The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

31 January 2006

Exclusive Interview With KFI / Los Angeles Host Bill Handel


Will CAIR Take Down Another Radio Host?

Could activists from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) succeed in taking down another talk radio host?

After last year's victory in Washington, DC, where WMAL's Michael Graham was fired from ABC Radio for making comments the pressure group deemed offensive, their new focus is KFI/ Los Angeles morning host Bill Handel.

This time, after bubbling under for a few days, the story has spread worldwide. And, in some publications, it's now tied to the plight of a politically-incorrect Danish cartoonist who has also dared to irk Islamic extremists.

Almost appearing to relish the idea of a full-blown battle with CAIR, Handel kicked off the latest controversy with cracks about the stampede-related deaths of hundreds during the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Today, he gave an exclusive interview to the Radio Equalizer, with comments almost certain to fan the group's flames.

First, from the AP:

The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked for an apology from KFI-AM 640 host Bill Handel, who allegedly made fun of the deaths during a Jan. 12 segment he called the "Annual Stampede Report."

A spokeswoman for KFI, which is owned by Clear Channel Communications, did not immediately return a message left Thursday. Handel's producer, Michelle Kube, also did not return calls for comment. Handel had left work for the day and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

At least 363 pilgrims were killed and hundreds injured in a stampede that day in Mecca, where thousands of people were rushing to carry out a symbolic ritual of stoning the devil in Mina.

According to CAIR, Handel imitated the people screaming and then joked that the Muslims at the pilgrimage should use a helicopter to monitor pilgrimage traffic, as is done in Los Angeles with the freeways.

CAIR quoted Handel as saying, "This is Mahmoud Nolan. Hajj in the Sky. There is an accident ... Ali lost his sandal on the on-ramp to the Martin Luther King Jr. freeway ..."

In March 2004, KFI issued an on-air apology after CAIR filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission following a skit that claimed Muslims have sex with animals, don't bathe and hate Jews.

Handel's response:

On his program yesterday, Handel said he would apologize, but only if CAIR agreed to denounce "all bombing or attacks where intended victims are innocent citizens," to acknowledge Israeli sovereignty and to verify that the group has never had connections with any terrorist group or sponsor.

If those conditions are met, "I'll be more than happy to apologize for offending people, I'll apologize all day long," Handel said in a live 12-minute response to CAIR's complaint.

So far, the station is standing behind Handel while distancing itself from his comments, issuing this statement:

KFI-AM does not condone making light of the deaths of people engaged in religious observances. We regret that listeners found the comments of one of our on-air hosts to be insensitive. KFI does not censor its hosts, nor does it tell them what to say or not to say. KFI is a strong and passionate believer in 1st amendment rights and that is at the very core of this radio station.

Given other recent controversies of this nature, however, some are wondering if station management would maintain this position under sustained criticism.

Handel, however, not only isn't backing down, he actually seems eager to kick it up a notch. In an exclusive Radio Equalizer interview, he wasn't afraid to answer our questions head-on:

Radio Equalizer: so far, the station is standing behind you, as KFI says they don't censor their hosts. Do you see any circumstances where this could change?

Bill Handel: No, I see no circumstance that would change this unless I had sex on the air. But then again, that would upset everyone, not just my bosses.

RE: Are you confident they'll remain firm on this?

Handel: Yes, but my boss did come to work today with a prayer rug, so I'm hoping she's still standing by me.

RE: What do you see as the difference between your situation and previous CAIR protests, where hosts such as Michael Graham at WMAL have been fired?

Handel: This company has balls to stand behind its hosts. Disney, parent company of Graham's station, has NO business being in talk radio because they don't like controversy at all. Talk radio is all about controversy.

RE: Do you think CAIR has actually undermined itself by giving you so much free publicity?

Handel: I think this has given us an opportunity to really look at CAIR and see what they really stand for. And I also think this has given us an opportunity to look at ourselves and see what we really stand for.

The First Amendment is extremely important, and that's what we stand for. One other thing: try going to Google, type in "CAIR terror" and see what pops up!

What will be CAIR's next move: to press further against KFI, or move on to the next media target? We'll be watching.

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30 January 2006

Sean Hannity, Jerry Springer, Mike Malloy, Boston, Texas


Is Jerry Worth The Time Of Day? Plus: Other Updates

As Sean Hannity is proving to Jerry Springer, a career boost can sometimes come from the most unlikely of circumstances.

After all, why should the nation's number two-ranked talk host (by audience size, with Rush Limbaugh in first place) give one of Air America Radio's weakest performers the time of day?

Because of Jerry's television fame?

Even the liberal network's most diehard apologists seem lukewarm when it comes to supporting the syndicated television trashmeister. And we might add that Hannity has roughly 10 stations running his show for every one still saddled with the dreadful "Springer On The Radio".

And yet there they'll be, together in Cincinnati, in what's billed as a "battle of the talk show hosts". From the Cincy Enquirer:

Conservative Sean Hannity vs. liberal Jerry Springer ? Wouldn't you love to see them go at each other? (Verbally, of course.)

You can, at Clear Channel's "Battle of the Talk Show Hosts" 8 p.m. Feb. 25 at Grand Victoria Casino and Resort in Rising Sun.

The Fox News host, whose national radio show airs 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WKRC-AM (500), will go head-to-head with Springer, the Democrat and ex-Cincinnati mayor whose national Air America radio show airs 9 a.m.-noon on WCKY-AM (1530).

Tickets ($30) are available by calling (800) 472-6311. For $100, you can attend a reception and buffet before the main event.

"The evening will be entertaining, thought provoking and an all-out brawl," predicts WKRC'S Tony Bender.

Should Hannity have a few heavies tag along, just in case Springer shows up with some of his television "guests"? Perhaps, if he cares to return the favor, Jerry can help Sean get his own "opera".

Speaking of Hannity, after a series of programming moves, it's getting harder to figure out where to hear him in New England.

After recently settling into early evenings on WPRO/Providence, he'll finally be heard live in Boston, on Salem's WTTT-AM.

What in the world is WTTT, you might ask? Long one of Salem Radio Network's most-neglected stations, it generates no Boston-area Arbitron ratings, has failed to invest in local programming and has this tacky website.

With Hannity now leaving the late-night hours at WTKK-FM for 3-6pm on WTTT, Salem finally has an opportunity to build a real radio station.

Will they take it?

In the form of praise from moonbat websites, liberal talker Mike Malloy's recent hate-filled tirade against Republicans who dared to invite him to an upcoming convention seems to be paying dividends.

The latest fawn-fest from Democratic Underground:

Malloy has worked for WSB in Atlanta, WLS in Chicago and the now defunct I.E. America Radio Network. So, some may ask -- if Malloy's so damn good, why did WSB, WLS -- let him go? Why is Air America Radio afraid to stick him in prime time so more people can hear the truth?

Because he is so damn good, that's why. Because the truth Malloy tells is raw, straightforward, stripped of all spin -- every word shoved right in the faces of those who have seized power to destroy the democratic safeguards of the U.S. Constitution, to steal elections, to abandon society's most vulnerable, and to slaughter their own citizens as a pretext for war.

But even Air America knows that not everybody can handle the truth, especially in prime time.

Each night, Malloy exposes the Bush administration for what it is -- a murderous, evil, lying, fascist regime.

Hey DU, why is it okay to abandon "society's most vulnerable", as long as they live in the Bronx? Also, why no mention of Malloy being replaced by paid programming on Air America's New York flagship WLIB-AM?

I.E. America, by the way, was a previous liberal talk radio network attempt that failed to generate the publicity its shaky successor has enjoyed. Of that earlier effort, Malloy was a key part.

Something else: why are a number of lefty websites using downright ancient photos of Malloy? Compare the above images to this recent one used in the Washington Post. What gives?

An ugly Air America (and Texas Democrats) dig by Bud Kennedy in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

That's what's wrong with Texas Democrats.

You don't win Texas elections going after the vegetarian vote.

The vegetarians might be the only voters Democrats have left this year. Their candidates are running either third or fourth in the governor's race, behind a lackluster incumbent, a displaced Republican runner-up and a funny country singer.

"It is difficult for the Democrats to understand that they are not just noncompetitive, but they are absolutely out of the picture," said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University.

I don't think that the crowd in Carrabba's would look up if either Chris Bell or Bob Gammage walked into the dining room.

Riddlesperger summed up Texans' response in one word: "Who?"

Bell and Gammage are scheduled to stage their first face-to-face forum tonight at 7:15 at a union hall on West Hurst Boulevard. The momentous occasion will be covered by Air America Radio, which reaches about as many listeners as the average Sonic Drive-In menu board.

No doubt: when Democrats confuse Texas with Berkeley, elections are lost.

Shot In The Dark says there's been recent turmoil at Air America's Minneapolis outlet. Oddly, mold is at the center of the controversy. See the update.

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Top Springer photo: Cincy Enquirer library picture, origin of earlier Malloy photos: who knows? Recent Malloy snap: Washington Post

27 January 2006

Ed Schultz, Norfolk, Aberdeen, Fargo, Philly, Montreal


Lib Talker Schultz Loses Three, Quebec Hosts In Chirac Prank

For once not
involving Air America, liberal talk radio took a big hit this week, as Ed Schultz lost affiliates in three cities. In an especially significant blow, the syndicated talker was cancelled in his hometown of Fargo, North Dakota, from where his show remains based.

According to Perry Simon of entertainment industry trade publication All Access, Schultz was cancelled in Fargo to make room for local programming, the same reason the Aberdeen American News has given for his South Dakota removal. And his Norfolk, Virginia outlet is switching to sports.

While Aberdeen's KSDN is also dropping Rush Limbaugh for the same reason, it must be tough to lose two stations on one's home turf. Syndicated by Denver's Jones MediaAmerica and said to be backed financially by Democrat Party activists, Schultz has mostly stayed out of the headlines, content to watch Air America generate bad publicity while remaining focused on the show.

Schultz has generally remained off of our radar screen, since he rarely has Rhodes-ian meltdowns or becomes completely unhinged. Some on the left, however, don't trust him because they feel he's too "moderate".

That said, the Radio Equalizer has long wondered whether liberal non-Air America hosts are tired of being tied by association to the company and its self-inflicted wounds.

Norfolk's WTAR-AM format flip also hits conservative talker Tammy Bruce hard, as it has long carried her weekday show live. And Don Imus takes another hit in losing this station.

Also in All Access: another political prank from CKOI/Montreal's "Les Justiciers Masques" afternoon team, this time against French President Jacques Chirac:

They're at it again at CORUS French Top 40 CKOI/MONTREAL, where afternoon pranksters MARC-ANTOINE AUDETTE, SEBASTIAN TRUDEL, and RICHARD Z. SIRIOS (LES JUSTICERS MASQUES) took the occasion of the election of newly elected Prime Minister STEPHEN HARPER to fool French President JACQUES CHIRAC into thinking he was talking to HARPER on the phone.

"HARPER" was, in fact, AUDETTE, who drew CHIRAC into a conversation about relations between the countries and received an invitation to visit FRANCE.

The radio mimics have pranked everyone from STEVEN SPIELBERG and BONO to murderer KARLA HOMOLKA and mogul DONALD TRUMP with faux celebrity phone calls.

While it's one thing to trick a celebrity like Trump, it's long been puzzling how they've managed to fool so many world leaders. How do they get their phone numbers, or bypass presidential aides?

Why is it so easy for a team of disc jockeys to dupe such important people? Chirac's a particularly inviting target, making this stunt quite a coup.

Is Philly sports radio racist? Yes, according to a lawsuit filed there against CBS Radio and a relatively unpopular manager. From the Philadelphia City Paper:

Duane Lucas has a very important message for Philadelphia's pro athletes and fans: Your sports-talk radio station is racist. Lucas was inside the belly of his bigoted beast for eight years and says he can prove 610-WIP isn't the voice of the Philadelphia sports fan.

It's the voice of the white Philadelphia sports fan.

Come Feb. 3, as the station packs the Wachovia Center for—and rakes in mad advertising revenue from—its annual Wing Bowl glutton-and-stripper-fest, Lucas will march into the federal courthouse at Fifth and Market.

Hired as an advertising account manager in 1994, Lucas was promoted twice within four years to director of sports marketing. His job was to drum up advertising for high-profile slots during Flyers and Sixers games, and on NFL Sundays. He and his performance reviews say he was pretty good at it.

But his lawsuit, which seeks $1.2 million in damages, states that former program manager Tom Bigby and others "engaged in a racially-motivated campaign to destroy my career." Lucas says his fellow African-American employees often whispered about bigotry, that he should "watch out, there are certain people in the organization who don't like people like us."

According to his suit, Lucas noticed that higher-ups would call clients who'd booked ads through African-American salespeople to confirm they actually cut a deal. The problem? People who dealt with white salespeople didn't get calls. And when it came to extending credit, it was sign-and-go for those who dealt with whites, and no-go for those who dealt with blacks.

He felt minority employees were getting undercut in front of their clients. But Lucas didn't get really mad until the time he claims he asked Bigby where he could find African-American station manager Butch Forster and Bigby replied, "hanging from that rope," motioning to a window-washing rig left outside his office.

"An obvious reference to lynching," Lucas says. "There was something every day. It was a pattern with this company, but radio's such a small world, people are scared to say anything about it. Start crying racism and your career's shot."

Whether Bigby is a racist is uncertain, but in radio, he doesn't appear especially well liked.

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Why Do Liberals Appear On The O'Reilly Factor?


Lefties: Should We Turn Down O'Reilly?

Are so-called "progressives" increasingly afraid to appear on the FOX News Channel's O'Reilly Factor?

Since appearing in the Boston Phoenix nearly a week ago, the Radio Equalizer is baffled as to how this amazing piece, where liberals ponder whether to decline Factor appearances, fell through the cracks. It truly deserves to be highlighted.

While it clearly accuses O'Reilly of unfairness, there's also an admission that because leftists seemingly can't win the debate, perhaps they should take their marbles and go home. Is that the true state of liberalism today?

After years of campus political correctness, where multi-sided discussions have been all but shut down, perhaps this is the unfortunate end result: liberals with lousy debating skills.

As certain as 12 Dunkin' Donuts locations in every New England town, serial FOX-basher David Brock emerges in the middle of Mark Jurkowitz's piece:

David Brock, president of the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America — which is frequently critical of O’Reilly and gave him its 2004 “Misinformer of the Year” award — says, “I often feel he’s also getting a fair amount of guests who are lured on to that show for a one-time appearance and then get the stuffing beaten out of them.”

Silverglate, a skilled and experienced debater, has made three appearances, once when he took a position similar to that of O’Reilly, once when they partially agreed, and once when they were clearly at odds.

In that latter instance, “it was quite an experience,” he says. “I didn’t get a word in edgewise.... I vowed [that next time] I was going to take a more aggressive approach.” That helps explain his tenacious performance last week.

Lawrence Walters, another free-speech attorney who’s been on the Factor about a half-dozen times, says “the vast majority of the time he’s completely opposed to what I’m saying. He’s in control of the mike. He does a lot of interrupting.”

“A lot of progressives won’t go on his show,” he adds.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve winced or cringed when I’ve seen people go on there and not do well,” adds Steve Rendall, a senior analyst for the liberal media watchdog FAIR, who had been on the Factor seven times, but says he was never brought back after a contentious 2003 appearance.

While there are at least two quoted liberals who defend appearing on the show, the overall tone remains clear: because you'll get creamed, it's foolish to accept an O'Reilly Factor invitation.

Since it's the same as a wishy-washy young woman with a cheating boyfriend calling Dr. Laura and expecting an easy time, why don't our fellow "progressives" know better? That seems to be the best analogy.

As for Rendall's situation, unless he was given a reason, how does he know why he wasn't brought back on the show? Seven opportunities to appear on national television with a critic and the complaint is that there wasn't an eighth? To the Radio Equalizer, that many visits seems especially open-minded.

By contrast, how often does Al Franken invite any of us onto his radio show?

Perhaps the real problem is the structure of Boston's stuffy, antiquated Old Media, where the weekly "alternative" Phoenix resides in a dark, dingy basement. Like it or not, O'Reilly's show has helped to create the new media as we know it today.

Watched by millions nightly, its aim from day one was to establish Bill as the anti-Larry King, where softball questions and an unprepped host have long made for the very definition of bad television. For some reason, establishment liberal media types still can't figure out why O'Reilly routinely creams his CNN counterpart in the ratings.

To beat FOX at this point, Larry would have to kidnap Elvis from his South American hideaway and haul him into the studio.

It boils down to this: Bill O'Reilly isn't supposed to be nice. Don't take it personally. Quickly getting down to the bottom line, it's about cutting through the crap. That's why they're watching.

Even with those of us on the same side of an issue, he's harsh. Before both of my recent appearances, there have been stern lectures from O'Reilly about having facts straight and staying on-topic.

By design, absolutely nobody gets their rear end kissed on the O'Reilly Factor. That's because the alternative is low-rated, outdated King-style rubbish.

While it does take guts, anyone on the left turning down O'Reilly out of fear is a coward. As even the Phoenix piece admits, that's because his audience comes from a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints. Why not take the opportunity to possibly win over a few people?

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Top O'Reilly photo: Canadian Press, with Letterman: CBS, King with Kagan: David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer

26 January 2006

Response To O'Reilly Factor- Fox News Channel Visit


To new readers arriving at The Radio Equalizer after last night's O'Reilly Factor guest visit. In addition to the essay I talked about with Bill, there are many other recent updates here on talk radio, television and politics.

Feel free to scroll down if you'd like to see them.

And to the regulars, thanks again for your support.

Meanwhile, Brainster offers his view of our Air America scandal coverage, as does Michelle Malkin, Ace Of Spades, Pardon My English and Free Republic.

Thanks also to Orbusmax, IHillary and Lundesigns.

The Political Teen has video of the segment, as does Blog For Books, while Musing Minds made a transcript. The blogosphere is officially on the ball.

Additional thanks: Viking Pundit, Memeorandum and California Conservative.

Watch for more investigative work in the days ahead and new material here later today.

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Frankenfallen: David A Lunde

25 January 2006

Did Al Franken's Outrageous Demands Slow Boys & Girls Club Repayment?


How Al's Bloated Compensation Threatens Air America

By Brian Maloney

(I'll be appearing on FOX News Channel's O'Reilly Factor tonight at 8pm to discuss this piece in greater detail)

What did Al Franken make and when did he make it?

Nearly six months after shady taxpayer funds transfers from a Bronx-based nonprofit to liberal talk radio network Air America were first disclosed to the public, this dirty scandal's final chapter has yet to be written.

Now, from a key point during its still-unfolding timeline, newly obtained documents raise serious questions about host Al Franken and the firm.

Had Franken not been so pushy during his Air America contract negotiations, could the whole matter have easily been resolved?

Much damage has now been done: still under scrutiny by New York City's Department of Investigation is the sleazy $875,000 in "loans" from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club between September, 2003 and March 15, 2004, to help Franken's bosses pay the fledgling outfit's mounting debts.

After substantial negative publicity and DOI demands, Air America finally agreed in September to put the entire amount into an escrow account controlled by company attorney William H. Schaap.

A DOI spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment on the investigation's status.

Meanwhile, what's left of the community center is hanging by a thread, stripped of its Boys & Girls Club charter, cut off from grants and facing eviction from its Co-Op City location, as the New York Post has reported.

Happily waltzing through the middle of this mess nearly unscathed, however, is Franken himself. Fawning press coverage almost everywhere was the result of his recently-completed book tour.

And why shouldn't Franken be smiling? While repayment was delayed until it was too late to save Gloria Wise and its afterschool programs for disadvantaged youth, Al got everything he wanted and then some.

Did his greed greatly contribute to the problem, by keeping Air America financially-drained and unable to return the money? Quite possibly, according to newly-obtained documents.

The Kitchen Sink

During the same mid-to-late 2004 period when Air America parent Piquant LLC was quietly considering how to resolve the still-undisclosed scandal, Franken was demanding everything, including the kitchen sink.

A June, 2004 Wall Street Journal investigative report on Air America stated Al was making "over $1 million a year". That was accurate, but not for long.

Despite mixed reviews, low ratings and a perpetually shaky cash outlook, Franken was handed a virtual blank check by Piquant. Even as the extent of the Gloria Wise crisis became clear to an ever-changing series of managers, Franken pushed ahead anyway with an eye-popping 2005 compensation package.

Included was a staggering base salary boost to $1,725,000, plus fringe benefits and potential bonuses, after less than a year on the air. Nor was his bloated staff left out. The result: what is quite likely talk radio's largest-ever and most overpaid entourage, mostly from the ranks of Al's Harvard research team.

The kicker: Franken successfully insisted the entire base sum be paid in advance, during the first week of January, 2005! According to his contract, only death, disability or resignation would lead to any repayment.

Worse, Billy Kimball, his senior producer, also enjoyed a $275,000 early payout. More on Billy in a moment.

Why would the firm agree to these unpleasant terms? Why couldn't poor kids in the Bronx have their taxpayer grants back? Apparently, more important was keeping Al happy.

When he claimed on-air to have only first heard of the scandal in early August, 2005, investigative partner Michelle Malkin and I produced a Franken-signed and notarized legal document disclosing the Gloria Wise mess, dated November, 2004.

Franken has long maintained the "loans" culprits were long-departed former managers, including Evan Montvel Cohen. While we've never claimed Franken was directly involved in securing the funds, it is fair to take issue with statements regarding his knowledge of the scandal.

Even if he truly didn't know, a position this signature strongly refutes, the company had to be aware it had no business placing Al and Billy ahead of inner-city schoolchildren.

Fearing Wise and other business issues would soon bring down the company, did Franken press ahead with upfront payment demands?

That's a funny thing, because when it came time to negotiate for 2006, Al was instead willing to take his base pay, now bumped up to a cool $2 million, in $500,000 quarterly chunks. And earlier in 2004, he frequently spoke of receiving paychecks like everyone else, including to the Journal.

Only during the period where the company was sweating out the possibility of having to repay Gloria Wise did Al Franken demand it all at once. Coincidence? Perhaps.

Whether Air America actually wanted to reimburse the nonprofit isn't known, but they delayed it as long as possible. And Gloria Wise representatives wouldn't agree to a multi-year installment plan.

Until the DOI finally put its foot down in September, demanding a lump sum, the company was adamant about making $50,000 quarterly payments, according to three proposed agreement drafts from 2005, exclusively obtained here. In each, Piquant stated that it was unable to make immediate repayment in full.

Franken's Real Worth?

Meanwhile, what was it that made Franken (who, along with the company, has never been willing to speak to Malkin or myself about any of this) so valuable to Air America? It couldn't have been ratings, where his cumulative audience growth for persons 12 and older was zero percent between fall 2004 and spring 2005, according to the company's own Arbitron audience data tabulations. Nationally, he checked in with a whopping 0.1 rating through last October.

Nor could it have been his ability to lure additional stations into the fold, as he was stuck with 68 mostly-tiny stations carrying his show, as of October (by contrast, frequent Franken-target Sean Hannity just celebrated his 500th affiliate sign-up and Rush Limbaugh has more than 600). That's well after he negotiated these huge salary increases and bonuses.

And it wasn't revenue: his show still isn't profitable, despite representing nearly 50% of Air America's entire programming payroll. "Team Franken", representing all of the program's costs, currently sets Air America back over $3 million annually. How could revenues ever be expected to surpass that?

None of that seems to matter. Even more astounding, his own 2008 base pay will increase to $3 million, whether or not the show is a success. That's assuming he and the company stick around that long.

What was that about a 2008 US Senate race in Minnesota?

In addition, his contract has long contained $500,000 ratings bonus stipulations, should certain audience targets be met. The Sundance Channel, which has televised his radio show, pays him an additional annual amount between $100,000 and $125,000. Live ad reads and other on-air endorsements add thousands more to the total.

Consider that Ed Schultz, a non-Air America syndicated liberal host with a similar number of stations and listeners, is said to make about $400,000 annually. In addition, many with national radio shows heard on as many as 100 stations are known to make a fraction of that figure.

To determine what a person heard on between 50 and 100 relatively small stations might make, the Radio Equalizer surveyed syndicated hosts. While such information is usually closely guarded, one national personality told me base compensation of $75,000 to $100,000 would be typical.

Why so little? "Because many national advertisers don't even begin to consider your show until it's heard in many more than just 100 markets," according to the talk host.

Franken's huge group of assistants also amaze the radio industry. With 10 budgeted positions, it's a shocker for hosts used to having one or two staffers assigned to their programs.

Topping the list is Kimball, a former writer with Craig Kilborn's now-defunct late night CBS chat show. In what must be an all-time-record radio producer's salary, he's paid $600,000 a year, a small part of it covered by Franken himself. Lower-level assistants hover in the mid-to-high five digit range, quite high by industry standards.

In the end, evidence points to Alan Franken, Inc. (his own company's name) and Air America placing their own desires ahead of poor children. He never offered to help the kids affected by program shutdowns. And instead of coming clean about his scandal awareness level, Al played games and made implausible denials.

And with a mainstream media unwilling to probe the matter, why should we expect it any other way?

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Graphics: David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer. Check out David's new site

AAR Scandal: Darleen Click, Milk of Amnesia: Pete at IHillary for the Radio Equalizer

Andre Arthur, David Lee Roth, Glenn Beck, Phoenix, Boston


Radio Host Parliament-Bound, Selective Reporting, More

As the Radio Equalizer first mentioned last night, voters in Quebec City have presented an interesting twist to Canada's election results, by sending a well-known independent conservative radio host to Ottawa.

Challenging Canada's many politically correct free speech restrictions, particularly over the airwaves, former CHOI-FM host Andre Arthur has faced lawsuits, troubles with the federal CRTC (Canadian version of the FCC) and his own removal from the radio.

In the Canadian House Of Commons, Arthur promises to be every bit as outspoken as he was during his talk show, living up to his "King Arthur" nickname. Voters will most likely expect it.

From CBC News:

Arthur told CBC News that he is ready to be a "common-sense" voice for his constituents in Ottawa.

"I think it's quite a challenge, and I think that all things considered, this is quite fun," the 62-year-old said.

In 2004, he was included in the reasoning for the CRTC's decision to deny the licence renewal of radio station CHOI-FM. The CRTC cited offensive on-air remarks, including Arthur's statement that international students at Laval University were the children of wealthy "plunderers" and "cannibals" from the Third World.

After the results were announced Monday evening, the federalist Arthur told reporters he would not censor himself just because he was headed to the House of Commons.

In addition to his duties as an MP, Arthur said he also plans to keep his job as a part-time bus driver and may even look for another gig in radio.

"I think that any member of Parliament should have a real job," he told CBC News. "Maybe if they all had a real job, they would less sound like Martians when we listen to them."

Something tells the Radio Equalizer King Arthur will be a hit with taxpayers and voters, whether or not he makes many friends in Ottawa.

Speaking of the
Canadian elections, how's this for a coup? Here's blogger Brent Colbert and daughter Jenny with Prime Minister-Elect Stephen Harper, making the Reuters wire. Colbert is clapping and wearing the blue jacket in the background.

Great work, guys, must have been an exciting night!

Why is it some kind of scandal to the New York Daily News that David Lee Roth is tough to work with and a poor performer? What did anyone really expect?

From Lloyd Grove's latest column:

"This guy [Roth] is impossible to work with. A real arrogant, self-righteous a-," says a Lowdown spy. "All the execs know they made the two biggest errors in radio history - letting Stern go to Sirius and hiring this moron Roth. He never preps for a show. He is out the door five minutes after the show, unless he is 'forced' to record a commercial or re-record ones he made errors on."

According to the anti-Roth faction, he demanded that general manager Tom Chiusano do expensive renovations on Stern's old studio, then refused to use it, claiming asbestos infestation. He ripped down the walls of a temporary studio because of suspected dust behind the walls.

"He swears he is allergic to dust and smoke, but smells like an ashtray," says the spy.

The source also says Roth's manager got into a shouting match with program director Mark Chernoff on one of the first few days of the show. Then, the spy says, "Roth insisted on decorating the halls and studios, and then he had a moving company come in and remove dozens of pictures and his fake palm trees while he mumbled about Tom and the bastards at Infinity," he said.

Great Lloyd, now that you've exposed CBS Radio, why the ongoing kid gloves for Al Franken and Air America?

Brian at TVNewser seems to be hearing too much corporate spin about radio host Glenn Beck's potential at CNN-Headline News. He may be right about that, but the proof will be in Beck's ratings.

RadioDailyNews has confirmed Air America's flagship WLIB has in fact dumped its own Mike Malloy in favor of ABC's fluffy "Satellite Sisters". ABC is said to be paying Air America for the airtime, while Malloy continues on in other markets.

Some trade publications were led to believe Inner City Broadcasting, owner of WLIB, was retaking the hours for Caribbean programming. Not so, it turns out.

The fate of Air America in Phoenix continues to be a real question mark. MSNBC has the latest.

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24 January 2006

Coming Soon To A Website Near You


A major investigative piece published here tomorrow and where you'll be able to see the Radio Equalizer discussing it.

Don't miss the fun!

Meanwhile, watch for other updates here, tonight.

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23 January 2006

Role Of Talk Radio And Blogs In Canadian Election Campaign


What Influenced Canadians? Plus: Moore Unhappiness

As all sides of a hard-fought Canadian national election contest nervously await returns tonight, the big post-campaign analysis question is already clear: what may have finally brought down the Liberal Party, after over a decade in power?

Corruption scandals, arrogance, a swing too far to the left, or some combination?

While the Radio Equalizer has long watched Canadian politics as well as any American can, today's circumstances are somewhat confusing. Since voters have so often been willing to overlook Liberal sleaze in the past, what's different this year?

In addition, I'm not as sure as some about polls showing Conservatives with a huge lead. During the last election campaign, I was in the country during a time when similar figures were reported, only to be proven completely wrong in the final tally.

So, if Stephen Harper does get to form a Conservative Party government tonight, what will it have come down to this time?

And, most interestingly, what's influencing voters? Since the last election, there has been a tremendous rise in Canadian political blogging from a number of very high-quality sites.

Also, in America, Captain's Quarters has become a force in Canadian affairs from this side of the border. When Canadian taxpayers faced a questionable ban on publishing the truth about Liberal Party corruption, they turned to Minnesota-based Captain Ed.

How about talk radio? Does it have a significant role in swaying election results, or tend to stay neutral? Canadian talk programming has always been spotty, varying in quality from compelling, to outdated and boring.

And there is no Canadian version of Rush Limbaugh to unite conservatives nationwide. Syndicated political talk is rare in the country.

To get the scoop, the Radio Equalizer interviewed three major Canadian bloggers, all talk radio fans, to find out what really counted in this election season.

Kate McMillan, of the especially successful Saskatchewan-based small dead animals blog, thinks talk radio has had a significant impact on public sentiment. "They are filling a void in the conservative side of the debate shut out on TV, newspapers, etc., for the most part," according to her.

McMillan's station of choice: 650 CKOM-AM in Saskatoon, which will provide live election results tonight.

From Steve Janke's Toronto-area vantage point, the man behind the popular Angry In The Great White North blog sees a mixed influence for talk radio:

"Listen to talk radio? Always. I listen to CFRB in Toronto to and from work," says Janke.

"Do they have influence? Inside Toronto, not so much, it appears. CFRB is generally conservative, but the ridings (parliamentary districts) in Toronto proper (the "416" area) are probably going to remain solidly Liberal. On the other hand, the suburbs (the "905" area) will probably go conservative," according to Janke.

"But the liberal voters probably don't listen to CFRB anyway. Can't influence someone who isn't listening, right?"

And Ottawa, Ontario-based Tory activist and Colbert's Comments chief Brent Colbert sees it this way: "There are very few public affairs talk radio in Canada and even fewer that are right leaning. I listen regularly not only to my local talkers but to Sean Hannity, Tony Snow, and Laura Ingraham."

Colbert does see a conservative talk radio influence in one area: "In Ottawa, the nation's capital, the talk station is mostly conservative and has an influence in voter trends in the city, but its reach is limited."

In his area, Janke spots a pocket of conservative radio strength: "Bill Carroll of the CFRB morning programming slot (8:30 to 11:30am) is boosting the Conservative Party (Stephen Harper) over the Liberal Party (Paul Martin). Bill was critical of Harper in the 2004 election, but since then he says Harper has grown, and Martin has shown himself to be a major disappointment."

How about blogs, since that's where these people are so active?

McMillan: "I think in some cases we work very much hand in hand. Talk radio picks up a lot of stories we find, and gets them to a new audience, and the reverse happens as well."

Janke: "Is the blogosphere doing more? Infinitely more! LOL

"Seriously, radio touches hundreds of thousands -- orders of magnitudes more than blogs. Like blogs, talk radio allows comments. But here's a difference. Blogs are persistent. The posts remains forever, and some posts are read days, weeks, or even longer after they are first posted, while radio shows are heard by those who happen to be listening.

"If you miss the program, it is not likely that you will ever hear it. Some stations archive the audio, but the bandwidth demands can intimidate some people.

"The convenience of the blog for the interested and the curious to follow-up on their research at the time of their choosing might make blogs the first choice for information over radio. Bottom line, talk radio is not in the business of delivering information. It is in the business of selling listeners to advertisers. Blogs are about the readers.

"It'll be interesting to see if any research is showing a shift from radio to blogs."

Colbert sees a link: I am beginning to see the stories in the blogosphere begin to break into the MSM through talk radio. I have talked to a few hosts and showed them this new source of fodder for their shows."

A number of Canadian bloggers also got BBC coverage on the subject, here.

Can't wait for the results, coming in after 10pm and the subsequent reactions from around the world.

Already, Michael Moore is complaining to Canadians about their voting. If the polls are correct, expect a lot of unhappy Randi Rhodes-types tomorrow.

Welcome Instapundit readers!

Update: Michelle Malkin and Captain's Quarters are among those doing an excellent job liveblogging election coverage. For the first time I can remember, C-SPAN is apparently not doing a live feed from CBC News and CBC's own video stream is loaded beyond capacity.

Update: Wait, there it is on C-SPAN 1.

Update: turncoat Belinda Stronach is giving her victory speech now, is her pal Bill Clinton in the room? Bet he'd like to be. Plus, the CBC is interviewing citizens in a coffee house, where a moonbat voter says her concern is that if Harper had been elected two years ago, "a relatively peaceful country would be at war right now."

Update: a conservative, party-independent radio talk show host has been elected to parliament from Quebec City. From an earlier com report:

Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier: Another of the rural-francophone ridings near Quebec City where the influence of what is left of the provincial right-wing movement can still be felt. Here the man to watch is not a Conservative, Liberal or even Bloquiste. Independent candidate Andre Arthur, a former firebrand radio host and federalist right winger, is leading the pack.

Update: Paul Martin stepping down as Liberal Party leader. His speech is amazing, totally in sync with the CBC's nonstop "the Liberals are doing surprisingly well tonight" spin that misses the point: they will no longer be in power.

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Top Stephen Harper photo: Conservative Party Of Canada

22 January 2006

Rush Limbaugh Interviewed By Palm Springs Reporter


What Would You Ask Limbaugh?

Despite, or perhaps as a result of Rush Limbaugh's position as the nation's most popular radio talk host, it isn't easy to get El Rushbo to agree to an interview. For one enterprising newspaper reporter, however, the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament in Palm Springs proved a great place to catch him in a happy, chatty mood.

If you bumped into him on the course, what might you ask?

During my years in talk radio, I've met Limbaugh only once, at a 1998 station event in Seattle. For some time thereafter, I was known as the guy who auctioned off his cigar remnants on-air for charity, raising $1000. It was unplanned and surprised Rush as much as anyone else.

Like most radio, stage and film performers, Limbaugh is notoriously quiet and introverted in person. And why shouldn't he be? There's more risk in opening up than simply keeping one's mouth shut.

That reluctance to speak, however, extended even to the radio studios, where he had little to say to us, either. Considering just how much public and media blowback a person in his shoes has to endure in any given day, though, it's necessary to cut Rush a certain amount of slack.

So whether the Desert Sun's Leighton Ginn had these questions mapped out in advance, or if they were cooked up on the fly, they weren't half-bad. A sample:

Ginn: What are your thoughts about satellite radio?

Limbaugh: I think satellite radio is a new technology and it's going to build slowly. It's tough for me. I'm asked all the time if I'm going to satellite radio, and I've got 604 radio stations. I would cannibalize (myself) if I went to satellite radio. My audience is 22-24 million, and their subscription is like 3 million people. That's pretty small. The question is, they have a pretty big debt load and you've got two satellite companies.

At some point, it's possible there will be a new technology that is going to come along and surpass them before they can retire their debt load, like podcasting. I wish them the best, because it's more opportunities for people, but it's going to be a slow build. It's like satellite TV. They have a lot of subscribers and it's taken a lot of years to get there, but they still don't reach the nation.

Q. Who do you think will be the GOP's candidate for president in 2008?

A. This is the first year I can remember, the first election that there's no acknowledged frontrunner. It's wide open. A number of people think it will be McCain, I hope not. I like George Allen.

Q. Why not McCain?

A. I don't think he's conservative, pure and simple.

What might the Radio Equalizer ask Limbaugh? Could the lefty assumption we would throw softballs be correct?

Not necessarily, but there's no way these questions would ever meet with their approval, either:

1) When is the guest-host pool going to finally improve, Rush? You've no doubt heard the complaints, so why must the show's quality drop so much at times while you're away?

2) For years, your program has anchored the schedules of many talk stations, with local hosts built around your timeslot. Now, many outlets have been so badly mismanaged with infomercials, horrible syndicated shows and more that the entire medium is threatened. When are you going to address the situation's severity?

3) Some conservative bloggers are frustrated that you rarely mention their sites by name, yet always seem to give full credit to referenced lefty sites. Do you see right-leaning blogs as friends, or competitors?

4) Conservatives are terribly frustrated by this Republican Congress. What's going to get them back on track?

Please note that none of my questions touched on anyone currently working at CNN.

What would you ask? Leave them in the comments section below.

Today the Radio Equalizer was asked
by a liberal whether it appeared Limbaugh would soon retire. Since he's having a relatively easy time of it these days, working mostly out of his home, I can't see it happening soon. He still seems to be having fun, but one never knows.

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Limbaugh sketch: Josh Ferrin, Desert Sun

21 January 2006

Washington Post Again In The Spotlight


Washington Post Itself Becomes An Issue

If you thought the point of a major daily paper was to report news, not make headlines, then recent events at the Washington Post may seem a bit odd.

First, the strange new fascination with adding reporters to the airwaves continues, where "Washington Post Radio", covered here previously, apparently finds some newsroom staffers with stars in their eyes.

Especially brilliant points from Dave Hughes at DCRTV:

Posties Prepare To Be Radio Stars - 1/21 - DCRTV hears that a number of Washington Posties are running around the newspaper's downtown DC HQ preparing themselves for their new radio careers.

"They think they're going to be great on the radio. I hope they're right, and I'm really rooting for them," a Post reporter tells DCRTV. That's why, some area radio execs insist, it would be smart for Bonneville radio honcho Jim Farley's radio people to host the shows on new talker WTWP, Washington Post Radio, and use the newspaper people as "regular guests" or "co-hosts."

Frank Herzog, David Burd, Ira Melman, and Nathan Roberts could host shows on WTWP - providing on air "guidance" to the Posties. These radio-TV vets have the broadcast media instincts to keep the shows "moving," "keep it fresh," and "flesh them out," we're told.

But, put the shoe on the other foot. One area media expert wonders: Could WTOP put out a really great newspaper if the Washington Post handed them its presses tomorrow? Someone else jested: With all-news WTOP "superstar" Farley as managing editor, the answer would probably be yes.....

Something else, Dave: aren't these the same reporters and editors who've been griping nonstop about the blogosphere, how we're not journalists and shouldn't pretend we can properly do "their" jobs?

For some reason, however, these newsroom hacks instantly know how to do great radio.

Meanwhile, speaking of blogs, the WaPo's site has been a considerable recent source of controversy, after it temporarily shut down in the face of obscene verbal attacks from leftists, upset with the way the Abramoff scandal has been covered.

Stephen Spruiell at the National Review's Media Blog pegs it:

All I can say is: What a bunch of babies. I mean, especially speaking as a conservative media-watcher, I just have to laugh at the thin skin of the left-wing imbeciles who loaded up the comments section of the blog with obscenities and insults after they objected to one sentence in ombudsman Deborah Howell's column.

Are you kidding? Conservatives are subjected to entirely biased areas of coverage (fine, whatever, I just object to its presentation as "objective"), and the same inaccuracies repeated over and over, etc.

Watching these lefties — whose politics have colored the media for decades — get so worked up over one sentence in the Washington Post brings to mind Matthew Broderick's conniption fit when Nathan Lane snatches his blankie in The Producers — so entitled they feel to the pages of the Post.

More at PressThink, here.

When was the last time actual investigative reporting at the WaPo attracted this kind of attention?

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20 January 2006

Air America's Malloy Makes News For Nasty Tirade


Malloy's Anti-Conservative, Hate-Filled Tirade Sparks Furor

For one obscure, long-ignored Air America Radio talker, Friday was a big day. To finally get some attention, however, it took an unusually nasty response to a legitimate invitation that may prove to have done Mike Malloy's career more harm than good.

And perhaps, given one key as-yet unreported detail, it won't much matter anyway. More on that in a moment.

When veteran host Malloy was hired for the 10pm-1am shift at Air America, liberal radio fans breathed a sigh of relief, sensing the network was finally recognizing the need for more air talent with broadcast backgrounds.

Unfortunately for them, it didn't begin a trend, as the company courted the likes of Jerry Springer based on name recognition, rather than on-air talent. And Malloy has received little in the way of subsequent promotion or press attention.

Until now, that is. As many blogs and the Washington Post delved into today, Malloy's response to an invite to the conservative CPAC group's annual Washington DC convention was nothing short of bigoted and outright unhinged.

As the Washington Post reported:

For next month's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), media director Andrea Saul sent 500 invitations to radio talk shows inviting them to broadcast from the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Although most of the broadcasters on-site are darlings of the right, Saul also contacted several liberal hosts and producers -- last year Al Franken came and debated G. Gordon Liddy.

One of the invitations reached lefty Air America Radio's Mike Malloy, who hosts a nightly program carried by 70 stations across the country (though not in Washington) and on XM satellite radio. Malloy wrote:

"Um . . . you're kidding, right? Why would I have any desire whatsoever to attend or participate in a convocation of neo-Nazis????? I had two uncles fight against you [expletive] in WW2. And, now, surprise! surprise! here you all are on US soil. Kindly get the [expletive] off my email. Thanks."

Saul said she was stunned by his response. "I'm all for a difference of opinion, but this is entirely uncalled-for, and all the more offensive when you consider that I'm Jewish, lost family in the Holocaust and had a grandfather almost killed during WWII." Her complaints to Air America execs have gone unanswered. A spokeswoman said the network would have no comment.

So what is Malloy's explanation for the hotheaded, knee-jerk invitation reaction? Also from the WaPo's Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts:

Malloy said yesterday that he shot off his e-mail after scanning the CPAC headliners listed on the invite. "I made the assumption it was from some right-wing nutcase, which I get scores of. I felt I was being baited by one of these groups," he said, "so I responded immediately."

To the extent he upset Saul, Malloy regrets his message -- but nothing else: "What I said inside the e-mail and what I meant is that the conference participants represent what we fought against in WWII. They're fascists."

Guess that means Malloy won't be at CPAC? "Absolutely not."

Yes, Mike, no need to bother debating the other side. They're fascists, just because you say so. Evidence is not necessary, of course, because you're a leftist.

One problem: when a liberal is exposed to unfavorable coverage from the likes of the Washington Post, it has got to be a bad situation.

What the press missed,
however, is that Air America itself may consider him excess baggage. Just this week, Malloy's show was quietly removed from the network's flagship station, New York's WLIB-AM.

Replacing him was ABC's fluffy "Satellite Sisters", in the first move under Air America's unannounced new "pay-to-play" plan, where every hour after 7pm and on weekends is now potentially for sale. It's a last-ditch effort to save the company, but with expenses long out of control, it's unlikely to help much.

Air America fans complain about the change here. For sheer entertainment, this post can't be beat:

Mike has asked us to "be nice" and explained that it was just Air America business. I suspect, however, that shutting Mike up is strictly "Swift Boat" business. They are out to get Mike. New York is just the beginning of the right-wing jackals campaign to silence the Malloy clarion voice of truth.

Me be nice about Air America caving to the Swift Boaters? Yeah, Mikey. As If...

With a national audience
of 186,000 listeners 12 and older, according to data from late 2005 (the loss of WLIB will make this number far smaller), Malloy's not providing much benefit to Air America. But he wasn't costing them much, either, with an annual base salary of $90,000.

While that's miniscule compared to the network's other talk hosts, Malloy also benefits from having wife Kathy on the payroll, as a $60,000-a-year producer.

While Mike Malloy may now find himself on our radar, it's not necessarily a career positive.

there's some confusion as to what will ultimately replace Malloy at 10pm, with one trade report indicating Caribbean music will retake the timeslot. That would mean WLIB owner Inner City Broadcasting has actually reclaimed the time period.

Because Air America leases time from Inner City (ICBC) to run its programs on WLIB, this would actually be a far more troubling sign, suggesting either cost-cutting or an inability to pay ICBC the full amount per their contract.

For now, however, listeners have been hearing ABC's Satellite Sisters, leading to the confusion. Since the company very quietly made this move, the real story is difficult to determine.

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Photo: Malloy via Washington Post

19 January 2006

Al Franken's Worst Quote Ever?


Plus: Ratings Claims Questioned

From the Billings Outpost, here's an Al Franken quote to quite possibly top them all:

Quote of the week

“Right now, money is being stolen, and that is killing our soldiers. That makes me furious. I’m very sad about where my country is going, and I love my country.”

- Author/comedian Al Franken, talking about the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority in a live Air America radio program broadcast last Friday in Missoula.

Quote of the week? How about year, at least?

How is Franken able to roam the country and pretend the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club scandal, where $875,000 of taxpayer grants were instead diverted to the liberal radio network, didn't actually happen?

Al, isn't it time to finally admit that money was in fact stolen from inner-city schoolchildren to pay your salaries and expenses? Why didn't that make you furious?

Since Missoula's largely a liberal college town, it's yet another safe haven for Franken to hide from the truth.

Many are writing the Radio Equalizer about Air America's recent claims of major ratings success in New York City. Meanwhile, an columnist, Cory Deitz, has a great way of cutting through the crap:

Some portion of the outcome of any Arbitron rating report can almost always be finessed to position a station or program in a positive light.

This is just part of the Radio business and how it creates value from its programming for sales or promotional purposes.

In a press release, Air America Radio has chosen to highlight some specific demographics and has also chosen to contrast particular programs against specific competitors - which is its prerogative.

I don't say this to diminish any claims, but I would be remiss to not point out that the data below is a sliver of a larger pie and simply what Air America Radio has chosen to release to the press.

During the Fall ratings period, Air America Radio says its flagship station, WLIB/1190 AM made gains with various shows.

Specifically - in Men, 25-54 (3 - 7 p.m.) - “The Randi Rhodes Show,” received a 3.3 Share against WABC’s Sean Hannity, who received a 3.0 share. (Hannity's program airs from 3-6 p.m.)

In New York, Al Franken is heard Noon until 3 p.m. on WLIB and Bill O'Reilly's show airs 2 - 4 p.m on WOR so they actually only go head-to-head for one hour. But, during that overlapping hour of 2 - 3 p.m., "The Al Franken Show" pulled in a 2.3 share of Persons 12+ where O’Reilly earned a 2.1. Also, in adults 25-54 during the same period, Franken had a 2.3 share and O’Reilly a 0.8.

Thanks, Corey, for shedding light on the truth here.

In Randi's case, that's a narrow demographic being used, men 25-54. As for WOR, I would never blame any individual host for their performance on what is overall a badly mismanaged radio station.

In addition, other than in San Diego, Air America's national outlook has been very weak in ratings released so far, especially poor in Los Angeles. As Deitz points out, they aren't releasing any of those numbers, are they?

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Thurston Franken by David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer

18 January 2006

Radio Talker Glenn Beck Heads To CNN-HeadlineNews


Talk Radio's Beck Takes On Cable Television

Catching the industry by surprise, yesterday's announcement that radio talker Glenn Beck would join an increasingly crowded field of cable news hosts raises a number of questions.

The biggest: can he cut it on television?

Signing with CNN's Headline News, the conservative Beck is now primarily heard on Clear Channel Radio's owned and operated radio stations. After working in relative talk radio obscurity for some years, the company's Premiere Radio Networks arm took Beck national several years ago.

Since then, Beck's performance has been mixed, strong in some markets, weaker in others and not carried at all in several regions. In New England, the Northwest and elsewhere, Beck's name will not ring a bell for even the most dedicated talk radio fans.

In other areas, such as the South, he's built a substantial following. A particular strength has been in organizing well-attended promotional rallies in cities that carry his show, such as Dallas-Fort Worth, where he's heard on KLIF-AM.

Even so, he was pulled from Clear Channel's WGST/Atlanta last year and replaced with local programming. While there were rumblings he'd had a falling out with Clear Channel, last year he re-signed with Premiere for a multi-year deal.

Since then, Beck's been very low key, not especially active. Somewhat of a lone wolf, he's not commonly referenced in the blogosphere, or in conservative publications. Nor is he someone activists on the right feel the need to rally behind during controversies.

With that, some key questions regarding the new show:

--- Can he survive in television's most cutthroat programming niche? The Radio Equalizer believes it depends on the network, timeslot and expectations. Beck comes out ahead on all three.

Who really expects Headline News programs to get ratings? When they do, it's a nice plus, such Nancy Grace's now-loyal following. Beck can only improve upon what's now in the timeslot. You simply can't fault CNN for taking a risk, it's the right move for a little-watched channel now doing fairly well with talk programs.

If, for example, he'd been given a FOX News Channel show, that'd be a different story, as he'd have to keep up with the rest of the pack.

Wouldn't that be a tremendous hurdle to jump over?

--- Can he stay in control? Sometimes, Beck loses it on the air.

While it seems to be part of his act, television suits have thin skins. Some of his outbursts are Michael Savage-like in their intensity, such as when he pondered killing lefty film producer Michael Moore.

Actually, I've never heard Savage go that far, have you? And as you may remember, "The Savage Nation" host didn't last long on cable, did he?

---Does Beck have the talent for television? Possibly.

He's animated on the radio, with showmanship a big part of his on-air performance. If he's comfortable with the camera, he'll be able to pull it off.

--- Will viewers
bond with him? Unclear, we'll have to watch. Beck has a quirky act that takes time to grasp, which could hinder him on television, a less intimate medium than radio.

Very few make successful transitions from radio to television, so we'll be watching closely to see how Beck fares.

For other thoughts
about Beck's prospects, TVNewser has coverage here, as does Rich Glasgow's Isn't It Rich.

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