5 Questions with...The Score's Brian Hanley

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5 Questions with...The Score's Brian Hanley

By Jeff NuichCSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor
April 21, 2010
Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This week veteran sportswriter who has covered just about everything for the Chicago Sun-Times over the past quarter century he can be heard with his partner Mike Mulligan weekdays from 5:00-9:00 a.m. on WSCR AM 670 The Score as co-host of the popular Mully and Hanley Show here are 5 Questions with...BRIAN HANLEY!

BIO: (from the very words of Brian Hanley himself): I was born in 1960 on the west side of Chicago at the venerable St. Annes Hospital. My late, great dad, Bernard, and beautiful and selfless mom, Suzanne, raised nine children. My five brothers, three sisters and I grew up in Oak Park and River Forest, where I attended St. Lukes grammar school. My first newspaper job was an afternoon paper route delivering the late, great Chicago Daily News. My love of journalism grew while at Fenwick High School (Oak Park), from where I was graduated in 1978 as an Illinois State Scholar.

While at Marquette University, from where I was graduated with a journalism major and broadcast minor in 1982, I was an intern for the late, great Tim Weigel at WLS-TV. With Tims letter of recommendation, I was able to gain acceptance to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where I did graduate work.

I began my career at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1984, as a part-time editorial assistant, while also attending Medill. My first full-time beat came in 1988, when I was assigned to cover Illinois and the Big Ten. I was fortunate to chronicle the 1989 "Flying Illini" basketball team under coach Lou Henson, a Final Four squad. In my 24 years at the Sun-Times, my beats have spanned the Sox, Cubs, Blackhawks, Northwestern, and the Bulls.

Thanks to Seth Mason, Ron Gleason, and then-owner Dan Lee -- with a tip of the hat to sports talk radio pioneer Chet Coppock -- my Score career began with the stations creation. I shared afternoon drive duties with Terry Boers, the quickest wit I have known, and Dan McNeil.

My broadcast career was reignited in 2005 under the Score brain trust of Rod Zimmerman, Paul Agase and Mitch Rosen, all of whom has taken the station to its greatest heights. From the midday show to our move to morning drive, I have enjoyed great success due to the talents of my broadcast partner Mike Mulligan, executive producer Dustin Rhoades, and sound surgeons Rock Mamola and Chris Collins, now Score sports director. Of course, the constant that has continued to amaze me throughout these many years has been the loyalty, creativity, and absolute intelligence of our listeners who are the pillars of the Score.

1) CSNChicago.com: Brian, it's the busiest time of year for all of us in our biz, especially with BOTH the Blackhawks and the Bulls in the playoffs. Tell us specifically what you think each of these two teams needs to do to really make an impact against their first-round opponents?

Hanley: Let's deal with the Hawks first since they, unlike the Bulls, will actually be advancing to the second round. Now, I wasn't thinking this while I was sitting at the United Center frustrated with 22,000 other fans Friday watching Game 1, that third-period collapse and overall subpar performance was a great education for Coach Q's team. Nothing comes easy in the NHL playoffs. The performance Sunday showed the Hawks were a quick study. The Hawks were stronger on the puck, in the net and fought for space on the ice which is the golden ticket to advancing in the NHL postseason. Great move by Coach Q to reunite his blue-line pairing of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. This is no time to experiment. Go with what helped get you here: quality defense. The wild card from here out remains goalie Annti Niemi. Is the rookie going to be good enough to have the Hawks hoisting their first Stanley Cup since I was a 1-year-old? The guess here is -- say it with me Hawk -- "Yessss!"

As for the Bulls, head to the nearest church and light a candle. Even if you are not Catholic. Not the 50-cent candle either. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Throw a fiver in the money box and fire up the biggest ball of wax there. Or, better yet, send your money to the Berto Center to help pay Chris Bosh's max contract come July 1.

2) CSNChicago.com: Regarding the Bears, how much will having virtually no presence in the upcoming NFL Draft hurt this team going forward or do you think theyre fine with the moves they had to make last year to get their star QB?

Hanley: The Bears like to think they are a draft-driven team. I like to think I'm as good-looking as Brad Pitt. As my pic on this page proves, I am as delusional as Jerry Angelo, who still thinks using a second-round draft pick in 2007 on defensive end Dan Bazuin was a good idea. Look up Bazuin's statistics on nfl.com and you find this: This player does not have any statistics. No picks in the first two rounds only ensures less Bears big-money busts. As for Jay Cutler, he has to be better than last year. Then again, when I look in the mirror I now see George Clooney looking back at me.

3) CSNChicago.com: Chicago has some of the best sports bars in the nation. Tell us about your favorite local hangouts?

Hanley: I'm sure our city has a number of great sports watering holes. However, I have spent much of the last three decades traveling while covering the Cubs, Sox, Bears, Hawks, and Bulls and colleges. So if you are looking for places to bend an elbow from Vancouver to New York, Toronto to Phoenix, I got you covered.

Given my age -- the big 5-0 next month -- and my 2:30 a.m. wake-up each weekday, the closest I get to Chicago wee-hour nightlife is driving through River North on my way to the Score. Then again, you can often find Mully, me and our crack production staff sharing an end-of-the-work-week double-cheeseburger and a beer or three at the Billy Goat with fellow Chicago third-shifters around 10 a.m. on a Friday.

4) CSNChicago.com: As you well know, there is plenty of competition in morning radio in Chicago, but you and your partner Mike Mulligan continue to hold your own by delivering a solid show to Chicago sports fans each weekday morning. Outside of having a sports format, what do you think differentiates you and Mully from the rest of the pack out there?

Hanley: It starts with us being born and raised here. I truly believe in Chicago fans talking Chicago sports. We won't waste your time with why Rutgers football team is struggling. And while Mike squared down the dial are killing time wondering what Golic should give up for lent (just a thought: radio), my guy, Mike Mulligan, is taking our listeners behind the Halas Hall curtain.

Mully and I have a combined 50 years logged on different sports beats for the Sun-Times, the best sports section in town. We can put stories in context given the players, coaches and front-office types we have covered and share some humorous stories from those beats along the way.

Our executive producer Dustin Rhoades, who joined the team last summer, has elevated the show to new heights with great guests and segment ideas. He is simply the best in the business. Add in the smart and creative listeners we have come to know both on the air and in person at our Boys Nights and Days Out events and it is a winning, and fun, formula.

5) CSNChicago.com: Speaking of your partner, hes a Sox fan and youre a Cubs fan any wagers planned between you two once the crosstown series takes place this summer?

Hanley: Given the two teams' starts this season, we have decided to take that money and use it for group therapy sessions.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything you want to promote Brian? Lets hear about it

Hanley: We would love to see everyone Friday, May 7, at Carmichael's Steak House, 1052 W. Monroe here in Chicago. We'll be hosting our third-annual Boys Night Out for the Kids. All proceeds benefit the great work being done at The Chicago Children's Advocacy Center and the dedicated people working to protect abused children. There will be sports stars from around town and great live and silent auction items, including tickets to Cubs and Sox games and plenty of sports memorabilia. You also might find me and fellow Cubs sicko Dustin Rhoades at The Cell this weekend heckling head case Milton Bradley, just for old times sake.

Hanley LINKS:

WSCR AM 670"Mully and Hanley" home page

E-mail "Mully and Hanley" at The SCORE

Blackhawks re-sign defenseman Ville Pokka to one-year deal

Blackhawks re-sign defenseman Ville Pokka to one-year deal

The Blackhawks signed Ville Pokka to a one-year contract on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old Pokka played in all 76 regular-season games for the Rockford IceHogs last season, recording six goals and 24 assists.

The Blackhawks’ defensive depth has already taken a hit this offseason, with Niklas Hjalmarsson traded to Arizona – Connor Murphy came here in the deal – and Trevor van Riemsdyk, selected by the Vegas Golden Knights, then traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. While the Blackhawks will probably explore free-agent options this offseason, Pokka could vie for an opportunity at training camp.

Are Bears better than Texans, Broncos, Dolphins and others? Pro Football Focus says yes

Are Bears better than Texans, Broncos, Dolphins and others? Pro Football Focus says yes

Pro Football Focus has more than its share of both supporters and detractors of how it goes about grading NFL players. They break down every snap for every player, and while there are general agreements on what's seen by naked, untrained eyes who don't put the time and investment into its system that PFF does, there are other evaluations that seem to come out of the blue. While there's occasional guesswork on a player's particular assignment on a given play within its scheme, those of us who've watched and studied nuances of the game, or those who've played it, can usually identify how many jobs were done correctly.

Tuesday, PFF released its rankings of all 32 NFL rosters but in essence focused on the quality of each team's starting lineup, listing the Bears — are you sitting down? — 18th in the league. That's ahead of the likes of the Ravens, Saints, Texans, Dolphins, a Jaguars franchise that's had tons of high draft picks in recent years, as well as the Broncos and Lions (whom they rank 28th). The top five are the Falcons, Patriots, Titans, Packers and Steelers (the Bears play three of those teams in September alone). Among other Bears opponents, they rank the Panthers 10th, Vikings 12th, Buccaneers 13th and Eagles 15th.

[BEARS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Their evaluation is based on each player's final score from last season, "elite" and "good" being the top two levels, followed by "average" and "below average" to "poor." The only Bear earning elite status was inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman. Another nine Bears finished with good grades: Jordan Howard, Zach Miller, Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan, Adrian Amos and Quintin Demps (who earned his grade in Houston).

Those earning average grades were Cam Meredith, Kendall Wright, Kyle Long, Charles Leno, Jr., Pernell McPhee and Prince Amukamara. Below average: Mike Glennon (in mop-up duty in Tampa Bay), Kevin White, Bobby Massie, Leonard Floyd and Jaye Howard. The only Bear earning a poor grade among projected starters was tight end Dion Sims (with Miami). The other potential flaw is that PFF lists Kyle Fuller (no grade) and Bryce Callahan (average) as starters when Marcus Cooper and Cre'Von LeBlanc likely have the inside track to start at cornerback and nickel back, respectively.

How did the Bears get to 18th, above three playoff teams and another that won the Super Bowl two years ago? Well, all of those other teams have more elite players at certain positions, but it's offset by a number of spots occupied by more players with poor or below average grades. The Broncos (25th) for instance, had four elite players, just another four falling under the good grade, but five players listed as poor.