I am on thin ice here. I am from the creative side of the business, so when I start talking media, I like to be armed with facts, stats, and ironclad targeted demographic CPM recommendations. I am also not a basketball guy, except for being of a fan of Dr J and the Iverson 2001 team. I enjoy great plays and exceptional gritty performances, but basketball falls behind baseball, football, and hockey on the list of sports I follow. (Although what Doug Collins is doing with the current Sixers team is starting to revive my interest again locally.)
I digress. The reason for this week’s post is to encourage media buyers looking to reach Philadelphians, especially men of a certain age (nationally, you can just purchase TV spots on the TNT series of the same name), to seriously consider a radio buy on 610-WIP am, Sunday mornings from 8 to 10 am. I know, I know, that sounds like the absolute worst time to reach anyone, especially men, via any medium, including radio. Guys are either off to church with their wives and family. Or sleeping off whatever they were doing on Saturday night.
Given those parameters, I can appreciate why you might be unfamiliar with Sonny Hill and his call-in program, “The Living Room.” Also, even after an over 20 year relationship with WIP, Hill is hard to find on the station’s own web site. But you owe it to yourself to set your alarm to tune in if you love sports, especially but not exclusively basketball, and you want to recreate the emotional experience you have every time “Field Of Dreams” comes on. Sonny has an amazing way of connecting with every caller, finding common ground, and sharing a love of sports, everyday life, and humanity. He also has an encyclopedic knowledge of what seems like every athlete who has ever played the game of basketball, but other sports as well. He knows their names, their nicknames, their stats, what made each one of them special, what their big games were, and what they’re doing now. Take Pogo Johnson who played center for LaSalle on the 1952 NIT championship team — actually, I just made Pogo up, but Sonny has the entire history of the game top of mind and at the tip of his tongue, so he can settle bets, educate callers, and inspire listeners. Chances are, he knows the player personally and has helped him at some point in his career.
There are quite a few bios on the web for Sonny, like here, here, and here. So, I won’t give you another one. I will just say that he made his mark as a basketball player. He made his mark as a basketball commentator. But he mostly made his mark as a role model for young people, forming his own summer basketball league to give youth in the inner city a life choice and alternative to gangs and violence. There is no way to underestimate Sonny’s influence, most recently evidenced by this Inquirer story about Boo Williams and his own league and impact in the Hampton Roads, VA region. Sonny’s name is peppered throughout the story. No one better demonstrates how good works are exponential than Sonny.
I have to admit that my own record of tuning in to “The Living Room” is spotty at best. But every time I do, I am riveted and rewarded. The man just exudes decency and a passion for both athletic excellence and encouraging young people to do the right thing. Not sure how long Sonny Hill intends to keep up his broadcast gig, but advertisers would do themselves and the community a favor by supporting his show. In this case, it isn’t about the numbers, but about the potential for making a difference.