Column: FINEbaum by me

By John Holtrop

The Auburn Plainsman, Auburn U. via UWIRE

On Friday, June 1, I was given the rare opportunity to sit in on the radio show of arguably the most disliked man in the state of Alabama: Paul Finebaum.

The trip was put together for a sports media class and had 10 Auburn students sitting in Finebaum’s studio all watching intently as he orchestrated the chaos known as The Paul Finebaum show.

It was an eye-opening experience to say the least.

I did not grow up listening to Finebaum’s show as most of his listeners have. However, I quickly learned how controversial and influential he is.

Opinions on Finebaum have all been said, from labeling him an Alabama fan to a sports talk radio show host that does nothing more than listen to enraged, and sometimes insane, callers.

Whether or not he is an Alabama fan is between him and his maker. But my experience has led me to believe that Finebaum is an intelligent, clever, witty and sometimes cold-hearted man.

For a show that covers primarily college football, June 1 is not a date with a whole lot going on. This didn’t stop Finebaum from putting together a captivating and humorous show from 2:07 p.m. till 5:57 p.m. without a hiccup.

The show covered the SEC meetings, had a special guest in Tim Brando and, of course, fielded calls from boisterous, but always entertaining, listeners.

Throughout the show one thing stayed consistent: no one was spared from his wrath.

Finebaum has been criticized for his comments, which may sound smug when heard on the radio. That changed for me when I saw his face after saying some of these things.

He is no more than a child in a man’s body having fun behind a microphone. He smiles, he laughs and, I promise you, he does have a soul.

Proof is his coverage of the tornado that leveled parts of Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Hackleburg, Pleasant Grove and much of the state in 2011. He described in detail the events of that day, most notably how he watched the tornado travel from left to right across the window in his studio. In a debatable decision that most would disagree with, he stayed true to his duty as a journalist and remained in studio to relay updates on the disaster.

Finebaum continued to cover the tornado for the next month, to his city, his state and his country as he was broadcasted on Sirius XM Radio 91.

It is understood that most people’s opinion of Finebaum won’t change anytime soon. Come August, he will be catching hell from all angles with a barrage of accusations regarding his unspoken affiliations. Regardless, he deserves respect.

Finebaum serves a tough market and handles it well. No matter which station he is broadcasting from, after his recent legal struggles are settled, he will continue to provide plenty of sports conversation for Auburn and Alabama fans alike.

If none of that suffices, he did slip a quote most Auburn fans can enjoy.

“Auburn fans at least have a connection to their school,” Finebaum said. “And Alabama fans, there are a lot more of them and tend to be a bit more unruly.”

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