The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

03 October 2005

Trash TV Host Plays Radio Games


Jerry Springer Says, "Air America Who?"

Perhaps Jerry Springer doesn't figure listeners think much of his credibility. After all, it's no secret his name recognition comes from being the king of trash television.

Otherwise, why assert you've little to do with a network that certainly seems to claim Mr. Springer as one of its own?

Is it that hard to admit to being part of a sleazy operation, one some of your lowlife TV guests could only admire?

For two months, the ability of Air America's hosts (sans Franken) to pretend the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club scandal wasn't tearing their operation apart at the seams, has been amazing. They either ignore the latest developments, or attack the messengers.

Either the "dump" button is pressed at the very mention of "Gloria Wise", or one might assume scandal-inquiring callers are weeded out. Somewhere along the way, it must have been declared the network's policy.

So how did a caller manage to slip past Springer's screener? It's unclear, but also not terribly surprising, either.

When a caller interrupted Springer's rant about Republican corruption to challenge Springer on Air America's own dirty laundry, an interesting exchange resulted during Thursday's radio show . The conversation is transcribed below (audio available here):

Jerry Springer Show
29 September 2005
Circa 0935

SPRINGER: Jack in Gainesville, Fla, you’re on Springer on the radio, what have you got, Jack?

CALLER: Hey, Jerry, how you doing? It sounds to me like Tom DeLay just found a way around the law, which is what you Democrats--he out-twisted you basically. That’s what they did. That’s why they indicted him. He’s better doing this than even Clinton was. He found a way around it. He said “okay, we can’t contribute to Texas politicians with corporate things. You’ll contribute to a national group. We’ll mix all the money together, ‘cause you got individual contributors, and we’ll fund our political operations that way.”

But what about the Air America scandal and $800,000 from the Girls and Boys Club in the Bronx that has not been repaid and you work for them and you don’t even address it ever?

SPRINGER: Okay, uh, honestly. Uh, on some of the stations around the country, I’m on Air America. On some of the stations around the country, I’m not on Air America. So, uh, I, you know, I can’t answer that because the truth is I don’t know. Once I find something out about it, I’m willing to address it. I’m not dodging it all. Uh, but, you know, again, most of the people listening to me are not listening to me on Air America, so I can’t deal with that…

Springer then abruptly returned to bashing Tom DeLay and railing about Republican arrogance and corruption.

Air America execs are apparently livid about Springer's clumsy attempt to distance himself from the liberal radio network, which has warmly embraced the trash-talker and buoyed his show. Contrary to his claim, a sizable chunk of Springer's listeners do in fact listen to him on Air America stations.

Clear Channel, which syndicates Springer's show in cooperation with Air America, may be concerned about the embarrassment caused by and to Springer--and could be looking for answers from Air America about what exactly happened with the Gloria Wise money.

Memo to Clear Channel execs: Start here and follow the links here, from the bottom up.

A call to the New York City Department of Investigation about the loan's repayment status might also be more fruitful than relying on Air America's spin doctors. That way, the next time Springer rails about corruption and ethics, he'll be a bit more prepared when the stones he casts come ricocheting back at him.

It's not the only issue affecting Springer's radio show. Other technical glitches had obscene background language audible during at least one recent program.

Of all of Air America's programs, Jerry Springer's may be the biggest question mark. Not particularly passionate on the air, Springer seems burned out, after confronting jilted lovers and married cousins on stage.

A February Detroit News article makes the case:

According to Roosevelt "Rick" Wright Jr., a communications professor at Syracuse University, the quality of progressive talkers as entertainers will be an important factor in their success.

"The quality of the on-air performer is the key," Wright says. "Rush Limbaugh is controversial, but he's got that humor/wit side to him. I don't like his views, but he's a major success as a radio performer."

Wright has been listening to progressive radio, and "some are pretty good, but some have a long way to go." He mentions Jerry Springer as one progressive host who needs to polish his delivery.

"Jerry is an excellent television performer, but think about it, he doesn't say much on his show," Wright says. "A lot of times, he's standing there holding the mike while a couple is beating on each other. Radio is a continuous dialogue where you create an aural landscape that hinges on the personality of the announcer."

After listening recently, it seems little has changed since February. Television figures commonly fail to ignite radio airwaves, for the very reasons Wright indicates.

Oddly enough, Springer's Air America bio gives details on his television sleazefest, not the radio program's performance. Maybe there's a good reason for that: a July Cincinnati Enquirer piece showed his ratings to be the best of a weak lot. That's not saying much.

And that's in his hometown, where he once served as mayor and has the widest political following. Springer even broadcasts from there.

Springer on the RadioBiggest questions: why does Jerry Springer want to be a radio host?

On-air, he sounds like he'd rather be just about anywhere else.

Also, what's in it for Air America? Since he hasn't much to say, his program doesn't mesh well with Rhodes, Franken, etc. While the rest increasingly go off the deep end, Springer alone seems pushing to moderate his delivery.

And what does the left have to gain? Is this really a person to carry their movement forward, or is there just too much baggage?

Our best guess: the program is Jerry's attempt to remake his image, moving away from the damage his television show has inflicted on American society.

Trouble is, how can he escape his self-created demons, while the program's still in production?

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  • Brian,

    You report that Springer said: "Most of the people listening to me are not listening to me on Air America.."
    Then you write: "Contrary to his claim, a sizable chunk of Springer's listeners do in fact listen to him on Air America stations."

    How is this "contrary to his claim"? He said MOST of his listeners aren't tuned into AA affiliates, which is true. Even you say "a sizable chunk" of his listeners, which is not a majority.
    Do you really believe that readers of this blog are too stupid to figure out this type of bait and switch?

    By Blogger Justin, at 03 October, 2005 07:40  

  • Springer lists the following non-AAR Affiliates:

    WXDX Detroit (but AAR affilate WDTW is also listed as carrying Springer)
    WINZ S. Florida
    WHJJ Providence (which, at the time of the comment, was an AAR affiliate)
    WANR Warren, OH
    WTWK St. Albans, VT
    WHMP Northhamptons, Mass
    KRKT Wililamette Valley, OR
    WHTY San Antonio
    WJMP Akron
    WANR Youngstown
    WTWK Burlington, VT
    KKXO Eugene, OR
    WMTW Portland, ME
    KTRC Santa Fe

    That's only 14 of Springer's 44 affiliates that ARE NOT AAR affiliates. And these aren't exactly the largest markets.

    The numbers say Springer Lied.

    By Blogger BF, at 03 October, 2005 09:25  

  • If Justin actually did his homework he'd notice that of the 44 stations Jerry Springer lists on HIS site... 29 are Air America stations!
    I'm not good at math but that means roughly 66% are Air America... that sounds like a "majority" to me.

    Do your homework before you start to play word games justin!

    By Blogger John R., at 03 October, 2005 09:27  

  • After 2000 and 2004 how do you expect liberals to understand what "majority" means...

    By Blogger Tony in Maine, at 03 October, 2005 17:13  

  • I believe Springer actually broadcasts from Chicago, calling in to Cincy where the studio is or something like that.

    I commented on his web site here.

    He has a PageRank of 6 and all these backlinks that others would pay thousands for from AAR, radio stations, his other sites, etc. etc. Yet, as of today, he gets an average of 862 visitors per day and very few google hits.

    If I were ranked #4 for "Jerry Springer" somehow I'd expect a constant deluge of hits, but for some reason people don't click through.

    By Blogger LonewackoDotCom, at 03 October, 2005 17:28  


    By Blogger Mike Malloy Fan, at 04 October, 2005 04:30  

  • Yes, Malloy is pretty good. I haven't listened to Springer too much because of work, but the times I have, he has been pretty impressive. He goes on these long, elliptical, very mellow sounding rants that build up into a surprising denouement. Whereas Malloy is like a jack-hammer, Springer is more like a hand-drill. Both of them get the job done.

    By Blogger WHT, at 04 October, 2005 19:50  

  • Brian: "Air America execs are apparently livid about Springer's clumsy attempt to distance himself from the liberal radio network..."

    Any evidence to support this? Or is this another "some people say" ploy used so frequenty to spin news on shows like FOX & Friends?

    By Blogger Chris, at 10 October, 2005 00:30  

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