When the Chargers left San Diego for greener dollars north of the 91, a lot of us hoped that would be the end to a decade-long Shakespearean tragedy.

We were wrong.

Mean-spirited debate about whether local sports media should even talk about the Chargers anymore has filled some of the void of fighting over actual Chargers football.

The debate is still raging, although it appears the media has made its choice. After grappling with months of disbelief and uncertainty about their business models going forward, most in local media have decided to still treat the Chargers as the local favorite worth following, though with a bit of distance.

“You try to explain it to people,” said Darren Smith, co-host of the midday show on the Mighty 1090. “We look at the data, the digital downloads, the streams, and of course ratings, and to this day anything Chargers dwarfs everything else we talk about.”

Social media may make you think that the Chargers are a hated entity in San Diego. But people in this town still love – or at least love to hate – the Chargers. Either way, people are consuming Chargers stories.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

On Twitter, an exasperated Jay Posner, editor of the sports page at the San Diego Union-Tribune, posted his basic philosophy: Stop reading what you don’t want to read.

“We will have [fewer] Chargers stories than in past. But we will have them and the reason we will have them is because people read them. Maybe you don’t. But other people do. If you don’t want to read, don’t,” he wrote.

That’s guiding many radio shows too.

“This is a business at the end of the day. We need those numbers to survive, so we’re going to cover what the audience is clearly showing us they want,” Smith said. “I was as surprised as anyone! When the Chargers left, I thought this would be a great opportunity for other sports to move in and take the forefront, but it hasn’t happened. Hasn’t even come close.”

It seems that perhaps instead of tweeting at or calling your local station to force change, you might want to tweet at your fellow fans who still wave the Spanos flag.

I asked Smith about the recent trend of Twitter users making public their intentions to quit listening to sports stations if the Chargers talk continues.

“It hurts. It really does. It hurts to see that, and have fans mention you their public declarations that they’re no longer going to listen,” Smith said.

The response from a lot of talk jocks on social media has been to encourage those wanting to quit listening to actually quit.

“I know why you’re upset and mad, but don’t rub my nose in it. That’s frustrating. I didn’t make the decision for the team to leave,” Smith said.

Another talk jock who seems to really enjoy interacting with fans on social media, whether it’s positive or negative, is Rich Ohrnberger, one half of “The Mark & Rich Show” on XTRASports 1360. “People on Twitter make these huge public posts about how they aren’t gonna listen anymore and then a week later – they do it again. It’s like, OK I get that you’re upset but what are you trying to gain with all this?”

Ohrnberger has been on 1360 for about a year. Before that, he was an offensive lineman in the NFL for more than five seasons – last playing for the San Diego Chargers in 2014.

“As a player and now as a radio personality the fans can turn on you in a heartbeat, and then turn right back. I’m used to it, so I don’t think about it much.” Ohrnberger said.

“It’s a fluid situation right now, how much we talk or don’t talk about the Chargers. One guarantee is that they’ll be a vocal faction who wants to hear it, and a vocal faction who doesn’t. We are actually trying to reach the people in the middle.” Orhnberger said.

It seems like the one thing every member of the media can agree on is that no one will be happy, no matter what you do.

Michael Glickenhaus, president and market manager for BCA Radio, which houses the Mighty 1090, agreed.

“People are very upset and angry, but then there are people who will be diehard Chargers fans for life. We still see a vast majority of people at our events wearing Chargers gear. We’ll keep monitoring it like we’ve been doing. We definitely cover less Chargers than before and have started to cover all Southern California teams,” he said.

Indeed, talk of the Rams, Lakers and Clippers has begun to creep into local broadcasts more and more.

“We don’t tell our on-air talent what to talk about,” Glickenhaus said. “We have regular staff meetings to present listener feedback, ratings and data info, and then have a meeting of the minds to determine what the listeners what. We don’t in anyway dictate topics to the shows.”

As radio and print media continue to switch up content and game plans at a breakneck pace in an effort to keep up with on-demand platforms that offer niche content, they feel a desperate need to gravitate toward what the masses ask for.

“We go in looking for relevant topics, that’s what dictates what we talk about,” Smith said.

“I look at it like we’re having a party” Ohrnberger said, “and we want everyone to come to the party and have fun.”

“You have a choice,” Glickenhaus said, “and we realize that. But we also need to have the biggest audience we can.”

    This article relates to: Sports

    Written by Dallas McLaughlin

    7 comments
    Bob Stein
    Bob Stein subscriber

    This was predictable, but worth reading, as there is so little coverage of the local media industry in the local media.A result, no doubt, of the smallness of the local media industry and the pressure that creates among industry workers to stay friends with everyone else in the industry, least they can’t find future work.

    It also foreshadows what to expect as marketing campaigns for soccer and a “big time, national” Aztec football program (or pipe dream) get rolling towards the November 2018 election.Clearly, the local media will be on the side of whatever real estate development will lead to more and more prominent sports teams doing business in San Diego.Sad, as someone famous likes to say.

    As for the Chargers and using what I saw on TV this past Sunday as a guide, our local media industry will continue to embrace team promotions and the ensuing revenue.(Chanel 8 broadcast the same game, or was it a commercial, twice!) And the Chargers will continue to have little to no clue how to market themselves to fans.“Fight for LA.”What does that mean, even to an Angeleno?

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    Well, after watching (on TV) the Chargers first effort, there's s familiar ring.  First, the stadium, which allegedly seats 27,000 or more, reported attendance a little over 21,000 for the initial extravaganza.  Second, same old Chargers.  They looked great for about one quarter, then folded as Seattle's reserves came to play and theirs didn't.


    Actually, I think the answer to the 48-17 drubbing is that The Seahawks have a lot more good players than the Chargers do.  Nothing new here either.  But, remember, Chargers' fans, that this is just a practice game.  The score means nothing, as I'm sure Chargers' management would have explained had the score been reversed, right?

    John Porter
    John Porter subscriber

    Charger fans are like an abused wife... They get slammed and demeaned, but keep coming back for more.  Enjoy...

    kkaponis
    kkaponis subscriber

    As a non NFL fan, including the Chargers, I understand the coverage that continues for the former team.  It's football season so naturally it's something needed for sports radio and local print to cover.  The radio station particularly needs football to keep their stations afloat.  Granted they over covered the Chargers for many years to the point of not being able to listen to.  I got tired of the daily analysis of the game played and the one coming up.  I get it.


    San Diegians follow the Lakers, maybe the Kings, as they are the closest market to us.  Now it's the Chargers being the closes pro NFL team to our city.  


    When the Chargers left it really didn't change the way I thought of them.  Actually I will miss them since on Sundays the streets, stores and city was quiet for a few hours.  Now what will we do? 

    Robert Cohen
    Robert Cohen subscriber

    For a lot of people, me included, the Chargers will be a tough habit to break.  Long time fans, whether they be die-hard or casual, are just used to having the Chargers being part of our fall and winter.  Whether attending games or watching on TV, football is the biggest sport in the country and San Diego is no different.  I know there are a lot of vocal folks who claim to have sworn off the Chargers or even pro football in general, but I really wonder, when the games begin to be played whether a majority of those folks will completely ignore the sport.  Rooting, or just watching, a new team seems unlikely because once you've invested so much time (and maybe money) in one team it becomes similar to a drug addiction.  Back in the 80's I moved to Washington D.C. for a few years and while I found myself watching a lot of Redskins (am I allowed to say that name?) games I still made sure that if the Chargers were being showed in the DC market, I would watch.  The only Redskin and Baltimore Colts games I ever went to involved the Chargers.


    The local media can't ignore the fact that the Chargers were the major player here.  While writers at the UT play a childish game of calling the team Judases or other pleasantries, they will still write about them.  Local media currently takes joy in describing the latest foible that the Chargers commit.  I guess that is to be expected.  Maybe they figure the public enjoys reading about the ineptness of the Spanos family even though everyone was on notice for quite a few years that relocation was a strong possibility, if not an inevitability.


    It is easy to hate and call other people names.  Kevin Acee of the UT likes to call Dean Spanos a traitor even though he has never laid out any facts as to why. Tom Krasovic uses a (*) when he spells out the Charger name.  I guess that is an improvement over "Chinos".  Scott Kaplan claims he's now a "hater", which is fine, but I really wonder if he isn't just playing a ratings game.  Darren Smith has expressed his displeasure about the Chargers and the Spanos family, but he at least shows some maturity on the subject. 


    My guess is that the intensity level of fandom is generational.  I think younger fans will "get over it" quicker than older fans like me. I'm not prepared to follow any other NFL team at this stage in my life.


    I attended the first Chargers game at Balboa Stadium and the last at Qualcomm.  I hesitate to count the hours spent watching their games on TV over the years.  Could my time be spent any more wisely? Probably. But they were "my team" and while I doubt I will attend any games in LA, I will continue to watch them.  It's sure a less dangerous habit than heroin, and we all need our guilty pleasures.  And the local media will also continue to follow them.  They know that most football fans in SD are addicted too.

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    As two of the lowest rated stations in the San Diego market, 1090 and 1360 need to keep talking about the Chargers.  1090 was singing the praises of Soccer City before, if for no other reason, to maybe get back a local pro team to broadcast, as they no longer have SDSU or the Padres.  1360 will carry the Chargers games, so that might give them a bump in ratings.  When you have a .6 rating in the market, they better hope lots of people listen to the Chargers.