Ronald Kidd - December 10, 2021

Listening with Paul Finebaum

One night recently, I had trouble sleeping and turned on the radio. I flipped through the stations, past pitchmen and preachers and interplanetary travelers, and suddenly there was Paul Finebaum.

You’ve probably never heard of Paul Finebaum. I hadn’t either. He was talking with callers about the SEC, which in my part of the country doesn’t mean the Securities and Exchange Commission but the Southeastern Conference. And the subject was football, the game into which Southerners, years after the Civil War, poured their thwarted hopes and dreams and their healthy young men.

Paul Finebaum was talking about the SEC, but more than that, he was listening. Most of his callers started with “Hey, Paul,” as if he were the good old boy next door or in the next aisle at Pep Boys, rather than the Jewish son of optometrists. Some of his callers made good points. Others didn’t. A few clearly were Looney Tunes.

I couldn’t believe how long he let them blather on, and then I read an interview with him in, of all things, the New York Times. In the article, Finebaum wasn’t discussing SEC football, which most of the readers would have had no interest in. He was talking about the art of listening and something called knowledge bubbles.

Here’s a link to the article. I think you’ll enjoy meeting Paul Finebaum and learning how SEC football and listening—unlikely companions—somehow meet in this fascinating man.

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