The Chicago White Sox and Bulls owner took the chance to rib Smulyan Saturday at a 25th anniversary celebration for sports talk radio in Chicago. Smulyan received the lifetime achievement award for founding the first sports talk station, WFAN in New York, in 1987.
Reinsdorf appeared in a highly entertaining video. Keep in mind that this event also was billed as a roast. So Reinsdorf’s needle definitely was out. Then again, if you know Reinsdorf, his jokes probably aren’t too far from his true feelings.
Reinsdorf: Congratulations on receiving the award tonight. There’s nothing in the world that could have made me show up for a dinner or anywhere else. You certainly have the undying, lasting envy of every sports owner and athlete in sports as the guy who created sports radio. Before you came along, the only thing we had to deal with was the idiots in the newspapers. Now you’ve managed to give a microphone to every moron in the world.
But we all do things and you’ve become a very rich man. I doubt you’ll ever be able to get back into sports should you desire to buy a baseball team, because I have good friends.
I do have to give you credit for one thing. Over the years, you’ve asked me for my advice on many, many occasions. I’ve often given it to you, and you’ve never followed it. Yet you’ve been successful. Maybe you are smarter than I thought. Maybe I’m the moron and not the guys you put on the radio.
Earlier, Smulyan, who owned the Seattle Mariners, in the early 90s, told one of his favorite stories. With the situation often proving grim at the Kingdome, the sports talkers took out their rage on the man in charge, Smulyan.
His fellow owners took noticed. They too often found themselves being grilled 24/7 on the new sports talk format.
Smulyan recalled an owner telling him, “I’ve always wondered if there’s a God. Now knowing the guy who invented this format is getting annihilated, I know there’s a God.”
After hearing Reinsdorf’s video, I’m fairly sure he was that owner.
Seriously, Smulyan, the CEO of Emmis Communications, was honored to win the award.
“It’s been a fun time,” Smulyan said. “I’m very proud what FAN has done. I’m very proud of what this format has done. The fact that has meant so much to so many people and made their lives brighter because of things you all do, I want to accept this award (on your behalf).”
It was a great evening. The big winners were the event organizers Bob and Michelle Snyder and the evening’s beneficiary, Parent Heart Watch, a program designed to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in children.
The Snyder’s daughter, Jenny, died from sudden cardiac arrest in 2008. Her parents spoke and presented a moving video to show how Parent Heart Watch is saving lives due to increased awareness.
Well done, Bob and Michelle.