The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

18 January 2008

Talkers Reveal Character Through Reactions To Bob Grant Award Story


Which Talkers Stood Up For One Of Their Own?

Two days after conservative talk radio legend Bob Grant was stripped of a lifetime achievement award in order to appease the Sharptonians, it's interesting to see the reactions of his colleagues. Did they stand up for one of their own in the name of free speech, or cower in the corner, afraid of the PC "progressive" left?

And there's another interesting element to factor in: the naturally individualistic and competitive nature of talk show hosts. Getting them to work as a team is like herding cats. Yet most have been vocal in their support of Bob Grant.

His influence on many of today's hosts cannot be overstated. And why remain silent in the face of this kind of outrage?

Joining a number of other hosts who have expressed their disgust over this victory for the PC police is Rush Limbaugh, who earlier today delivered a moving tribute to Grant, saying the talk pioneer treated him well at a time when others didn't:

RUSH: Now, I want to indulge, or ask your indulgence here for just a second to do some Inside Baseball stuff, meaning talk about the radio business. I don't know how many of you have heard about this, but there's a trade publication in our business called Radio & Records. It's a good publication, and I've received some awards from this magazine, and I know the editor, the publisher very well, Erica Farber who, by the way, has been in the hospital during the period of time of this recent controversy that I'm going to describe to you has been bubbling up and raging.

They have a convention every year for talk radio. They alternate between Santa Monica and Washington, DC. This year it's in March and I think it's in Washington, DC. I was not scheduled to go. I only go when I'm getting an award, which means, you know, every other year. I could get one every year, but that would look bad. In fact, they announced that they were going to give a lifetime achievement award to Bob Grant. He's one of the titans of the talk radio business. He's at WABC; he's currently working from eight to ten o'clock at night, but he's been doing talk radio 50, 60 years.

He genuinely was one of the pioneers, and a lifetime achievement award for a guy like Bob Grant is entirely called for. Well, all was hunky-dory until somebody -- and we still don't know who -- sent Radio & Records, which is owned corporately, by the way, is not owned by an individual, is corporate ownership, and I can't remember who it is, doesn't matter, they rescinded the award, after making a big hullabaloo about it, making a big announcement about it, they rescinded it on the strength of one e-mail from somebody complaining about Bob Grant, we don't even know what, assuming that, "Bob's a racist, you heard what he said about Ron Brown and the plane crash," and so forth.

And I just want to tell you a little bit about Bob Grant, and it's a pleasure to do so. I don't talk about very many of the people who do this for a living, it's just a professional thing with me, you just don't do it, focus on yourself, let other people handle themselves.

I got to New York in 1988. I left Sacramento and got to New York in the summer of 1988. At the time, Bob Grant was WABC. He worked in the afternoons. WABC had fairly recently changed format from Top 40. Back in the old days, Top 40 in the sixties and the seventies. WABC, in New York, what did they have, Mike, 20 and 30 shares? They owned the town, but then FM came long, and music on AM dwindled away and so WABC, at the time owned ABC, decided to switch format and go talk.

I've always thought that were it not for Bob Grant when WABC made this format shift, you might not today know who WABC is. Bob Grant belongs in the same discussion with Cousin Brucey and Dan Ingram and all of these other greats that spun records back in WABC's Top 40 heyday. I remember getting to New York in 1988, and I was green and I was a neophyte. I was coming from Sacramento, and I wasn't just going to do a national show. I had to do a local show for two hours a day on WABC as well, because they weren't going to carry the national show at first.

And, folks, I can't tell you how dispirited I got the first month. Here I am doing my show, and I'm doing my thing, and every phone call I got wanted to talk about what Bob Grant had said the day before. I'm on from ten a.m. to noon, and I'm sitting there saying, "Are you people not listening to me?" This was an adjustment. I didn't expect instant success. I'm trying to tell you how widely appreciated, listened to, followed Bob Grant was, that even when he wasn't on the air people wanted to talk about what he had said because they had been unable to get through to him that day because his lines were always full.

After awhile, things began to take off for me, as you know, and Bob Grant was amazing. Most people in our business, in his position, would have been angry, jealous, somewhat have tried to undermine this newcomer. Grant didn't do any of that.

His producers, people that worked for him, he was just nice and supportive, even had me on his program one afternoon, and during this period of time, seemed like every week there were three different camera crews coming in from networks that were taping segments of my program for their morning shows or whatever. This is before I learned not to do that anymore because they're not actually helping. Grant saw all these people going by, he came in, "Why, there's another crew coming in? Why don't you just steer 'em into my studio." He dealt with it just fabulously, had me on his program to help to promote mine. He doesn't have a harmful bone in his body. He would not hurt a flea. He's one of the most gentle people.

He's like everybody in whatever level of show biz, and this is radio, it's show biz, too, there's a certain amount of show biz required, there's a lot of competition. You can't just get on the radio and mumble and have people listen to you. Well, I take that back. There's some big mumbler out there and I can't put my name on it. I think the mumbler is actually on television.

He was huge at WABC, but he didn't want all the glory. He wanted his station to succeed as well, which is why he was very supportive of me. This comment about Ron Brown's airplane going down over there in Bosnia and so forth, there's nobody that could ever convince me that Bob Grant was actually going to celebrate somebody's death, but it's hung around, he got fired because of it, but I think it's extremely cowardly that this Radio & Records bunch can rescind an award they had bestowed simply because of one letter from a malcontent. We're losing to political correctness. Grant deserves a lifetime achievement award from a whole lot of people, not just a trade magazine.

By contrast, Don Imus has behaved strangely on the issue, especially considering what he went through earlier this year with a censorship- related firing. Here's how one New York Radio Message Board commenter pegged the issue:

Posted by Joseph Owens on January 18, 2008 at 09:02:34:

In Reply to: Re: Re: Imus... Where's Bob Grant? posted by DanS on January 18, 2008 at 00:48:05:

Imus mentioned the Bob Grant situation today at about 7:05.

He said basically what Grant said (in the past) was stupid. Then he said he (Imus) had already received a Talkers lifetime award but his only important ones are the 3 Marconi Awards he has.

Not Imus' finest hour.

Contrast Imus with Howard Stern's vocal support for Grant in recent days and one quickly gets a sense of who the good and bad guys are in this business.

Stern was infamously treated poorly by Imus in his early days and it's unlikely that just about anyone in New York City radio was happy to see Rush arrive in the 1980s. Radio is a nasty field, full of back- stabbing and dishonesty.

That's why Rush's words truly resonate with anyone who has worked in the entertainment business: it's hard to find people willing to be supportive, yet there was a class act like Grant ready to lend a helping hand.

And in Grant's own time of need, Limbaugh certainly didn't forget to return the favor.

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  • and again, you deliberately ignore Grant's history of racist statements on the radio - not ONE STATEMENT - but a history of them.

    And you use an anonymous commenter from some other site and Rush Limbaugh leaving out all of the facts deliberately (as you have, Brian) to whitewash the story, for lack of a better term.

    You either support Grant's racist history, or you don't. And, by your deliberate and repeated ommission of the facts, you show your support.

    Only the most stupid of persons, or those who side with you, Bob Grant, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and others who behave poorly in terms of racism, won't see the truth of this.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 18 January, 2008 16:28  

  • Love him, Hate Him
    or his politics, or whatever, Grant is a important component of Radio History.

    for him to be disrespected in this manner only shows the spineless callow cowards that inhabit the industry today

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 18 January, 2008 18:01  

  • And you use an anonymous commenter from some other site....


    Really, if you're gonna rip "anonymous" sources, you ought to put your name on the table, skippy. Even if you gotta make one up.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 19 January, 2008 06:42  

  • Anonymous
    You also do not mention any alleged racism on the part of Grant. I have never listened to Grant and in fact would not have known he existed if not for this controversy.
    However you also claim racism on the part of Rush and Hannity both of whom I have listened to. You offer no proof or even examples. (In other words anonymous, craven accusation with repeated omision of facts.)

    As to Grant's racism vis-a-vis an attack against him by Sharpton.
    1 Has Grant ever threatened arson against a person based only on that persons race?
    2 Has Grant ever egged on a racist mob to attack a persons business based only on the race of that person? (Leave aside wether those actions then resulted in the death of a man by arson.)
    3 Has Grant ever proclaimed racial 'no go zones' where persons of certain races would be prohibited on pain of violence?
    4 Has Grant ever proclaimed that no one but a favored race should be allowed to do business in certain areas.
    We won't even cover any actions in the Tawana Brawley hoax.

    From the stories I've seen it seems that Grant is a radio personality attacked by racist competitors.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19 January, 2008 12:58  

  • So was Father Coughlin, wpdunn. He was the granddaddy of right wing radio and quite militant in his defense of Hitler, Mussolini, the Fascist cause and Anti-Semitism. But, he was hugely influential in creating the talk format.

    Should he, likewise, be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award?

    By Blogger Dave Carroll, at 19 January, 2008 14:06  

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