I’ve been listening to The Nick Cattles show on ESPN Radio since he debuted in Hampton Roads in 2012. His show is live, weekdays from 4-7 PM on ESPN Radio 94.1. He has a unique style and opinion that, in this writers opinion, was needed in this area. I’ve found that I don’t always agree with Mr. Cattles but he always has the background to back up his opinions and create debate. After all, that is part of sports radio and sports talk in general. I figured if I could get an interview with him, I could expose our readers to his style and show as well.
I recently had the pleasure to do an interview via email with Nick Cattles Here is the interview in its entirety.
Mr. Cattles let me first start by saying Thank You for taking time out of your busy day to do this interview. I understand you are a busy man with a lot of obligations. Let me get right to it.
Q: You previously worked in a major market like Boston. What enticed you to make the switch to the Hampton Roads area and ESPN 94.1?
A: It was an opportunity to do what I wanted to do at this point in my life, work full-time as an on-air sports talk show host. If I had stayed in Boston, would I have been hired as a full-time host? Maybe…But I wouldn’t have got a shot at this time in my life. I felt I had to strike when the iron was hot. Also, who wouldn’t want to live in Virginia Beach? Let’s be honest…
Q: Many of the people in Hampton Roads have been accustomed to Tony Mercurio’s voice and style over the last 26 years. What should they know about you that sets you apart?
A: To be honest, I have no idea…I didn’t listen to Tony and haven’t really talked to anyone in depth about what he did. I do gather we’re very different in a number of ways from some of the interaction I’ve had with listeners, but I like to focus on what I’m doing and what we’re doing together as a collective show. I’m not big on spending energy on what was done…I’d rather focus on now and into the future.
Q: I noticed from reading the press release and your biography that you are from New England and a diehard sports fan. How hard is it to keep from being a “homer” on the air?
A: It’s funny, I think it’s tougher to stay away from being called a “homer”, when you host in your “hometown”…I mostly received that kind of jab in Boston, not down here. I think if you listen to me enough, you’ll understand that I take pride in looking at things as objectively as possible. The “homer” moniker has become lazy analysis by critics. If you don’t dig what I do, that’s fine…Just give me more than, “You’re such a homer.” With that said, I do believe, at times, your emotions that are tied with certain teams will come out. You just have to be honest with your listeners when that happens and move on.
Q: You seem to bring an “edge” to drive time radio in the area. Is this on purpose or is this just your personality?
A: Just my personality…I tend to be animated when I feel passionately about something and fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you feel about me, ha), I’m very passionate about sports. I also have an opinion about everything. But, this “edge”, as you perceive, is not intentional the vast majority of the time. It’s just me…
A: Absolutely…If you don’t involve Facebook and Twitter in 2013, you’re behind the times. I strongly feel that way. A big aspect of my “pitch” to the 94.1 bosses was that I felt the station needed to evolve and sound like it was a sports show happening in 2012 (at the time – now 2013). Interaction with listeners is so important and brings a different element to the daily grind.
Q: Hampton Roads is an area with a lot of military and implants. They bring affiliations to teams not in the Mid-Atlantic. Does your show give a lot of national exposure or is it focused on local sports?
A: We focus on what’s hot…If it’s local, so be it. The arena issue is a great example…We’ve hit that as hard as anyone around here and I’m proud of that. But, for the most part, we’re trying to appeal to the masses, with some local flavor. We speak with Wood Selig, Bobby Wilder, David Teel, etc., to bring that local taste, but there’s an old radio cliché about “playing the hits”…For the most part, we focus on the hits.
Q: There has been a lot of talk over the last few months about an NBA team (possibly the Sacramento Kings) moving to the Virginia Beach area. What is your take on this and do you think Hampton Roads is ready for a major professional sports team?
A: I do think that Hampton Roads is ready, but it looks like it won’t be happening anytime soon…That’s unfortunate. I do get the arguments: Traffic, transient area, etc. But, this market is still #44 and is developing more every single day. To me, it’s a missed opportunity that could create jobs and money. Guess we’ll have to wait and see if something works out down the road.
Q: Old Dominion University is making the switch from the Colonial Athletic Conference to the Football Bowl Subdivision and Conference USA. Do you see this as a good move or a bad move for ODU athletics?
A: I think it’s a better move, after all the shuffling within conferences as of late. Originally, I had prepared myself to watch ODU Football struggle early on with the transition to D-1. But now, as more established football programs leave Conference USA for what they believe are greener pastures, I think that opens the door for ODU to compete sooner rather than later.
Q: The Norfolk Tides have a tremendous following in the Hampton Roads area. Why do you think there is such a draw between locals and a minor league sports team?
A: I think it’s because the locals just crave professional athletics and the competition…I also think it’s the relationship that is created between the team and the fans. I grew up and lived in Rhode Island my entire life and up there we had the Pawtucket Red Sox, you saw much of the same love.
Q: As we all know RG3 played injured the last couple of weeks and appears to now have torn his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments. They are getting a second opinion but, in your opinion, should Mike Shanahan have played RG3?
A: Mike Shanahan should NOT have played RGIII, after the second Washington TD was scored…It was apparent from the 2nd Quarter on that he wasn’t the same athlete/QB that we had grown accustom to watching this season. The long-term future of the organization and that young man’s career was put at risk by the decision that was made by Shanahan. I don’t have much of a problem in starting him, if he passed all the physical tests that were performed, etc., as has been stated. But, once he hit the deck, took his helmet off and hobbled to the huddle, that’s when I start to warm Cousins up.
Q: The Redskins rallied from 3-6 to win the NFC East. Should fans be excited about the future of the Washington Redskins or do you think this was just a nice run for one year?
A: Tell me what RGIII’s future is going to look like health wise and I’ll let you know, ha. Honestly, with that kind of talent at QB, the potential to do damage in the NFL is limitless. They have to surround him with more talent, especially on the defensive side. Jim Haslett did a terrific job “scheming up” this defense with so many injuries…But, don’t kid yourself, that secondary needs a lot of talent added. With that said, the pieces to be a legit threat are starting to fall into place.
Q: NFL news this season was dominated by “bounty gate.” What is your opinion on pay for performance programs in the NFL?
A: I don’t think there’s any room for bounty gate in the 21st Century…With what we’ve learned, just in the past 5-10 years, about concussions, etc., it’s just not needed. Look, players make money due to their production. They’re already making cake off of tackles, sacks, etc. Why do we need to target specific injuries or “attack the head” as Gregg Williams so eloquently put it? However, I will say this…The kid gloves that QB’s are handled with is embarrassing. This does need to remain tackle football.
Q: MLB seems to refuse to incorporate replay like many of the major sports have already done. What is your take on this? Should MLB just go ahead and fully incorporate replay? What do you see as some hurdles doing this?
A: I believe the MLB should look to add replay, but not on every single judgment call. Could you imagine how long games would be? We have to accept that some calls will be missed from time to time, due to human error. But, on fair/foul calls and “bang bang” plays, I’m OK with it. I don’t need a stoppage in play, though, every time there might be a trap by an outfielder or a balk, etc. That’d be tedious. In the playoffs, it’s a must to add more replay in, especially after this past season – it was awful. Maybe we can have managers have one challenge per game that doesn’t include HR calls or fair/foul…just an idea.
Q: This year’s MLB Hall of Fame ballot is forced to deal with the “steroid era” head on with Sosa, Clemens and Bonds on the ballot (ignoring Rafael Palmeiro and McGuire who were fringe contenders regardless of steroids) What is your opinion on the steroid era and induction into the Hall of Fame?
A: Steroids happened and there’s no denying it at this point in time…The guys who were documented as doing it, then we need to judge their careers pre-steroid and post-steroid. Should Barry Bonds be in the Hall? I think so. Why? Because he was a three-time MVP before he even messed with Balco…He was a Hall of Fame player. Same thing with Clemens…But, Sosa? He wasn’t a Hall of Fame player, aside from the cork and roids. It’s still a difficult question, that I’ve gone back and forth on…
Q: It seems that the trend in the NBA now is for stars to try and team up through free agency and make a “big three” or “two headed monster”. Do you see this as good or bad for the game?
A: I don’t like the fact that players are dictating where they are going before their deals are up, but what can you do? Once they’re free agents it’s their right to go where they want to go…But, if you’re collecting a check from a team, that team deserves your focus and effort. You shouldn’t be running around, behind close doors or otherwise, trying to form this “super team”. I’ll put it this way, I have more respect for the Celtics “Big Three” because they did it organically…it was done by old fashioned trades. It wasn’t, “Hey, I like you, you like me, let’s force our respective teams to make a trade!” As far as if it’s good or bad for the game, the NBA is a superstar game…As long as there are stars performing, together or against each other, people will watch. I’d be lying though if I didn’t say that I enjoyed the old NBA, when guys stayed where they were and took it as a challenge to beat the best, not join the best.
Q: If your team was down by 2 in an NBA game with 10 seconds left who do you want to have the ball? LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, or someone else? Why?
A: Kobe Bryant…He’s done it more than anyone else. He’s a straight up, stone cold killer. Look, I don’t like him. He’s a Laker and I’m a Celtics fan. But I respect the hell out of that guy. For as much as LeBron has done, if you told me that a contested jump shot at the buzzer is the only way I could lose to the Heat – I’d take my chances.
Q: Many kids in today’s generation look up to professional athletes as role models. What do you think about this? Do you think professional athletes should be forced to be role models?
A: I think kids that look up to pro athletes are misguided…Kids should be looking up to their parents, teachers, etc. Just because a guy can dunk, doesn’t make him a scholar. Professional athletes are entertainers, not educators. Now, if an athlete wants to be a role model, then so be it…But, I don’t think it’s a prerequisite nor should it be. I loved sports more than anyone growing up, but my role models were my teachers and MLK, Jr. If you are looking at Kevin Durant to pattern your life after, I’d say aim higher. No offense to Mr. Durant.
Q: If you could have anyone as a guest on your show, who would you like to talk to the most?
A: This is tough…Who I’d like to talk to and who people would want to hear from is completely different. Selfish reasons? I’d love to talk to Tom Brady for a while, I’d love to talk to Bill Belichick…I’m an MMA guy, so I’d love to talk with Dana White. Shoot, I’m a big wrestling fan (yes, I know it’s not real!), so I’d love to sit and talk with Paul Heyman or CM Punk…Vince McMahon. I got to interview GSP and Roger Staubach since I’ve been here, those were pretty cool. I think everyone has a story, it’s up to me to make that story interesting. I have a long list of people I’d like to interview for different reasons…I guess that’s the easiest way to answer that.
Q: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about Nick Cattles or The Nick Cattles Show?
A: A few things…I want everyone that listens to the show to know that me and my staff work as hard as humanly possible to create the best show possible every single day. This is a job that I take home with me and wake up with, it’s time consuming, it’s a way of life, it’s not just 4pm-7pm from Monday through Friday. I don’t expect everyone to love me or hate me, but I do hope that everyone that listens to the show respects what I do and what I put into it. There are a lot of other things I could write, but I’ll cut myself off here, it’s getting late – lol.
I would again like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with SportsUnbiased.com. We know your time is valuable and we look forward to hopefully talking with you again in the near future.
I hope the readership here at SportsUnbiased.com appreciated the time Mr. Cattles took out of his busy schedule to conduct this interview. Don’t forget to listen to him in the Hampton Roads area on ESPN Radio 94.1 from 4-7 PM Monday-Friday.