The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

30 June 2008

Franken Struggles To Grab Obama's Coattails


Many Obama Supporters Not Voting For Stuart Smalley

"It's not alive!"

If Stuart Smalley's political career were a movie, it would not resemble 1931's Frankenstein. That's because the monster he would like to create, a merged version of himself and Barack Obama, can't seem to get off of the operating table.

Yes, our modern- day Frankenstein might in fact be functional, if only somebody could find Obama's misplaced coattails. With the latter likely to carry Minnesota this November, Al needs every one of those voters to support him as well.

(Image by David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer)

But in a story largely buried during a summer weekend, the former Air America Radio host is apparently having trouble with thousands of voters that normally would be expected to back the alleged funnyman.

From Minnesota Public Radio:

An independent poll shows Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., with a 10 point lead over his DFL-endorsed challenger Al Franken. But that same poll showed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama way ahead of Republican John McCain in Minnesota. That means a significant number of Minnesotans are planning to split their tickets.

St. Paul, Minn. — Cathy Kennedy still calls herself a Republican. She actually served as a press secretary for Republican Gov. Al Quie back in the late 1970s. But this year, she's been inspired by a Democrat.

"For the very first time in my life, I attended a DFL caucus this year to vote for Obama," Kennedy said.

"There is some dissonance in my mind."

- Shane Baker, a likely ticket-splitter

But she hasn't given up on the GOP, yet.

"I think the reason why we're talking is because I did give $25 to the Republican Party for kind of an anti-Franken effort," she added.

Kennedy isn't totally sold on Coleman. But at this point, she's leaning his way, because she doesn't see Franken, who has never held office before, as an acceptable alternative.

She is not alone. Take 24-year-old West St. Paul Democrat Matt Reubendale. He actually volunteered for Obama before the Iowa caucuses.

"[I] went down and door-knocked in some tiny town I can't even remember the name of," he said.

The Los Angeles Times Top Of The Ticket sheds further light on the problem:

In Minnesota, one-term Republican incumbent Norm Coleman led onetime "Saturday Night Live" cast member and writer Al Franken by 10 percentage points, 51% to 41%.

Franken ended up winning the state's Democratic Senate nomination more easily than expected, but during the spring he took flak over back corporate taxes he owed in 17 states and a raunchy article he wrote for Playboy magazine several years ago (when comedy still was his prime occupation).

The new poll found that Franken has not consolidated the Democratic vote in Minnesota as well as Coleman has his GOP base. But the former funnyman's big problem is with independents -- he trailed Coleman among this bloc by 20 percentage points.

Again, what is the appeal of Al Franken as a US Senate candidate? Until his "progressive" supporters can answer that simple question, expect the campaign to continue to stall.

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27 June 2008

Dr Laura Schlessinger Weighs In On Gloucester Pregnancy Pact


Principal Under Fire, Dr Laura Offers View


More than a week after a Bay State high school's alleged "pregnancy pact" made nationwide headlines, the explosive issue has shown no signs of receding into the background.

For talk radio, cable news programs, newspapers and blogs, what has made the Gloucester High "pact" so provocative is the very idea of a conspiracy by underage girls to get themselves pregnant by any means possible.

Now, the school's principal is under fire, as some question whether there really was a pact in the first place. In today's Gloucester Daily Times, Joseph Sullivan has taken to the Op-Ed pages to defend his recollection and role in recent events:

On June 11, near the end of a regularly scheduled meeting with staff, I was informed by a school secretary that a magazine reporter was in the main office lobby to see me. When the meeting concluded, I went to my office and introduced myself to Kathleen Kingsbury, who identified herself as a Time magazine correspondent. She told me that she had questions about the previously published reports about the increased incidences of pregnancy at the high school. We met in my office. Ms. Kingsbury's initial questions to me were general in nature and centered on the origin and role of the Health Center and the child-care program at the high school, which I answered.

Her direct question to me was whether I thought the distribution of birth control prescriptions or prophylactic devices at the Health Center would have prevented the spike in the number of pregnancies that have been reported this year. I told her "no" because my sources had informed me that a significant number of the pregnancies, especially among the younger students, were the result of deliberate and intentional behavior. I also told her that the issuance of birth control prescriptions or the distribution of prophylactics would not take place at the Health Center unless it was with parental consent and school department approval.

I honestly do not remember specifically using the word "pact" in my meeting with the Time magazine reporter, but I do specifically remember telling Ms. Kingsbury that my understanding was that a number of the pregnancies were intentional and that the students within this group were friendly with each other. At no time in the interview did I mention any student names nor did I breach any confidences and at the conclusion of the meeting, I told Ms. Kingsbury to leave the high school property because I did not want her to be trying to interview students.


My only direct source of information about the intentional pregnancies at the high school was the former nurse practitioner at the Health Center. My other sources are verbal staff reports and student/staff chatter, all of which I have found to be very reliable in my experience as a principal and all of which I filter myself for accuracy and keep confidential.

Your Radio Equalizer wondered what an outside observer might have to say about the whole mess, so this site turned to syndicated radio host and author Dr Laura Schlessinger for insight.

She left no doubt, however, that the real issue is not about the principal's memory, but rather the babies that are soon to be born into these troubled circumstances. Schlessinger feels the solution is to see these infants adopted into "stable" families:

"It is terribly sad that these children had so little to hold onto and look forward to that they used this way to feel connected, important, and-or loved," Schlessinger told your Radio Equalizer.

"I can only hope that their babies will - because of all this scrutiny- be adopted into loving families," she continued.

"That is, adopted into two- parent (mom and dad), mature, stable marriages and families. This is ultimately in the best interests of the children."

Clearly, she's correct. Whether or not there was a "pact" is irrelevant: very soon, there will be a number of newborns in need of a proper home environment.

Instead of worrying about that, Gloucester officials are busy playing pass- the- buck in order to send the blame elsewhere. Who cares what the principal or mayor knew? Let's get back to the girls and why they felt the need to get pregnant at 15.

Does Dr Laura need to pay Gloucester a visit in order to straighten out these misguided public servants and talk to these girls directly?

IN OTHER Dr Laura news, new ratings have confirmed her position as the number one syndicated host in Los Angeles. In the all- important persons 25-54 demographic, Dr Laura's audience rose 36% on a year- to- year comparison, as she took first place among national talkers locally. In the overall listeners 12+ category, Schlessinger is second only to Rush Limbaugh.

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26 June 2008

Several Factors Behind Don Imus Non-Termination


How Don Imus Hung On This Time


As the coverage
begins to subside and clouds above Don Imus lift, some are apparently surprised that he hasn't been fired, or at least suspended, after his latest racial gaffe.

But is his survival really such a mystery this time, as opposed to last year's nappy- headed hos meltdown? Let's take a look at four clear distinctions:

1) First and foremost, The Reverend Al Sharpton largely held his fire this time. Why? Who knows, it's possible a deal was cut with Imus syndicator Citadel- ABC Radio, or that Al is too heavily distracted by his own legal troubles.

2) Advertisers didn't stage a high- profile pullout for two reasons: there was no public pressure to do so and because frankly (and alarmingly), most haven't returned to his program since it was brought back by ABC. But Citadel shares have been sinking all week, perhaps partly because investors have been reminded of the commercial failure of the current Imus show.

3) Unlike nervous corporate execs at CBS and NBC who were quick to pull the plug last time, Citadel- ABC Radio has a different operating environment. There, CEO Farid Suleman has made a huge personal and financial investment in bringing Imus back. As a result, it would take a lot more than this comparatively mild heat to see him booted a second time.

4) Finally, there's Imus himself: at this late stage in his career, how is he a threat to anyone? He's probably down to his last year or two on the airwaves, at most. The current show represents a final lap around the track for an aging, onetime radio giant. Removing him now solves nothing.

Your Radio Equalizer is grateful that Imus II has blown over. Unfortunately, we have a long summer ahead, where many attempts will be made to remove talk show hosts ahead of November's election. Let's not allow them to win their misguided battle.

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23 June 2008

Don Imus In New Race Flap


New Imus Race Row Camouflages Talk Radio's True Threat

Somewhere in the hottest and most miserable depths of Media Hell, it has been determined that this week should be spent covering Imus Nappy- Headed Hos II: The Crappy Sequel.

And even more sinister than the idea of thrusting the aging crustmeister back into the spotlight is how the issue calls attention away from a real ethnicity- related controversy: Barack Obama's use of the race card to silence critics.

How soon will this weapon be used to shut down his foes in talk radio? Given radio's already- liberal managerial environment, where McCain supporters are less common than snowball fights in July, one can easily see how a host who steps "over the line" will be in career- threatening hot water.

Already, talkers are taking note of Obama's strategy of labeling all of his opponents as racists. From Monday's Rush Limbaugh Show:

RUSH: Here's Senator Obama. This was Friday. Jacksonville, Florida, at a campaign event.

OBAMA: We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me. (laughter) They're gonna.... They're going to say, "You know what, he's -- he's -- he's young, inexperienced, and, uh, uh, he's got a funny name. Did I mention he's black? (cheers and applause) (Obama laughs) He's got a feisty wife.

RUSH: Were you able to understand that? You weren't? Come on, Snerdley, we added some sound effects to make it sound like the messiah was speaking, but we thought you could still hear what he was saying. You didn't understand what he said? Well, okay, then I'll translate it. He said, "We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me. They're going to try and say, 'You know what? He's young and inexperienced. He's gotta funny name. Did I mention he's black? He's got a feisty wife.'" This guy, ladies and gentlemen, is diabolical. Barack Obama will do and say anything. This is a disgrace, and people should be furious with this kind of thing. It is the Democrat Party that brought up race.

All of the racism, all of the sexism, all of these things that supposedly the Republicans are guilty of and that the country is guilty of, were on full display during the Democrat primaries. Barack Obama is out there virtually ignoring the fact that it was the Clintons and any number of other Democrats who were pointing out he's not black enough. It was Democrats and liberals who started the whole refrain, "Is he authentic?" meaning has he been down for the civil rights struggle. They are the ones! The Reverend Jackson reference by the Clintons, North Carolina. (doing Clinton impression) "Hey, of course they know he's gonna win here. Jesse Jackson won here. He's black!" You know Clinton was right. They played the race card on him -- and, of course, the sexism and so forth.

Meanwhile, while all this has been going on, John McCain has been doing everything he can to distance himself from anything that mentioned Obama's middle name; Obama's race or what have you. He's made it plain he doesn't want to go there, and yet here is the disgraceful Barack Obama coming out, doing and saying anything, making it up. In fact, what you might even be able to conclude from this is that it is Obama who is playing the race card himself, and he's trying to evoke sympathy. I don't know anybody who's talking about race when it comes to Obama on our side. Do you? Everybody on our side is scared to death to say anything about Obama! I don't know who's bringing this up. I don't know anybody who's talking about him being a Muslim. Who's doing that? But he's out there saying, "They're going to call me..." Who on our side is doing that? Do you know anybody? I don't know anybody saying that, anybody that matters.


RUSH: So Obama is out there accusing the Republicans of playing the race card. He did this in Florida on Friday. "They're going to try to make you afraid of me. They're going to try and say, 'You know what? He's young and inexperienced. He's gotta funny name. Did I mention he's black? He's got a feisty wife.'" By the way, the Atlanta Urinal-Constipation Saturday -- speaking of "feisty wife" -- it's a blog. "Michelle Obama has been the recipient of rougher treatment than her husband for a reason, the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said Saturday. One [of the Obamas] has ancestors who were slaves and the other doesn't," and that's the reason, "said Charles Steele Jr., president and CEO of the decades-old, Atlanta-based civil rights group."

Let's ask the question now: which host will be first to face the wrath of Obama and his race card- happy supporters? How will they use white guilt to undermine talk radio?

Remember, they've got to find some way to weaken the medium's influence before November. Do you really believe they won't use every tool at their disposal, especially one with such a great track record of success?

As for Imus, does anyone really care what comes out of his mouth at this point? It's been many months since anything he's said or done has been deemed newsworthy. Must we revisit nappy- headed hos?

If it didn't succeed in permanently removing him from the airwaves the first time, why would it work now? Besides, he'll probably endorse Obama and see the whole thing blow over quickly.

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21 June 2008

Laura Ingraham's Radio Return Still A Question Mark


Ingraham's Return Still Iffy, Replacement In Works?

Several weeks into a network- imposed lockout, radio talk show host Laura Ingraham still doesn't have a firm return date for her program. Meanwhile, her syndicator is clearly busy trying to contain the damage.

Clearly worried about the potential loss of program affiliates, the Talk Radio Network has circulated an email to station managers that attempts to alleviate mounting concerns over her absence from the show.

In addition, the memo, which your Radio Equalizer has obtained, discusses the possibility of full- time syndication for weekend host Monica Crowley:


TRN recently launched The Monica Crowley Show on the weekends, and Monica is now heard in New York, Dallas, Miami, Boston, Washington DC, Portland, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Memphis, Tucson, Tulsa and West Palm Beach, among other markets.

More recently, Monica has been filling in as guest host on The Laura Ingraham Show for the past two weeks.

We have, frankly, been overwhelmed by the response to Monica – on both the weekend show and for her handling of the fill-in duties for Laura Ingraham- from both listeners and Program Directors.

In fact, we have been getting unsolicited calls from many of our Program Directors asking us to syndicate Monica on a Monday through Friday basis, to such a degree that we have concluded we need to look at the possibility.

That is why we are contacting you. Laura will be resuming her fulltime duties on or before June 30th, and we are, of course, committed to Laura and to our station affiliates which carry the Show.

Given the degree to which Monica has resonated with both listeners and Program Directors in such a short period of time, we have decided to ask feedback from other stations on whether we should launch a new weekday show with Monica as the host, and, if so: (i) in what day part; and (ii) would your station have any interest in that show.

Indeed, nothing says success better than positive listener response, so we have attached just a representative sample of the hundreds of e–mail responses from those who have fallen in love with Monica in this short time. And, nothing validates the positive opinions of listeners and Program Directors like actual audio, so we also have attached a few clips from the Show to give you a feel for Monica on the air.

We are in the business of delivering stars to our customers – affiliate feedback indicates that we have found another. But we would like to know your thoughts on this. Please read the attached email trail that follows, listen to the attached clips, and please listen to her remaining days of filling in for Laura on the Show’s station in your market.

Steve Wall
Affiliate Consultant
Talk Radio Network / TRN FM

Reading between the
lines, a necessary skill in the broadcasting business, one wonders whether Ingraham is really set for a return at the end of the month. Could this be a way of stalling a bit longer while both sides hash out a new deal?

In addition, the memo's emphasis on pumping Crowley makes it clear she's TRN's current Plan B, should negotiations with Ingraham hit a snag. The hope here is that if Laura walks away permanently, station losses might be minimized.

Privately, many talk radio insiders fully expect Ingraham to return to TRN on the network's terms. That's because most feel she has nowhere else to go, leaving it as her only real option. How soon that might happen is anyone's guess, however.

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20 June 2008

Talk Radio Joins Together In Support Of Our Troops


To Help Soldiers, Talk Radio In Rare Joint Broadcast

Owing to their naturally individualistic nature, bringing radio talk show hosts together for nearly any reason has often been compared to herding cats.

But that's not to say it can't be done, as former KSFO/ San Francisco talker Melanie Morgan and Move America Forward have proven. Given the right cause, in this case helping our troops overseas, the medium is more than willing to join forces.

That sentiment, combined with her tireless efforts, has led to an unprecedented event: From The Frontlines, an eight- hour telethon hosted by Morgan and Michelle Malkin.

Featuring a stunning lineup that includes Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Dr Laura Schlessinger, Ollie North, Monica Crowley, Ann Coulter, plus additional support from Nancy Reagan, Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, actor Kelsey Grammer and Drudge Report honcho Andrew Breitbart, it is sure to provide a shot in the arm for our troops.

While some talk stations will pick up portions of the telethon, the entire event can be experienced live at

Your Radio Equalizer recently checked in with Morgan to get a sense of how this highly unusual event came together and what it means for talk radio and our troops:

THE RADIO EQUALIZER: Melanie, what sparked this idea?

MELANIE MORGAN: When the idea popped into my head during a discussion about the future of Internet television with Michelle Malkin, this vision just started unspooling like an old VHS tape.

Michelle shocked me when she said she loved the idea and left it to me (and our staff at Move America Forward) to get the ball rolling. Talk about pressure.

So I put together my list of 'Dream Team' of conservative talkers with whom I had a personal relationship, or at least a professional acquaintance. Rush, Sean, Mark, Dr. Laura, Laura Ingraham, Ollie North, Ann Coulter, and Monica Crowley were all at the top of my list.

I reached out to Sean and Mark first, because I know them very well. I wasn’t at all confident they would be interested in helping, only because they are so very busy with this election cycle and have punishing schedules. But I knew that if Mark and Sean could help, they would help. Both are such incredibly generous friends, and almost saintly in their fierce devotion to supporting our military. Sean Hannity and Mark Levin immediately said yes.

So, I had a show, but still had a lot more work to do.

TRE: and Rush?

MORGAN: Then, I crossed my fingers and emailed Rush. The King of All Radio. My palms were sweaty as I clicked send, and I believe that I had an adult beverage to calm my nerves afterward. I figured that the worst Rush could say was no thanks, but it still made me nervous to impose on a relationship with such a huge request.

Rush emailed me back at 10:38pm on a Sunday evening, not that I remember such details. 'Melanie, I would love to help,' Limbaugh said.

Sean, Mark and now Rush.

I remained handcuffed to my keyboard for the next seven days, pounding out invitations. I worried that by the time they saw my email it would be too late.

However, Monica Crowley responded five minutes after I sent her the invitation, Colonel North’s friend and co-author Chuck Holton (whom I had met in Iraq while delivering 225,000 Christmas and Hanukkah cards collected by Move America Forward) had an answer for me in the next 24 hours, in addition to Dr Laura Schlessinger and Laura Ingraham the following day.

I prevailed upon Phil Boyce, National Program Director for Citadel Broadcasting's stations, for help. Phil jumped in and sent emails to all of the stations and asked individual managers to link to our event and give assistance if they could.

TRE: How did you manage to get so many hosts to work together?

MORGAN: I really believe that the reason the 'All-Stars of Conservative Talk Radio' eagerly embraced From the Frontlines is because it's a moving way to involve America in celebration of our military men and women, who are largely ignored, or worse, openly mocked by some fringe elements of the political parties.

The cutting-edge use of technology, blending the Internet, talk radio, aggregating websites and televising an affirmative message of love and support, plus a definitive goal of breaking the record for care package shipments, made it easy for my friends and colleagues to say yes.

Plus, everyone loves Michelle Malkin. She is fearless, incredibly smart, adored in the conservative community, and takes big chances technologically which have always paid off.

TRE: What is the significance of using Internet broadcasting as a major component of the telethon?

MORGAN: Talk radio has been a successful stand-alone for dozens of years as the elite media fell victim to the web. But now that the web is putting pressure on talk radio, it’s essential that those of us who love broadcasting to incorporate the new media in exciting ways that people can understand and use effectively.

This eight hour, web-based telethon for Move America Forward has one goal: to raise enough money to send the largest number of care packages in US history. For more information, see Move America Forward's website.

UPDATE: additional hosts have signed on to this event:

Brian Sussman - KSFO/ San Francisco
Roger Hedgecock - KOGO/ San Diego
Larry Marino - KRLA/ Los Angeles
Martha Zoller - WDUN/ Atlanta/Gainesville GA
Michael Graham - WTKK/ Boston
Andrea Shea King - Recently of WDBO/ Orlando (now on BlogTalkRadio)
Mark Williams - WROW/ Albany NY

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18 June 2008

Randi Rhodes Compares Her Importance To That Of Tim Russert


Rhodes Sees Key Parallel Between Herself And Russert

If we didn't know better, it would be easy to believe this "Randi Rhodes" character has been nothing but a long- running stunt, a mere parody of talk radio.

At any time, the liberal talk host might reveal her true nature, while chastising listeners for being foolish enough to believe her crazy act.

Between her crazy, unhinged skits and erratic public behavior, how could she be real?

And this time, Randi has revealed a truly dark and frankly ugly corner of her personality, one where she's more important than any of us could ever imagine. Is she as irreplaceable as Tim Russert?

From Monday's show, here's the stunning transcript, followed by the clip:

RHODES (Hour Two, 30:16): Look, the thing is, it’s going to take four or five people to replace Tim Russert. It’s like you know, trying to replace me. It took like what, six people to do it, you know. You can’t replace a guy like that with one person, because a guy who asks tough questions, I mean Tim Russert was the Vice President of NBC News. He was the Washington Bureau Chief and the moderator of Meet the Press. I mean this is a guy who lived it and loved it and ate it and breathed it.


RHODES (Hour Two, 31:57) But you know to think that one person can replace Tim Russert is a silly notion. You know people like that come along you know once in a lifetime. It's like when people tried to replace me. They were like, 'oh well she just does this, she's just, you know, she's just a voice on the radio.'

And all of a sudden they found out, 'oh my God, all the crap she does.' Nobody does all that. You know the need a person to read and a person to research and a person to do this and a person to do that.

One specialist on politics, another one on the global markets and another one to talk about fathering and mothering and family issues. And that it's just, it’s gonna take a whole host of people to replace Tim Russert.”

Is Randi Rhodes for real, or have we all been taken for a ride? You be the judge.

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Al Franken's 'Comedic' Material Stuns Even Mainstream Media


When Even MSM Is Stunned, Isn't There A Problem?

When the Washington Post feels the need to run an obscene content disclaimer at the top of a piece about your party's US Senate nominee, is it time to admit there's a problem?

Though Minnesota's DFL Party has designated alleged funnyman Al Franken its nominee, questions about his shady and downright creepy background continue unabated.

Why would any party want this weirdo to represent them in Congress?

(Images by David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer)

First, it was his questionable antics while at Air America Radio, then his tax dodge and worker's compensation scandals, accusations of strange public behavior and now, lingering concerns over his infamous "Porn-O-Rama" Playboy column. Has any candidate ever had this much baggage going into an election?

Though Franken would like "Porn-O-Rama" to disappear, that seems unlikely anytime soon, especially with today's Washington Post piece by Michael Gerson. Take note of the disclaimer at the top:

Vulgarian at the Gate

Warning: The following contains extreme vulgarity by a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

In the razor-close and nationally important Senate race in Minnesota, Republican incumbent Norm Coleman is presented with a unique political problem. Should he raise in his ads the issue of comedian Al Franken's offensive vulgarity? Or would this risk a backlash against Coleman for coarsening the public conversation? Remember that when Ken Starr detailed Bill Clinton's most repulsive antics -- stained dresses and such -- it was Starr who was accused of sexual obsessiveness.

Franken's defenders explain that his edginess is the result of being a "satirist" -- a term he embraces. "My work, dare I say, is provocative, touching and funny," Franken has explained. "It sounds immodest, but I now have a brand name in political satire."


So what is Franken's "provocative, touching and funny" contribution to the genre? Consider his article in Playboy magazine titled "Porn-O-Rama!" in which he enthuses that it is an "exciting time for pornographers and for us, the consumers of pornography." The Internet, he explains, is a "terrific learning tool. For example, a couple of years ago, when he was 12, my son used the Internet for a sixth-grade report on bestiality. Joe was able to download some effective visual aids, which the other students in his class just loved." Franken goes on to relate a soft-core fantasy about women providing him with sex who were trained at the "Minnesota Institute of Titology."


"Porn-O-Rama!" is a modern campaign document every voter should read -- the Federalist Papers of lifestyle liberalism. It has the literary sensibilities and moral seriousness of an awkward adolescent nerd publishing an underground newspaper to shock his way into campus popularity. But, in this case, the article was written in 2000 by a 48-year-old man.

Franken's "brand name" includes other highlights. In 2006, after a long monologue about a dog and its vomit, Franken impersonated the deceased Sen. Strom Thurmond as saying: "Yeah, I screwed a woman who was vomiting once." He once proposed a television sketch about a female CBS reporter being drugged and raped. He has suggested that his next book title might be "I F -- -- -- Hate Those Right-Wing Motherf -- -- -- !" At an event hosted by the Feminist Majority Foundation in 1999, Franken offered this thigh-slapper: "Why don't we focus on what Afghan women can do? They can cook, bear children and pray. As I recall, that was fine for our grandmothers."

Again, to the Democrats, here's a question they still refuse to answer: why do you want this creep in the US Senate? Is this really the best you have to offer?

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17 June 2008

Laura Ingraham Lockout Personal, Not Political


Fighting Ingraham's Battle, Activists Waste Valuable Time

At a time when conservatives face important political battles heading into November's election, one radio host would have the right waste valuable resources fighting for her lucrative syndication contract.

After playing her hand much too aggressively while courting a rival broadcast outfit, Laura Ingraham has found herself locked out at the Talk Radio Network, which has handled her show since an abrupt exit from Westwood One nearly five years ago.

While your Radio Equalizer certainly doesn't expect Ingraham to back down from her contention that she's done nothing wrong, attempting to drag the entire conservative movement into her contractual dispute is ridiculous.

Whether directly from Laura or via her lawyers and friends, this represents a profound misuse of the right's collective energy. Especially dubious are any assertions that the Talk Radio Network, a reliably conservative syndication outfit for many years, has shut her down for ideological reasons.

Not only is this absurd, it's frankly embarrassing. Already, some respected names on the right have been pulled in to this misguided "cause".

Today's Washington Post piece by Howard Kurtz underscores the silliness of this would-be crusade:

Laura Ingraham, the most popular woman on political talk radio, has been off the air for two weeks, and not by choice.

Ingraham's syndicator, Talk Radio Network, barred her from her Washington studio after talks about a new contract hit a snag, and some of her fans are mounting a campaign to get her back.

"The fact is, they took her off the air," says Eric Bernthal, her lawyer. "There's no doubt in my mind they did it as a tactic in contract negotiations."

Ingraham said on her Web site: "Rest assured, this absence is not of my choosing, nor is it health or family related. I am ready, willing and eager to continue the conversation we started seven years ago about politics and the culture. (Heck, if cancer couldn't keep me off the airwaves for long, nothing will.) . . . I would never voluntarily abandon you during such a critical time for our country." She declined a request for comment because of a confidentiality clause in her contract.

Neither Mark Masters, chief executive of Talk Radio Network, nor a lawyer for the company responded to requests for comment. Ingraham's five-year contract -- she previously worked for another radio company -- expires in September, and she is contractually barred from negotiating with other syndicators until later this summer.

Bingo! That's the apparent source of the dispute: early negotiating by Ingraham with Citadel- ABC stations based on earlier thinking that Sean Hannity's program would soon be leaving their stations. That alarmed Masters, who locked out Ingraham in a defensive move.

In a business where so many left- wing executives have moved to dilute conservative talk radio in order to suit their own partisan agendas, the last thing right- leaning activists need is a misguided crusade against a company that has done nothing to deserve it.

Ingraham has every right to push for the best deal she can within the conditions of her contract, but should leave the rest of us out of it.

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16 June 2008

Speculation Begins Over Tim Russert's Network Replacement


Olbermann, Matthews, Gregory Among Those Considered

Less than 72 hours
after his sudden and shocking passing, media speculation over who will replace NBC's Tim Russert is already heating up. If that seems a bit too soon, much worse is the short list of names said to be under consideration.

Ready for Meet The Press With Keith Olbermann? How about Chris Matthews or David Gregory?

Don't try diving head- first into this talent pool, you'll break your neck.

Yes, according to the New York Times, MTP could very well be taken over by one of MSNBC's hotheaded lunatics:

But the list of potential names to assume the moderator role on “Meet the Press” is already well known. From inside NBC, the potential candidates include the evening news anchor, Brian Williams, who would be doing double duty (as Mr. Schieffer did for a time at CBS), correspondents David Gregory and Andrea Mitchell and MSNBC hosts like Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough and Keith Olbermann. Several of those names are already lightning rods for critics, however.

NBC could smooth the transition by offering the post on a temporary basis to Mr. Brokaw, who stepped down as the network’s anchor in 2004. Because of past associations both with NBC and Mr. Zucker, Katie Couric will also very likely be mentioned as a possibility, with her tenure as the anchor of the “CBS Evening News” widely expected to end sometime in the next year.

In planning election coverage without Mr. Russert, NBC has him to thank. He was widely regarded as a good judge of talent and a good mentor at the network, and the list of successors includes many people, including Ms. Couric and Gwen Ifill of PBS, whom he recruited or encouraged.

Apparently, the network news business has something in common with talk radio: neither has established a bench of bona fide future talent ready to step in when the need arises. The fact that any of MSNBC's ultra- partisan, ratings- challenged eccentrics would even be considered for such a position is alarming.

At TVNewser, one can find a tally of suggestions from various pundits, with equally absurd suggestions. Katie Couric? Is that a joke?

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13 June 2008

Talk Radio Reacts To News Of Tim Russert's Sudden Passing


Talk Hosts Reflect On Legacy Of NBC's Tim Russert


The sudden and highly unexpected passing of NBC's Tim Russert has talk radio both in a state of shock and reflecting on his immense journalistic legacy.

As a result of his approach to moderating Meet The Press and position inside a network conservatives often criticize, the medium's relationship with Russert was at times bumpy, but a great deal of respect was always maintained. Watching MTP was a virtual job requirement for the nation's talkers and Monday morning recaps of the show became routine.

Because the news broke after many hosts had finished for the week (though Sean Hannity spent more than an hour talking about it), your Radio Equalizer asked several key talkers for their reactions to the news.

First up was Rush Limbaugh, who got to know Russert well over the years in a variety of settings, including as a guest on his program and a rare 2004 interview on Rush's own show.

"It's just a shame," Limbaugh told your Radio Equalizer just moments ago. "Tim was a regular guy with that perpetual smile he wore naturally all the time. He loved life and got everything he could out of it.

"He was the closest thing there was at any of the networks to an objective journalist.

"Whether it was at dinner here in Florida while his son was taking golf lessons, or on the set of Meet The Press, Tim was always the same with me: genuine. He never condescended to anyone and was the consummate professional. He will be hard to replace," Limbaugh added.

Syndicated ABC Radio talker Mark Levin also weighed in, saying "I didn't know Tim Russert personally. I used to kid about him on my show. But I, like most others, am stunned and saddened by his sudden death. I always admired his deep commitment to his family.

"He was obviously a wonderful father, son, and husband. And he wasn't afraid to show his love and affection for them. That will be his true legacy. And it is a legacy far more important than any professional or career accomplishments, of which he had many. I wish his family peace."

Westwood One host Lars Larson added: "he was a true professional and gentleman... who was always a pleasure to watch and interview."

Longtime talker Melanie Morgan, also of Move America Forward, had this to say: "America has lost a legendary figure in the worlds of politics and journalism. A fair, decent and honorable human being, Tim Russert set a standard for professionalism that few of his colleagues ever came close to matching.

"When Russert conducted an interview or reported on a story, he did so with an impartiality that would leave viewers clueless as to his personal biases. That's exactly how it should be done, and nobody did it better than Tim Russert."

Russert's relationship with talk radio was sometimes rocky, as became apparent during the infamous Don Imus "nappy-headed ho's" flap. Russert, a longtime friend of Imus, was criticized both by supporters and detractors of the I-Man, seemingly in a no-win situation.

In addition, Russert's overall standing with the medium improved markedly after an October 2007 presidential debate where, as moderator, he took Hillary Clinton to task for supporting drivers licenses for illegal aliens.

For talk radio and millions of Americans, Sunday mornings will never be same.

RUSSERT'S death used to promote Keith Olbermann? Yikes.

JOHNNY DOLLAR has a Russert roundup here

THE ANCHORESS remembers Tim

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12 June 2008

Ingraham Tells Listeners She Will Return Soon


Laura Ingraham Speaks To Listeners At Political Rally

After attending an event in support of free speech in broadcasting, syndicated talk host Laura Ingraham has addressed the fate of her radio program.

Saying "don't believe what you read in blogs," Ingraham tried to reassure listeners from the Washington DC- based press conference, but didn't get into specifics about the lockout that has so far kept her from hosting a program in the month of June.

By the way, to which "blog" do you think Laura was referring?

To date, however, your Radio Equalizer has received no direct complaints from Ingraham or her syndicators as to our reporting.

While utilizing the opportunity to promote her new Fox News Channel program, she reiterated her desire to do radio, saying "from my mouth... out of my cold, dead hands will they take this microphone." has the video here:

But with Sean Hannity now locked up in a new deal, options for Laura to relocate her program have been greatly reduced.

That's why your Radio Equalizer expects the situation to resolve itself in short order: she simply has no other place to go other than straight back to the Talk Radio Network and the contract she signed long ago. Ingraham is simply not holding the cards this time.

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Pesky San Francisco Mayor Finally Set To Begin Air America Show


Newsom Sure To Have AAR Suits Nervous

As he gets a second shot at hosting a talk show for the Bay Area's Air America Radio outlet this weekend, station management surely must be nervous.

Given that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was a no-show for his previously- scheduled broadcast debut, they certainly have good reason to worry. But the pesky pol's local star power is hard to deny, so KKGN 960 AM has decided to gamble on him a second time.

(photoshop by David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer, based on a real image of Newsom appearing to "eat" a television microphone)

Beyond his grandstanding on the gay marriage issue, however, what really does Newsom have to say? Agreeing to do this show may be riskier for him than KKGN if it reveals his true lack of substance on the issues.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, KKGN suits have eliminated the flake factor, at least for the first week, by pre-recording the show. But that means no listener phone calls and a format that is a lot like boring Sunday morning public affairs programming:

He isn't getting paid for the job, but the political rewards of having his own radio show could be priceless. The show provides Newsom an unfiltered forum to publicize pet projects and discuss just about anything he wants - a politician's dream come true.

"There are no rules," Newsom said. "I meet with so many fascinating people, and we have these great conversations. We want to ... ask those folks if they can meet on the radio show."

The first show, which airs at noon, was prerecorded and will feature the 40-year-old mayor interviewing political commentator Arianna Huffington.

Each week, Newsom will interview local personalities and newsmakers in "a relaxed, intimate conversational format," a news release about the show said. The plan is to eventually have Newsom host the show live, take phone calls from listeners and, at some point, to take the show on the road to feature people he meets on his travels.

"To have him talk to a peer who is also a celebrity, that will be some incredible radio," Scott said.

As soon as the show does switch to a live presentation, however, the issue of Newsom's shaky commitment to the program will inevitably return.

Incidently, Nuisance actually represents the station's second attempt at generating publicity by hiring a San Francisco mayor to serve as host. In 2005, KKGN (then known as KQKE) brought Willie Brown in as morning co-host.

The predicable end result: low ratings and surprisingly little buzz after the first few shows. Is there any reason to believe this move will produce a different result?

One key difference: at least Willie Brown had the decency to keep his appointments.

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10 June 2008

Sean Hannity Show In New, Three-Way Partnership


Unusual Partnership Will Oversee Sean Hannity Show


Ending months of speculation over the fate of his syndicated radio program, Sean Hannity's radio show will be taken over by a unique, three-way partnership that includes current syndicator ABC Radio Networks, Clear Channel's Premiere Radio Networks division (NYSE:CCU), and Hannity himself, according to a source close to the discussions.

As part of this highly unusual deal, Hannity will remain on Citadel- ABC Radio's (NYSE:CDL) stations, a development that probably brings a sigh of relief to program directors across the country.

According to the source, terms have been reached on a long term, three- way deal. Financial details are not being released, but it's likely to be better than Hannity's previous agreement.

"The finishing touches are being put on it now, with lots of i's to dot and t's to be crossed. All sides, I am told, are happy with the deal. It's a partnership, so there will be no loss of stations. Another radio drama has been avoided and all's well that ends well," said the insider.

Because Hannity's show generated about $35m in annual revenue versus a salary of $5m, Citadel has preserved a valuable income stream.

This news should put an end to efforts by Laura Ingraham and other hosts to move into slots that would have been vacated by a Hannity departure.

Watch for mainstream media spin that may portray Hannity's new deal in a negative light.

Citadel shares closed at $1.60 today, down three cents.

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