An awful lot of people seem to be worried about David James' sleep patterns. Specifically, they're concerned that his dual careers as a morning sports-radio host and an evening TV sports anchor are leaving him sleep-deprived.
"I hear that from people all the time," James said. "People talk to me like I'm some kind of iron man, and I just have two sort of alleged jobs. I'm a sportscaster."If you drive a truck or a school bus, you've got to be awake and alert. I'm just kind of on the radio."
James, a longtime sports anchor and reporter at KUTV-Ch. 2, started doing double-duty in April as host of sports-talk radio KFNZ's 7-10 a.m. show. (He's partnered with Gordon Monson and Ron Boone.)
K-Fan was looking for a replacement for Kevin Graham, who accepted a job running an all-sports station in Columbus, Ohio. "When Kevin told me he was leaving, I was on the phone to D.J. in about six minutes," said David Locke, K-Fan host and director of operations. "We knew then that he may be better than anybody else on the radio. He may be the best single radio personality in the market.
"D.J. is natural, he's infectious, he's everybody's buddy. He has the natural ability to communicate via the airwaves, which is pretty amazing."
James does indeed hit exactly the right balance of entertainment and information, enthusiasm and skepticism. But whatever natural abilities he has have been honed through long experience - all the way back to his days at UC-Santa Barbara, where he worked at both the college radio station and a local commercial news-talk radio station.
Among his co-workers at both stations was Jim Rome, now the host of the nationally syndicated sports "Jungle" radio show. As a matter of fact, James did the radio play-by-play for UCSB football and basketball, and Rome was his color-commentary partner.
"Yeah, well, I also met my wife there so Jim's not the best friend I made in college radio," James said.
James went on to work at the local TV station in Santa Barbara - but he didn't give up his radio gig. He was doing a radio show weekdays from 5:30-9 a.m. and a late-night newscast from 11-11:30 p.m.
"It's actually a lot easier here," he said.
And James is having a great time doing the radio show. "If I didn't like it, I wouldn't be waking up in the morning to do it," he said. "It's a very different thing from doing TV sportscasts.
"The big difference is the time factor. In TV you have 21/2 or 3 minutes. In radio, you have a 3-hour show. You have a lot more time to say what you think. Of course, depending on how eloquent you are, that can be a good or bad thing."
And, unlike anchoring a TV sportscast, there's instant feedback on sports-talk radio.
"It's fun because it's kind of two-way," James said. "We do a little bit of that in the (KUTV Sports) Den, but not like we do on the radio."
And, to this point, there's no lack of feedback from listeners.
"Everybody has an opinion about everything - why their team is going to win, why they're going to lose. Everything," James said. "We occasionally get off on goofy tangents. Oddly, we tend to get a lot of calls when we do that.
"It's funny because the fans become a topic."
As happened one recent day when a caller was talking about how he squeezed in his grandfather's funeral between attending Jazz playoff games in Houston last year.
Or when James opined that Jazz fans were perhaps a little too obsessed with the team. "This guy calls up and says, `You're right. We are too obsessed. I got so caught up in it I was rude to my wife.' This guy calls up and volunteers this information."
He's not afraid to call 'em as he sees 'em, even if he's disagreeing with Monson or Boone. (Like when the Booner recently - and rather oddly - chastised NBC for showing replays clearly indicating Indiana's Jalen Rose was on the court and deserved suspension under the NBA's rules.)
But even when he's disagreeing with callers, James comes across as their quick-witted friend. Which may explain why so many people are so worried about how much sleep he's getting.
"People are very worried about my sleep patterns, but I wasn't sleeping anyway," James said. "I've got a 5-month-old at home."