By Jeff Moss
January 7, 2017
(This article was originally written for the Metro Times. I guess they didn’t want to double their average daily web hits of their most read article …. Horoscopes. So I have resurrected the DSR for the time being to post this for you. Hopefully when you click this you won’t be led to Japanese anime porn as the site was hacked over the last couple of months. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was informed of this Podesta’ing by my mother. Anyway, here ya go ….)
Five hundred ninety six thousand, one hundred sixty minutes. Five hundred ninety six thousand, one hundred sixty minutes. No, this is not a sequel to the musical Rent written on spec, but the amount of time that has passed since 97.1FM radio host Mike Valenti last sent out a Tweet.
The loudmouth sports talker has curiously refrained from utilizing the social media platform since November 20, 2015 even though he allegedly has an audience of over 88,000 followers on the preferred social media platform of journalists and talk show hosts.
(A quick audit of Valenti’s Twitter handle indicates that over half of his followers are actually porn bot relatives of Clementine from Westworld, but a Twitter audience of over 43,000 is still nothing to sneeze at when attempting to push your product.)
So the obvious question is why someone in broadcasting with that sort of social media audience would eschew an easy avenue to promote their radio program to the masses while ignoring an accessible way to interact with their fan base.
I have been racking my brain for weeks trying to think of another under media personality under 40 who absolutely refuses to utilize Twitter to further their brand. I haven’t come up with one solitary name.
Of course, his social media disappearance isn’t exactly a mystery to anyone who has been paying attention to Valenti’s 13-year career in Detroit. It’s the same reason why he refuses to attend Lions, Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings press conferences. The same reason why Valenti is most comfortable sitting at a console behind a microphone in a cocoon with the protection of a call screener, 16-second delay and a dump button while co-hosting with a tomato can of a broadcast partner.
The reason 13 months have passed since Valenti utilized Twitter is because he is a studio gangsta. A big mouth radio star who can’t handle criticism or debate of any sort and, unlike his radio program where he has three layers of protection from dissent, the Michigan State grad has no such shelter from the unwashed masses on social media.
So, in an almost unprecedented move for someone in his profession and generation, Valenti bolted Twitter for his own personal safe space inside the CBS Radio compound. A place from where he seldom if ever strays.
Even if you are inclined to believe that Twitter is a twisted cesspool filled with Mos Eisley-esque cretins, how can you explain Valenti’s absolutely cowardly refusal to attend major press conferences in an effort to get answers from the local teams for Detroit sports fans?
You can make the argument that Valenti is the most powerful sports media personality in town based on his number one rated afternoon drive program, yet where was he when Tigers General Manager Al Avila was informing the local media that the team would be slashing payroll while the Ilitch family – worth an estimated 4.5 billion dollars – were in the middle of accepting $284.5 million dollars in public investment for their new Little Caesars Arena project?
Where was Valenti to question whose decision it was for the Tigers to become more fiscally conservative? Where was the phony who acts like he speaks truth to power in his cozy studio swivel chair to question if this decision was being made by the gravely ill Mike Ilitch or by his Stepford son, Chris?
Valenti is fully aware that his media brethren in this town are soft and weak and basically P.R. appendages of the franchises themselves – something he regularly rails about on his weekday show – so where was he when Tom Gores and Chris Ilitch jointly announced that the Pistons would be moving from Auburn Hills to Olympia Entertainment’s new, posh Downtown home?
While many of his cohorts might be terrified to ask the Pistons owner why he is requesting $34.5 million in captured taxes to move the Pistons 45 minutes away when Gores just purchased a $100 million, 30,000-square foot mansion in Los Angeles which features ten bedrooms and 20 bathrooms, hasn’t Valenti built up enough equity in this town to pose such a query?
(Not for nothing, do you know how many “Two Men and a Truck” movers you can afford with nearly 35 million clams just to transition from Oakland to Wayne county???)
But the coward is never around for these pressers. The one time Valenti actually showed up to “confront” local team management in person, he humiliated himself in the aftermath. A few years back Valenti was extremely critical of then Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
Valenti would constantly rant and rave on the air about Leyland’s penchant for playing bums like Don Kelly and Ryan Raburn, giving his stars too much rest, and compounding the team’s bullpen issues.
Then one day Valenti was granted an audience with Leyland in the manager’s office and, based on Valenti’s radio synopsis of the conference, you would have thought Leyland either hypnotized his critic or the Marlboro fumes went straight to Valenti’s brain.
The telephone tough guy went from vociferous critic to Leyland’s enabler. Valenti wouldn’t divulge much of what occurred inside the bowels of Comerica Park, but he kept reciting the the following mantra …..
“Trust me, Jim gets it.”
It was an embarrassing and emasculating display by Valenti and one could only compare it to Keith Olbermann having coffee at a Starbucks with alt-right advisor Steve Bannon and then returning to his GQ.com studio to assure his terrified audience that everything is going to be just fine during the next four years of Donald’s Trump’s presidency.
So maybe it’s a good thing the studio gangsta doesn’t show up for these pressers after all. The weakling might do more harm than good anyway.
Ironically, from day one of his Detroit radio existence, Valenti has made sure his WXYT experience has been as insulated as possible. He basically handpicked Terry Foster as his first radio partner because Valenti knew Foster was a clownish buffoon who didn’t take the work seriously and who couldn’t challenge him on any sort of intellectual level.
And even when Valenti would get extremely frustrated with Foster’s lack of show preparedness and overall laziness towards their radio gig – which on occasion has led to screaming matches inside the CBS Radio headquarters – Valenti never attempted to maneuver behind the scenes to get Foster replaced.
Why? Because Valenti always desired a stooge for a partner. He wanted his own personal Alan Colmes to his Sean Hannity. And it’s not like Valenti has been averse to pulling strings behind the scenes to move pieces around the 97.1 chessboard. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, just ask his former co-worker and morning drive host Bill McAllister.
(Good luck, you have a better chance of uncovering Jimmy Hoffa. Or Scott Anderson locating the clitoris.)
And while Foster convalesced from a stroke he suffered in August that knocked him off the airwaves, Mikey V. was teamed with another useful idiot who poses no threat to Valenti in the dopey Jeff Riger.
Valenti has gone from one punching bag to the next. At this point the “Italian Scallion” seems to be aping Rocky Balboa’s strategy at the beginning of Rocky III by mixing it up with a bunch of stiffs while avoiding Clubber Lang.
Earlier this year Valenti’s contract at 97.1 was expiring and his CBS Radio superiors approached him about leaving the Detroit market for a sister-station in Philadelphia which would have been a much more lucrative opportunity for Valenti.
Philadelphia is the fourth largest media market in the country while Detroit has slipped to thirteenth. Valenti would have made exponentially more money in the city of Brotherly Love while being eased into that market.
Of course, Valenti said no to this career advancement and instead re-upped in Detroit and this decision goes way beyond his preference for being a big fish in a small pond. While Valenti might be a blowhard coward, he isn’t stupid.
The M.S.U. loyalist has built his career on trolling U of M diehards (both alumni and the easily baited Walmart Wolverines) while placating his fellow Spartans. That’s the shtick which has gotten him his current status and that definitely was not going to play in Philly.
Eagles and Phillies fans couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the collegiate civil war occurring in our backyard. Without that crutch to fall back on he would have been totally lost.
I can only imagine how Philadelphia fans – who have yet to enjoy a Super Bowl championship — would have welcomed an upstate New Yorker who whines about his Giants by bashing both a quarterback in Eli Manning who possesses two rings and Odell Beckham, Jr.
Valenti would have ended up back in Detroit faster than you could say Bill Bonds or Bernie Smilovitz.
And I am sure this article will be met with scorn from many of Valenti’s loyal Sparty enablers. They will accuse me of being jealous of Valenti. And to be quite honest, I am envious of the bully pulpit that Valenti possesses and yet fails to properly exploit.
Because while Valenti refuses to show up and ask Jim Caldwell or Brad Ausmus questions, I am forced to sneak into these pressers to pose the tough inquiries or lie about losing my press pass for the Detroit Jewish News at a Yom Kippur dinner.
And I have always found the envy angle to be quite off since it was Valenti who once contacted me about writing for MY website, ripped off several of my takes with all of the grace of Carlos Mencia, and became a thoroughbred horse racing enthusiast years after I had written about the Sport of Kings ad nauseam.
Hell, he even married a girl named Melissa with blonde hair and blue eyes AFTER I married a girl named Melissa with blonde hair and blue eyes. If anyone should be picking up loose nail clippings and bagging and disposing of them in fear of DNA theft it’s me, not Valenti.
So let @MSUFan1978 and @SpartyDan69 rag on me for writing the truth about Mike Valenti. I don’t mind.
At least they have the testicular fortitude to get in the ring on Twitter and not hide behind a microphone.
This is the point on my old website where I’d end this post with a salacious quote line from an Eazy-E song about studio gangstas to drop the hammer on this particular article. But I have turned over a new leaf and will not be resorting to those type of shenanigans.
Now you will have to excuse me while I peruse this website for advice from Dan Savage on proper oral sex protocol during a soft-swap swinger session.