longer could a caller-driven talk show survive.”

Nonsense. Sports talk radio not only exists, but is flourishing in every market in the country. J.T. The Brick does a successful “caller driven” nationally syndicated show just a few miles from Hamilton’s house today. He’s successful and heard on hundreds of markets. It’s simply Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton who couldn’t survive. Like the rest of the dinosaurs, he’s now extinct.

 

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38 Responses to “END OF AN ERROR”

  1. orcas Says:

    The career of Hacksaw might be over but a least he has enjoyed decades of success. How come no sports station solicits the SportsPig with job offers?

  2. Den Relojo Says:

    You have a nice hader there!

  3. Michael Says:

    If anything in life is treated to be far more important than it actually is, it’s sports. And sports talk radio is the embodiment of all that is wrong with unbridled devotion to athletes, athletics, and all the dreary theory that surrounds it. Hours and hours of endless bloviating, speculating, conspiring and lamenting over a cadre of a few hundred spoiled rich pro athletes or a gaggle of college sports teams and stars that cure no disease, feed no hungry,provide no national security, nor add anything meaningful or permanent to society. You’re right… Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton was loud, angry, opinionated, obtuse, inaccurate, clannish and self-important. But in truth, what makes you angry wasn’t that he wasn’t a good sports talk radio host. No. What seems to have set you off was that Hacksaw WAS the ULTIMATE sports talk radio host, and you hated the fact he was so transparent… and that you had devoted so much of your precious little time on Earth to the subject matter. Your anger isn’t about what Lee Hacksaw Hamilton was… it’s about you have become.

  4. Steve Says:

    I am not a fan of the Saw, but do you think what they have now is so much better. Petros and Money? They are horrible, the only real solid sports talk show host is Dave Smith, the rest of the LA market stinks. So the Saw might be bad, but he is in good company.

  5. Reggie Says:

    The Saw was great!

  6. Reggie Says:

    SHOW ME YOUR LIGHTNING BOLT!!!!!!!

  7. Reggie Says:

    DOWN THAT FIREFIGHTER!!!!!!

  8. Reggie Says:

    The Saw will soon be on Sirius/XM with the MAd Dog. Take that asshole.

  9. Morty 48 Says:

    “Damn you Sean LEE”

    I’d like to use your blog to wipe my ass!

  10. Dave Swanson Says:

    That doesnt say much about your life and career. It’s obvious that you are addicted to what Butter knife presents!!!

  11. Bart Says:

    Michael needs to get a life and let a little air out of his ego. Going by his definition of what’s important, ‘…that cure no disease, feed no hungry,provide no national security, nor add anything meaningful or permanent to society.'; individuals as diverse as Shakespeare, The Beatles, Raymond Chandler and Steven Spielberg offered nothing at all to the larger society. What did any of them do to alleviate suffering, after all?

    Hacksaw was a joke but he he was an entertaining joke to listen to. He discussed minor sports that the corporate tools today ignore. He also didnt try to force an agenda down anyone’s throat. He let the listener set the agenda.

    Hacksaw was a MUCH more entertaining listen than say Mason and Ireland, counter programmed against him on ESPN. It is so obvious that M&I are shilling and manipulating their audience. It insults my intelligence.

    I knew that Hacksaw also tried to manipulate us, but he was so hgorrible at it that it became almost endearing.

  12. DBL Says:

    Hey,

    The SAW was the last bastion of uncensored from the gut sports talk radio. Hey may have annoyed but he was very knowledgeable! Lets see is KLAC can completely ruin the station by not picking up Romes deal. Who are the IDIOTS at Clear Channel? Petros.. Freakiing Petros? Money I enjoy but Petros the definition of annoying.

    Don’t force me to turn on the corporate guys at 710 please!

  13. DBL Says:

    Hey we can always listed to Hartman and VTB shout at each other – that is entertaining! Oh wait, it’s not!

  14. FYI Says:

    “You’ve just heard the best 15 minutes of sports radio…” I don’t know about that, and his angry pleadings to fill open phones lines were getting desperate as hell. But Hacksaw should be on somewhere (not on TV with that rug and mug), he’s way more entertaining than the ultra-bland self-important snoozer Dan Patrick, not to mention Leitner, the most agitating baseball play by play guy around.

  15. The Godfather Says:

    What a crappy blog. You may not be a fan of his style, but his knowledge is incredible. I called him and disagreed with him from time to time, but he knows more about sports than you ever will. I totally agree with these responses and have written the higher ups at KLAC about what the hell they did with their station. Grande & Cook to Petros & Money? This is supposed to be a sports station!!!!!!

  16. richard ritter Says:

    I really miss the saw. Someone told me he was on Sirius Radio.

    Is this true? If so, what station?

    Thank you
    R. E. Ritter

  17. Lee Ann Hamilton Says:

    You couldn’t be more wrong about Hacksaw: the hard-working, knowledgable, and articulate sports talk show host is a fine man whom I have known well since his days at KTAR in Phoenix in the early 80’s. The guy has a knows more about sports than 12 talk show hosts put together. Your vitriolic driatribe is disgusting.

    Lee Ann Hamilton (no relation, in spite of our similar names)

  18. Stephen Ross Says:

    I really liked Hacksaw when he was on EXTRA Sports 690 and it was the best 15 minutes in sports radio when he came on sports talk radio in SO Cal does not exist without LHR

  19. Ian Says:

    Hacksaw’s on MLB Homeplate now on XM175/Sirius210. He’s still the same, but I’m impressed with how much baseball knowledge he has.

  20. Earl Appling Says:

    Lee Hamilton may not have been as contemporary as some of these today Hip Hop sportscasters but, when I wanted to listen to pure sports talk, I tuned in to Lee hacksaw, the others made me feel like I was listening to my son’s Rap music shows, I couldn’t relate. Gonna miss the Saw

  21. derek Says:

    I miss the saw, I was just thinking today about 570 radio formally the mighty 690. It is very boring now, no more good personalities. The format stinks. I didn’t always like the saw, but he was well informed. If you didn’t like the saw, you had the loose cannons, if you didn’t like them, you had jim rome. No more good variety.

  22. Sports Lover Says:

    Dood, Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton, was awesome, the “Best 15 mins in Radio” was where I got all my news. This was the only guy to talk Hockey, well, Jim Rome does, but no one else will talk hockey, and for a hockey fan that sucks. I listened to Hacksaw for almost all 21 years that he was on 690 and 570 and you know what, he was the best. He allowed people to jump on the line and give their take and he gave you his… He gave it to you straight. Yes, he said outrageous stuff, but that was to get you to call. This guy was the best, he even won awards, the Golden Mic, which is voting upon by his peers. This guy who wrote the article, needs to get a life and everything in this article is his opinion. Wait a minute, I should call this an article because if he were a true journalist, he would give facts and not opinions… stupid blogger…

  23. RX Says:

    All Hacksaw did was regurgitate 2-day-old stories from the internet. Like this guy said, that may have worked 30 years ago, but today, everyone has the internet. Hacksaw never said or “broke” anything I hadn’t already known for a couple days, in addition to completely murdering the facts and misspronouncing everyones names.

    He was about as informed as VTB, just minus the homer-ism, which really left him with no purpose.

    Case in point, when Lamar Odom was traded to the Lakers, all the blogs and message boards reffered to him by his nickname “LO” (pronounced: el-o). Hacksaw, obviously just reading internet rumors and such would read this nickname and pronounce it “low”. Nit picking? maybe, but it drove me crazy.

    In fact I can recall a few times in the offseason when he would report pipe-dream posts from realgm.com as actual rumors… horrible.

  24. Scott Says:

    I have lived my entire life in San Diego (50 years now) and with all due respect, you just appaer to be a hater. Nothing more, nothing less. I listened to Hacksaw back in the day, with Rome coming on after him (7PM slot) and it was the best. I was 50/50 with regards to Hacksaw but I did like his show, as did many others. Over saturtation of media has made those type of shows obsolete and that’s a shame. They had a feel or a power to them, especially on the drive home. It’s obvious that you have a “personal bias” against Hacksaw, which is what is sad about the media these days. This is exactly what there isn’y anything on that is “listen-able” anymore. As a previous pers9on comented “Pertos and Money show”?. You call that radio. Vick the Brick? What’s going on? Might as well bring back “Bullwinckle and Rocky” ’cause they cover about as much sports as those two examples do. Sports radio in southern california – one word – pathetic, just like your colum.

  25. Gene in San Diego Says:

    In case you haven’t noticed, Hamilton is back and more poplular than ever. Why you don’t like him is your own business but your comments are off base. I will continue to enjoy listening to Hacksaw.

  26. Eric Says:

    Only a San Diego sports fan would love a sports talk radio guy who knows nothing about sports. I lived in San Diego for 7 years and I remember how initially amazed I was at the popularity this guy seemed to have there. However, the more I got to know “San Diegans” and their lack of sports savy the easier it was to understand their love of the obnoxious “Hacksaw” (the Chargers were going to win it all every year and Jodie Reed was a good second baseman, and Tony Gwynn’s weight did not cut his career short). Hacksaws understanding of anything outside of the Chargers was more limited than the average fan (Cade McNown should have won the Heismann and was going to be a great NFL quarterback, and Bonzi Wells was one of the NBAs premier outside gunners). He’s a joke and an embarrasment but perfect for San Diego and their extremely shallow and insignificant sports scene and fair weather fans.

  27. Kevin B Says:

    When living in San Diego (23 years), I enjoyed listening to the “Saw”. During the hey days of the mighty 690, I enjoyed listening to Hacksaw, especially when he called the Chargers game. I miss listening to him, as well as “The Loose Cannons” (with Chet Forte) and of course Rome and all his “Clones”. Nobody, I mean nobody could hold a candle to these guys! Those were the days of good talk sports radio!!

  28. DFunk Says:

    Hacksaw is invincible. Nothing will stop him. He is a LEGEND for begging a Raider fan to blow his brains out on air. He is a LEGEND for his meltdowns, for his arrogance. RESPECT THE SAW BITCHES. QUIT WHINING

  29. Franco Says:

    I listen to hacksaw daily….Hes the man! xx1090

  30. scott Says:

    Welcome back Saw. My ride home is now complete.

  31. nick Says:

    I started listening in 2001 when I moved here and I loved the show It was hard to turn off it was the only show I would turn on when going into the house. The best 15 mins in sports was legendary. Would you rather have listened to Michael Thompsons, Im better than you, hollier than thou, Mr moralistic, I never banged or even thought of anyone but my wife bull crap?

    That is a guy who knows nothing about sports aside from the nba

  32. Michael L Says:

    A variety of comments on Hamilton some supporting some not so supporting. I’m one of the non-supporters. I don’t like his style and schtick. I believe you either like his style or you don’t. There’s no question he’s very knowledgeable but so what. He presents a ton of information most of which doesn’t matter. He’s very biased and righteous. He is a caricature. One thing you’ll get with Hamilton is a good description of San Diego County. He’ll put the topics on the table and then challenge listeners to call in. He’ll also dare anyone to complain that a particular sport is not covered on his show. What I’d like to know is when has he ever covered bowling or fencing or archery. Come on ‘Saw’ you want to be the complete sports radio show host or not.
    And for those of who thought the ‘Saw’ was gone … you were wrong. He’s now on XX1090 airing his sports schtick on the 3 – 7pm drive home show Mon – Fri. He hasn’t changed a bit. He still believes he’s the best and everyday puts a minimum of 45 sports topics on the table. I call it his ‘Who cares’ list. Yes the ‘Saw’ is back. Like it or not.

  33. Bob Gibson Says:

    Mike Responts must be an idiot to dismiss Hacksaw Hamilton as a terrible talkshow host. How anyone could harbor such a myopic view without any substantiation (ie. supporting facts, radio ratings, etc.). Let’s just hope that Mr. Responts doesn’t consider himself to be a sports journalist, but rather, a sports blog hack nobody. However, if he really entertains the notion of even pretending to be one, then we will also need to place him in the “Who Cares List”.

    Now try and earn a real living!

  34. Anwar Sadat Says:

    I do disagree with the comments about Hacksaw lacking knowledge. Even if he didn’t actually know what he was talking about, he at least seemed like he did most of the time. However, the description of him being a real life “Ted Baxter” is hilarious and so true. Also, he really IS a jaw-dropping racist. I remember listening one day after Charles Barkely had done something off the court (an altercation at a restaurant?), and Hacksaw – his entire show – referred to Barkley as “The 90’s Nig**r”… except he didn’t censor himself. When people called to say he was a racist, he blew it off and said essentially that if Barkley can call himself that, why shouldn’t he be able to call him the same name? If you could hear someone smiling over the airwaves at being able to get one over on the black man, this was the moment. What a scumbag.

  35. Stinky Widget Says:

    From San Diego to Santa Barbara, from the Inland Empire to San Onofre, you’ve just tuned into the worst blog on the internet. El Centro give me YOUR opinion! Santa Clarita, I want to know if YOU can read! Ladies line opens up at 666-666-6666. First timers, if you can read, 666-666-6661. Schmucks, illiterates, and haters, grab the Coach Jon Kintera by the short and curlies! I want to hear what YOU have to say…even if it’s on a blog that is narrowminded, bigoted, and venal like this one!

    Yeah, Hacksaw got canned because radio execs and sales weasels have their fingers on the pulse of American listeners. Come to think of it, baseball owners actually ARE stupider!

  36. buchele Says:

    Like you could do better – b u t t h o l e

  37. andrew eden Says:

    who the faulk are you ? i’m a new yorker, and in 32 yrs. he’s the only entertainment in sports this loser town has given me. you probably kiss ted dy lightners arse, another freaking loser. exactly where can i find you and smack you in your fat face ?
    what did he do, tell the truth about the pathetic san diego sports teams and their poor arsed owners letting all their talent leave. faulk off douche.

  38. Lee Hamilton Says:

    Will somebody tell me, where the hell are all of the Padres fans?
    We are 18-12 in the Cactus league and I have had only 3 calls in the last 2 weeks about the Padres.

    I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

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