A tryout for Mychal Thompson
A familiar voice will soon return to the Portland air waves, at least on a temporary basis.
KXTG (95.5 FM 'The Game'), seeking a host for its 10 a.m.-to- noon slot, will bring on Mychal Thompson for a few days, either next week or the week after.
Program director Brian Jennings had originally planned to use Thompson all next week, but the former Trail Blazer - who has worked as radio analyst for the Los Angeles Lakers the past eight years - has a conflict on Monday and Tuesday.
'And I have tentative plans now (for hosts) Wednesday through
Friday, but I may be able to shift things around to put him on,' Jennings says. 'I'll do what I can to allow him to sit in.'
In addition to his color work on Lakers broadcasts, Thompson, 52, had been co-hosting an ESPN radio show in L.A. with Andrew Siciliano until December, 'when new management came in and decided to cut us,' Thompson says. He has not hosted a talk show since then.
Thompson moved to his home in Madera Ranch, Calif., in 2003 from Lake Oswego, where he, wife Julie and their three sons had lived for more than a decade after his retirement as a player in 1991.
Mychal began in radio at KFXX (1080 AM 'The Fan') in 1992.
'I started the day of the L.A. riots,' he says. 'I'll never forget that.'
Thompson hosted a daily show at 'The Fan' until 2000, when he moved over to KEX (1190 AM) for three years. All the while, Thompson was hoping for a job offer to work Blazer broadcasts, which never came. The Lakers' offer was one he couldn't refuse.
L.A. has been good to Thompson and his family, but his heart has remained with the City of Roses.
'I love Portland,' he says. 'I always tell Julie, Portland's my favorite city.'
Thompson will do his shows for 'The Game' with co-host Dave Smith, a Los Angeles broadcaster 'who has Portland connections and knows the market well,' Jennings says. They'll conduct their shows from a studio in L.A.
'Hopefully, it will turn into something permanent,' Thompson says. 'We're freelancing, looking to get on somebody's station.
'It's like having Kobe (Bryant) and Dwyane (Wade) as free agents. Somebody has to be smart enough to sign us.'
Two weeks ago, Jennings dumped the nationally syndicated 'Jim Rome Show.' Chad Doing's 'Morning Sports Page' was extended an hour, from 6-10 a.m., and several temporary hosts have filled the 10 a.m. to noon slot.
'Ratings and revenue,' Jennings explains. 'Rome had great ratings in the 18-34 age group, but got beat by the competition in the other demos.
'Ratings aside, we can open up revenue streams that were not available to us (from the Rome show) with a local show. That's the big issue. We can control our own destiny better.'
Having Thompson and Smith host the show from L.A. is not an option, Jennings says.
'I want somebody with their boots on the ground here in Portland,' Jennings says. 'I love Mychal. Know him personally - he's one of the best guys around. But I want somebody here.'
Would Thompson be willing to move back to Portland should a job offer come from 'The Game'?
'You never know,' he says. 'It all depends. We'll see how it goes.'
Jennings says there is no timetable for naming a permanent host for the morning slot.
'I don't have a deadline,' he says. 'We'll sense when something feels good. And when it feels good, done deal.'
As he demonstrated during his years working the microphone in Portland, Thompson is funny, irreverent, clever and opinionated - very opinionated. When he started at 'The Fan,' he was surprisingly unknowledgable in a lot of areas. By the end of his run here, though, his shows were enlightening as much as entertaining.
When I asked Thompson how he was doing, he answered, 'Kinda bored. I'm used to working this time of year.'
The reference was to the Lakers' ouster via sweep by Dallas in the second round of the playoffs. Did that surprise him?
'I'm still in a state of shock,' he says. 'I mean, I was catatonic. l couldn't hardly call the games watching that.'
'We lost our rhythm,' he says. 'Everybody seemed out of sync, both defensively and offensively, and we couldn't seem to regain it. It was a shock to see that from a veteran team. It's not like Dallas is a defensive juggernaut. The Lakers lost their shooting touch and their confidence.'
Should General Manager Mitch Kupchak, as Magic Johnson suggested on TNT, 'blow the team up'?
'I don't think so,' Thompson says. 'The players are still young enough to compete and win. Yeah, Kobe has a lot of mileage. But Pau (Gasol) is coming into his prime, Lamar (Odom) is 30 and (Andrew) Bynum's a pup at 24.
'They have to come back refocused with energy and commitment, and they'll be right back in thick of it next year.'
Thompson says the Laker coaching vacancy will be filled by one of three names - Brian Shaw, Rick Adelman or Mike Dunleavy.
'Three excellent candidates,' Thompson says. 'Brian is probably the leading one because of his history wtih the Lakers, but Adelman and Dunleavy are serious candidates.'
Thompson says the Blazers are 'in great shape' for a strong run the next few seasons.
'They have plenty of young talent,' he says. 'LaMarcus (Aldridge) is a legit all-star. Hopefully Greg (Oden) will be back and stay healthy.
At 80 percent, Brandon Roy is still one of the better players in the league. The future looks great.'
The Thompson offspring are all doing their thing athletically.
Klay Thompson, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection as a junior at Washington State, is projected as a lottery pick in the NBA's June draft.
'He's ready,' Thompson says of his youngest son. 'He knows he's going to be a first-round pick.'
Mychel Thompson, who just completed his senior year at Pepperdine, 'had a workout at New Jersey, and he's going to work out for five or six other teams,' his father says. 'Hopefully, the Blazers will be one of them.'
Trayce Thompson is a center fielder playing for Single-A Kannapolis, N.C., of the South Atlantic League. 'He's leading his team in home runs,' Mychal says. 'He's like a righthanded Ken Griffey Jr.'
It's a good time for Mychal and Julie Thompson to make a life change. Portland would qualify as that.
'If I came back,' he says, 'I'd like to work in the Blazers' front office. That's my ultimate goal, to help (General Manager) Rich Cho put together a team. That's my dream.'
Does Thompson know Cho?
'Just talking to him casually,' Thompson says. 'We've never played golf.'
When I suggest that Cho is more suited for the tennis court, Thompson laughs.
'I'm better at tennis than golf, anyway,' he says. 'He'll be (Rafael) Nadal. I'll be (Novak) Djokovic.'
I ask Thompson what he plans for his shows on 'The Game.'
'I want to have a lot of arguments with the listeners,' he says. 'I love the back and forth. That's what makes a show fun. I love to hear people call in and have different opinions than the host.'
One subject, he suggests in jest, might be off limits.
'No Laker stuff,' he says. 'You kidding me? They'd run me off the show.'
Ah, bring it on, Mychal. Many Portlanders love to talk about the hated Lakers almost as much as the Blazers.
I'll be listening. And I hope he passes his audition. It'd be great to have the big fella back in town.