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Sports Business

Lamey: Colts' Bill Polian stood in, took the hits

December 30, 2009
KEYWORDS Sports Business

Let’s start off with this: Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian, according to those that were in the studio Monday, did not, I repeat, did not, leave his weekly radio show early.

And I have zero reason not to believe those accounts. In my dealings with Polian, he’s always been a stand-up guy willing to tackle the difficult questions. You might not like the answers, but you have to admire his willingness to give them.
But there was some confusion regarding this week’s show among a fair number of listeners. How do I know? Well, Colts fans called and emailed me to tell me so.

For those listening to Polian’s radio show Monday on WLHK-FM 97.1 or on the Internet, it sounded like the show ended abruptly after a barrage of hostile fans called in about Sunday’s loss to the N.Y. Jets.

Since I listened to the show, which airs weekly from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., on WLHK, that’s the way it sounded to me too.
But after talking to Emmis Communication Corp. Program Director Kent Sterling yesterday and the show’s host, Bob Lamey, this morning, I have been assured that Polian “in no way shape or form,” stormed off the set or left the show early.

“I was there,” Lamey said. “I’ve been doing the show for something like 10 years, and Bill has never left the set early. On Monday, he stayed until several minutes after the show was over.”

Lamey admitted there might have been some kind of glitch that affected the show’s Internet transmission.
“It was not Bill’s fault,” Lamey said. “If there was a mistake, it was mine.”

Late yesterday, I was told by fans listening to the simulcast on WFNI-AM 1070, that the ending of the show on that station mirrored Lamey’s account.

Polian had anticipated the potential hostility coming his way Monday, Lamey said, and instructed him “not to screen any callers.”

“He knew what the show was going to be like,” Lamey said. “Bill wasn’t dodging anything. He wanted to answer every question.”

Polian’s insistence on trying to answer all the fans’ questions was part of the problem. Sterling explained that the call-in questions and Polian’s answers were so compelling, the show ran without commercial interruption longer than usual.
So as the hour ended, Lamey and the show’s producers realized they had six minutes of backlogged commercials to play in only seven minutes. And since commercials pay the bills, the commercials rolled.
When the show came back for its final 60 seconds, Lamey wrapped up the show, and that was that.
I end where I began. Polian answered the questions that the time allotted by the radio show allowed. No more, no less.

But there’s this. For those who say Polian and Colts owner Jim Irsay don’t care what the fans want or are insensitive to fans’ feelings (about going for a perfect season among other things), I can tell you, the number of phone calls I’ve received from the team’s front office in the last two days (about my previous blog post regarding Polian’s radio show) indicates otherwise.
The Colts’ brass certainly have been sensitive to this most recent fan outcry.
Whether they truly care about what fans’ feel in their hearts or they’re just protecting the franchise’s image and business interests, I can’t say.
But I can say this; I truly believe in the 60 odd hours since Curtis Painter was sent in to pilot the 14-0 Colts like it was a meaningless scrimmage, the fans have been heard.

And at this point, I’m not sure the Colts faithful can ask for anything more.

(P.S. I’m hoping to talk to Jim Irsay later today about his thoughts on this season and the fans’ reaction to Sunday’s game. I’m hoping he’s as eager to talk as Bill Polian was Monday. And if Irsay’s track record is any indication, I think he will be.)


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