The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

11 May 2006

Whoopi Goldberg, Clear Channel, "Wake Up With Whoopi"


Goldberg Selection Shows Radio Execs Haven't Learned

Does foul-mouthed, partisan liberal activist Whoopi Goldberg belong on morning FM radio? And will she be able to keep her extremist politics out of it?

After so many recent celeb radio show screw-ups, from David Lee Roth to Jerry Springer, Janeane Garofalo and Al Franken, you'd think the network suits would finally learn their lesson. How does fame translate to an entertaining, ratings-generating radio show?

In practice, it almost never does, but that didn't stop Clear Channel execs this week from trumpeting a new morning show featuring Goldberg and aimed at FM stations. In a company press release, she made many radio folks cringe:

“Radio is an area I have always wanted to play in,” said Goldberg. “There aren’t many women helming their own show. I’m thrilled to add my name to that small list because I believe that we have something to add to the morning groove.”

One problem: where is the audience demand for Goldberg on the radio? Is this another excuse to fire successful FM morning teams across the country? Or, especially after the recent David Lee Roth fiasco, will she struggle to find stations willing to carry a broadcast novice?

As industry reporter Perry Simon nails it:

Management's reasoning goes something like this: famous person, sure to draw curiosity, can talk, how bad can it be? And for the celebrity, it's this: radio? Radio?!? Come on, I'm a STAR! Radio's EASY! It's nothing! You just TALK for a few hours! I can do that!

But you and I know that it's a lot harder than it looks. Actors rarely write a word of what they say in public. No matter what the occasion, they have "people" to write appropriate words for them.

Radio doesn't work that way- you have to prepare for a show in an entirely different way than an actor prepares for a role, or a comedian gets lines together for a set in front of a fake brick wall. Even if you have the best producers and material at your disposal, you're still expected to create three, four, even five hours of original material every single day, mostly by yourself.

And when someone who's never done it before says she "always wanted to play in" radio, well, yeah, that bothers me. Hosting a radio show can be a fun job, and it's surely not breaking rocks in the hot sun, but it takes a particular specialized talent and work ethic to be really good at it. For people who have made it their career, it's not something to "play in." It's a job, a profession, a creative outlet, a craft.

Will the Whoopi show have a political bent? So far, that hasn't been addressed.

Knowing the former film star's history of lefty fringe activism, however, does it really seem possible she'll be able to contain herself, however? Our bet: by day three, Goldberg will be using the airwaves to denounce Bush and the GOP.

Who's going to say no to a pampered Hollywood star? She'll do what she pleases.

Need examples of her vulgar extremism? It doesn't take much of a search:

--- In 2004, Whoopi showed up at a Washington pro-abortion rally brandishing a coat hanger. Here's Rosenblog on her stupid stunt:

Whoopi Goldberg brandished a coat hanger at yesterday's huge abortion rights rally in Washington, D.C., saying THIS is what it'll come to again unless we mobilize.

I'm actually pro-choice; small government conservatives have no right to dictate what a woman does with her body. The emotionally charged "abortion is murder" stuff is morally grounded and within the parameters of free speech. But it kills any attempt at finding a middle ground, which perhaps is the point.

--- After her infamous potty-mouth at a 2004 Democrat Party fundraiser, she was fired as a Slim-Fast weight loss spokeswoman. Sure enough, Whoopi went ballistic:

Whoopi Goldberg lashed out at Republicans again yesterday, branding them hypocrites for trying to "punish" her for joking about the President.

Fired from her gig as SlimFast spokeswoman, the salty entertainer hit back at Republicans who threatened a SlimFast boycott over sexual puns she made about President Bush's name at a Democratic fund-raiser.

"America's heart and soul is freedom of expression without fear of reprisal," she said in a statement.

"I find all this feigned indignation about 'Bush bashing' quite disingenuous," she said, noting the Bush administration has savagely gone after critics like former Sen. Max Cleland, Iraq whistleblower Joseph Wilson and ex-terrorism chief Richard Clarke.

--- In the event's aftermath, some thought she'd accidently damaged John Kerry's presidential prospects. From Project 21:

In front of an ardently liberal crowd, Goldberg spewed forth vulgar, sexually-explicit comparisons between the President and female genitalia. While she was by no means the only maniac from Hollywood bent on besting one another's obscenities, hers were the most deplorable.

At the conclusion of the sewage-filled evening, Kerry told the audience it had been "an extraordinary evening" and "every performer... [had] conveyed... the heart and soul of our country." Kerry's foolish and base support of such filth is profoundly offensive.

--- In 2003, her failed sitcom "Whoopi" was used for dirty partisan politics:

NBC’s Today on Tuesday devoted a segment to Whoopi Goldberg promoting the then-upcoming Tuesday night episode of her sit-com in which she trashed President Bush repeatedly as her character seemingly channeled the real-life political views of the actress/comedian.

In the sit-com, titled Whoopi, Goldberg plays a former Broadway performer who now runs a small Manhattan hotel. In the episode, she learns that Bush will be driving through the neighborhood that day. She declares: “Tell him to stop by the UN and apologize to Europe, starting with France.”

It ends up that while Goldberg’s character, “Mavis,” is away from the front desk Bush stops by the hotel to use the facilities, leading to this scene which Today showcased:

Mavis, to hotel janitor: "Bush is in my can?"

"That's what, that's what I try to tell you! The President is here in your toilet now!"

"Well go get him out!"

"Oh yeah right. An Iranian immigrant telling the President to go. What? Why don't I just run around the airport and shout, yeah Jihad! Holy war! Holy war!"

"Fine! I will go get him out of there myself. I can't believe he's in there doing to my bathroom what he's done to the economy!"

Given these partisan antics, what are the odds we can expect Whoopi to stay out of the headlines? Somewhere between slim and none.

So why exactly was she hired?

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  • Back when TalkSpot was on the Internet Air, John Carlson used to have a segment called the Bully Pulpit. He'd let a listener do a show. I did 3. I lined up the guests, did commentary, and also interacted live in the show's chat room.

    I don't think Whoopi can do this and her show will fail miserably. Worst of all is that she'll blame everyone else for her alienating the listeners.

    By Blogger PCD, at 11 May, 2006 08:21  


    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 11 May, 2006 17:04  

  • I was floored to hear that she will have a radio show. Ick. VERY dumb idea. I am glad you covered it.

    By Blogger Crimsonfisted, at 11 May, 2006 17:21  

  • There are only two things that really make me angry:
    1. There was only one show featuring B'Elanna's human side.
    2. Guinan.

    Other than that, I'll take the center square for three weeks before she decides to turn her talents to a new field.

    By Blogger LonewackoDotCom, at 12 May, 2006 00:32  

  • Lonewacko, TalkTrek has been off the radio for over 10 years. It used to be on KIEV am, Los Angeles, but KIEV is KRLA now.

    I wonder if Michael Pillar is still mad at me for criticizing the "Return of Scottie" episode of ST:The Next Generation. Well, the extrusion pip on the solo cup did focus a spot of light on Picard's nose like the beam from a gun's laser sight.

    Leno's writer did steal a joke I told on that show concerning Ross Perot and being elected President. "If Perot was elected President, would he have to give up the royalties for being the prototype Ferengi Trader?"

    By Blogger PCD, at 12 May, 2006 08:33  

  • Someone needs to put together the TV/radio equivalent of Golden Throats, I think. It's the same "I'm a star, of course I can [fill in blank]!" syndrome.

    By Blogger James Jones, at 12 May, 2006 09:04  

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