HOTSEAT- Adam's adamant: Gottschalk pulls no punches on sports talk show
Many boys grow up wanting to be police officers, and might even play games of cops and robbers with their siblings, but never grow up to wear the badge. While Adam Gottschalk never aspired to don the blue, all he's wanted to do, ever since he can remember, is talk sports until he was blue in the face.
"Even as a little kid," says Gottschalk, "I could never just sit still and watch the game. I'd always have to mute it and do my own play-by-play."
All grown up now, Gottschalk hasn't stopped offering his observations and opinions on all things sports, he's just doing it for a much larger audience. As host and producer of the daily afternoon drive-time radio show The Fourth Quarter on AM 1400 WKAV, Gottschalk has become Charlottesville's biggest sports fan–- or at least the one with the biggest microphone.
"This is about taking that conversation that goes on about sports in every barroom in this town and putting it on the air," says Gottschalk. "It's basically group therapy for UVA fans."
Lately, that therapy has included a lot of venting for his listeners, frustrated at a 5-7 record for the football team, and the worst men's basketball season since 1967. However, Gottschalk is no Dr. Frasier Crane, a voice of reason there to ease his listeners' minds.
"I'm as upset as anyone," says Gottschalk. "I like and respect [UVA athletic director] Craig Littlepage, but I just see this malaise, and I think UVA is at a point where it needs to decide if it wants to be a big time athletics school or not."
Gottschalk has held this view for a while, but could never really say so until the fall of 2008 when he started The Fourth Quarter.
For seven years, starting with when he was an 17-year-old senior at Albemarle High School, Gottschalk was an integral part of the sports team at WINA, eventually ascending to the position of sports director. But at the flagship station for UVA athletics, complete with contractual affiliations, Gottschalk says he was limited in how much he could criticize the University.
"In order to do our jobs as reporters, we depended on UVA for access," says Gottschalk, "and you just couldn't be critical of UVA without getting cut off."
Now, across town at WKAV, Gottschalk says his new employer and his new role as commentator allow him to be far more liberated in what he can say on the air.
"I'm not out to get anybody," says Gottschalk, "but it's my top priority to be honest with my listeners. I can be harsh, but I try to be fair."
For example, Gottschalk was one of Dave Leitao's most vocal critics this past basketball season.
"It didn't matter to me that they were losing," says Gottschalk. "What I saw was a crisis of confidence. You know how in the Marines, they tear you down in basic training, but then they build you back up? With Dave Leitao, I saw a lot of tearing players down and not very much building up."
What has built up, according to Gottschalk, is his audience.
"We built this up from nothing," says Gottschalk, "and, steadily, we've seen more and more people calling in, I've gotten more and more feedback in the community, and I think it's safe to say we've got a pretty sizable audience now."
Not that Gottschalk thinks he had anything to do with Leitao's departure.
"I'm pretty sure," says Gottschalk, "neither Craig Littlepage nor Dave Leitao listen to my show."
Why here? Parents moved here when I was young to escape NYC, and I've never quite found a good enough reason to leave.
What's worst about living here? It definitely has it's share of "small town" gossip...And apparently it takes 40 years to build a road. I still can't wrap my mind around that.
Favorite hangout? Boylan Heights
Most overrated virtue? Patience. And temperance.
People would be surprised to know: Probably my age, given that I've been on the air full-time in Charlottesville since 2001. That, or the fact that I grew up with llamas and a miniature donkey in our back yard.
What would you change about yourself? I could definitely be a better listener. And I wish I could motivate myself to clean up my desk (and my car, and my apartment...)
Proudest accomplishment? Earning the Associated Press and/or Virginia Association of Broadcasters honors for best sports department in the state of Virginia each of my seven years with WINA.
People find most annoying about you: I haven't checked my voicemail in more than two years.
Whom do you admire? Barack Obama. And anyone who voluntarily chooses to serve the country in the military.
Favorite book? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter. S. Thompson
Subject that causes you to rant? Listen to the show; you'll figure it out quickly.
Biggest 21st-century thrill? I keep telling people, if I have kids one day, and my house catches fire, I'm saving my iPhone first... then going back in for my family.
Biggest 21st-century creep out? Finding out the true extent of the damage of the Bush years.
What do you drive? 4-door Ford F-150 pickup
In your car CD player right now: Sons of Bill. Can't wait for the second album.
Next journey? Ireland in the spring
Most trouble you've ever gotten in? I once had to spend an entire "long lunch" during high school scrubbing gum off of desks, after spraying my science teacher with a water bottle (and inadvertently knocking the toupee off his head)
Regret: Regrets serve no purpose. Just learn from mistakes and try not to repeat them...
Favorite comfort food: Cereal
Always in your refrigerator: Starr Hill beer, olives, and usually literally nothing else
Must-see TV: Deadliest Catch, The Office, and Baseball Tonight
Describe a perfect day. Wake up without an alarm clock, play 18 holes of golf with two or three good friends; go to the ballpark (or stadium, or arena) and broadcast a game that ends with a dramatic finish... pick up the girlfriend and go out to a five-star restaurant for a good dinner, then pack the car and drive down to our cabin in the Carolina mountains and fall asleep in the hammock with a case of beer and a good book.
Walter Mitty fantasy: Lead singer-guitarist in a big-time rock band, moonlighting as a US Senator on the side
Who'd play you in the movie? Would love to say Jude Law... but every day puts me closer to Jack Black territory
Most embarrassing moment? I once managed to introduce one notable former UVA player as "Virginia's all-time interception king" (because that's what one old-timer had told me as a joke–- not realizing I didn't know who the player was, and therefore assumed he was simply telling me he was a great defensive back and not a mediocre quarterback (who was not pleased).
Best advice you ever got? On play-by-play...You are not the story. The game is the story. Call the play, then shut up, and get out of the way.
Favorite bumper sticker? "I brake for Leonard Sandridge." That one always slays me.