The Sports Talker
Sportscaster Damon Bruce tells it like it is.
Photo by Carl Hungus
Few of the Bay Area’s many sports talk hosts lay it on the line like Damon Bruce, afternoon host of 95.7 The Game. With an in-your-face, take-no-prisoners style, Bruce is not afraid to mix it up with guests and callers or say something outrageous. Sometimes it even gets him into trouble, like in 2013 when his on-air tirade against female sportscasters earned him a brief suspension. Even recently getting married hasn’t slowed down Bruce. He’s still “telling it like it is” as Howard Cosell used to say. Maybe it’s that Schenectady, N.Y., upbringing? Bruce first landed in the Bay Area in the late 1990s after graduating from Indiana University with a broadcasting degree. He found work as a producer at KNBR 680 AM and soon was co-hosting a national overnight sports show. After stops at several sports networks as well as hosting shows in the Midwest, Bruce returned to KNBR to take over the station’s evening show in 2005. He then moved on to KNBR’s 1050 AM outlet for afternoon duties and a brief interruption from that show for an ill-fated pairing with the dean of Bay Area sportscasters, Gary Radnich. In 2014 Bruce jumped ship from “The Sport’s Leader” to lead crosstown FM rival The Game’s 3 to 7 p.m. show. That’s where I called him up recently. As Bruce might have said of our chat, echoing his sign-off quote from legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, the conversation didn’t build anybody’s character; it “revealed” it. Amen.
Paul Kilduff: Have the Warriors been coasting this season?
Damon Bruce: They were for a minute. Not anymore. That, I guess, is the silver lining of the cloud of the Durant injury. Whatever casual nature they thought that they could walk through the entire year with, they need to tighten things up now. I don’t blame them for approaching this season the way that they have. When all that is left for you is you’re a champion at the end of the year or the whole thing was a waste of time, it feels like a waste of time until you decide who the champion is. That’s kind of the world Warrior fans and the franchise now exist in. What I love so much about last year was that there’s absolutely no doubt that they’re trying to go 82-0. And they’re really pissed off about those nine losses. I loved 73-9 because they wanted to go 82-0 and they conducted business as such and they played like that every night. I don’t like the whole, “Yeah, we know we’re gonna lose X amount of games, and it’s really no big deal, and we’ll see you in the playoffs, everybody.” I just don’t like that. I understand it’s a long season. You’ve got to measure your energy and you can’t be going crazy. Not every game is an elimination game and should not be played as such, but there are definitely games that last year’s team’s attitude would have won this season. We’ll see where this all goes. If they win the NBA Championship in June, it’ll be as if all of these ceilings never existed, and I’m a moron for even suggesting something.
PK: I think there definitely is a consensus. I know I’ve felt this way—that if they’d let off the gas pedal a little bit last season during the regular season and not made such a big deal about trying to go undefeated, they would have been in better shape to win the championship.
DB: I don’t think that has anything to do with it.
DB: Did anyone look tired to you? We had Curry really hurting his knee in the Houston series—it never got right the rest of the way. Then you had Draymond Green suspended in game five. Then you had your starting center and best defender, other than Draymond Green, miss game six and seven due to injury. Suspension, injury, injury, and Steph wasn’t right the whole way explain the last three games of the year more than, “Ugh, you know they really worked hard one night in Minnesota back in November to get that win over the Timberwolves.”
PK: Is the future of sports talk radio going beyond sports?
DB: That’s the thing. Sports allows you to now discuss a lot of other things. Everything that’s happening in sports in one way is being reflected in the world, in the culture, in politics. People used to have a sports conversation, and they would put a fence around that conversation to make sure that nothing but sports got in. Now everything is getting into sports. To talk about sports but ignore the culture, the climate, the politics, is to do an incomplete show. That’s the way I feel about it. Now if you are politics, culture, entertainment, then sports on a sports station, you’re officially doing it wrong. As long as sports is the engine of the train, the dining car can be about movies. The caboose can be politics. The engine has to be sports. I don’t know anyone who only listens to one kind of music or eats only one kind of food.
PK: Have you become more liberal since you got married?
DB: I don’t know. Here’s the thing: I’ve always believed in fair, and I’ve always been a practical person. I would have been a great Goldwater conservative. If you look at a Goldwater conservative now, that’s a bleeding heart liberal. It’s amazing how we redefine these classifications every year. I can tell you that I have conservative thoughts. I certainly live a liberal lifestyle in a very liberal city. I look at a lot of it, shake my head, and go, “You guys are nuts.” But there’s a lot of it that I see and say even though I think that’s nuts, it’s the fair thing to do. We should treat people equally and fairly. I feel that fairness and equality seem to be a little bit more respected by the left than it is the right. If you ask me what way I lean, there’s no doubt. I lean left. It’s amazing how the single most common denominator amongst liberals these days is a college education and employment. That’s really it. If you are educated collegiately, and if you’re employed right now and doing well, there’s a very good chance you are a liberal. If you didn’t finish your education, if you are frustrated and unemployed . . . It’s odd. Did you ever read the book What’s the Matter With Kansas? It’s a fascinating book. There’s no single state in America that should vote Democrat more than Kansas, based on the farming subsidies that they need, and you can’t find a more red state than Kansas.
Damon Bruce’s Vital Stats
Birthplace: Chicago; raised in New York
Book on Nightstand: Nightstand on wife’s side of the bed. So, whatever she’s reading.
Motto: “What I lack in tact, I make up for in bravado.”
Favorite curse word: The Granddaddy of them all.
This report appears in the May edition of our sister publication, The East Bay Monthly.
Published online on May 4, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.