The "St. Louis stranglehold" that Martin Kilcoyne talks about has nothing to do with professional wrestling, though it has about the same depth. When it comes to sports, most viewers watch Mike Bush on KSDK (Channel 5) or Steve Savard on KMOX (Channel 4). But Kilcoyne isn't sweating it.
"Having grown up here, I think I know the market. I understand around here change comes really slow. This would be the worst place ever to test market products," says Kilcoyne, whose role models are Jack Buck and David Letterman. "My personal approach is, I'd like to be thought of as funny but not a joke. It's real easy to be dismissed as a guy who's an idiot. I don't try to be funny all the time." He isn't, but sometimes he is -- when the Cardinals were giving out bobblehead dolls of the often-injured J.D. Drew, Kilcoyne held up one he had customized by putting a Band-Aid on it. He's also known to drop "cultural" references in his broadcasts -- once, when a batter charged the mound to assault a pitcher, he referenced a line from Cable Guy: "Redneck going down, down, down." Not everyone notices. "I know if I make a reference to Cable Guy, four of my friends are laughing," Kilcoyne says. "It's not good for ratings, but ..."
Kilcoyne was raised in Glendale, which he calls the "Switzerland between Kirkwood and Webster Groves," and went to CBC. Knowing relatives are watching gives him pause. He's received calls from people complaining because he's used the words "sucks" and "ass" on the air. "If it's a town you grew up in and you have relatives who are older, you don't want them to think, 'Oh, my nephew is the pottymouth on Fox.'" Fortunately, he realizes sports is make-believe, that's it's theater on turf, not life and death. A few years ago, Fox sent Kilcoyne to Las Vegas to cover Robbie Knievel jumping over cars. "I kind of like that part. It's ridiculous," admits Kilcoyne. "But half of what we do is ridiculous." Kilcoyne gets mucho credit for that level of self-awareness, an attribute not shared by most of his colleagues.