Five stories that have North Texas talking: The New York Times' take on Dale Hansen's 'folksy' viral commentaries; a 'Mean Green' controversy; a vodka made from black eyed peas; and more.
Over the last 34 years, Dale Hansen has grown from local TV sportscaster to internationally-known social commentator.
The New York Times recently paid Hansen a visit at his home in Waxahachie to discuss the unique spot he finds himself in: a sports broadcaster-slash-progressive opinionator in conservative Texas.
Hansen's still the weeknight WFAA sports anchor that North Texas has known since the '80s, hosting his weekly Dale Hansen's Sports Special and presenting his beloved Christmastime "Thank God for Kids" segment.
But his "Hansen Unplugged" segments — kind of a sports "plus" brand of commentary where he excoriates incidents of spousal abuse, gun violence, racism, and homophobia, sometimes sharing deep personal experiences with his perspectives — often go on-fire, around-the-world viral.
"I can’t really explain why people listen to me," Hansen told the Times. "But I do know some people are thinking, Who is this fat, old, white sports guy and why is he telling me what to do? I don’t fit the stereotype.”
That rings a bell: KERA's Rick Holter talked with Hansen in 2015 about how the reach of his "Unplugged" segments grew global.
"I think Michael Sam raised the bar for me," Hansen said about the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team. "When you have a gay man wanting to play in America’s favorite sport, and the commentary comes from an old fat, white, bald guy in Texas, you put all of that together and that’s how it became this international story."
Here's a recent Hansen "Unplugged" commentary:
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- Brand battle: ABC will air the University of Michigan-Michigan State University football game on Saturday night, and the network promoted it with an ad that referred to MSU as “Mean Green.” Another Mean Green football team — The University of North Texas' — wasn't having it. [WFAA-TV, Denton Record-Chronicle]
- Safe scare: Denton firefighters pried open a gun safe and rescued a little girl stuck inside at an Academy sports goods store Tuesday evening. She had been trapped for more than 30 minutes, and they were initially afraid she wasn't getting enough oxygen. But, she was OK. "She wasn't crying. She wasn't screaming. She was just kind of still," locksmith Douglas Smith said. [Denton Record-Chronicle]
- Hat tip: Alvarado Police Department officers now wear cowboy hats, replacing the traditional bus driver style hats of most police uniforms. The Cleburne Times-Review reports that most of the officers like the change. "The only issue is that while we are out on the highway and a big truck drives by they are easier to blow off our heads,” APD Chief Brad Anderson said. “In that case, the officers will just leave their hats in their car.” (Alvarado is about 30 miles south of Fort Worth.)
- That means it's healthy, right? There's a vodka manufactured in Fort Worth made out of black eyed peas, and it's getting awards. [Dallas Innovates]