Watching the Pistons beat the Orlando Magic last night, it got me thinking about the Magic’s Grant Hill and his years in Detroit…
The Pistons drafted Hill in ’94 after he spent four very successful years at Duke, where his team won back-to-back NCAA championships. He won the NBA Rookie of the Year award and was a perennial All-Star.
Hill played hard and played well for the Pistons, and he did his best to reach out to the community, yet was never embraced by Detroit fans. I think the reason was his “vibe.” From an article on Duke basketball by Carron Phillips:
Hill has always been the poster child for the upper middle class Black Man with playground basketball skills and a Brooks Brothers wardrobe. Grant Hill was the prototypical Duke BLACK scholar athlete. He came from a wealthy home where his father was an ex NFL football star and his mother was involved in politics. Hill even played the piano and was fluent in different languages, he was Duke University. Smart, handsome, intelligent, athletically talented, well liked, and the child of the AMERICAN DREAM.
Sounds good? Yes. Sounds like Detroit? No.
Detroit is a gritty, hard-working, underdog town with a chip on its shoulder. Detroit embraced players like Ben Wallace (ironically, who the Pistons got in a sign-and-trade for Hill). Wallace played for a junior college, was undrafted, and had to play in Italy before working his way up to the NBA through sheer determination and hard work. Before Wallace, Detroit embraced Isiah Thomas — the 6’1″ kid who escaped from the bleakest Chicago ghetto neighborhood through talent and an indomitable will.
Every market has its own “vibe.” Thomas and Wallace (among others) resonated with the vibe of their market and were beloved. Grant Hill — great player and great person that he is — didn’t.
So this got me thinking…What Detroit radio stations resonate with the essence of the city? Maybe WRIF? Maybe WJLB? I’m not certain any do.
What is the essence of your market? Does your station resonate? Or does it just deliver programming that some listeners want?