Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Da Thom Abraham Show: Nashville Sports Talk Radio’s Answer to Phony Blue-Collar Fandom

Thom Abraham’s been on 106.7, the local ESPN outlet, since the summer of 2007. He has a somewhat sketchy resume as a small-market radio host and also as a high school coach, so the Nashville gig is probably a big deal for him. His career has stretched in its previous, various incarnations from upstate New York to Florida and Alabama, which makes you wonder why he sounds like one of the SuperFans from the old Saturday Night Live sketch. (“Daaaa...BEARS!”)

For the uninitiated, here’s a short glossary of some key SuperFan terms, as used by Abraham, with phonetic pronunciation and translation:

The Glossary of Abraham

“dare”—there, their, they’re
"yer"—your, you're


In order to fully understand SuperFan-speak, you need to see it in action. Here are some examples of how Thom Abraham might use it in his “colorful” radio broadcasts. (Tip: For full effect, pronounce the following really loud and fast):

“I’m tellin’ ya, doze Red Wings are gonna come into da Sommet Center and dare gonna run doze Preds ragged wit-out mercy, and den dare gonna beat dem down in da third period wit dare front line.”

“Den dare’s da case of LenDale White. Da guy’s kinda a bonehead, wit-out any sense of da impact of stomping on dat Terrible Towel.”

“I went down dere wit my good buddy Jeff Diamond. I went dare wit da family and day all had a great time, wit-out any hassles.”

“Dare’s no way da Titans can beat dare opponents. Dare lost wit-out a passing game. Dare gonna lose.”

“Let takes da Preds. Day have no chance to win da division. Day kinda suck right now.”

“Dis is not da first time dat da Preds have tanked in da third period.”

“Dat’s probably da last time dat I’m gonna see Kerry Collins move da team wit-out a running game.”

“Da Titans haven’t been to da Super Bowl since our own Jeff Diamond was in da front office.”

Now, I lived in Chicago for 20 years, and if anyone knows what a Windy City Northwest Side sports-nut Polack sounds like, it’s me. That’s why the SNL skit was so successful: In essence, it was absolutely right on. So one can only conclude, without firm biographical evidence otherwise, that Abraham’s a complete put-on with this stuff.

I recall possibly hearing Abraham once discuss Cleveland as a point of origin, and his bio mentions that he passed “on an opportunity to play football at Ashland College in Ohio.” (Whatever dat means.) So I dunno. Do Clevelanders talk like the SuperFans? More importantly, do guys who’ve spent the bulk of their professional life in upstate New York, Florida and Alabama sound like the SuperFans?

I don’t think so. Which is why one can only conclude that Abraham’s rap is absolute phony-baloney, probably designed to inject a breath of fresh air onto our drawly Mid-South sports airwaves.

But if you want to hear Abraham really let loose in this mode, listen to him when he’s shilling for the local restaurants that sponsor his gig. For example:

“Ya gotta get down dare to Joe’s Sport’s Bar, down dare in Cool Springs. Yer gonna love it. Day got da chicken and da ribs, day got da pork and da beef, day got da burgers and da subs, and day even got a deep-dish pizza dat’ll drive you wild! Plus day got da sides ta go wit it, like da cheese sticks and da French fries and da onion rings, and dat’s not all: Day got 18 kinds a beer dat you can wash it all down wit. Dat’s my favorite place ta watch sports and get myself a great meal ta boot.”

Or, with that menu, as the SuperFan played by the late Chris Farley would say, “I tink I’m ’avin’ a ’eart attack!”

Put-on? Or actual Rust Belt blue-collar guy who digs sports? We'll let you decide. But listen closely when Abraham shills for other, slightly more genteel products. Your more-articulate slip is showing, dude. And dat's all I'm gonna say about dat.


Anonymous said...

That guy sucks. Just gotta love hosts who give themself a nickname. He's more like a Fatt Mutt than a big dog. Needs to move back to New York and quit polluting Nashville airwaves.

Good article.

rbs - Quick Hits said...

Okay, but...does it matter whether or not his shtick is authentic? We all know the guys on SNL were puttin' it on, and we loved every minute of it. Does this guy say anything Nashville sports fans can latch onto, or does he come across as an out-of-towner cashing a paycheck 'cause he landed a sports show gig?

I guess we know what 'anonymous' thinks...

Anonymous said...

I always took it as him imitating that SNL skit when he does that. You can tell when he is getting into character with it. That guy is hilarious though, an his show has a lot of energy. I heard that Cumulus cut 15 people locally in Nashville, including Abraham and Frank Seres of the Wolf. Abraham's website says his show is moving to WNSR 560 AM Noon to 3PM. So looks like this city still wants him, and Cumulus is repeating it's self destruction. Actually, I think I've seen this happen before, who was the other guy they got rid of... oh yeah George Plaster aka Da Plas!

Anonymous said...

I'm not even Polish, but... Did I just read you use the word "Polack", you ass? Great journalism, no wonder you come off as bitter. I would be too if I was trying to call myself a journalist with such an obvious lack of writing talent and tact.

Anonymous said...

Big Dawg Thom Abraham was a welcome addition to the airwaves in my opinion. If stuffy, tight collared Vandy boys is what you like to listen to, then by all means, listen to George, Willie etc. I had a great appreciation of Abraham's passion, knowledge, guests, and his show in general. His show made my hour long communte more enjoyable.
I'll miss the Big Dawg, and Jeff Diamond. This was a quality show with a quality host.
Catcha sometime homey, All the best,
Chef for you know who.

Joseph Abraham said...

The way my father talks is not an act. I would know. Next time why don't you ask him for an interview or something. I'm sure he would give you one and it would make your story a lot more accurate. Thanks for listening though.

Joe Abraham

Martin Brady said...

Martin Brady said:

Thanks to all for the feedback. Few notes:

1. Not too long after Abraham arrived in Nashville, I wrote him requesting an interview to do a profile. I went through the radio station website and his listed email addy. I got no response.

2. The "Polack" usage was strictly ironic. I could have said "arguably Eastern European," but anyone who knows the Chicago culture knows why "Polack" is pertinent to this discussion, particularly in light of the SuperFans reference. Yes, I know it's an objectionable word in normal parlance and in serious journalism. I made a conscious choice here to evoke the stereotype.

3. I never said Abraham didn't have a grasp of sports. This was a media critique based on style, not substance. Obviously I was listening to him, and I agree that he was a change from the Plaster Casters. I love skewering the creepy Plaster, but I've done it before and it doesn't seem to do any good.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your notes about the usage of "Polack"...

Fair enough, I see your point. I still would have probably used a different word, but my reaction was quite harsh either way. For that, I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

Also, you're a good writer, that's why I read your blog; again, it was an overly harsh reaction.

Christopher said...

What I would give for Mark Howard to get the boot on 104.5. I don't know what would be better in the morning; a cup of joe or the big dog and diamond.

There are plenty of us out there missing you in rush hour radio Thom!!!!! Good job by you

joey in huntsville said...

hey yall may not like him but we sure do .. it beats the hell out of listening to that stuck up rich guy out of cali ... his name rhymes with JIM ROME ... yall let go of a big fish and i hope you all eat crow for it

Anonymous said...

Abraham is the worst of the worst. He's a bore who thinks his shtick is hip and clever, doing the warmed over Man Show act. As much as I liked Howard Stern, I hate him for these phonies like Abraham.

I don't care where he's from, I just wish his lame act was off the radio, along with his 2,876 commercials a day which he sits back and thinks are the cutest thing on earth.

I even went back to listening to the dreadful Plaster (who I hate!!!) over Abraham.

Keep telling us how you are the "Big Dawg" you mutt. You know doubt will get a few simps to dig your act, but I am sure the ratings speak otherwise.