Culture / Sporting Life

Houston Sports Radio Hosts Fight on Radio Row — and Only Josh Innes is Super Bowl Banned

Did Seth Payne Really Win the Hilariously Bizarre Incident That’s Stealing National Headlines?

BY // 01.31.18

Last year, Houston hosted the Super Bowl to almost universal acclaim. This year, two Houston sports radio hosts got into a fight on Radio Row at the Super Bowl — and America laughed.

Sounds about right.

Josh Innes and Seth Payne’s hilarious on-air shouting match — and if you don’t think this was funny you take sports radio way too seriously — in the middle of The Mall of America (imagine if you’re a tourist from Finland who stumbled upon this scene) may just be the most entertaining thing to take place in Minnesota before the game finally kicks off Sunday evening. It’s brought Houston the kind of national attention that usually only J.J. Watt can stir up. (USA Today, a horde of national websites and nearly every New York and Boston area newspaper has written about it — and TV stations can’t get enough.)

790 AM provocateur Innes and 610 AM’s jock-turned-host Payne are competing morning sports talk show hosts — and it’s really no surprise that they collided in Minneapolis. Innes, who at his best has a little bit of Howard Stern in him, was always going to do what he could to make sure it happened. Really, the only surprise is that the usually level-headed Payne is the one who did most of the yelling.

“You tell Josh Innes that when I see him that I want that little (blank) to make eye contact,” Payne called out on-air. “Instead of hiding behind his microphone and acting like he’s a big man…. Make eye contact with me — instead of cowering behind a table like a little (blank). You hear that Josh?”

At that point, Innes went over to Payne — and it got heated enough that legendary Houston Chronicle NFL reporter (and 610 AM guest) John McClain eventually walked off the set — after sitting there uncomfortably and clearly purposefully not looking at either of the screaming hosts standing right above him. (McClain’s inadvertent cameo in the now infamous videos of the incident may be the best part of the whole thing — give that man an Oscar!)


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Later, McLain weighed in on Twitter:

McClain covered the Houston Oilers of Jerry Glanville — and Buddy Ryan punching a fellow assistant coach on the sidelines — and that’s the most unprofessional thing? Everyone gets caught up in the hype of Super Bowl week.

Check out this video of the screaming match — one of the many filmed by the hosts of radio stations around the country who observed (and no doubt loved) this bit of Houston madness:

Innes can be an idiot (and worse) when he attempts to talk about race or social issues on the air, but his Radio Row Super Bowl week antics are funny. Radio Row has evolved into such a soulless, trite parade of celebrity product endorser interviews that anything that shakes it up a little is good. Sports radio stations pour tons of money into making sure they have a major presence at the Super Bowl every year — and they almost all end up with the same uninspired interviews that every other station has.

Super Bowl week is often the worst sports radio content week of the year. Innes is smart enough to break from that. In the world of cookie-cutter sports media that makes him a rebel.

Sorry, but it’s funny that Innes sends his producer/on-air sidekick Jim Mudd over to the table where 610 AM is doing its show. Innes knows that it’s going to provoke a reaction. Payne gives him one — and then some.

“You’re a fraud, you’re a joke,” Payne shouts in Innes’ face while he’s live on the air. “You bounce around — the Philly people here know you’re a joke, the Houston people… You have like one employer left who you can work for.”

Innes doesn’t have to say much at this point — Payne’s already created the scene (and radio gold). The bizarre thing about the incident is that Payne is one of the few 610 AM hosts who doesn’t take himself too seriously (Paul Gallant would be the other). A former Texans defensive lineman, Payne is entertaining on the air — and a sharp contrast to the usual holier-than-thou attitude prevalent at 610.

This is the rare pro athlete turned media voice who doesn’t seem caught up in the past — and reminding everyone of his glory days. Payne’s often funny and self deprecating. He even lifts his on-air partner Mike Meltser, whose subdued, deadpan, always down-the-middle act can grow tiresome, up sometimes. Payne can make Meltser seem more human. He’s a real radio talent.

Seth Payne’s Better Than This?

If Innes had poked Sean Pendergast or Ted Johnson, it’d be much easier to pick sides. If Innes had done this to 610 AM’s Rich Lord, the entire city of Houston might have been in his corner. It is Innes’ misfortunate that his main morning sports radio competitor is such a decent, talented guy.

In fact, Innes and Payne would likely make an unbelievable radio duo if they ever teamed up at the same station (obviously never happening now —  though it is radio where you truly never know).

It would be sad if Payne ends up coming across looking anything like a bully in all this national attention because that’s the exact opposite of how he usually comes across on the air. Innes? He is shown as he is — always provoking, always doing his best, always trying something (which is more than you can say about many sports radio hosts in a field filled with guys who mail it in day after day after day).

It seems like a typical NFL overreaction that Innes apparently got kicked off Radio Row for this one incident. (Though to be fair when Innes tweets that he’s been kicked out, you never really know if it’s true or just another entertaining stunt).

Oh well… All’s well that ends hilariously?

Both Innes and Payne should both remind themselves that they’re the lucky ones. They could be on one of those Houston sports radio stations that no one ever talks about.

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