The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

31 May 2005

New Evidence Of Talk Radio's Troubles

Talk Radio Derailing?

Poor Decisions, Lack Of Focus Affecting Quality

Is talk radio becoming derailed by peculiar programming moves, unfocused hosts and some who just don't belong on the air?

Recently, the Radio Equalizer has begun to receive feedback from industry managers, air talent and listeners, alerting me to disturbing developments in the medium.

At a time when blogs, XM, SIRIUS and podcasting threaten AM radio from every angle, one would expect a sharp focus on what works, an effective plan of attack.

Instead, the decisions become more baffling every day, with no sign of change coming soon.

Talk radio is adrift.

It isn't just about progamming moves, hiring and firing, but day-to-day program content as well. Here are some examples from just the past couple of weeks:

--- A longtime Dallas-Fort Worth talk show host, who built his reputation on conservative issues and once had a national program, spent an entire segment playing board games on-air with other staffers.

--- A conservative Milwaukee talk station has a morning talk host opening, but instead of taking the time to look for an experienced, well-read, entertaining, talk host to fill the slot, they're holding an "American Idol"-style talent contest.

It couldn't look cheesier on WISN-AM's part, either, wonder if staffers are red-faced over this ill-advised promotion.

--- A new liberal talker in Akron, Ohio, pretended to be a pirate station at first, imploring listeners not to trust corporate radio giants. But it turned out to be a trick, it was really a Clear Channel outlet gearing up to run a slate of (corporate-backed) "progressive" talkers.

It backfired to the point where even the New York Times chastised the company over the situation.

--- Some major national syndicated talk hosts recently spent so much time talking about congressional issues, important as they might have been, that they lost sight of what's made conservative talk radio popular: its entertainment value. One reader told me that he's in the habit of changing the station at the first mention of "Bolton" or "filibuster" on any talk show.

So which is it, Radio Equalizer, entertainment or content? It's about common sense, some hosts and programmers once had a grasp of this, but are now adrift. Some bad decisions were made when sales or music people took over talk station management, forcing out experienced talk radio programmers.

Combining a focused, well-prepped effort to lay out hot issues in a passionate, entertaining manner, with the occasional lighter topic, will still win audience loyalty.

When a talk host is playing board games on the air, that's a sign of serious trouble: he's either too complacent and comfortable in his position, bored, or starting to crack.

When a station thinks holding a contest will produce a host who can deliver ratings against the competition, when a key element of talk radio success is on-air experience, then something is very wrong.

In the Akron case, mistakes are piling on top of each other. The new Clear Channel talker features non-Air America liberals, because another AM outlet in town already locked them up.

So the city now has two stations, duking it out over a format not succeeding, virtually anywhere in the country.

And the stunt attracted negative attention from the New York Times:

To the average listener, Radio Free Ohio has all the earmarks of pirate radio. For weeks, it sounded as if amateurs had been bleeding their voices into the broadcasts of stations in Akron, Ohio, owned by Clear Channel, the corporate radio giant. At the Web site, there was a manifesto about "corporate-controlled music playlists" that took potshots at several local Clear Channel stations. But there was no information about who had posted the screed, or what exactly Radio Free Ohio was.

But last week it came out that Radio Free Ohio was not a prank on Clear Channel but in fact a prank by Clear Channel. Tomorrow, an AM station the company owns in Akron will switch formats from sports talk to progressive talk, and Clear Channel would very much like anyone suspicious of corporate media to tune in.

"Once we determined we were going to change the format, we tried to get into the mindset of people who would listen to this new station," said Dan Lankford, vice president and market manager for Clear Channel in Akron. That mindset may involve a suspicion of Clear Channel itself, which has used loosened rules on media ownership to build a radio empire.

That Clear Channel owned the www.radiofreeohioorg Web site was revealed on, a magazine and blog about advertising and popular culture.

Stay Free's editor, Carrie McLaren, said that she had learned the information from someone who had seen it on an Akron Web site. "In a way it's the heart of the problem with Clear Channel," Ms. McLaren said of the manifesto. " 'We're this huge corporation and we do everything to fake being local.' "

Some might say that any publicity is good for a radio station, but this criticism is coming from the very audience segment they're trying to attract: younger liberals.

Listeners still have the same demands, but when talk radio is no longer delivering them, they're finding other places to go. Most distressing is that instead of recognizing the problem, radio keeps repeating the mistakes, with no end in sight.

New Batch Of Radio Ratings Released

Time For New Excuses?

Liberals Flat, Others Mixed, Air America Owes Wages

(With June 2 Update: Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami)

Newly released Arbitron radio ratings bring some questions to mind, such as:

--- Will Air America's apologists finally come up with a fresh batch of excuses, after insisting more time was needed for it to catch on? Isn't that one getting stale?

--- Will some of the traditional talk stations, now showing audience declines, make changes soon?

The Radio Equalizer has been providing a monthly forum for discussing talk radio's national performance, broken down city-by-city and based on available data. There's been a consistent pattern of lackluster showings by liberal talk radio stations running Air America and other "progressive" programming.

This month's data, so far, has not provided any rays of hope for the leftist talk radio format.

Since our last report, network execs and local managers have become increasingly defiant about its future prospects, even as its failure becomes more clear.

Many management egos are on the line with this latest stab at providing an alternative to conservative talk radio. It doesn't look like they will give up easily.

But what is the thought process in a place like Providence, where once-strong conservative WHJJ-AM was destroyed after its switch to Air America programming? How does a situation like that play out? Does the format change, are managers fired, or do they hold out until the inevitable, sad end?

To the Radio Equalizer, most telling is the recent report that Al Franken has purchased a home in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, gearing up for a potential 2008 US Senate run. Franken's clearly making backup plans.

Liberals haven't been willing to concede any ground so far on the format's performance, repeating the same excuses and attacking the messengers (this one included). For the sake of credibility, it's time for some new ones. What will they cook up?

On a side note, Air America got another fresh dose of bad news today with this report, by reporter Dareh Gregorian, that fired host Lizz Winstead was seeking unpaid wages from the network:

A former Air America talk-show host claims the lefty radio network isn't very liberal with money.

In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Lizz Winstead says she was fired, then stiffed out of nearly $300,000.

The suit says Winstead, best known as co-creator of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," started at AAR on Aug. 1, 2003, as "the first creative and third employee overall hired" and became its "principal developer" of programming and co-host of the show "Unfiltered."

The suit puts her salary at $250,000 a year but says AAR owner Piquant LLC owes her about $200,000 for on-air work from May 2004 to March 4, when she was fired.

She's suing for that $200,000 plus $83,333 in severance pay, $14,423.08 in unused vacation time and $5,960.55 that she says the network pocketed from her on-air ads for the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

These are especially high wages for a co-host on a tiny radio network. The other perks are outrageous, as well. In these circumstances, with performance unproven, one would expect compensation of far less than half of this amount.

So far, conservative talk's results continue to be strong, with some exceptions. WABC in New York City hasn't recovered from its big recent drop and programming changes have yet to be announced. There were small declines in San Diego and Los Angeles as compared to last month's figures.

Here's a look at key markets:

#1 New York City:

WABC continues to be in trouble, down over a share since the Fall 2004 survey and slipping another tenth this month. It's still in eighth place overall for all listeners 12 and older.

WOR, still glued to horrible special-interest programming through much of its schedule, stubbornly refuses to enter radio's modern era. It is, however, giving WABC heartburn in the evenings, when it puts Michael Savage up against their weak lineup. It turned in a flat 21st place performance overall.

WLIB, Air America's flagship station, continues to show no growth, coming in at 24th place with no change in audience share. The station's inability to grow by even a measly tenth of a share must be frustrating to the corporate suits.

#2 Los Angeles:

KFI, the Southland's Limbaugh station, drops from a 4.6 to a 4.2, good for third place overall. Not a reason to panic. John and Ken continue to generate the lion's share of media attention in the market, jumping on hot stories and gaining attention.

Always struggling KABC continues its recent downward trend, turning in a 16th performance, with a 2.2 share of the audience. Last fall, it had a 2.9.

Liberal talker KTLK rose a tenth, from a 0.3 to a 0.4. That was good for second-to-last place, one notch above a tiny Spanish news-talker. New programming, including live, local talkers, isn't delivering ratings so far.

#3 Chicago:

WGN, where baseball is king, held steady in second place, but hasn't yet regained off-season ratings losses. Another month or two should fix that.

WLS, about to gain skilled, veteran programmer Kipper McGee, had a flat, fifth place showing. McGee should bring fresh energy into addressing some of the station's recent weaknesses. It's the Windy City's Rush station.

#17 San Diego:

KOGO-AM takes a half-share dip from recent highs, to a 4.8 share from a 5.3. Nothing to sound the alarm over, yet. This is the Limbaugh station in San Diego.

Rival KFMB-AM hasn't recovered from a massive recent ratings drop, which took it from a 4.8 to a 3.2. This is the Savage affiliate for the market. A lack of local programming has stalled this station.

Air America's KLSD-AM weighs in at a flat 1.6 share, no change since last month, but off the earlier high of 2.3. This is the station touted as lib talk's great hope, but it's in no danger of taking off, ever.

#18 Long Island:

WABC is especially weak here, falling to a 3.6 share, from a 5.1 in the fall, for eighth place.

WOR jumps from 2.6 to 3.1, good for 12th place, again showing where Savage has been a boost for the station.

WLIB rises from a 0.7 to a whopping 0.9. That's good for 29th place on Long Island.

Wednesday Updates:

#6 Philadelphia:

, Infinity's conservative talker, is flat with a 3.8 share, good for ninth place overall.

Liberal talker WHAT-AM slips slightly, down to a 0.6 from a 0.7, good for 26th place.

#10 Detroit:

ABC's WJR is as strong as ever, holding first place with a 6.1 share.

CHUM's Canadian talker CKLW registers a 0.5 share on the American side of the border.

WDTW, Air America affiliate, finally shows up in the ratings, but with a 0.5. So it's a neck-and-neck battle for the bottom of the ratings between an Ontario talk station and liberal talk.

Thursday Update:

#4 San Francisco:

held number one, as always, with a slight gain to a 6.8 share.

Conservative talker KSFO jumped from a 3.1 share to a 3.7, moving into sixth place. Ratings had recently been dropping, so this is a good turnaround.

Clear Channel's KNEW, meant to be a rival to KSFO, remains stalled in 23rd place.

Air America/ liberal talker KQKE actually drops, from a 1.0 to a 0.9, for a 28th ranking. This has to be very disappointing.

#9 Boston:

holds first place with a 7.3.

Conservative talker WRKO up slightly, from a 4.1 to a 4.3, for sixth place overall.

Conservative WTKK-FM turns in a flat performance and ranks 10th.

Air America's two Boston stations disappear from the radar screen, that's right, they are no-shows. Blame the signal quality all you want, but they were getting at least some ratings before. Even major free publicity from the Boston Globe didn't help one bit. Can't wait to hear the lame excuses. Bet the Globers won't be dwelling on this news.

#33 San Jose, Calif:

a strong first place.

KSFO in great shape, up from 3.7 to 4.0, so the conservative talker takes third place. Well done.

KQKE shows up with a 0.6. Must be quite a celebration at Air America headquarters.

#77 Monterey-Santa Cruz-Salinas:

In the Radio Equalizer's hometown, KGO holds fifth place.

Local talker KSCO gets a flat 1.1 share.

Conservative talkers KNEW of SF, KSFO of SF and Fresno's KMJ each get about a half share, hovering in the low end of the Monterey Bay rankings. This market still lacks a strong local talk station, fairly atypical in talk radio.

#8 Washington DC:

WMAL-AM continues to decline rapidly, even as other conservative stations had a good month, with gains in many cities. It's dropped from a 4.4 share in Fall 2004 to a 2.8 now, falling to 13th place overall. It's very likely that the 25-54 demographic will prove uglier. We'll just have to remind the Washington Post that this is station-specific, not a nationwide trend.

WJFK-FM drops slightly, coming in at 16th place.

Liberal talker WWRC shows up in last place (35th) with a 0.4.

#15 Phoenix:

In a market crowded with talk stations, conservative KFYI holds second place with a solid, half-share rise.

KTAR is in eighth place with a flat showing.

Air America's KXXT shows up in 24th place with a 0.9 share.

#27 Cincinnati:

Conservative WLW holds first place and surges, from a 9.9 to a 10.7 share.

So much for the Springer effect, because Air America's WCKY actually drops, from a 1.0 share to a 0.8. If you can't give your hometown station a boost, how do you expect to succeed across the country?

Think of the publicity he's had in Ohio over the radio show launch. Or the fact that he was once the mayor of Cincinnati. Or that he's by far the most famous figure in the Air America lineup.

All of this, and the ratings drop?

#5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Conservative mainstay WBAP continues its slide, a less severe version of what's happening at ABC sister station WMAL/Washington. It's now in 6th place, falling to a 4.4, from a 5.2 in the Fall 2004 survey.

The increasingly odd KRLD holds steady with a 2.1 share, for 19th place.

Conservative talker KLIF holds steady with a 1.5.

No sign of Air America's talker in the Metroplex ratings so far.

#16 Twin Cities:

WCCO, an Infinity "heritage" news-talker, drops from 8.6 to 7.9 holding 2nd place.

KSTP, conservative talker, holds steady with a 4.6, for 7th.

Air America's KTNF, shows small gain from 0.9 to a 1.1, for 18th place.

#21 Tampa-St Pete:

Despite having no competition, Clear Channel's WFLA continues to lose audience, with a 5.5 share, compared to a 7.3 in Fall 2004. It's now in fourth place.

#11 Atlanta:

Conservative powerhouse WSB holds first place with a 9.6 share.

WGST, Limbaugh's Atlanta station, in 16th, with a flat performance.

Air America affiliate WWAA shows up with a 0.5, for last place.

#12 Miami:

Spanish news-talker WAQI takes third place, but drops a bit, to a 4.8.

turns in a 2.4, same as last month and a continuation of recent losses.

Liberal talker WINZ has a flat 1.2 share.

#36 Charlotte:

Conservative WBT drops a full share and slips to second place.

Not much competition in Charlotte and no Air America station.

Many more updates coming Friday, including Seattle, after 5pm EDT. Check back here for your city.

Update: BizzyBlog thinks I'm overstating the stability of conservative talk, Tom thinks blogs are starting to cut into talk radio ratings overall. He also brings up other points which will be the subject of a longer piece here.

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30 May 2005

Zimbabwean Conditions Rapidly Deteriorating

Mugabe On The Rampage

Attacks Urban Poor, New Racist Socialism Push

Are Zimbabwean thug Robert Mugabe's increasingly brutal crackdowns on virtually every segment of society leading the country toward inevitable civil war?

In a race against North Korea to claim the world's biggest basketcase title, the government recently attacked poor citydwellers and announced plans to nationalize all farmland, abolishing private land ownership.

Conditions are now so bad that Bush and Blair have no choice but to give the situation their immediate full attention.

Poor urban vendors, having lost what little they owned to Mugabe's bulldozers in an effort to remove them from the streets, are begging for arms to take violent action. They say they don't mind dying if they can take him down with them.

Mugabe has been busy ordering shanties and slums demolished in city after city, forcing residents into the streets, as temperatures drop with winter's approach. Church leaders have denounced the savage and senseless attacks on the poor, but police have continued to carry out their destructive raids.

Opposition party leaders from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have tried to calm the vendors, hoping to convince them that legal action is better than a violent uprising. But that's going to be a difficult task, as they now have nothing to lose by fighting back.

Zimbabwe's National Flag

Zimbabwean author Cathy Buckle's May letters have now been published, describing the conditions she's recently encountered:

This week I find myself as a stranger in my home town. Familiar faces have gone, familiar stopping places have been demolished. Men and women who would nod, wave and smile as I passed, have disappeared and I feel an overwhelming sadness at what has happened to them and to their struggle to make a decent living in these most desperate of times.

Around the corner from my home a woman used to sit on a concrete block with her vegetables laid out for sale on a piece of cardboard in front of her: butternuts, tomatoes and onions. She has gone, chased away by Police.

At the end of the road a young woman, sometimes with her little boy in his bright red jersey, sat on the ground under a tree with a few things to sell to passers by. She had pushed four sticks into the ground and fashioned a little table to hold her products: popcorn, matches and vegetables.

Often her little boy would smile and wave when I passed by, but they have gone, chased away by the Police. Outside the junior school four women waited every day to sell their wares to parents and children when the last bell of the day rang. They sold frozen drinks, toffees, peppermints and bubble gum balls. They have gone, chased away by Police.

Opposite the hospital eight or ten women, many with children at their feet or babies on their backs, stood selling fruits and vegetables to nursing staff, patients and visitors. Their stalls were substantial and made of treated gum poles with thick plastic sheeting overhead to protect them and their produce from the weather.

Here you could buy bananas and apples, avocado pears, cucumbers, cabbages, tomatoes and almost any fruit or vegetable in season. They have gone, chased away by Police.

Coupled with Mugabe's effort to smash the poor, for reasons perhaps known only to himself, he's also targeting landowners, by announcing the abolishment of all private farmland. Where in the past, it was whites who were prohibited from remaining on their land, now everyone must turn it over to the state.

White farmer with his workers
The move will prevent white farmers reclaiming land
BBC Library Photo

This is said to upset some ruling ZANU-PF party officials, who were rewarded with the farms of whites, as a reward for continuing loyalty to the regime. But they dare not protest.

The reason for the marxist land confiscation is to get around recent court rulings, which favored white farmowners, seeking to reclaim their stolen land.

Mugabe has long used racism as a tool for solidifying power, but the funny thing is that racial tensions are few, in a place where whites and others have mostly been cleansed from society.

With Mugabe's previous farmland confiscation plunging the country into economic chaos and a probable famine, one would think that South Africa's government would be greatly concerned.

Sadly, the corrupt African National Congress has looked the other way, along with American liberals, who have been reluctant to denounce the regime, placing selfish political concerns ahead of starving people.

Globe Reporter Demands Honesty

Bray's Fray

Boston Globe Staffer's Accountability Demand Could Cost Him

What would have been a quiet holiday weekend for the blogosphere, has instead been energized by a single post, on a brand new site.

It's about courage, a newspaper reporter not afraid to make waves in a stuffy, elitist atmosphere. And it proves that nothing has changed in America's newsrooms since last year's Rathergate.

How could Boston Globe technology reporter Hiawatha Bray be virtually alone in demanding Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley back up her absurd statement, that American troops were intentionally targeting journalists in Iraq?

Hiawatha Bray

(Boston Globe Technology Reporter
Hiawatha Bray, Photo Credit:

Her May 13 speech was met with near silence by guild members. So far just three, out of thousands of nationwide members, are known to have objected.

While the blogosphere's focus has been on Foley, the Radio Equalizer thinks Bray's story is just as compelling.

Why? Because he's been in the news before, when he was "outed" last year as a Bush-supporting Republican, a dangerous revelation for one who hopes to survive in an intolerant newsroom environment.

Card-carrying Kerry supporters were livid to discover Bray was posting political opinions on blogs, in support of Bush. To them it didn't matter that he's a technology columnist for the Globe, not a political reporter, his termination was demanded.

The Globe received many letters and its "ombudsman" weighed in (the same one looking into cancelling the conservative Mallard Fillmore comic strip) as well.

Bray wasn't sacked, but there's no doubt the disclosure of his Republican leanings could harm his future newspaper career prospects.

From unhappy campers at the leftist Media Matters:

A Globe spokesperson later acknowledged that Bray's postings "were inappropriate and in violation of our standards," though the spokesperson offered the impressively hair-splitting defense that "Mr. Bray is a technology reporter and did not cover the presidential campaign, other than a minor technology-related story on very rare occasions."

Oddly enough, the best defense of Bray's actions, came from the leftist "alternative" newsweekly Boston Phoenix.

I had the same problem in 1995, while working as a radio talk show host and as an entertainment reviewer, for a daily newspaper in California. At least two reporters objected to my presence in the newsroom, given my stated political positions.

Since I wasn't a city hall reporter, I didn't see the issue, nor did my editor.

In the letter posted on his aptly-named Choose Honor blog, he talks about the past loyalty he's shown to the Guild, refusing to cross the picket line during the notorious Detroit newspaper strike that began in 1995 and ended years later. That cost him his job.

Bray simply wants to know whether there is real evidence journalists are being targeted by our troops in Iraq. Can Foley back up this statement with facts?

I'm concerned that instead of answers, he will face nothing but additional hostility from a media environment obsessed with its own smug, partisan sense of superiority.

29 May 2005

Dallas Host, Nightline To Read Names

A Matter Of Trust

Who Should Read Names Of Fallen American Soldiers?

When Ted Koppel, host of ABC's "Nightline" program, announced last year he'd recite the names of 721 fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, a firestorm of controversy erupted.

Conservative groups protested, a major television station owner boycotted the show and a fierce debate raged for days about Koppel's motives.

Sinclair Broadcasting of Baltimore yanked the program that evening from all of its ABC stations, saying it was a partisan attempt to boost John Kerry's sagging poll numbers, by highlighting the toll of Bush's decision to invade Iraq.

It's a whole different ballgame this year, with Koppel at it again and a Dallas-Fort Worth talk radio station doing its own version, featuring Tony Snow of FOX News, syndicated advice host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Glenn Beck, Alan Colmes of FOX's "Hannity and Colmes", George Noory (of Coast to Coast AM) and KLIF-570 AM morning host Darrell Ankarlo.

There's been relatively little discussion of Koppel's announcement this year. Why is that? What makes this move highly charged and controversial one year, but less contentious the next?

Is it about the message, or the messenger? When is it a stunt, or a real tribute to fallen American soldiers?

Let's look at the distinction between Koppel's and KLIF-AM's approaches:

In 2004, Koppel's announcement emerged from an atmosphere of increasing hostility by American liberals and the media toward the Iraq War, with a strong feeling that Kerry could use the issue to gain a political advantage.

Shortly before, the Seattle Times had published photos of American flag-draped coffins, casualties on their way home from overseas combat. It was a non-standard, privacy-invading approach to war coverage, that angered many.

There was a growing feeling among conservatives and others, that rather than sincere attempts to recognize sacrifices of American soldiers for freedom, these were instead designed to help Democrats win elections.

Ted Koppel has long been a source of irritation for Republicans and conservatives, due to Nightline's leftist delivery. Therefore, this move seemed transparent, designed to help Kerry.

(Ted Koppel, ABC Library Photo, By Virginia Sherwood, Via Detroit News, May 26 2005)

As the Washington Times reported then, Sinclair execs were clear in their objections:

"We find it offensive that Ted Koppel is trivializing the deaths of so many men and women. This is not a one-year anniversary of the war, or Memorial Day. This is 'sweeps week,' and he intends to use a news platform for a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq," said Sinclair Vice President Mark Hyman yesterday.

The 17-year-old company, an independent group that owns 62 TV stations countrywide, will pre-empt "Nightline" with its own coverage of the controversy on eight ABC affiliates, affecting broadcasts in Massachusetts, North and South Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Florida and Alabama.

"We don't see journalistic value in this 'Nightline,' which is sure to stir up negative emotions about the war in Iraq," Mr. Hyman said. "And the timing — could it be that John Kerry is falling in the polls?"

Hyman was correct, not only could Nightline help Kerry, but Koppel could pull off a ratings stunt at the same time. Why shouldn't the public question Ted's motives?

In 2005, there's still no reason to trust Koppel, but without an election and the winding-down of "Nightline" coming in the near future, repeating the stunt just hasn't had last year's controversial impact. He's quickly becoming irrelevant in the rapidly-evolving media wars, about as important as Dan Rather.

When the list is read on Monday evening's broadcast, will it be any more sincere than last year? What reason would we have to believe that?

fox newsBy contrast, something very different and potentially touching, will occur on Dallas-Fort Worth's KLIF-AM, with Dr. Laura, Snow, Colmes and others reading the names of fallen soldiers.

What's the distinction?

It's personal. Host Darrell Ankarlo's son has just returned
from active duty in Iraq. Ankarlo has experienced the daily worry of his son's fate in the country, always concerned about news reports of American fatalities overseas.

Would someone in that position put together a cheap stunt, or a genuine tribute, on a holiday most talk hosts sit out?

For Dr. Laura Schlessinger, it also has deep personal meaning. Her 19-year-old son Deryk recently joined the US Special Forces and may be headed to a number of places in upcoming years. How could this be about anything other than a heartfelt tribute to American troops?

It's not an all-conservative approach either, with liberal FOX News host Alan Colmes taking part, as well.

Not for a moment do I think Colmes is expressing anything less than genuine sentiment in his participation. This doesn't have to be a conservative-vs.-liberal dividing line.

Perhaps if Koppel had approached his effort the same way, the reaction to his programs would have been much different.

The KLIF program will begin Monday at 8am EDT and is available through streaming or via podcast.

Update: Doonesbury pulled a Koppel in today's strip. Editor and Publisher has the story.

Welcome Orbusmax and Free Republic readers.

28 May 2005

Holiday Weekend Links

The Blog Dog

Fetches The Blogosphere's Best

--- Alberta's CIVITATENSIS notes that while Canada's corrupt Liberal Party government thinks gay marriage should be a one-sided "debate", Catholic-bashing is perfectly okay, due to the Church's positions on such issues.

--- Bizzyblog thinks Ohio's GOP needs a wake-up call when it comes to congressional campaigns.

--- At Blue State Conservative, a totalled van and Peggy Noonan's home run.

--- Monterey Bay's Cranky Beach wonders if it's smart to throw your blog open to guest writers.

--- A New Hampshire crime wave? Weekend Pundit breaks the sad news.

--- Cam Edwards asks why America is paying to educate Mexico's children.

--- Powerpundit, with a spiffy redesign, takes on Sen. McCain.

--- New England Republican with the latest on Gov. Romney's big plans.

--- Josef has a round-up of the latest developments regarding Canada's corrupt government.

--- Red State Rant with a patriotic reminder of what this weekend is all about.

--- Michelle Malkin has her own compelling weekend roundup.

--- Big Ben not ticking? Viking Pundit has it.

--- Orbusmax and Sound Politics are the places to go for the latest WA state gubernatorial election court challenge news.

--- Instapundit alerts me to a new blog called Choose Honor, by Hiawatha Bray, outstanding Boston Globe writer. He can't believe his guild president would accuse the US military of targeting journalists. When asked to back up her statement, she wouldn't. I'll be addressing this in detail, later.

--- Rich has a great list of Memorial Day quotes and tributes.

--- Joining the blogroll: Cape Cod Media Watch, a new site where liberal and conservative writers have teamed up to monitor newspaper coverage in SE Mass, plus St Louis Media, where Mike Anderson and company have been stirring the pot for five years. I've been reading it for several. Especially good radio forums here.

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The Radio Equalizer has recently been making talk show guest visits, I'm available for your program as well, to discuss any of these topics and more.

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27 May 2005

Rev. Sharpton Launches National Radio Show

Here Comes Another One

Al Sharpton Thinks He Can Pull It Off

Isn't it amazing to watch one liberal after another, lining up to take on conservative talk radio, even as the latest "progressive" offerings are busy falling apart?

There's something about a mindset that can really believe, despite any experience hosting talk shows, they can do what all the other liberals couldn't.

Reverend Al Sharpton's the latest to take the plunge, with immediate questions about his viability, or real future prospects.

When will one of these programs be launched due to market demand, rather than the host's major-league ego trip?

Sharpton, notorious New York liberal with a dubious background, now provides insight into the real reason for that otherwise pointless presidential campaign last year: publicity for this project.

Agence-France Presse Photo
Via New York Times

First, let's look at what led up to this launch, then to the show's potential:

As far back as February, 2004, Sharpton retained the services of the William Morris superagency, to fish around for media-related opportunities on television or radio. This move came almost immediately after the end of his candidacy.

Reality shows, movies, television dramas, radio, it didn't matter to Sharpton or the Morris agency, anything and everything would be well-received, according to the New York Daily News in March, 2004:

"I want to do TV and radio as long as it doesn't interfere with my charitable work," Sharpton said, calling in yesterday from L.A. where he was on the set of his Spike TV show "I Hate My Job."

But the Sharpton company marks the next big step for the former presidential candidate who earlier this year hired William Morris to field TV and radio offers. Sharpton's also being guided by his longtime spokeswoman Rachel Nordlinger and entertainment manager Bruce Charet.

William Morris has been holding talks with leading radio syndicators, including ABC Radio Networks, Premiere Radio networks and Westwood One as well as satellite radio company Sirius. The goal is to turn Sharpton into the Rush Limbaugh of the left.

When asked about the prospects of making serious money at this stage in his career, Sharpton said, "I certainly haven't made money before."

So what happened in the year to come? It appears that not much came of this exceptionally high profile effort, with New York's best talent agency in charge of the marketing effort.

If industry demand was high, he would have been scooped up by a syndicator straight away. One problem: the first thing these companies will tell you, is that for a show to go national, it needs to already be well-established on a flagship station.

It's not typical or considered smart to launch a national show from scratch, which has proven to be a big problem for Air America's programming: it wasn't road-tested.

Listener demand should be there first, then you launch the talk show. With lib talk, it's been ego-diving-in-head-first, then hoping for an audience later.

Sharpton has had to settle for little-known Matrix Media of Chicago, which has announced the program's launch without a single affiliate to start. It appears Sharpton will be hosting it from a studio location in New York City and could start out talking to the walls.

Matrix, in a statement, said they "hoped" to have a Chicago station soon. This is truly the cart before the horse. Also, they've given only a vague idea when it would start, being no more specific than later this summer.

If Sharpton could get stations, where would they be? Air America's lineup looks pretty much set for the time being. The afternoon drive timeslot chosen for Sharpton is especially crowded already.

Liberal talk stations are increasingly running shows from other networks, such as Jones Radio, but those schedules are filled up as well. Worse, we're no longer seeing many stations converting to the "progressive" format, after recent poor ratings results.

The best alternative then, would be ethnic, urban stations. Some run talk, music or a combination of both. But there aren't very many of these, with any substantial audience, outside of major cities. This won't give Sharpton much to work with.

How about Sharpton's own abilities? He feels he's been a guest enough times to have microphone exposure, but that's a whole different ballgame from hosting.

You're in the driver's seat and must employ not only rhetorical skills, but entertainment value, an ability to bond with listeners and energy every single day.

I've often watched celebrity talk shows fail, partly because the host has a million other things going on, that cause him or her to miss an excessive amount of time. That takes away momentum, even if you are finding an audience.

Sharpton is an engaging speaker, that will help him, but so was Mario Cuomo, who bombed in talk radio. That's just one element of many that are necessary to win at this game.

He sure isn't following what's going on in talk radio. Get a load of this Sharpton quote from John Mainelli's Post article:

Sharpton, who traveled to Mexico this week to lecture President Vicente Fox for saying Mexicans take jobs in the United States that "not even" blacks will do, says talk radio needs fresh blood.

"Talk radio is dominated by right-wingers," he said, "and we need someone on the other side who is balanced and can give a forum for everybody."

Al, did you hear about Air America, or any of the other liberal hosts who've been at this over a year? You are late to the party, pal.

The fact he was interested in doing any kind of TV or radio projects offered, tells me he doesn't have the particular passion for talk hosting needed, to pull this off. It needs to be in your blood.

The Radio Equalizer assessment is that the big players took a pass on Sharpton, even with William Morris involved, but that Al went ahead anyway. That's a sign the big guys didn't see the potential for the program to be successful.

I don't think he's going to like the result, because even if he turns out to be good, the effort appears doomed from the start.

Blogosphere Update: 27 May 2005

'Lexus Liberal' Host Exposed

Plus Other Blog Notes

--- New for Friday, Blatherwatch, a leftist talk radio blog, exposes the hypocrisy of the ultraliberal Seattle talk host who last year called for Bush's execution on "war crimes" charges.

As it turns it, he's a certified Lexus liberal and union-buster. If the "progressive" talk hosts don't believe what they say, how do they ever hope to gain an audience?

Listeners can sniff out a liar pretty quickly, they aren't stupid.

This evening talk host, who frequently rails against the Bush Administration on workplace issues (in fact, whining about Bush is really his only topic), authored two memos calling for decertification of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union local.

Worse than that, he appears to have been a key part of the effort. So much for credibility.

Blatherwatch believes the host put his personal interests (management brown-nosing) ahead of his supposed political beliefs.

In the interests of fair disclosure, the personality in question is a former coworker.

Meanwhile, he's said to be approaching Air America about a position there. Perfect! He'll fit right in with these low-rated, self-absorbed egomanics!

--- Red State Rant has done an interesting experiment: a multi-blog interview project. First subject: former Georgia Democrat Senator Zell Miller. The result was fantastic, with contributions from a number of top sites.

Check it out here. Lance tells me he'll be doing this again soon, with other top thinkers and leaders.

--- The ever-creative Rosenblog has released the results of Matt's clever Respect-a-Chicken-Day Recipe Contest. Poor Clucky.

--- Coverage of Washington State's Trial of the Century continues, with detailed analysis by Sound Politics, NWRepublican (who rants today about coverage from the Seattle Times) and frequent updates from Orbusmax. Will Republicans succeed in claiming the election stolen by Christine Gregoire & Co.?

--- At GOP Bloggers, Mark Noonan thinks Sen. George Allen of Virginia has emerged as the real winner in the recent Senate battle, standing on principle. Noonan feels Allen has an opportunity to test the presidential waters, if he should decide to take the plunge.

--- Michelle Malkin reports liberal bloggers are now trying to push the idea that the Newsweek Koran story is actually true.

26 May 2005

Another Imus Controversy Leads To Termination


What Keeps Don Imus On The Air?

How does a crusty, mean-spirited, Kerry-supporting fossil like Don Imus manage to stay on the air?

Does he have the best lawyers, who write iron-clad contracts? A world-class superagent? Compromising photos of corporate execs? All of the above?

Or is it simply the age-old art of coasting on one's earlier success, where a shrinking energy level meets increasing compensation? That's the Radio Equalizer's best guess.

Something has to explain how Imus manages to remain not only on major radio stations in New York, Boston and other cities, while keeping his morning MSNBC similcast, despite one ugly controversy after another.

It certainly isn't a strong ratings performance: he's been slowly fading into the New York sunset for 20 years. New breakdowns should be available in the next few days and no big surge is expected to be revealed.

Nor is it energy, personality, passion, prep work, or other redeeming characteristics that might give stations a continuing reason to run his morning program.

Recently, it's even worse than bad, boring talk programming, it's simply jerk radio. When was he last entertaining? Who can remember?

While never regarded as warm and fuzzy, recently it's become increasingly mean, in a way that ought to scare advertisers away for good.

Could Rush Limbaugh, or other conservative talkers, get away with these hate-filled on-air antics? Of course not.

Just this year alone, months after he proclaimed his support for elitist presidential candidate John Kerry, Imus and his program sidekicks have been embroiled in one horrible flap after another.

The latest involves slimy sidekick Sid Rosenberg, who sang a disgusting tune about pop singer Kylie Minogue's breast cancer disclosure, which led to his firing after a week of public pressure and red-faced execs.

Why did Imus keep him around this long? Look at his track record, according to the Post:

The bad-boy sports-talker underwent rehab earlier this year for an admitted addiction to crack cocaine.

Four years ago, he was suspended for saying tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams were better suited for National Geographic than Playboy.

He has also called female soccer players "juiced-up dykes," claimed "faggots play tennis," and said Palestinians were "stinking animals."

Why wasn't Rosenberg fired ages ago, in face of these incidents? Are advertisers aware of what they're associating with here?

Imus is just as responsible for this as Rosenberg, as he controls the show's content and knows his history. Why shouldn't he be held accountable?

Is anyone asking MSNBC why they still carry this program?

Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal blew the lid off of Imus's charity, a New Mexico ranch with enough amenities to rival Neverland, where $2.6 million was spent to help just 100 ill children.

Investigators, government and media alike, have wondered whether the small charitable aspect was really just a tax dodge for a personal retreat.

Then, a few weeks ago, a news anchor Imus fired, aired her grievances and got this public response, according to the New York Post:

DON Imus didn't like being called "a cantankerous old fool" by MSNBC's Contessa Brewer on PAGE SIX. Brewer, a former news reader on Imus' show, also said the I-man doesn't know how to relate to "beautiful women."

"With that fat ass she's got, she wouldn't be one of 'em," Imus said on the air Friday. "That skank has to spend three hours with makeup in the morning ... Who's she kidding? . . . Plus, she's dumber than dirt ... Oh, my God, what a pig.

But I was willing to cut her some slack and not say anything, you know, until - in fact, I didn't say anything . . . That's why they have those big double-doors there at MSNBC, you know, so they can get her fat ass in makeup."

An MSNBC spokesman said: "Contessa Brewer is a valued and respected employee. While Don Imus' humor is often brilliant and provocative, we believe that this morning's comments about Contessa went over the line. We have expressed our displeasure to Don."

It isn't just about hate-filled controversies, there's a competency factor, as well. Aside from the fact it's hard to understand what he's mumbling most of the time, he's become politically confused, moving increasingly into the liberal camp.

During last year's campaign, Imus repeatedly proclaimed his support for Kerry, but when interviewing him, had a hard time justifying his stance, in the face of the latter's inconsistent answers.

Mel Karmazin, now head of SIRIUS, was asked yesterday, at the company's annual meeting, about the possibility of hiring Imus for the sat broadcaster and gave this response, according to CBS Marketwatch:

The only way the company would pursue another high-profile radio personality -- such as Don Imus, whom he was asked about at the meeting -- would be if that person would help Sirius reach cash-flow profitability sooner than it anticipated.

"Imus, if he was available, would be [great], but it comes down to the math. He's very greedy," Karmazin said, eliciting a wave of laughter from the crowd.

When someone with Karmazin's experience and expertise, doesn't see the financial justification for fossil radio in his increasingly popular new medium, why do broadcast stations still need this jerk?

25 May 2005

eBay Pulls Sinn Fein's Strange Auction

No Bugs Allowed

eBay Yanks MI5 Bugging Device Auction

Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein are behind one of the strangest auctions in recent memory- that of a British MI5 bugging device found in their offices last year!

After first listing it on eBay, the company removed the auction from its site with no known reason given, according to Sinn Fein.

Now the political wing of the Irish Republican Army has set up an email bidding system for the rather large device, found in the floorboards of Connolly House, Belfast, last September.

So far, they claim the high bid is US $1900. Click the link to view more images of the device.

Is this a publicity stunt? Yes, but it's one of the more interesting ones I've seen come from either side of the Northern Ireland mess, in recent memory.

I don't believe this story has appeared in the news quite yet.

This is from a Sinn Fein press release the Radio Equalizer received this evening:

Auction goes on despite eBay!

The auction on eBay for part of a British MI5 bugging device found hidden in the floorboards of a Sinn Féin office in Belfast in September 2004 has been removed from its site by the management of eBay.

Sinn Féin are now offering the device (approx 10.5 inches by 6.5 inches) for auction by email.

Included is a handwritten letter of authentication from Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams (see text below). The handwritten letter has been framed and there is a display board for the device.

This is a unique opportunity.

A historical item such as this has never before been made available and it’s highly unlikely that it will happen again. Bidding will end at midnight Irish time Saturday 4th June 2005.

The current verified highest bid: $1900.00 Please make your bid (in US Dollars) by sending an email to: and please remember to include your name, address and telephone number.

All details given will be kept strictly private and the highest bid will be posted on the Sinn Féin Online Store ( each day (click on MI5 Spy Device Auction).

Text of Gerry Adams' letter:

On September 13th, 2004, at a very sensitive time in the peace process, a sophisticated bugging device was found hidden in Sinn Féin offices in Connolly House, Belfast.

This was the second device found in Belfast within ten days. Martin McGuinness and I returned the Connolly House device to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair during the peace talks in Leeds Castle, England.

When we were leaving that meeting I held on to a section of that device. Since then I have been in correspondence with various elements of the British system to establish who authorised this electronic surveillance operation.

In January 2005 Eliza Manningham-Butler, head of MI5, admitted that MI5 bugged Connolly House. This note is authentication by me that the section of the bugging device which it accompanies is part of the Connolly House device which was returned to Mr. Blair.

Gerry Adams

24 May 2005

Annual Talk Host Rankings Revealed

More Air America Troubles

Liberal Talk Hosts MIA In New Industry Survey

Fresh evidence of Air America's troubles has emerged in the latest issue of Talkers Magazine, an industry trade publication, which annually tracks the popularity of nationally syndicated radio talk show hosts.

None of the liberal talk hosts in Air America's lineup, or those distributed by other companies made the 2005 Talkers list, which ranked the 30 largest programs by audience size.

In addition, it surveyed the talk radio listenership and broke it down by group. We'll discuss that later in this piece.

Added to recent mounting evidence of lackluster ratings nearly everywhere for the network, this data does not bode well for "progressive" talk's future.

The Radio Equalizer would add that Air America's talk hosts have seemed largely absent from the spotlight in recent weeks when key news events have occurred.

Did you see them on cable talk shows, quoted in the papers, or in any other capacity outside their own programs, on the biggest news stories? Where were they in the Newsweek fiasco?

A vital aspect of programming promotion, is by way of free media exposure, outside of radio. Without it, it's exceptionally difficult to build an audience.

Before taking a look at it, it's important to know a few things about its source, Talkers Magazine. It's a quirky, imperfect publication and like other radio trades, frequent advertisers are favored in editorial coverage.

That actually should have helped, not prevented, liberal talkers from making this list given their heavy ad presence in the last year.

Does Talkers have a conservative bias? In my view, from years in the industry, attending trade conventions, reading the publication and personal knowledge of those behind the magazine, I can confidently say no.

In fact, its publisher has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for liberal talk, so it must have been disappointing to have to exclude these hosts from the rankings.

Where's Al Franken? When even the network's marquee talent can't make the top 30 list, there's a serious problem.

In addition, it's more art than science in compiling such a ranking. It relies on combining Arbitron ratings data from cities where hosts are heard, itself not a certain indicator of audience performance.

It does, however, give us a rough idea of where the programs stand. It's better than anything else we've got.

Here's the list, with names, followed by estimated weekly audience size, rounded to the nearest quarter-million. Keep in mind that local hosts are not included in these rankings.

There are a few, in Los Angeles and New York, that could make this list on the strength of just their one station.

2005 Talkers Magazine Talk Host Survey

1. Rush Limbaugh 14.75 million
2. Sean Hannity 13 million
3. Michael Savage(t) 8.75 million
3. Howard Stern (t) 8.75 million
5. Dr. Laura Schlessinger 7.50 million
6. Laura Ingraham 5 million
7. Jim Bohannon 3.75 million
8. Neal Boortz (t) 3.5 million
8. Mike Gallagher (t) 3.5 million
10. Clark Howard 3.25 million
11. Glen Beck (t) 3 million
11. Don Imus (t) 3 million
11. Bill O'Reilly (t) 3 million
11. Doug Stephan (t) 3 million
15. Dr. Joy Browne (t) 2.75 million
15. George Noory (t) 2.75 million
17. Kim Kommando (t) 2 million
17. Michael Medved (t) 2 million
17. Dave Ramsey (t) 2 million
17. Jim Rome (t) 2 million
21. Bob Brinker (t) 1.75 million
21. G. Gordon Liddy (t) 1.75 million
23. Jerry Doyle (t) 1.5 million
23. Tom Leykis (t) 1.5 million
25. Bill Bennett 1.25 million
26. Jim Cramer (t) 1 million
26. Dr. Dean Edell (t) 1 million
26. Phil Hendrie (t) 1 million
26. Rusty Humphries (t) 1 million
26. Tony Snow (t) 1 million

An unscientific, Radio Equalizer gut analysis, concludes that some of these hosts are overstated here, based on what I know about affiliate size and ratings.

I also strongly dispute the small gap between Limbaugh and Hannity's totals. My sense is that Hannity is much further from catching Rush that this would have us believe.

I have other nitpicky disputes with aspects of it, but I do believe they were correct in leaving Air America's personalities off-- they just haven't earned a place here.

Now we can sit back and wait for the "not enough time" excuses, but the truth is that most of their hosts were already on the air when last year's list was being compiled. And, with all the publicity they've had, there's no reason for Al Franken to be unable to beat the bottom-feeders in this survey.

Beyond that, maybe the numbers just aren't there for liberal talk in the first place.

In the other portion of the Talkers report, it found that just 13% of fans count themselves as being on the left, while 39% are conservative and 22% moderate.

If talk radio makes up, at best, 10% of radio listenership in a metropolitan market and only 13% of those people are liberals, it means Air America may have already found its entire potential audience, with the 1.0 share results seen in many in many cities.

This is probably why we haven't seen any audience growth for Franken & Co.

Update: liberal talk radio blogger BlatherWatch doesn't like my "spin" about Air America, thinks they need more time. Welcome Orbusmax readers.

Check back after 5pm EDT, for a discussion of new radio ratings releases. We'll have data for New York, Chicago, San Diego and more.

Also in the works: a fresh Air America controversy that provides behind-the-scenes details. Check back here soon.

22 May 2005

Liberals Worried About CNN-HN Host

Is This Woman The Devil?

Nancy Grace Accused Of "Mob Justice" By Liberals

Is the woman who single-handedly saved CNN's Headline News from oblivion also a major threat to the left?

Judging by host Nancy Grace's recent press, it's clear that with ratings success, comes savage scrutiny from liberals. But is it fair?

A new San Francisco Chronicle column, discussed below, is so vitriolic, it deserves special attention from conservatives. They'd have you believe she's the devil, if only they believed in such a concept.

But first, how did she get to this point?

Until encountering these stories, the Radio Equalizer hadn't pondered Grace's impact, other than to note her very impressive audience performance. It never seemed entirely obvious whether she was liberal or conservative, but she clearly leans toward the prosecution, reflecting her background.

I'd imagine Grace's viewers are drawn to the topical immediacy and advocacy of real justice for criminals and victims. Her own life story is especially compelling: 25 years ago, her fiancee was murdered at work, by criminals looking for money.

Primetime ratings have doubled since her arrival and overall CNN-HN numbers have shown major gains. Best of all, she appeals to the 25-54 adult demographic, the same group talk radio has been flushing down the toilet.

HN's numbers were so low before Grace began to anchor the
former 24-7 newswheel station's first primetime talkshow venture, that it really was safe to question the channel's future viability.

I see her as cable talk's future, along with Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" on CNBC. They've borrowed a page from talk radio's earlier playbook, which is to let the hosts be themselves and take TV's rigid rules away. Go for it, put yourself out there, take a risk.

The end result is rough around the edges and refreshing. Personally, I find Grace's style a bit strange, she does sometimes seem possessed and there are complaints about a tendency to dwell on irrelevant tangents. But her entertainment value is hard to dispute.

I'm also convinced it takes the kind of life experiences Grace has faced, to really have the fire in one's belly that pulls this off every night. That's where the passion comes from to be more than a talking head. To me, this is the recipe for becoming a compelling host that can draw a regular audience.

It would be a grave error were CNN suits to force her to tone it down. When it's working, leave it the heck alone.

The audience is there and that's what has liberals worried. I've noticed the same reasoning across various sites, just like yesterday's brutal San Francisco Chronicle skewering by Peter Hartlaub.

He called her program more like a "torch-bearing mob, than the 'legal-issues' show that CNN promised." Here's more:

Grace has created her own parallel universe in which guests are berated for advocating due process, panelists are invited back frequently if they make ad hominem attacks and suspects are seemingly guilty until proven innocent.

"I just wonder," Grace said on her April 7 program about Jackson, "how much money and how much celebrity does it take to make people totally ignore what's under their nose?"

"Talk about garbage and luggage in your past," she added a minute later. "There's Michael Jackson getting his star on the Walk of Fame. If I'm incorrect, correct me. But isn't that where he took his chimp as a date?"

Do San Francisco liberals have the same problem with the incessant criminal-coddling programming on other cable news channels, or on Air America? Of course not, so what's wrong with Grace's viewpoint?

Free speech for me, but not for thee?

As for the Jackson chimp comment, that's proof Grace is entertaining, a concept the uptight, stuffy left can't seem to grasp. Notice they're not complaining about Greta Van Susteren.

8 p.m. ET weekdays, replays 10 p.m. & 1 a.m. ET

Grace's negative press didn't start with the Chronicle piece, it's been building for some time, now becoming nasty and personal.

Earlier, the focus was more on her slant, such as this Althouse item from April (which includes part of a New Republic piece on Grace) and in this Howard Kurtz piece for the Washington Post:

Nancy Grace has pumped up both ratings and controversy. Ask Grace how she picks the stories for the legal program that bears her name and she launches into the tale of how her fiance was murdered 25 years ago, propelling her to law school, a job as a Georgia prosecutor and life as a victims' rights advocate. "Nothing has ever been the same since then," she says.

"I've been portrayed so many times as simply out for a conviction, always siding with the state, thinking everyone's guilty, I don't even listen anymore. I have never, ever pretended to be impartial, never. Frankly, I have no interest in being a robot that reads a prompter."

Grace's sympathies could not be clearer. When Robert Blake was acquitted of killing his wife, she said: "But where is the anger? Was the victim victimized again at trial? . . . In my mind it's a very dark day." When Scott Peterson was convicted of murdering his wife, she declared. "There is justice for Laci and Conner."

A week ago, Grace was slammed by LA Times columnist Tim Rutten almost as badly as in the new Chronicle hit piece:

There's something alarming about Nancy Grace, the preternaturally angry prosecutor turned television personality, who now fumes through a prime-time hour on CNN's stolid but usually respectable Headline News channel.

It isn't just the habitual snarl, the narrowed eyes or the improbably arched brows. It isn't the name-calling; God knows, that's become as ubiquitous a feature of cable news as that irritating crawl. It isn't even the sneer, though that deserves special attention as the rhetorical equivalent of a black hole, an aberration in the fabric of normality, where the awful weight of absolute certainty seems to overpower mere gravity.

In looking at recent coverage of Grace, I noticed a pattern of comparisons to Ann Coulter, which to me is a red alert to the left. Here's one (might not work with your browser) from Friday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, just as mean as the Chronicle character-trashing.

Perhaps the media and lefty bloggers are taking their cues from liberal judges, who have had a fixation on Grace going back 15 years or more, when she was a Fulton County, Georgia prosecutor.

If leftists are this worked up over Nancy Grace, she must be doing something right. They wouldn't waste their time on an ineffective target they didn't think had potential to change minds.

For that reason, I'll be paying especially close attention to her. Updates will be provided here.

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