Michael Lombardi: Two different interviews, one set of answers

Michael_LombardiMichael Lombardi used the official launch day of the new Cleveland Browns radio homes to reach out to both 92.3 the Fan and ESPN 850 WKNR. He called in to The Fan’s “Kiley and Booms” first and later called KNR’s “The Really Big Show,” with Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer. I listened to both interviews because I wanted to hear some insight into what the Browns did this draft, and maybe what the mindset was regarding certain decisions. Now that it has all sunken in over the course of the day, it is absolutely amazing how different the two shows ran their interviews to basically arrive with the same, minuscule amounts of information.

Kiley and Booms (conspiuously named after the show’s hosts, Kevin Kiley and Chuck Booms) seemed to operate like attorneys complete with Kiley injecting a “Can I finish?” when Lombardi started to speak too soon. Booms followed it up by listing all the players that the Browns had in for visits that they didn’t end up drafting, insinuating that because they were brought in for a visit that the team had interest in acquiring their services. The two hosts seemed more interested in reading their questions1 than what Lombardi would provide as an answer. Contrast that with Tony Rizzo who asked questions and then shut his mouth and let Lombardi talk. 

You could argue that Mike Lombardi said barely anything in either interview and I would have a tough time disagreeing. Lombardi used some vague language about the differences between working in the media and working for a team personnel department to avoid telling us what he really thinks about Brandon Weeden. On the one hand, I understand completely why he gave the answer he gave, I certainly would have liked something juicy. I mean, really, who wouldn’t? When talking about trading picks, Lombardi spoke about taking a wide view of building a team and how the draft wasn’t the end of the player personnel department’s responsibilities. Again, nothing juicy, and really pretty vague.

So in the end, the differences between what Kiley and Booms accomplished and what Tony Rizzo accomplished were remarkably similar, but the way they both arrived at those endpoints couldn’t have been more different. When asked about not trading down, Lombardi took a long time to basically tell us that the perceived drop-off on the board from Mingo to the next group of players was too great to justify trading down. Meanwhile Kiley and Booms were busy trying to force Lombardi to confirm their yes-or-no question about if there was anyone in the draft during the two traded picks that could have helped the team immediately.

I know the negative schtick. It does well in the ratings and they’re pretty popular with their audience, but I’ve heard this time and again where Kiley and Booms have guests on and then barely let them talk. The day before they did it to Clark Judge from CBS and a long time ago they did it to my Monday morning podcast guest, Scott Raab, when he was trying to promote The Whore of Akron. I admit they do very well with regulars like John Telich and Tony Zarella, but non-regulars are a bit of a trend at this point. The point of having a guest on is not to force your agenda — positive, negative or otherwise — but to hear what the guest has to say, even if you disagree vehemently. If you do disagree vehemently, which I think we can all presume that Kiley and Booms do, all they did was make Lombardi a sympathetic figure.

You can prod the guest in different directions with the questions, and if they are evasive you can call them out on it. But to continually filibuster your way through an interview listing off names of players who visited the team as if they are pieces of evidence in a trial pretty well defeats the purpose of inviting someone on the show.

Tony Rizzo almost seemed to be speaking to that after Lombardi had departed. He was remarking how evasive Lombardi was as Goldhammer pointed out that Lombardi’s laugh seemed like a defense mechanism to try and disarm every question he was asked. I’m paraphrasing a bit because I don’t have audio, but Rizzo summed it up perfectly — and this is why in the battle of Lombardi interviews he owned the day. “I’m not going to attack the man because some of you all don’t like him,” Rizzo said. “I’m here to get as much information out of him as possible.”

On this day, the amount of information received wasn’t a ton, to be perfectly frank. The paths taken to arrive at this empty pot, however, could not have been more different.

  1. Booms started the segment prior to the interview by saying he had his “list” ready but didn’t want to “tip” Lombardi on the questioning in the event he was already listening. []

  • TSR3000

    Those clowns on Cleveland sports radio interviewing Lombardi? No one can win in that scenario.

    Can’t we just judge this guy based on wins and loses starting September 8th?

  • Mr0verk1ll

    Chuck Booms is a shrieking idiot. I don’t know why anyone from the Browns organization would go anywhere near that show.

  • MrCleaveland

    Wow, Craig, you voluntarily subjected yourself to Booms and Goldhammer in the same morning. You’re a better man than I am. I’d have ice-picked my eardrums five minutes in.

    Be that as it may, I think these stations make a bigger deal out of who’s got broadcasting rights than it is. I don’t think fans care that much which stations are carrying the game as long as they can get good reception and as long as Donovan and Dieken are still calling them.

  • Harv 21

    Was very unimpressed with Lombardi’s pre-draft presser with Banner. So far he appears to be one of those organizational guys who excels at ingratiating himself to his boss, not so much with others. He’d like to disarm questions with charm, but he’s not that charming in a group setting.

    But it’s interesting that Banner is letting him make the public rounds now, maybe guessing that he now will be asked about something other than his past ripping of Weeden and Gordon and his drafting Craig Powell and Tommy Vardell.

  • AMC

    Booms is insufferable. That is all.

  • 92.3 is excellent from 10 AM to midnight. It’s a shame everything before that is absolute drivel. Chuck Booms would be a perfect Christmas present for the city of Pittsburgh.

  • That is likely true. There is more of an ability to pick him apart in the moment now based on free agency and the draft than there was a couple of months ago.

  • ichbinpete

    I’ve found living in Dallas I can actually listen to sports radio because I’m not emotionally invested in any of the teams and I can laugh at the stupidity that is often espoused. That said, they still don’t seem as ridiculous as the Cleveland guys from when I lived up there


    I like the Really Big Show. Rizzo and Goldhammer have some good chemistry and the show is fairly entertaining. Rizzo is just a typical Cleveland homer and Goldhammer is the anti-Cleveland sports fan. They talk about other offbeat topics, movies, music, and have contests and trivia, instead of discussing 3-4 defenses all year round like most 92.3 shows (I do like Baskin and Phelps, they are both solid sports talk guys).

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I’ve always believed strongly in the old adage that you catch more flies with honey. I’ve always thought that if I was a beat reporter or talk radio host, I’d do my best to show respect even if I didn’t feel it was given to me… because in the end I want to be the guy that when the phone is picked up to talk to a member of the media, I’m the guy they want to talk to first.

  • MeandH

    Chuck booms and Kevin kiley are the two greatest things to happen to Cleveland. Besides them and perhaps bull of bull and fox all of Cleveland are just live with it and take it people. Kiley and booms unlike the rest of Cleveland have a set and don’t take absolute crap for answers while bending over. I am not saying their opinion of the draft is correct although I think they have a point, but the rest of Cleveland just takes it and lets themselves be talked down to as if they don’t know football. Wake up and demand answers.

  • Pat18870

    Having lived through other organizational and ownership changes in a business indirectly related to the NFL, I can say I’ve heard this BS before. And seen plenty of Lombardi’s.

    When a new owner comes in promising vast changes in corporate culture, a “new paradigm” and various promises of spending to build a world class organization — you know trouble lays ahead. The first hires are always an indicator.

  • geomac1310@

    Here is the thing, both shows suck.

  • geomac1310

    That might…… wait that is the best thing I’ve heard all day. I cant stand him as a talk show host.

  • BenRM

    Kiley and Booms cannot interview. For that reason alone, I wish their show was cancelled.

    I also think that Booms is the worst of an absolutely horrible crop of Cleveland sports talk, but that’s a different discussion.

  • BenRM

    The sky is falling!

  • BenRM

    Exactly!!! I can’t understand why, when everyone else on the station ranges from good to great, they ESPN-ify the morning show with Booms.

  • BenRM

    Goldhammer is awful though. Not just as anti-Cleveland sports fan, but just as a human being. I would never want to be his friend or relative.

  • Wow

    I think from 2 to midnight personally, Baskin and Phelps is too dry for me.

  • Wow

    Kiley and Booms, or Dumb and Dumber do fine when they interview Telich or Zarella, since they just agree with them. Everyone else, not so much.

  • Harv 21

    just re-read this comment and want to clarify that I’m only criticizing Lombardi’s public face thus far, not his 2013 personnel evaluations. If he’s here 3 seasons (i.e., if Haslam can hang onto ownership so that a new owner doesn’t come in asking “why Lombardi?”) we’ll know if he’s competent or just a fig leaf for Banner to exercise the personnel decisions he was denied in Philly.

  • Aaron

    The morning show on 92.3 is the worst on the radio by far. booms would be happy to see the browns fail if it proved one of his pointswhich, incidently are almost always wrong and short sighted. they are both clowns!!


    Nice try, Chuck Booms.

  • Ubaldo4President

    It’s mostly an act he plays for the radio show. I’ve heard/seen him elsewhere and it’s much differently. But yeah, he would be that dorky, quirky guy we all knew in high school.

  • Toddyus

    One of the first things I learned in journalism school is to shut up. It’s the interviewer’s most powerful tool. There is a human tendency to fill a void. If the interviewer doesn’t fill it, sooner or later the interviewee will. That’s when the interviewee tends to say more than he/she intended. Good journalists know this. So do good attorneys and police interrogators. Rizzo know this, too. Unfortunately, so does Lombardi. Stalemate.

  • All I can say is that Rizzo is an objective Browns fan… He will be quick to criticize when it is due, but come game time he is all in with his favorite team. That being said, Goldhammer is hard to take sometimes, but I get what his role is. Those other clowns come off looking like totally idiots when they get all puffed up (verbally) on their show. DOUCHE BAGS!

  • MeandH

    Not Chuck booms just someone who has moved away from Cleveland and sees the lack of a pair on fans still in Cleveland.

  • sgtkickarse

    I really like the Really Big Show. I can listen to that here in Alaska. I can’t get the Booms guys on the other station. I like Rizzo and think he does a pretty good job when he is actually talking sports and not food/sponsors. I listen to them on the way in to work.

  • Big Z

    My interest in the team has PLUMMETED since Lombardi took over. I have no faith in this guy and only hope that he doesn’t wreck the team too badly for the next GM that comes in. The good news is that I probably won’t have to wait long for him to be gone.