By Mitch Juricich
Back in the early '80's I was involved with a general sports show that featured Jan Hutchins doing interviews of guests by using a studio audience, a la Phil Donohue. I was there as a "draftnik" to ask questions of the expert guest about the 1982 draft. Hutchins quickly realized, as most people do, that you can’t shut me up! He asked me to come back the next week.
After analyzing how teams faired in the draft on that subsequent show, Hutchins asked me to come back every week and be a "regular." To give you the Readers Digest version, one thing led to another and the show morphed into The Forty-Niner Report and lasted 9 years, the last two, of which, I worked my way up to co-host, which basically meant my pay stayed the same, while my work load doubled.
The toughest part of being the co-host on the show was that I had to put the "fan" in me into hibernation since I was covering the home games and that necessitated being at least somewhat objective. It was during this process of the show that I first met Jerry Walker, now one of the panelists on our show.
Jerry was the Public Relations Director of the Niners and he ran a pretty tight ship with the media. He was always fair to me (except for one time, but you’ll have to watch the show to find out about that...someday), but he did have to keep his distance. Now, we are close friends and even have a business relationship.
During the course of doing that show I was able to befriend a myriad of co-hosts, guests and journalists who were involved at one time or another. Folks like; Ralph Barbieri, Mike Shumann, Sam Skinner, Bill Ring, Dwight Hicks, Ray Wersching, John Lambert, Lowell Cohn, Ira Miller and Art Spander, to name a few.
The experience was wonderful, yet it ended one day in 1991. For some time I had thoughts of resurrecting the show, but for a variety of reasons, it just didn’t work out. Several years ago, enter Bob Marks.
Marks had me as a guest on his PenTV show, The Game, several times to talk about golf. After one such appearance I approached him about an idea I had for a low budget, weekly show, about my beloved Niners, without highlights, bells and whistles. The thought was to have four panelists who love the Niners and just wanted to talk about them each week. He was extremely interested.
After selling the idea to both Walker and Marks, it was now time to focus on someone who not only loved the Niners, but could help with the business aspect of such an undertaking. Business always gets in the way, doesn’t it? That description had Mark Naismith written all over it. Mark is a high school buddy, an MBA, a Niner fan, and as goofy as they come. Perfect.
Mark quickly came up with the idea for a complimentary website to the TV offering to keep the interest level and energy up all year, as opposed to just the football season when the TV show airs, as well as to get participation from those who do not have access to the TV show. Thus, HookedontheNiners.com came to be.
So, we have a show and a website. We don't know how good they are, but I think we have an idea. We're not Football Night in America, and we're not a network pregame show. We don't have Boomer, Costas or Nantz. We're just four friends who sit around and do whatever in the hell it is we do because we are bonded by an affinity to our favorite team. Not only are we not media, we take the “we never played or coached" approach. You get absolutely no frills, just Niner talk and a guest. On the web, it‘s the same style and attitude.
Can this model work? I guess that's up to a Niner fan, like you.