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Whew… It’s Finally Over, But Well Worth It!

By Mark 'Elf' Elfenbein, CBSDFW.COM
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Take a deep breath, another deep breath, and one more deep breath. Now, lean back in your chair and put your feet up. Good. Get yourself something ice cold to drink and maybe a few things to nibble and nosh on. Are we all comfortable? Cool! Guess what? After a 3 ½ month search for a new partner on Elf w/Friends, I’m finally “RIGHT THERE” with ya. It’s simply DELICIOUS!

When I heard that my radio partner Josh Lewin was leaving to take the play by play job with the NY Mets, I was not surprised at all. We all knew from day one at the station that Lewin’s first love was baseball PBP and he was going to get another gig. It was just a matter of time. For Josh, what a sweet call that was to get. Come on, it’s New York! The Big Apple! Okay, it’s the freaking Mets and who gives a crap. However, a wonderful opportunity that could not be passed up and was thrilled for Josh to get such a great gig. Kudos to you Josh and maybe someday Notorious J.E.W. will stop by or send us a rap about you and your new gig with the NY Mets.

When I realized it was a done deal that Josh was definitely leaving for the Mets, I knew it was time to find myself a new partner on the show. At least I thought that for a few minutes. It did cross my mind I could be going back to what I did for several years at the Ticket. Going solo radio for Elf was normal for me. Could I do it? Would I do it? Of course I would and I could. However, after chatting with Chief Knock-a-Homa Bruce Gilbert at CBS, we realized it would be better for me and the station to bring someone else in as a partner. I simply smiled and said “Hell yea” I’ll take a partner. Let’s have some fun with this search for a new radio co-host. And the games began.

It was quite humbling to see how many different folks were interested in the job. There were so many  familiar names locally, several familiar nationally, and some I’ve never heard of in my life. The stack of resumes and sound checks on Bruce’s desk was crazy high and deep. Let’s just say in the hundreds to be kind. That was the challenging part of the search. In this crazy competitive world of looking for a TV or Radio gig, if you’re currently with one company and you’re looking at another, you’re limited to what you can do. Credit the boss for going through dozens upon dozens of resumes and audio. He weeded through a few here and there and finally we were ready to start the process. Meet them in the conference room, go over the plan with my producer Roy White and technical director DJ and set up the show for the day.

It was impossible to give everyone an in studio tryout and quite honestly very difficult to meet and greet everyone interested. We tried our very best but we had to get rolling. As many of you can imagine, regardless of what you do for a living, if you work with a partner or cohort, chemistry is so critical to job performance and how you feel at your job. How do I create chemistry with someone I’ve never met or never worked with in a one chance get together? Great question and I had no idea of the answer. I figured its radio, it’s what I know and what I do. How hard could it be?

Haha! Boy, was I a schmuck or what? Because of the circumstances I laid out earlier and the time frame we were working with, there were times when I would meet someone for the first time ever two hours before the show. Elf, this is so and so. Oh, hey how are you? Let’s go! Of course there were several times when I was tickled to see an old friend who was in for a shot at the gig. Again, humbled and honored by those that wanted to join me on the show. What I didn’t plan on was the many personalities I had to mesh with. It was all about the mesh. Okay, not really the mesh but I felt I was on a roll typing and couldn’t stop and mesh felt good at the moment. I’m sorry. I dealt with soft spoken peeps and I dealt with the yellers of the world. I had the experience of working with radio veterans and TV peeps as well. I had some that knew the game very well and brought their “A” game. I had some that thought they knew the game very well and had NO game whatsoever.

I look at Sportstalk radio as verbal ping pong. Since I’ve worked solo for so many years, I learned quickly how to play verbal ping pong by myself. It wasn’t by choice, it’s just how it was. I had several good experiences with those that made their way into the CBS studios for an on air tryout. I’d serve the ping pong ball and they would hit it back. Hmm…that was cool. Let’s try that again. I’d serve up some Mavericks talk and they would hit it back. Serve up some Dallas Cowboys talk and they would hit it back.  Damn, this is going to be a breeze. HAHA, who am I kidding? Believe me, there were times when I would serve the ball and the person on the other side would just watch it go by. Huh? I serve it underhand then. And they would watch it go by again. Okay…now what? I’ve got 9 ½ minutes of this segment to do and they don’t want to play or don’t know how. Thrilling! Nothing more exciting than getting the deer in headlights look one minute into a segment. Hey, it happens. You just got to move on and that’s exactly what we did.

We did shows in studio and did some on the road. We tried everyone everywhere we could. We had great moments of fun and laughter with so many people who came in for a shot.  I’d like to be able to thank all those who were able to try out for the Co-host gig but there is no way in HELL I can remember. Thank you! Imagine working with a different person every day or every other day for about 3 months. Not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to do. But I’d like to again credit my crew and all my cohorts at 105.3 The Fan for their support through the whole thing. As we worked our way down to who’s going to be Elf’s new co-host, the meetings got more intense and we really looked at every possibility and then some.

Though some wondered how in the hell did I do this for the past several months I answer you this way. I have no FREAKING CLUE! However, it was a tremendous learning experience and will only help me in the future. After we had one final lengthy meeting about a week or so ago, we discussed and digested all the pros and cons of those in the running for the seat next to me. Maybe pros and cons is not the best way to phrase it. We wanted to choose the person who meshed well with me and who will bring it on a daily basis. All those involved had some of that on their plate. I was cool with that. But when we examined even deeper and turned the room upside down for the answer, it was staring right at us.

I’m thrilled to announce Jane Slater as my new Co-Host beginning June 4th. Let the ELF & SLATER era begin! Welcome aboard Slater! Let’s do what we do best. Talk sports, entertain, have fun, involve the FAN FANS and get out and about the DFW area to introduce what we will do on a daily basis from 10am-2pm. Thanks for your patience…I guarantee you this, you will not be disappointed with what’s coming! It will simply be “DELICIOUS”.

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