Today’s sad news about Jim Lampley’s arrest on domestic violence charges brings to mind an era long forgotten —- the pre-Russo/Francesca days of the fledgling WFAN, in which Lampley was one of the station’s first high profile weekday hosts.
From David J. Halberstam’s “Sports On New York Radio : A Play By Play History”
Audiences take time to develop. Formats don’t explode overnight. News and talk stations struggled when first inaugurated. In the long run, each was financially viable. Greg Gumbel, primarily a television personality, was doing morning drive, and Jim Lampley, a national television figure, was on middays. Much of the time, Lampley did his program from Los Angeles, where it was mighty difficult for him to feel the pulse of the New York sports fan.
Howie Rose recalls, “We didn’t talk New York. College football is huge in many parts of the country but it’s not the subject of conversation in New York. We didn’t have an appealing local sound and futhermore we were not worthy of trust! Jim Lampley and Greg Gumbel were fine. But there wasn’t a New York sound to it. Even when a New York issue was raised, there wasn’t the believability.”
So there you have it. In a roundabout way, Jim Lampley can be blamed for the birth of The Believability Twins. Not to sound cavalier about domestic violence, but on the scale of crimes against humanity, Lamps’ hairpiece only trails launching the careers of Mike & The Mad Dog.