The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

13 September 2006

Dr Laura Schlessinger Interview: Part One

'IN THE FIRING LINE'

Dr Laura On Politics, Radio and Her Controversial Past




*** Exclusive To The Radio Equalizer ***

By Brian Maloney


Part One


When you think of Dr Laura Schlessinger, what comes to mind?

It might be safe to say that the word controversy would emerge early in that particular thought process. Over the last twelve years or so, Dr Laura has found fame and notoriety for being unafraid to stand by positions that others would likely abandon quickly under public pressure.

For that determination to stand her ground, she's faced astounding opposition from well- organized, funded and nasty opponents, from gay & lesbian fringe activist groups for her position on homosexuality, to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for her advice to a 16- year- old on whether to visit a local mosque. After an on- air lesson in Islamofascism that outraged pro- muslim organizations, Dr Laura refused to back down.

More recently, she's taken on an additional role as columnist for the Santa Barbara News- Press, using the space to confront feminism, among other topics. That has UCSB campus activists in a tizzy, which also caught the attention of FOX News.

While things have quieted down slightly in the controversy department in the last year or so, the next flap never seems very far away.

But what is this famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) radio host really like? Your Radio Equalizer recently spent time trying to get answers.

One thing that's immediately clear: unlike most hosts who are very different in person than when they are performing their on- air act, the Dr Laura you know from the airwaves is the real thing. As she freely admits, "there's no schtick with me." At the same time, it's obvious she cares very much about others, the "tough love" approach sometimes seeming to mask deep concerns for those who seek her advice.

Not only has she continued to write best- selling advice books, but she has also branched out into a one- woman stage show, which arrives in Detroit this week.

What is also clear is that not only have you not seen the last of Dr Laura, her career again seems to be on the upswing, especially when looking at radio ratings.


In part one of our interview, we focus on her personal and professional lives, while in the second half (coming Thursday morning), we'll get her take on President Bush, politics and pop culture. What advice would she have for Bush? Watch for that tomorrow.


Part One: Personal Life


Brian Maloney: You've had a challenging five or six years, haven't you? Between gay-rights groups going after you with a level of venom I've rarely seen elsewhere, to controversies involving your past and professional difficulties, what has been the toughest to deal with personally?

Dr Laura: Hearing people repeat things I did not say. When you give opinions, you are in the firing line. Many people respect my opinions - and a few don't.

We have over eight million people nationally and more internationally listening to me on the radio give advice each day and thanking us for the program. This is unbelievably rewarding to me and my staff.


BM: Is there anything you would have done differently through these very public flaps?

Dr L: I would have clarified my statements more often and defended my reputation more vigorously, although it would appear that ideological passions often lead people to discount facts and truths that don't fit into their mission.


BM: Can you give an example of where you think you've taken the high road against adversaries during challenging situations? Were you satisfied with the results?

Dr L: See my previous answer.


BM: At the same time, would you say that you're a happier person today than in years past? If so, why?

Dr L: I am very happy today. I have a great family, a great job, and I continue to expand my horizons almost daily.

I am blessed.


BM: Have you ever come very close to making a big mistake, but somehow came to your senses just in time to avoid major trouble? Had you gone down this particular path, what impact do you think it would have had on your life and the direction it has ultimately taken?

Dr L: We all make mistakes every day. We are human. We are not God.

I am very thankful for many of the mistakes I have made in my life because I learned much from them that I can use to help others accept themselves and do better in their lives.


BM: I've seen differing reports on your religious views. Could you please clear up any confusion on this? Are you still an Orthodox Jew, or did you leave that behind for good in 2003?

Dr L: I am no longer an Orthodox Jew.


Professional Life


BM: You've been in radio for over thirty years, so you must have seen it all by now. In what way do you think the business has changed the most?

Your show has also experienced its own share of highs and lows. After September 11, it was faulted for not being sufficiently political, yet the truth is that you had adapted very quickly to the new landscape. But it cost you a number of affiliates and you were even bad-mouthed by a few. Do you think you were treated fairly?

And, a couple of the shows that replaced yours are now struggling to generate ratings. How does that make you feel? Did these stations make a mistake?

Dr L: The radio business has changed drastically.

One major trend I see lately is that even when you have excellent ratings and you have the top program for a given station, you still might not get the best time slot and investment from the affiliate for your program.

I don't understand that. I guess there is internal politics everywhere. I believe that when you earn it, you should get it.


BM: Let's talk about ratings: even though your program isn't heard on as many stations as it once was, it's generating stellar numbers in the cities that carry it. You're generating huge audience shares in Los Angeles at KFI.

In San Francisco, KSFO actually beats KGO during the first hour you are on there. From my analysis of the ratings, that's the only time of day when KSFO approaches KGO's numbers. And you're miles ahead of Rush, whose program precedes yours.

In Portland, you're beating all of your timeslot competition in a market with many stations. And in Dallas, you had the top-rated show on KLIF, before being yanked off the schedule a couple of months ago.

Yet, I believe this news would be a surprise to many, including those in the talk radio business. Some have written you off and been quite nasty about it. What happened and why is the perception so different from reality?

Dr L: Our numbers are terrific!

I believe my overall ratings across the board are up about 21% while the industry numbers are down. The numbers don't lie and we are very excited about it.

We are currently talking to all of our affiliates across the country about our excellent numbers and also seeking new affiliates across the country as we think the timing is right to grow not only nationally, but internationally.

As to why the perception is so different from reality, see my previous answer.



BM: Do you think it would reasonable to say that overall you may be the most controversial talk show host ever? If I were to ask ten random people on the street about you, I would no doubt get strong reactions, whether pro or con. What puts you ahead of the political talkers in this category?

Dr L: Whereas political talkers deal with externalities, I talk to people about how they lead their lives, their decisions, behaviors, attitudes, etc.

This is, unlike generalized political talk, up- close and very personal.

This sometimes gets people defensive, until they are willing to introspect, own up, and do become better.


BM: Over the past three years, millions have been spent on yet another attempt to make liberal talk radio succeed. Clearly, it hasn't, but that hasn't stopped feminist newcomer GreenStone Media (backed by Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem, among others) from spending millions more on a women's talk network that really appears to be heading down the same path. Will lefty radio ever succeed? If so, how?

Dr L: I wish them luck.

I have been the leading female talker on national radio for over a decade and a half - and I reach as many men as I do women.

I don't think about competition, I only think about the job I'm doing.


BM: In 2006, we've seen yet another round of station consolidation that has placed more outlets in even fewer hands. Veteran talk programmers have been shown the door, as music and sales people are told to run the news / talkers to save money. Stations now have relatively little local content, even in the biggest cities.

Now, these companies are lobbying the FCC to have ownership restrictions loosened even further. Do you think that consolidation helps or hurts our business?

Dr L: I think competition is better for business.


COMING THURSDAY: our attempt at getting Dr Laura to open up on her political views. Will we succeed? Watch for part two.

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18 Comments:

  • "I am no longer an Orthodox Jew."

    Oh.

    Well, that's very easy, and convenient.

    "...leading female talker..."

    More likely, a legend in her own living room.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 13 September, 2006 12:55  

  • Well, at least she has a larger audience than the bankrupt Air America Radio network (bankruptcy details to be announced on Friday)

    By Blogger The Benson Report, at 13 September, 2006 14:10  

  • Not so in CT. She was on powerhouse WTIC 1080 in Hartford. Now she is on small potato WLAD in Danbury--the only CT radio station to carry her.

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 13 September, 2006 18:26  

  • With Zionist money backing up her propaganda, I'm surprised she hasn't taken Couric's place.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 13 September, 2006 18:29  

  • She's a non-player in talk radio.

    I don't think she's lasted more than a few years on any major media outlet.

    She's like a cancer, that keeps on coming back and going metastatic.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 13 September, 2006 18:51  

  • Brrrrrringggggg ... brrrrrrringggg!

    Yoohoo, Hash, it's reality calling.

    http://www.talkers.com/talkhosts.htm

    According to Talkers Magazine, Dr. Laura "non-player" Schlessinger has an average weekly audience of 7.75 million -- fourth overall behind Limbaugh, Hannity and Savage ... equal to Howard Stern ... and ahead of Laura Ingraham, Neil Boortz, Glen Beck and anything the Left has to offer.

    By the way, what exactly is the source of your Hitleresque hate for Jews?

    By Blogger The4thEstate, at 13 September, 2006 19:24  

  • Newsflash: to criticize a Jew is not to hate a Jew.

    Forces would have you think otherwise.

    On the other hand, said forces had their hooks into your mind long before the term "self-hating" ever came into vogue, so why would the reality of what is happening enter into the equation?

    Really? Think about it.....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 13 September, 2006 19:38  

  • And I repeat, the same people who bring us "Talkers Magazine" also brought us Enron, Halliburton, and digital manipulation of video images in Lebanon, so why would anyone pay attention, when you cannot find any PERSON who admits listening to Schlesinger, even when her program is readily available, and they WILL admit to listening to swill like Hannity?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 13 September, 2006 19:43  

  • Islamofascist CAIR Doesn't Like the Term "Islamic Fascist": FNC video, 8/14/6 http://www.terrorfreeoil.org/videos/FN081406.php

    CAIR Terrorist Apologist Blames Israel, FNC video, 8/12/6 http://www.terrorfreeoil.org/videos/BG081206-2.php

    Free Patriotic Corner Banners: http://www.terrorfreeoil.org/cb/

    By Blogger Terror-Free, at 13 September, 2006 22:47  

  • More imaginary terror?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 13 September, 2006 23:51  

  • "More imaginary terror?"


    I see we have one of Pacifica's FEW listeners!

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 14 September, 2006 07:22  

  • "Patriot" (read "loyalist")....

    Yawn.

    Isn't "Dr." Schlessinger one of the purveyors of the "Islamofascist" myth?

    Face it, fools.

    She was in violation of halacha-specifically taharat hamishpacha-that deals with Jewish family law, and inadvertantly placed herself and her family in an untenable personal and spiritual quagmire.

    Incredibly ironic, since "Dr." Schlesinger built a career on directing others to adhere to "principles" she couldn't possibly handle herself-hence the migration to evangelism, by way of messianic Judaism.

    She'd become a major liability to Orthodox Judaism and an incredibly public chillul hashem. And her former handlers are prohibited by the injunction of refraining from loshon hara (idle gossip), and for the most part, they do not.

    Hence the void in incisive, reality-based reporting on the issue.

    "Dr. Ruth"--It is commanded, do not lie, for it is an abomination.

    Oh, I forgot-she's under a better covenant now. No longer applicable.

    Yikes!

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 14 September, 2006 10:26  

  • fame and notoriety for being unafraid to stand by positions that others would likely abandon quickly under public pressure.

    I think that the reason that her show works is that she is easily seen to be speaking what she believes- like what she says on any given subject or not.

    May talk show hosts come across as taking positions only to stir up controversy, and then coming around eventually to the position most supported by their audience, be they lefty's or righty's.

    She comes across as the Aunt everyone wishes they had; the one that will cut through the politeness and tell you exactly what you need to do.

    A lot of people (particularly gays,drug users and others whose conduct she disapproves of) aren't going to like what she says very much.

    If you'll forgive my language, she calls a bastard a bastard, and the bastards don't like that much.

    In the liberal media climate, this can lead to her moving off the dial even if she has the listeners and is a money-maker.

    By Blogger Lokki, at 14 September, 2006 12:57  

  • hashfanatic said ...

    Newsflash: to criticize a Jew is not to hate a Jew.

    TheFourthEstate said ...

    Newsflash: You didn't criticize "a" Jew. You criticized a lot of Jews with your comment about "Zionist money." Just as you criticized a lot of Jews by branding Israel the aggressor against the Hezbos.

    Is that hate for Jews? Maybe; maybe not. But after a while, a pattern starts to emerge, y'know?


    hashfanatic said ...
    Forces would have you think otherwise.

    On the other hand, said forces had their hooks into your mind long before the term "self-hating" ever came into vogue, so why would the reality of what is happening enter into the equation?


    TheFourthEstate said ...
    "Forces would have you think otherwise"? "Forces with hooks," even??

    Maybe you didn't get the memo, but the whole Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader/Jedi thing was just a movie. Really.


    hashfanatic said ...
    And I repeat, the same people who bring us "Talkers Magazine" also brought us Enron, Halliburton, and digital manipulation of video images in Lebanon, so why would anyone pay attention, when you cannot find any PERSON who admits listening to Schlesinger, even when her program is readily available, and they WILL admit to listening to swill like Hannity?

    TheFourthEstate said ...
    Typical ultra-left logic: "If I can come up with some rumor that smears the person or company in question, then I convince myself that I just won the argument."

    Unfortunately, there are a few nagging facts that you haven't laid a glove on. For instance, can you prove that Schlessinger DOESN'T have 7.75 million listeners? Or, can you prove how many listeners Schlessinger DOES have, aside from your highly scientific "I asked everybody I know and they don't listen" poll?

    Prove, by any legitimate source, that Dr. Laura hardly has any listeners, and I'll take my hat off to you. Fail to do so and you only make yourself look that much less credible.

    In other words ... GOT FACTS?

    By Blogger The4thEstate, at 14 September, 2006 16:36  

  • Fourth, your failed line of accusations only proves to progressives and true conservatives your true agenda.

    I've never believed in the accuracy of Arbitron, Nielsen, and so forth. If radio and television programming so accurately reflects the wants and desires of the people, than why is virtually everyone disgusted with the quality and level of government-backed radio and television in general?

    Can you see the disconnect?

    No "poll" data needed, when the truth is as plain as the nose on your face.

    Ratings are a tool of the enemy.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 14 September, 2006 18:20  

  • Lokki, if your aunt were to be publicly exposed as having experience as a porno model and engaging in fleshy union with strange men, would you be so proud to be her family member then?

    Would you continue to turn to her for moral confidence and advice?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 14 September, 2006 18:24  

  • Hashfanatic said ...
    Fourth, your failed line of accusations only proves to progressives and true conservatives your true agenda.

    TheFourthEstate said ...
    Hash, my "true agenda" is to simply spend the bulk of my life dwelling in the realm of reality. You can't go around calling someone a "non-player in talk radio" when she's racking up better ratings than any female in her field.

    Well, I suppose you can, but there's that nagging reality thing again ...


    Hashfanatic said ...
    I've never believed in the accuracy of Arbitron, Nielsen, and so forth.

    TheFourthEstate said ...
    But if most people in the radio industry consider Arbitron important, then it's important, regardless of whether you happen to agree with them.

    It's like your grandfather saying, "Hip-hop music is stupid." Well, maybe to him it is, but as long as rap artists are making millions of dollars on the genre, it's not going away anytime soon.


    Hashfanatic said ...
    If radio and television programming so accurately reflects the wants and desires of the people, than why is virtually everyone disgusted with the quality and level of government-backed radio and television in general?

    TheFourthEstate said ...
    Radio and television aren't government-backed ... well, aside from PBS and NPR, perhaps. Station owners are in a competitive environment against other station owners.

    As for the quality of television, I'd be the last person to say it's as good as it can be. But obviously it's good enough for the vast number of Americans with remotes in their hands (although network TV viewership is steadily declining). Last time I checked, though, the public was still buying TVs.


    Hashfanatic said ...
    Can you see the disconnect?

    TheFourthEstate said ...
    Not really. You're talking theories and I'm trying to drag you back into the real world. (And not the one occupied by Julie the Mormon.)


    Hashfanatic said ...
    No "poll" data needed, when the truth is as plain as the nose on your face.

    Ratings are a tool of the enemy.


    TheFourthEstate ...
    I'm not sure which enemy you're referring to -- or what truth, for that matter. All I know is that the biggest truth in a free, open, capitalist business environment is that what people like, succeeds ... and what people don't like, fails.

    There are always exceptions, of course, but most of the time it's really no more complicated than that. Which is why I don't understand your insistence that Dr. Laura isn't a success. You might not think she deserves to be a success, but what's the sense in trying to deny something that's irrefutable?

    Sheesh, it's like saying, "People say Kobe Bryant scores a lot of points in the NBA, but I don't believe he's very good because I don't believe sports pages. They're a tool of the enemy."

    Can't you see how that sounds?

    By Blogger The4thEstate, at 14 September, 2006 21:52  

  • But the woman is a fraud!!

    A simple fraud!!

    THAT'S the point I'm trying to make!

    One ratings period, she'll take a hardline position. The next one, she'll mellow for the ladies' mags, with a little bit of gooey fluff, just to convince the dumb-cluck audience that she IS compassionate enough to dole out abuse.

    She appears to have no consistent belief system, or sense that she needs to, or has ever needed, to actually abide by the standards she sets for everyone else.

    She IS what everyone whines that Hillary is....and she gets away with MURDER!

    Shows cancelled, relationships with outlets and sponsors broken, never on the same time from year to year. If she's a good investment, then that's a pretty good demonstration of precisely what's wrong with the radio biz, and why it no longer meets the MAJORITY of the American radio listener's needs.

    Sadly, even though the message may be well-needed in our society, she's hardly worthy enough to be the messenger.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 14 September, 2006 23:01  

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