The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

27 February 2007

Talk Radio, VP Dick Cheney, Huffington Post


Talkers Jump On Cheney Derangement Syndrome Outbreak

After an attempt on the vice president's life in Afghanistan today, it seemed a given that Cheney Derangement Syndrome would instantly rear its ugly head.

And like clockwork, it most certainly did, handing the nation's talk hosts a fantastic topic. Are some lefties sorry Cheney wasn't killed? Did the Bush Admin- istration stage the event to boost its poll standings?

In times like these, no conspiracy theory is too far- fetched for this crowd.

Before the Huffington Post removed some of the most outrageous comments from its site, National Review Online Editor Kathryn Jean Lopez captured some of them here:

Better luck next time!

By: TDB on February 27, 2007 at 08:18am
Flag: [abusive]

What a different world we would be living in today if they had succeeded.

By: pakiman47 on February 27, 2007 at 08:18am
Flag: [abusive]

Dr Evil escapes again...damn.

By: truthtopower01 on February 27, 2007 at 08:18am
Flag: [abusive]

Sounds like a bulls**t attempt. The VP is inside some sort of compound and they blow up a bomb at the front door? Christ, at least lob a few grenades INTO the compound.

By: loudobbs on February 27, 2007 at 08:19am
Flag: [abusive]

They missed?? Dammit. I hope they try again before he leaves.

By: tripdc on February 27, 2007 at 08:20am
Flag: [abusive]

Who'd have thought that Afghanistan would make such a valiant attempt to save the United States of America?

By: DumbFireman on February 27, 2007 at 08:21am
Flag: [abusive]

C'mon guys lets have a little bit of honor, no one deserves to die in a bomb blast. Yes, even Cheney. You may have many reasons to hate this man and he is pretty repugnant, but that's hardly the reason to wish that he would die, which might I add is equally repugnant.

By: Sinkablehail55 on February 27, 2007 at 08:21am
Flag: [abusive]

Michelle Malkin has more on the now- closed HuffPo thread here.

Led by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others, some conservative talkers kicked off their shows by reading these comments on- air.

Meanwhile, at other sites typically known for this brand of unhinged anger, it was hard to find any mention of the Cheney trip whatsoever. Have they finally recognized the need to keep their own fringes hidden from public view?

BREAKING: mini- market crash has the potential to overshadow today's other news.

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Some images: BBC

23 February 2007

Air America Bankruptcy Sale, Stephen L Green, Rob Glaser


Media May Have Misinterpreted Air America Bailout Deal

*** Exclusive To The Radio Equalizer ***

*** I'll be discussing the story this weekend on NPR's "
On The Media" Check local stations for airtimes ***

By Brian Maloney

Since Air America Radio's bankruptcy bailout by wealthy Manhattan real estate mogul Stephen L Green was announced on February 7 (and finalized yesterday), the public has been led to believe the network's assets had fetched $4.25 million.

But the news media, led by the Associated Press, may have blown the story: in fact, Air America's true valuation may actually be zero!

Did anyone examine the filings?

That's the stunning conclusion reached by bankruptcy expert Donald J Quigley, a Denver- based attorney who has been assisting your Radio Equalizer on this matter for several weeks.

Quigley is associated with Denver's Block Markus Williams LLC and as a matter of disclosure, one of the company's creditors is a distant relative.

Could this be but the latest chapter in Air America Radio's ongoing shell game, where insiders always manage to stay one step ahead of investors and creditors?

Out of the reported $4.25 million purchase price, according to our legal expert, "$3.25 million is illusory: that's money that Rob Glaser (RealNetorks CEO and longtime
Air America investor, seen in right image) had already loaned to the company. Air America already blew through this by continuing to operate during bankruptcy at a loss rate of $1m per month.

"Glaser has simply written off that loan as uncollectable and decided to accept a minority stake in the new company, rather than seeing how much (if any) cash he could salvage through a sale to a third party," Quigley continued.

As a result, this portion represents an accounting maneuver, rather than a new cash infusion into the company.

As for the other million, our expert broke it down this way: "the buyers are putting in $500,000 in actual cash for the 'carve- out', which pays the professionals." That amount covers standard legal and other expenses related to the bankruptcy.

For the remaining $500,000, also actual money put forward by the purchasers, the dough is earmarked to stay current on leases for offices and equipment, in addition to a payment to AFTRA, the radio and television labor union.

The sum total of this deal is this, according to Quigley: "there is nothing in this sale that would prove the company was worth more than exactly zero dollars, as it's all write-offs and the buyer's unavoidable expenses, while the little guy gets stiffed."

Considering how Al Franken, Randi Rhodes, producer Billy Kimball and others made a small fortune working at Air America (even if one or two paychecks bounced), does it bother them to know that dozens of creditors have again been burned?

Keep in mind that during the company's recent bankruptcy auction, absolutely no bidders came forward with a better deal than this one. Is this a clear indication that nearly everyone believes Air America Radio is a worthless operation?

In reviewing coverage of Air America's bankruptcy saga, we couldn't find a single story that made reference to any of this, although one published at did indirectly cover some of the related fallout. It's the closest we've seen to an accurate piece about the latest move in this ongoing shell game.

For the news media, meanwhile, we have a few questions:

Would you consider taking a break from lavishing praise upon Al Franken replacement Thom Hartmann and actually examine the court filings?

Is it simply too painful to admit that after three years on the air, even Air America's insiders believe the network is worth exactly nothing?

With relatively little invested so far, how did Stephen L Green manage to secure a key stake in the new operation?

Given its track record to date, does anyone have an idea how Air America could ever possibly begin to make money?

Good luck getting answers to any of these questions.

UPDATE: BoreAmerica says your Radio Equalizer's getting bashed at a Democrat Party site over this piece.

This story has been updated to include our legal expert's name (with his approval), which was previously left out at his request.

ELSEWHERE: lots of updates at SaveWRKO.

COMING SOON: late court filings reveal new information about Air America's current position.

ALSO: a few hotheads are apparently furious that your Radio Equalizer's viewpoint would be featured on NPR, based on some angry emails received today. Is balanced NPR programming really that threatening?

Frankensuckerfish: David A Lunde, boardroom meeting, Money Pit: Pete at IHillary

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21 February 2007

Lars Larson, Thom Hartmann, Talk Radio


Over Military Avoidance, Libtalker Taken To Task

After years of conservative talk show hosts and Republican politicians being criticized over personal military service records, isn't it time to see the same standards applied to their liberal counterparts?

In a new piece for Human Events, Portland- based syndicated talk host Lars Larson has done just that, blasting Al Franken replacement Thom Hartmann (seen in left image) over a statement the latter recently made to the Oregonian newspaper.

In the story, Hartmann claims he avoided combat during the Vietnam War by flunking, perhaps intentionally, a necessary physical exam:

"LBJ wanted to kill me"

Born in 1951, Hartmann was raised to be a Republican by his father, Carl, a tool-and-die worker who sent his son to ring doorbells for Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign in 1964. Off to Michigan State University in 1967, the academic surroundings and the shadow of the Vietnam War pushed young Thom -- a precocious student -- leftward.

"I realized Lyndon Johnson wanted to kill me," he says.

Still, Hartmann joined the Air Force in 1968, thinking he could work as an engineer, thus avoiding dangerous duty. Quickly realizing he was wrong, Hartmann managed to flunk an end-of-basic-training physical, earning a quick ticket back to civilian life.

Back at Michigan State, Hartmann spun records and read the news on a local radio station. He met his wife, Louise, and dropped out of school, eventually starting an advertising agency with a friend. On the side, he founded an herbal tea company, which didn't do well. ("Celestial Seasons ate our lunch.")

Just yesterday, by the way, we took Hartmann to task over the same story, for a different reason.

Now, conservative rival talker Larson (seen here) has come out swinging against Hartmann over his Vietnam record.

Here is an excerpt from the piece:

Air America's New Standard Bearer
by Lars Larson

The standard liberal rap on President George W. Bush includes the often-disproved allegation that he failed to deliver on his military service commitment during the Viet Nam War.

Specifically, the left accuses the President of signing up for the National Guard to avoid being sent to Viet Nam and then reneging on his Guard duties to go off and do something frivolous while American draftees were fighting and dying in Asian jungles.

I was reminded of this liberal mantra this week as I read a fawning piece on the new standard bearer for the nation's only liberal talk radio network, Thom Hartmann...

(Second excerpt)

The guy picked to fill the funny man’s shoes… and go toe-to-toe with the single most successful man in talk radio… is Thom Hartmann. Thom and I know each other; we work in the same city (Portland, Oregon) for different companies but in studios that are only a few hundred yards apart. We disagree about almost everything political, but we regularly swap emails and we’ve even broken bread on occasion.

Then I read about his military record.

The February 19 Portland Oregonian newspaper (aka, The Daily Fish Wrapper) ran a glowing piece about Franken’s replacement this week. It quotes the Viet Nam era college student saying, "I realized Lyndon Johnson wanted to kill me," and then went on to say:

"...Hartmann joined the Air Force, thinking he could work as an engineer, thus avoiding dangerous duty. Quickly realizing he was wrong, Hartmann managed to flunk an end-of-basic training physical, earning a quick ticket back to civilian life.

Back at Michigan State, Hartmann spun records and read the news on a local radio station."

From this it's only reasonable to infer that Hartman lied his way out of the Air Force, which is a federal crime. Under Article 83 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

Any person who--

(1) procures his own enlistment or appointment in the armed forces by knowingly false representation or deliberate concealment as to his qualifications for the enlistment or appointment and receives pay or allowances thereunder; or

(2) Procures his own separation from the armed forces by knowingly false representation or deliberate concealment as to his eligibility for that separation;

shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

The man who will now lead the liberal battle against Rush Limbaugh in talk radio and who will tell America daily about the illegal war by the illicit president with the questionable military record has some very serious questions to answer about his apparent violation of the UCMJ.

I challenged Oregonian writer Peter Carlin about the softball treatment of Hartmann's departure from the military and he responded via e-mail on February 19, 2007:

If Thom were aggressively advocating that other people go off to fight after avoiding wartime service -- e.g. noted military enthusiasts Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh, et. al -- the conflict would have been that much more striking.

For Thom, who is nothing if not a persistent voice against the war, it's just another step in the established pattern. An interesting topic, though. Were you draft age during 'Nam? And what'd you do about it?

Thom will now lead the AAR talkers in telling America that we are in an illegal war created by an illegal President with an illicit record of military service. I wonder whether he will tell his audience that in 1967 America had a legal draft and a legal right to demand service from Thom and he found a way to get around it? Will he admit or deny lying his way out of the Air Force?

Eager to join the fun, Willamette Week, a lefty "alternative" publication serving Portland, has already weighed in on the battle.

Larson's point is well taken: if Hartmann really wants to be a big- shot after stepping into Al Franken's shoes, it's time for some honesty regarding his background.

In addition, we'd love to see him verify these wild audience claims.

You've stepped into the kitchen, Thom, here comes the heat.

ELSEWHERE: new items at SaveWRKO.

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Half Hour News Hour Ratings, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter


Confounding Critics, '1/2 Hour News Hour' Has Stellar Debut

In what must be an infuriating turn of events for serial FOX News Channel- bashers across the Internet, the network's 1/2 Hour News Hour, a conservative- leaning comedy program, turned in impressive ratings for its Sunday debut.

Given mixed advance reviews for 1/2, it wasn't clear whether a substantial viewership would emerge, but all expectations have been exceeded. Producer Joel Surnow (also behind the megahit 24 and seen in right photo) must be quite pleased.

According to TVNewser, nearly 1.5 million people tuned in to watch President Rush Limbaugh and Vice President Ann Coulter's opening skit, among others. For a Sunday night cable news channel program, those are stellar figures.

From TVNewser's report:

1/2 Hour News Hour: 1.5 Million Viewers

The ratings are in for The 1/2 Hour News Hour on FNC. The heavily-promoted premiere delivered 499,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo and 1,478,000 total viewers.

The show gained about 170,000 demo and around 300,000 total viewers from its lead-in. Half the viewers immediately tuned out, giving The Line Up just 231,000 demo and 787,000 viewers at 10:30pm.

> SF Chronicle, Feb. 16: "If 1.5 million viewers watched -- slightly less than Stewart's nightly 1.6 million audience and more than Colbert's 1.2 million -- Surnow said, 'it would be a huge number.'"

> Update: 10:43am: "The show was definitely popular with Tivo users," an e-mailer says. According to Nielsen's live data, the show averaged 1,398,000 viewers and 442,000 in the demo. The original stats, listed above, are live + same day DVR data, showing that 80,000 total viewers and 57,000 demo viewers time-shifted the show and watched it later in the day.

> Update: 10:46am: The satire's time slot was up 69 percent in viewers and up 94 percent in the 25-54 demo compared to Q1 '07 to date...

Yes, at the San Francisco Chronicle, heads must be exploding today!

Meanwhile, on yesterday's radio show, Rush Limbaugh provided more details on the program's future and addressed some of the criticism that has emerged to date:

RUSH: Let me tell you about this show. There's a second episode coming up on March the 4th at 10PM Eastern on the Fox News Channel. In my opinion, it's an even better episode, including the skit that Ann and I do to open that program as well.

But you have to keep in mind, for those of you who saw the program or who will see a repeat, these shows are essentially pilots. They were done on a shoe string budget, and of course the objective is to have the show picked up as a weekly feature.

Now, there's another thing about this. I've read some comments from people who liked the idea but thought the subject matter was weak. “Come on, I could have written better stuff,” or, “I could have done better.” You have to understand, these shows were taped on January the 12th. Ann and I did our stuff on January the 5th, they taped the show a week later, January 12th, it airs on, what, February the 18th?

There was no way to be topical here. These shows are what we in the broadcast community call "evergreens," meaning they'll run any time of the year. They're not specific to date, or not specific to issue.

If this program gets picked up and runs weekly, the show every week will be dealing with specific issues and items in the news that week. These pilots were simply unable to do that. They could have done it, but it wouldn't have worked with issues that are four and five or maybe even more weeks old.

For example, when the phone rings in the Oval Office after Ann's come out, and then my secretary Rosemary -- wonder how many people got the subtlety of that, Rosemary Woods', Nixon, 18-minute gap in the tape? Anyway, Nancy Pelosi is on the phone. Well, had we known about Nancy Pelosi and her demands for an airplane we could have thrown that in. But when we taped it, that had not come up. It's those kind of things that provide us some limitation.

So you just have to understand how pilots are produced and -- it's not that you have to; I'm trying to inform you how pilots are produced and so forth. But the next episode is on March 4th. Ann and I open that one as well, with a fireside chat. No real fire, but there's a fireside chat. It's funny as hell. The second one, that's the primo, to me.

Rush's point is well- taken: if the show is picked up long- term, it will have the ability to be more topical, as episodes are taped on a weekly basis.

Regardless of what FOX does with the program from this point forward, in establishing a beachhead for televised comedy with a conservative slant, 1/2 Hour News Hour has indeed accomplished something very important.

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Joel Surnow image: Daily Bruin

Half Hour News Hour, Air America Radio, FOX News Channel


Why Connect FOX Comedy Show With Air America?

One is a television comedy show that has so far aired only its pilot episode, with mixed reviews from both critics and the general public. While it may or may not get picked up by its network for a longer run, it probably hasn't cost them much, either.

The other is a radio network that has burned scores of investors and businesses and raided an inner- city children's charity to cover huge bills for overpaid celebrity talent and lavish office perks. For nearly three years, it has put out a substandard product that the public has overwhelmingly rejected.

See any similarities here? Your Radio Equalizer sure doesn't.

And yet, a number of media types this week have been busy comparing FOX's new 1/2 Hour News Hour to Al Franken's failed liberal radio network. Is that really fair?

From the Chicago Tribune's Steve Johnson, here's but the latest example:

Fox News' topical 'comedy' show flounders like Air America

Now that Fox News Channel's attempt to provide a conservative answer to "The Daily Show" has aired (see sample clip, below), perhaps all of us, Franken-philes and Dittoheads alike, can agree on something:

Liberals do topical comedy better, while conservatives win at talk radio.

Why is this? I'd argue that the liberal stance is more about trying to understand the world and its foibles, which allows for the ironic distance that produces good comedy, while the conservative stance tends toward the pugnacious, an aggressive dismissal of those who disagree that makes a better food source for talk radio.

Even the jokes in Fox News' first "Half Hour News Hour" tended to be angry and unsubtle. Hillary Clinton's cabinet would be composed of a multicultural group of "angry lesbians." Clinton said she wants to "chat" with voters on her Web site. "It's $4.99 for the first minute," said Jennifer Lange, one of two generic anchors who try to sell the jokes with everything but a wink and a nudge.

The "audience" seems to love it, in almost exactly the same way 1970s-era sitcom "audiences" loved every laugh line on those shows. Lesson: Not just anyone should be granted access to the "laugh" button.

Add in the facts that the show doesn't even get a home on the Fox News Channel Web site and Fox News committed to only two episodes (the next airs at 9 p.m. Sunday), and this one looks like a mere blip in the culture wars.

Whether the show stinks is almost beside the point; it's doubtful that FOX has wasted millions on this effort, nor have inner- city schoolchildren gone without afterschool programs because of the 1/2 Hour News Hour.

Given that Air America has had three years to find an audience, it's reasonable to believe that FOX's new effort ought to get at least a three- month tryout.

Classic AAR image: David A Lunde

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20 February 2007

Thom Hartmann, Liberal Talk Radio, Al Franken


Franken Replacement Again Boasts Of Huge Audience

For the Thom Hartmann Spin Train, it's full steam ahead!

From one whistle stop to the next, Al Franken's Air America little- known libtalk replacement continues to make wild claims about past and present audience sizes.

And true to form, unquestioning mainstream media folks have so far fallen for these inflated figures, nearly without exception.

Clearly, the Frankenfluff torch has officially been passed to the new guy!

Previously, we called attention to these credibility- busting assertions here.

Now, the Oregonian has published its own Hartmann puff piece, one that's chock- full of progressive- friendly references to the host's crunchy granola lifestyle:

Portlander talks, 3 million listen

The Oregonian

When Thom Hartmann gets up in the morning it's as if the very vision of the modern American liberal is rising to greet the dawn.

Start with the shaggy brown hair, the salt-and-pepper mustache and stubbly beard. The oatmeal-colored rag wool sweater. The jeans. The stylish rimless spectacles.

Breakfast is a few spoonfuls of raw oatmeal, left to soak overnight in cold water, with a few raisins and almonds. A little brown sugar, perhaps? No thanks.

"The raisins are sweet," Hartmann explains, earnestly. "It's really good."

Hartmann is just extremely earnest.

He's eating his breakfast in a houseboat. And when Hartmann and his wife, Louise, carpool to work, they ride in one of those 1,000-miles-a-gallon Prius hybrids.

There's nothing wrong with any of this. Far from it. A lot of Portlanders live exactly the same way, give or take the raw oatmeal. That's one reason Hartmann's blazingly liberal talk show on KPOJ-AM, the local affiliate of the Air America radio network, now stands with longtime market leaders KEX-AM and KXL-AM among the top-rated morning talk shows in the competitive morning drive time slot.

Hartmann's success extends far beyond Portland's politically blue borders. His nationally syndicated talk show -- a separate three-hour show that begins at 9 a.m., just after his local show ends -- is heard coast to coast every day by more than a million listeners. And starting today, when Hartmann's national show moves into Air America's midday slot (though it will continue to air locally at 9 p.m.), recently abandoned by political comic turned U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken, his audience will nearly triple.

So though he's already a well-known radio voice and an author with more than a dozen books to his credit, Hartmann is girding for a whole new kind of acclaim. Portland's leading on-air liberal may well become one of the most prominent liberal voices in the United States.

"He's just so damn smart," says Air America Chief Executive Scott Elberg. "And he's tireless when it comes to putting the best product on the air. Our affiliates love him. Everywhere he goes he gets ratings. In some markets the growth is exponential."

Mad, yet unfailingly polite

Now Hartmann's in the KPOJ studios, gearing up for another segment. The commercials are over, so he has the headphones on, listening to a snippet of the Dixie Chicks' hit "Not Ready to Make Nice." Which is a perfect lead-in, and not just because the tune (and album) raked in all kinds of Grammy awards the night before. The song -- written in response to the outrage in the country music community that greeted Chicks singer Natalie Maines' onstage criticism of President Bush a few years back -- also describes Hartmann's world view.

"I'm not ready to make nice, I'm not ready to back down, I'm still mad as hell . . ."

Hartmann sounds pretty steamed about things. A recitation of the previous day's carnage in Iraq inspires a gusher of ridicule for Bush's new strategy to add more troops. Then he's onto a riff about health care, roping former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., (and Frist's father, for good measure) into a hideous cabal of "blood-sucking leeches" who earn billions while millions of Americans suffer from inadequate health care.

Not making nice, indeed.

Still, Hartmann's outrage comes in relatively measured tones. He's unfailingly polite to callers and interview subjects, even when he's picking apart their political positions.

"He does have an interest in letting you articulate your point of view," says the American Conservative Union's Lisa De Pasquale, who makes semiregular appearances on Hartmann's show. "He could learn a little more about our movement, but he's good at letting his guests get a word in."

Hartmann, whose radio demeanor often makes him sound more professorial than evangelical, works hard to connect his ideas to texts ranging from the U.S. Constitution to the writings of Thomas Paine to little-known provisions in the Magna Carta.

According to Michael Harrison, editor of the talk radio trade magazine Talkers, Hartmann's mastery of political philosophy is a big reason he has been able to succeed in an industry dominated by fiery conservatives.

"Thom brings facts as opposed to opinion based on emotion," Harrison says. "He synthesizes information and creates new ways of looking at things."

Your Radio Equalizer is all for giving credit where and when it is due, but these claims are downright silly. While Hartmann has been successful in his hometown of Portland, beyond there, he's barely a talk radio afterthought.

As only a very small number of stations carried his show when it was up against Franken's, there's no way he could have had anywhere near a million listeners.

And while he has in fact picked up many of Stuart Smalley's stations, so many are now dropping libtalk that it may soon be difficult for any "progressive" talkers to claim significant audiences.

Worse, this press coverage assumes every Franken listener will successfully be converted into a Hartmann fan, which is far from certain. Finally, did we ever see verification of audience levels in that range for Stuart?

At what point will at least one reporter emerge to question these wild boasts? How about bona fide evidence to support assertions of 80 to 100 stations, or audiences in the millions?

Memo to our mainstream media friends: if you're at all interested in accuracy, next time, try asking for hard evidence of ratings and affiliate claims. Just be prepared for a lot of squirming.

AAR Spin: David A Lunde, Nice and Fluffy: Pete at IHillary

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19 February 2007

Talkers Annual Heavy Hundred, Talk Radio


Talk's Quirkiest Publication Releases Annual List

In what has become an irritating annual ritual, Talkers Magazine has released its "Heavy Hundred" list of the "most important radio talk show hosts in America" and this year's rankings are as downright silly as ever.

More of a marketing gimmick than true measure of individual impact in the genre, the Heavy Hundred has never had a great deal of credibility within the industry.

That's due to the obvious personal agendas behind its compilation. In the past, the list has also been prone to key omissions and other blunders.

However, the rankings are often cited in trade advertising for hosts who make the list, while mainstream media outlets have a nasty habit of referencing it in news stories about talk radio.

While the top four this year are pretty straightforward, with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Dr Laura Schlessinger holding down those positions, it quickly goes downhill from there.

What in the world, for example, would possess publisher Michael Harrison to place libtalker Ed Schultz in position five? Or Randi Rhodes at number 13?

There is simply no way in the world that Schultz is more important than Howard Stern, who came in at a mere twelfth this year.

While Schultz may have earned a place in the top 20, a top five position smacks of affirmative action for libtalkers.

In addition, Schultz now ranks higher than Laura Ingraham, who has emerged as a major star in talk radio. This is just plain silly. Also, Glenn Beck (#10) is placed behind several people that he generally outperforms.

And so far, FM / satellite hot talkers Opie & Anthony have simply not performed at a level that would justify placing sixth.

From there, it just gets worse: overnight "Coast- To- Coast" star George Noory is ranked at a mere 28th place, despite maintaining solid ratings and interest. Noory ought to have a genuine bone to pick with Talkers.

As your Radio Equalizer sees it, here are the main flaws behind the annual list:

It favors syndicated talent
over local hosts far too heavily. In the latter group, there are a number of significant talkers who fail to make the list year after year. Others should clearly rank higher, such as KSFO's Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan, who didn't make 2007's top 100.

It has a bias toward syndication companies that place a lot of advertising in Talkers. This has long been an industry beef with the publication's overall content.

There's a regional slant, as well: hosts working in the Northeastern region of the country, even in small markets, are more likely to make the list than big guns working on the West Coast. Talkers is based in Springfield, Massachusetts.

There are weird personal agendas at work: some rankings are the result of longtime friendships in a very cliquish talk radio subset. That places some talkers, particularly a few who are long past their "sell- by" dates, in higher positions than they deserve.

In the end, talk radio would be better off without this annual attempt at ranking the importance of its hosts, as it merely misrepresents our genre to fans and the mainstream media.

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Limbaugh image:

18 February 2007

Half Hour News Hour, Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter


New Fox Show Brings Conservative Flavor To Comedy

For decades, comedy on television has been almost exclusively in the hands of lefties, with Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show and others dominating this genre.

Now, however, an enterprising team of established writers, including Joel Surnow, Manny Cotto, Sandy Frank and Radio Equalizer friend Ned Rice, formerly of the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, have conspired to create the 1/2 Hour News Hour.

Debuting tonight at 10pm on the FOX News Channel, 1/2 hopes to provide an unfair and unbalanced look at the day's headlines.

Kicking off the first show with a splash, the opening segment fast- forwards to 2009, with President Rush Limbaugh and Vice President Ann Coulter bringing us up to date on recent events.

Here's Sean Hannity introducing the debut skit:

Oddly enough, reactions to the new show have been mixed in weird places, with the Washington Post's Tom Shales giving it a surprisingly good review, while it was torn to shreds at the conservative Hot Air site.

And while there has been a great deal of advance free publicity from blogs and the news media, FOX itself has done little to promote the show on its website.

Just finding this page today was a major ordeal.

Here at the Radio Equalizer, we're thrilled at what this show represents, even if it's merely a work in progress.

Good luck, guys, you're blazing a trail.

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17 February 2007

Ed Schultz, Air America, Liberal Talk Radio Hosts


In Weird Dispute, Hosts Turn Against Each Other

After so many recent affiliate losses for liberal talk radio, was it inevitable that so- called "progressive" hosts would eventually turn against one another?

Considering that Air America Radio's slow and painful disintegration has also damaged the careers of unaffiliated lefty talkers, it was probably only a matter of time before tensions reached the boiling point.

Though the mainstream media still refuses to admit to the accelerating loss of stations carrying liberal talk (Reuters still falsely claims Air America has 81), with new format changes in both Sacramento and Fresno, among other locales, it's been a tough week.

Because non- AAR talkers Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller have had moderately more successful results to date, it's hard not to have a bit of sympathy for them, given station losses that were caused by Franken & Co's failure to generate a substantial audience. Both are syndicated by JonesMediaAmerica of Denver.

Oddly, however, Schultz and Miller get little credit from the left for their better performance, with the former actually the target of Internet conspiracy theories about his backers and real political leanings.

In recent days, the sniping between Air America's hosts and Schultz have become especially heated, with the on- air battle generating a great deal of attention on lefty blogs. As far as we're aware, Miller has not joined in on the fun.

From the Daily Kos, here's contributor Diana04:

Jesus H. Crist

I'm getting really sick of the back-and-forth public bickering between and among Air America Radio hosts and progressive hosts on other networks. It's really unprofessional and it's getting WAY out of hand.

My Clear Channel-owned progressive station carries a variety of hosts from different networks. I like and listen to many of them. I like Al Franken, Ed Schultz, Sam Seder and Rachel Maddow.

What these self-centered personalities don't seem to realize is that many of us are fans of BOTH AAR and hosts on other networks. They are all part of the same line-up! It's obvious that they are all battling for power and influence, and it is getting really frustrating as a listener.

I've heard my local (liberal) Clear Channel hosts beat up on Air America, because one of the guys wants his own show and hasn't gotten it. I've heard Randi Rhodes beat up on Al Franken. Mike Malloy (whom I can't stand) beats up on Ed Schultz.

Sam Seder has been publicly attacking Ed Schultz (according to both Ed and his callers), so Ed Schultz finally blew a gasket on his show today and has been railing against Air America for the last hour:

"Air America sucks! Their programs are horrible. Their business practices are an embarrassment. They can't sell a single advertisement! They haven't made a dime! Al Franken leaving is the best thing that could have happened to talk radio."

WAAYY overboard, Ed. Simmer down.

We're all on the same side here. Can't you just get along?

Enough is enough, from all of you. Grow up!

TC of Leather Penguin points to this audio clip of Schultz ripping Air America's hosts to shreds.

For Schultz, Miller and other libtalkers who have never been a part of Air America, the loss of these stations could prove career- ending, as there soon may not be enough outlets remaining to justify the expense of syndication and attract advertisers.

Some Radio Equalizer emailers have speculated that this might be the reason why Schultz recently returned to hosting a local show in Fargo, which he had dropped after taking on the national program.

If any additional stations drop libtalk in the next several weeks, this could get even uglier.

Classic AAR image: David A Lunde

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16 February 2007

Air America Bankruptcy, Billy Kimball, Al Franken


Did Franken Producer Nearly Shut Down Air America?

From Air America insiders, we're hearing a lot of grumbling about Billy Kimball, Al Franken's notoriously- overpaid producer. To serve his own purposes, did Kimball nearly cause the network to be shut down today?

We've reported on Kimball's lavish lifestyle a great deal in the past. Start here if you're new to the story.

After all, it was Kimball, the former Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn writer, who volunteered to serve on a committee of creditors overseeing the liberal talk radio network's bankruptcy proceedings. Is he behind the objection that nearly thwarted the network's sale to Stephen L Green and Rob Glaser?

This report, published yesterday, provides a key clue:

Report: Sale of Bankrupt Air America Radio Hits Potential Roadblock

Submitted by Mark Hefflinger on February 15, 2007 - 1:09pm.

New York - Air America Radio, the New York-based liberal talk radio network that in October filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, has seen its proposed $4.25 million sale to SLG Radio hit a roadblock, according to

The website reported that the Air America's unsecured creditors committee is objecting to the deal, claiming that the sale process is being conducted exclusively for the benefit of the company's debtor-in-possession lender, Democracy Allies.

The committee claims that Democracy Allies has backed out of a deal to use $500,000 from the sale's proceeds to pay unsecured creditors, while at the same time it would be paid back in full, with several of its insiders receiving minority stakes in the acquiring company.

Here at the Radio Equalizer, we've had a big- city bankruptcy attorney examining every iota of the proceedings for the past two weeks, who has been unable to find anything in writing that backed the committee's claim. That's probably why Kimball's group didn't prevail in court today.

Interestingly, some of the people who object to Kimball's antics are fellow creditors who now have no hope of recovering monies owed to them, as this ongoing shell game continues to burn "progressive" investors.

But the concern is that Kimball may have been willing to shut down the entire network in order to possibly secure some of what he is owed, while most of the others would get nothing.

Given Kimball's outrageous past salary and perks, hasn't he made enough money, they wonder?

It is clear, however, that Billy has an addiction to the high life: he married into a wealthy family and his wife is the great- granddaughter of former Brazilian dictator Getulio Vargas (who flirted with the Nazi regime before later joining the Allies).

Kimball has long been one of the leaders of Stuart's Team Franken, which is made up of fellow Harvard grads.

While we're not yet 100% sure of Kimball's role in the near- shutdown of Air America (more like 90%), we can report with confidence that he is the one being blamed for it. And given his outrageous past antics, it's difficult to cut him any slack.

ELSEWHERE: fresh updates at SaveWRKO.

Classic Franken, AAR images: David A Lunde, Pete at IHillary, Kimball image: HuffPo

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Al Franken, US Senate Race, Minnesota Polls


So Far, Franken Crushed By Incumbent

*** BREAKING: AAR sale approved by bankruptcy judge. Check back later for a detailed analysis ***

Has Al Franken made a big mistake?

If Stuart thought quitting his radio talk show to run for a Minnesota US Senate seat would be a cakewalk, that scenario was smashed to bits by a new poll showing him well behind Senator Norm Coleman, the GOP incumbent.

Apparently, they aren't fooled in the North Star State, at least not yet.

According to The Hill, a non- partisan publication covering Congress, Franken truly has his work cut out for him:

Coleman ahead in Minnesota polls

By Aaron Blake

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) leads both of his potential Democratic opponents — comedian Al Franken and attorney Mike Ciresi — by more than 20 points, according to a poll conducted by SurveyUSA for local KSTP-TV.

Coleman leads Franken, who entered the race Wednesday, 57–35. He leads Ciresi, who announced an exploratory committee Sunday, 57–34. The poll surveyed 632 likely voters on Monday and Tuesday, before Franken’s announcement.

The 2008 Minnesota Senate race is projected to be one of the most hard-fought in the country in the upcoming cycle.

Strangely enough, that's only slightly better than Stuart had fared when the same question was asked of Minnesota voters in 2004, according to the St Paul Pioneer Press:

In the past three decades, Franken has given his opponents a lot of material.

"He's a researcher's dream," said Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Ron Carey. An hour after Franken's announcement, Carey had pages of quotes ready.

Franken has a long record of saying things most politicians would not — from using four-letter words to discussing past drug use to downplaying his ability to hold office.

Asked by a Playboy interviewer in 2004 whether he ever saw himself holding office, Franken said: "I would be crushed by the sense of responsibility. Voting on whether to authorize the use of force is a big decision, especially on a close call. I don't know if I could handle that. That's what you're doing when you elect someone: You're giving them the opportunity to handle it."

Later that year, a Pioneer Press/Minnesota Public Radio poll found that 57 percent of likely Minnesota voters said they would pick Coleman in 2008, while 29 percent supported Franken.

Though it's true Franken will have major monetary support from the national Democrat Party's elite fundraisers, that's quite a gap. How will he overcome it?

More disturbing is that because his name recognition factor is extremely high, the issue clearly isn't one of voter awareness.

This rather startling poll data leads one to wonder just why he chose to take the plunge in the first place. With Air America perpetually in the toilet, was there simply no other choice?

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15 February 2007

Dr Laura Schlessinger, Anna Nicole Smith, Hannity & Colmes


Against Anna Nicole's Defenders, Dr Laura Lashes Out

In an explosive interview aired on the FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes show last night, Dr Laura Schlessinger lashed out against Anna Nicole Smith's trashy lifestyle and the media culture that rewarded her reckless, yet ultimately lethal behavior.

Here's a link to the video clip.

Without mincing words, Dr Laura was brutal in her assessment of the way the mainstream media has covered both Anna's lifestyle and its inevitable conclusion.

Taking her frustration a step further, Schlessinger even offered to adopt Smith's child.

Her most effective point was also the most jarring: the fact that almost no one else has been willing to denounce Anna Nicole's trashy existence.

Why not? Considering the mess Smith has left behind for her young daughter, shouldn't we speak out against this kind of irresponsible behavior?

Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Anna Nicole Smith's sudden death leaves her 5-month-old daughter Dannielynn without a mother, and her paternity to likely be decided by the courts. Joining us now is the author of the bestselling book "The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage," radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

If Anna Nicole Smith were a caller to your radio show, what would you tell her?

DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER, "PROPER CARE AND FEEDING OF MARRIAGE": I would have begged her to put the child up for adoption to a two-parent, mom-and-dad, married family that was going to love it, and nurture it, and bring it up in a good environment. I would have begged.

COLMES: Begged?


COLMES: And would she have listened? Probably not.

SCHLESSINGER: I couldn't say I'd pay her, she, what, has $250 billion?

COLMES: She got money from other sources apparently.

SCHLESSINGER: Oh, well, whatever. I don't know. You know, that's exactly what I would do.

COLMES: You talk about, in your new book, "Care and Feeding of Marriage," you talk about families, and mothers, and daddies. And this is quite dysfunctional, what we're seeing here, and we don't know how it's going to end up.

SCHLESSINGER: Well, the baby, sadly — I mean, you know, I feel a little uncomfortable. You're not supposed to say ill of the dead, but this baby was in trouble whether mom was alive or not. I would like — you know, here's my offer. I'll raise the kid; somebody else can keep the money. That kid just needs somebody who's going to love it, not use it as a means of getting an inheritance.

COLMES: You say in your book — and I want to just sneak your book in here as part of the...

SCHLESSINGER: Sneak, baby, sneak.

COLMES: You say that a woman should rarely say no to her spouse. It seems like Anna Nicole Smith...

SCHLESSINGER: Excuse me, that was about sex.


SCHLESSINGER: Well, Anna Nicole Smith didn't have a spouse. She hardly said no to anybody.

COLMES: She hardly said no was my point. That's where I was going. She rarely said no.

SCHLESSINGER: You're so funny.

COLMES: Yes. Isn't that the problem?

SCHLESSINGER: Yes. And I guess I'm — am I just about the only one in America who really doesn't care about this story? I mean, this woman is just a joke and a tragedy. And...

COLMES: You don't want to call someone a joke, do you?

SCHLESSINGER: Yes, it was.

COLMES: A person is a joke?


COLMES: She's a joke?


COLMES: She's a human being. She's not a joke.

SCHLESSINGER: Yes, she led her life like a skuzzy joke.

COLMES: But why would you call a human being a joke? She's a person.

SCHLESSINGER: Because it is, I'm sorry. Well, we are different kind of people.

And she misused her — the valued blessing of having a life in this trashy way, one son dead, another with no parent...

COLMES: She may have been an addict. She may have been sick. She may have had a disease. To call her a joke is to diminish...

SCHLESSINGER: I am diminishing her. And that's what...

COLMES: That's horrible.

SCHLESSINGER: But listen to me out. I think we need to be spending more time diminishing this kind of behavior.

COLMES: But not the person.

SCHLESSINGER: Let me finish.

COLMES: Yes, ma'am!

SCHLESSINGER: I think we need to spend more time diminishing this behavior, instead of giving all this airtime to the Paris Hiltons, and the Britney Spears, and the Anna Nicoles

You know, I'm wondering if anybody thinks, if you had started the show today saying, "We have a woman who is leading a wonderful and moral life and is very happy in her family, news at 11:00," whether you'd worry if you'd get listeners. Viewers. This is TV.

COLMES: You know, dog bites man is news, right?

SCHLESSINGER: Well, that's what's sad, that everybody is so interested in this train wreck. And I just — my heart, because the focus of my life and my career is about the well-being of children, and no matter what happens, who decides they're going to be father, this kid's life is just going to be very, very difficult.

RICH LOWRY, GUEST CO-HOST: So, Dr. Laura, if I hear you correctly, you are not surprised that Anna Nicole came to a bad end?

SCHLESSINGER: No. I'm surprised more of these young women leading these crazy, outrageous lives, with infinite sex partners, and drugs, and drinking, and carousing and all of this, I think we're going to see more of it. I mean, the human body can only take so much.

But what saddens me — you know, I write books like "The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage," because I'm trying to help people really find happiness, and our young people are looking at this trashy behavior, and thinking, "That's a way to be happy," because every time you show a picture of Anna Nicole, she's smiling. That's not happy; that's tragedy.

Here at the Radio Equalizer, we've no doubt that Dr Laura's offer would be strongly opposed by a news media eager to spend the next year reporting on an ugly custody battle over Anna Nicole's child. It was a nice offer, however.

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