My weird fandom
Milton Neves is one of the most known figures in brazilian sports journalism. Controversial, polarizing and much more, he made a brand out of his theatrical, loud-spoken, advertising-prone style of tele and radiocasting.
On radio, where Brazil, my grandfather, my father and me grew accostumed to him, Neves is almost omnipresent: daily commentaries on at least four different stations, and full broadcasts at the traditional radio Bandeirantes, including primetime wednesdays and over six hours on air on sundays right before soccer kicks off. All of those stations are owned by the Bandeirantes Group, where Neves also is a TV host on the post-game coverage.
Recently, he also made a guest appearance on the brazilian version of Master Chef, the culinary TV program, season finale since his tweets during the show were a huge success. Oh, yeah, his Twitter presence is also massive: over 1.75 million followers (!).
He constantly boasts about having received the keys (as in the picture above, when he was honored by the city of Erechim, in the South of Brazil) or the title of honorary citizen of a lot of towns around the country, many of which he has been to once: to receive the award.
Besides the Milton brand, one of his many accomplishments and the one he likes the most to brag about, is a website dedicated to the memoir of former soccer players all over Brazil.
“Que Fim Levou?”, which goes for something like “Where they ended up?”, is the go-to resource for journalists when trying to find the most obscures characters who had that one play in the mid-80s. It is also a service of public interest in the way that it pays a much appreciated tribute to people who played the game in a completely different era. Neves likes to self-advertise his own website during his castings, asserting over and over again that it is the largest sports memory portal in the world. He throws along, of course, almost in a jokingly way, a few advertisers’ names.
Probably he is the one person on Earth that is serious about describing his own self as a journalist and an advertising professional (check his Twitter description!) at the same time. His career choices, though, gave him bad fame in the news and ad industries, carrying a record of lawsuits and derogatory remarks against peer journalists.
The most famous of those cases actually started with the physical act of Neves kicking a fellow journalist at TV Bandeirantes in the butt over a frivolous dispute between them — one that actually nobody has ever been able to fully explain.
After that, Neves engaged in a long and fruitless slander lawsuit against prominent José Trajano, top director at ESPN's brazilian branch and one of the most respected sports journalists in Brazil at the time.
This chain of events led to Juca Kfouri, another powerhouse name in brazilian sports journalism industry and also an ESPN analyst, to write one of the most divisive editorials he ever wrote. He stated clearly: “We do not belong in the same party”, to which Neves responded making the quarrel notorious.
The Neves’ — the brand and the person — offices are located at the heart of Sao Paulo’s financial center in Paulista Avenue, the most expensive business area in the city. He owns at least three different sports-oriented websites with a team of around 15 journalists working for him, some having theirs worker’s rights forsaken.
With the certainty of a few friends that ended up working with or for him at some point in their careers, I can also claim that fostering a healthy work environment is not among his virtues: yelling at his employees; doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants; acting in disregard of a companie's policies; arguing on air with a morning show host; and making chauvinistic remarks on and off air are some of the many complaints I have heard.
Yet, whenever I am on the car on wednesday nights or sunday mornings and afternoons catching the pre-game programs, he is the guy I turn to at radio Bandeirantes 90.9 FM. His ill-advised humor, somehow, doesn’t matter to me on those days.
Milton Neves has this power to cast a spell over us with his voice on radio — he is much less enjoyable on TV. Put him in a studio, headphones on, a mic in his front, and I call him a genius! An ill-mouthed, self-righteous, hypocritical, egomaniacal, double-faced and, yet, genius.
I admit to having the Milton Fever. Often times, he is all I want to listen to. But someone I would never, ever like to be.