The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

29 August 2008

Conservative Talk Radio Ecstatic Over Sarah Palin's VP Nod


Talk Radio Finally Excited About Presidential Contest

It's not every day that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton agree on something, but John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has them all sharing in the excitement of what could result in America's first female vice president.

With Palin, everybody gets something: Limbaugh and Hannity get a real conservative on the GOP ticket, while Ferraro gains the satisfaction of knowing her 1984 VP bid truly blazed a trail. Finally, Hillary Clinton has received some vindication knowing that somebody in the presidential race finds her 18 million voters worth pursuing.

That's not to say Clinton and Ferraro necessarily agree with Palin's conservative stances, but both see the bigger picture, especially after Barack Obama's curious choice of Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) as his own running mate.

From Ferraro: "Without Hillary being the nominee it's really quite equally as important. There are a lot of women who are disaffected by how Hillary was treated by the media, by how she was treated by the Obama campaign … not speaking up when sexism raised its ugly head in the media."

For conservative talk radio and the blogosphere, the Palin pick brought a rare shot in the arm at a time when upbeat political news has been hard to come by. Limbaugh said her "story and experience dwarf Barack Obama."

From Friday's program:

RUSH: It's an inspired choice. They kept this secret. They totally befuddled the Obama campaign. The Obama campaign is now busy doing their opposition research, and the one thing that just blows me away that just makes me laugh, and I haven't been laughing much this week, is that they're talking about how this is a bad pick because she doesn't have any experience. She's got more experience than Obama does! She has more experience running things. She's got a bigger story to tell than Obama has, and she's got plenty of people who will tell that great story of hers. Obama has nobody he wants us to hear tell his story. He has to tell his story himself. I think they've been rope-a-doped here. I think McCain has made a brilliant move. Folks, look what we got here.

We do have a woman on the ticket, but she is a Republican woman! It's not Hillary, and Sarah Palin doesn't have to wear pantsuits, ladies and gentlemen, and her husband is not a crook. This woman's nickname is Barracuda, from her high school basketball days. She takes no prisoners. She's a government ethical reformer. She's been opposing Ted Stevens, who's got problems. Her husband works in the oil business.

He helps to create the fuel that Obama uses to fly all over the country. The fuel that Obama says he wants to get rid of in ten years. This is tremendous, and everybody saying, "Well, how is she going to stack up against Biden?" It's not how she stacks up against Biden. It's how she stacks up against Obama. McCain has the experience-vs.-Obama thing wrapped up. "Well, what about foreign policy? She doesn't have any foreign policy." Neither does Obama! Our vice presidential choice is more qualified to be president of the United States than Barack Obama, the Democrat choice. Democrats today are not happy.

The Drive-By Media is not happy. They're not crazy about the speech last night in the civil rights community. I can't tell you how much Drive-By Media criticism there is of this speech, from the AP and Reuters and so forth, and there's Tom Brokaw: Democrats, don't be fooled by this raucous crowd, these big crowds at these things don't mean anything, it's going to be forgotten. It already is forgotten, folks. We've got audio sound bites of this that we're going to get to in due course.

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin said of the choice, "Yes, I’m impressed. Very impressed." Other pundits appeared to agree.

And Palin's VP nod has already seemed to boost McCain's rally turnout. In a sign of early damage to Obama's candidacy, Boston Herald media reporter Jessica Heslam noted a huge coverage shift away from the Illinois senator and toward McCain's candidacy, perhaps for the first time in recent memory.

But not everyone is happy, especially among those firmly in the Obama camp. Boston-based blogger Dan Kennedy called her "Dan Quayle in a skirt", while libtalker Randi Rhodes delivered this rant:

RHODES: (hour two, segment one): I mean everyone knows John McCain is not running his campaign. His campaign is being run by lobbyists and talk show hosts. This is this Sarah Palin chick is Rush Limbaugh’s oil chick. He’s the only person in the country that knew her name and every day I’d sit there and listen and I actually looked her up a long time ago cause he’s been advocating for her cause he wants an idiot. He wants a ah little puppet who sits on ANWR.

Cause he has not done a show for his audience in I cannot tell you in how many years. Just like corporate TV is doing it for their corporations, he is shilling for the companies. That is what his show is all about. That is why he is a global warming denier. That’s why even though you can show him Mount Kilamanjaro then with the ice caps and now with the grass on it and no ice. He still denies that he’s looking at, he says the pictures have been doctored.

MOCKING LIMBAUGH VOICE: Blu blu blu give me another oxycotin Wilma Wilma Wilma. Go to the Denny’s and get me oxy.

The real beauty of McCain's choice is that it opens up a whole new discussion area for talk radio, a fresh topic of which only the surface has yet been scratched. Now, conservatives have a real reason to jump in and participate.

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28 August 2008

KGO Libtalker Bernie Ward To Be Sentenced Today


Ward May Get Nine Years On Child Porn Conviction


We're just a short time away from learning the fate of former KGO/ San Francisco libtalker Bernie Ward, who faces a possible nine years in prison on child porn charges.

The story was first broken at this site in December 2007.

A little more than an hour ago, Ward arrived at the federal courthouse in San Francisco, wearing a suit and clutching a briefcase. According to KGO-7 TV (not affiliated with KGO radio), the "lion of the left" brought his wife and children to the hearing.

Just yesterday, KGO-7's Dan Noyes reported a fresh new twist to the case, a previously- undisclosed revelation that a close friend of Ward's aided the investigation against him. Michael Pritchard, said to be a child advocate, assisted law enforcement after Ward seemed to admit to some of the charges during a private conversation at the radio station, according to Noyes.

All along, Ward has maintained he was merely researching a book, rather than maintaining an interest in child porn, but Pritchard told Noyes that never came up in their conversations.

At this very moment, Noyes is liveblogging from the courtroom. See it here.

Should Ward be sentenced to the full nine years that some observers expect, it could put a damper on any potential plan by KGO / Citadel Communications management to rehire him.

While coverage to date has mostly been unsympathetic to Ward, a peculiar story that has run in many Bay Area newspapers this week appears to see him as a victim of cyber-entrapment:

Just a few mouse clicks into the forbidden world of Internet child porn can transform an apparently upstanding individual into a federal prison inmate - doing a long sentence.

That's the harsh reality former KGO radio host Bernie Ward will encounter this week. The popular and prominent liberal voice on Bay Area radio for decades is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in San Francisco federal court for distributing sexual images of young children. The best the 57-year-old Ward can hope for is five years in prison.

Setting aside his celebrity status, Ward's case is no aberration.

Ward is ensnared in what is becoming one of the U.S. Justice Department's fastest-growing areas of prosecution. Child-porn crimes have gone from a rarity on federal court dockets to a phenomenon, with prosecutions jumping nationally from a scant 30 in 1995 to more than 2,100 last year, according to a Mercury News analysis of Justice Department data maintained by Syracuse University.

In the Bay Area, dozens of federal cases are being filed every year and the U.S. Attorney's Office is on pace to file a record number of child-porn prosecutions in 2008. There were just two child-porn cases filed in the region's federal courts in 1995 - an era when child pornography just began to proliferate on the Web.

Aggressive law enforcement teams - nationally and in the Bay Area - are policing the Internet. Typically, they are catching successful people - engineers, businessmen, professors and lawyers - who are under the false impression that their habit is personal, harmless and anonymous.

But by downloading or sharing sexual images of pre-pubescent children, those who do so find out they are not sequestered by the privacy of their own computers and are shocked when they suddenly find themselves facing the law's wrath.

"Almost without exception, I find these defendants to be honestly amazed at the seriousness of their conduct as far as the system is concerned," said Alan Baum, a Studio City defense attorney who specializes in child-porn cases.

Captured often commit suicide

For some of those caught by the legal system, the consequences and public humiliation have been too much to bear. In the Bay Area alone, five defendants facing child-porn charges have committed suicide over the past two years. This year, on the eve of a court appearance on child-porn charges in the spring, one of the defendants, Los Gatos businessman George Halldin was found dead in his car inside a burning warehouse. Authorities ruled it a suicide.

Earlier this year, former KSFO morning host Melanie Morgan gave her account of experiences with Ward. See it here.

UPDATE: Morgan has an eyewitness account of today's courtroom action now posted at her site. Here's an excerpt:

Grimly, I listened as the Judge described the terms of his sentence. Country club jail at Lompoc. Supervised release for the rest of his life. Drug testing. Special assessments. Sex offender evaluation, sex offender registration. The special treatment that Ward recieved with a delay to report for jail until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

"I regret my actions, the harm to my family, my friends and this court. I take full responsibility for my actions, and I am sorry" said Ward to Judge Walker.

Sorry for what? That he got caught? That he got fired? That he is humiliated? I did not hear Bernie Ward apologize to the children in the pictures or their families for victimizing them by passing the pornography around, or especially to his own kids, whom he discussed in sexual terms with the woman who ultimately turned him into the FBI.

"No question we are dealing with a personal tragedy for the defendant, his family and the community. I have read many eloquent letters of support and Bernie Ward's work as a broadcaster was highly laudable", Walker said. "But Mr. Ward, you come from a strongly religious background. You were sexually abused as a child. It's difficult for me to understand why you didn't try to get help after experiencing abuse yourself, and seeing it in your own Catholic church."

Yes, that is the pertinent point. Instead, Bernie made up a pack of lies about how the Right Wing conspiracy and the evil George Bush were out to get him. He apparently still believes that, because that is very close to what his wife told reporters after the sentencing conclusion today.

ELSEWHERE: behind the Olbermann/ MSNBC meltdown

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26 August 2008

Jimmy Carter Refers To Barack Obama As 'Black Boy'


Talk Hosts Question Former President's Obama Reference

Once again underscoring an irritating media double-standard, former President Jimmy Carter has managed to escape scrutiny after an unfortunate reference to Barack Obama as a "black boy".

Though Carter may not have had racist intentions in making the remark, which occurred during a PBS interview, it's unlikely a conservative would be forgiven for this kind of gaffe.

That shared sentiment has conservative hosts jumping on the issue today, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.

The comment was first noted by Kerry Picket at, who uploaded the video clip shown below.

First, from Limbaugh's program:

RUSH: Jimmy Carter, ladies and gentlemen, last night on PBS special coverage. The anchor Jim Lehrer said, "And do you think that if it happens that Obama is elected, or even just being nominated, will send positive ripple effects throughout the country on the race issue?"

CARTER: It already has sent a wave of approbation and admiration in many countries around the world just knowing that this black boy who grew up with just a loving mother and -- and grandparents and that was about all he had to start with, has now had a chance to become the nominee of the Democratic Party for president. We've seen a disillusionment about our country in the last eight years with a lot of things happening like torturing of prisoners and that sort of thing. If Obama is elected, which I think he is gonna be, then I think that will be the transforming grace for the end of racism and prejudice and hatred between races in this country.

LEHRER: That's quite a statement.

CARTER: I believe it's true.

RUSH: He's another fool. Jimmy Carter is another one of the fools in the top of the feed chain here at the Democrat Party. The black civil rights leadership has said, "Jimmy, it's not going to end the race business." Nothing is going to end the race business. They're not going to go out of business. They're saying he doesn't have any slave blood, Jimmy. He doesn't come from the struggle. His election doesn't do anything, it doesn't change anything, Jimmy. I wonder how long it would take me referring to Obama as that little black boy, I mean how many times before there was an outrage from the Drive-By Media. I ought to give this a test run. Every time I intend to say Obama, I say black boy and just see how long it takes 'em. No, even cluing the audience in, folks, we're going to play a little game here, I'm going to do a Jimmy Carter impersonation, I'm going to see how long it takes people to excoriate me for doing this. The staff is advising me not to make this move, ladies and gentlemen, not to take this step. I just want you to know, I, of course, listen to the staff, but I take my own counsel.

Meanwhile, over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey believes Carter has done nothing wrong:

I’m getting a lot of e-mail from people today about Jimmy Carter’s appearance with Jim Lehrer. People have gotten exercised about Carter supposedly calling Barack Obama “boy”, which as almost everyone knows, is a racial putdown of the first order when referring to adult black men. However, that’s not what Carter did, and the reason the media hasn’t made a big deal of this is because it isn’t a big deal.

As we know they would go nuts if Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin or anyone else in conservative talk radio were to repeat those very words, your Radio Equalizer respectfully disagrees. Remember Phony Soldiers? In that instance, his words were twisted to suit their agenda. Here, they wouldn't even have to go to that much trouble.

The mainstream media is about protecting its partisan friends and undermining enemies. Let's not confuse the issue, it's not about what Carter said, but their highly selective sense of outrage.

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25 August 2008

Obama's VP Pick Energizes Conservative Talk Radio


For Talkers, Biden Pick Provides Unexpected Boost

Though we know he didn't do it intentionally, Barack Obama's weak running mate choice has given conservative talk radio hosts a highly- unexpected shot in the arm. For weeks, if not months, talkers have been praying the left's messiah would choose Biden or another equally-weak VP contender.

Between his troubled political history (including a past plagiarism flap) and entrenched Beltway insider status, Biden has been viewed as the most vulnerable of Obama's potential choices.

But conservative talkers didn't keep this view to themselves. Despite openly wishing for Biden's selection, Barack chose him anyway.

In fact, Rush Limbaugh's past words in "support" of Biden became fodder for Sunday morning political programming, which in turn became a discussion topic on today's show:

Thank You for Giving Us Joe Biden

August 25, 2008


Let's go to the audio sound bites, yesterday CNN Late Edition, Wolf Blitzer had this exchange with Barack Obama advisor Anita Dunn:

BLITZER: I'm going to play a little clip, Anita. I want you to you listen to what Rush Limbaugh said on Wednesday before we knew that Joe Biden was, in fact, the running mate. Listen to what Rush Limbaugh said:

RUSH: I really hope it's Biden. We don't want to say that too loud, but I really do hope that it's Joe Biden 'cause we've got a mountain of archival audio on Joe Biden.

BLITZER: "A mountain of archival audio on Joe Biden." Joe Biden has been on television and on the radio a lot over the years. How worried are you that the McCain campaign, the Republicans, are now going to throw back at you all of the stuff -- a lot of the comments -- that Joe Biden made over the years?

DUNN: Well, you know, Wolf, I think that, Um, Rush Limbaugh doesn't need a lot of help from our campaign with audio from our show. He makes it up if we don't give it to him.

RUSH: (laughing) Let me tell you something, Anita. You guys are giving me problems. I'm on information overload today. I've got more than I can squeeze. I don't know what to do first. I can't decide which of what you people are doing is most newsworthy in terms of incompetence and foolishness and outrageousness. I'm sort of in a paralysis mode here trying to figure it all out. Make it up? You people have been writing my script here -- I'm sorry. Your candidate has been writing my script here for about six months. Make it up? Let's go to the audio sound bites, Anita, and let's listen to this. This is September 1988 on the campaign trail. This is on C-SPAN, it's an exchange between a man identified only as Frank and Biden, and Frank asks Biden a question: "What law school did you attend, and where did you place in that class, and the other question is..."

BIDEN: I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect! I went to law school on a full academic scholarship, the only one in my -- in my class, uh, to have a full academic scholarship. And the first year in law school I decided I didn't want to be in law school and ended up in the bottom two-thirds of my class and then decided I wanted to stay, went back to law school and in fact ended up in the top half of my class. I won the international moot court competition. I was the outstanding student in the political science department at the end of my year. I graduated with three degrees from undergraduate school and 165 credits -- I only needed 123 credits -- and I'd be delighted to sit down and compare my IQ to yours, if you'd like, Frank.

RUSH: And it turns out that when you do some research you find out that half of what Biden said there is not true, and he had to later go back and revise his remarks. This is the year that he openly plagiarized Neil Kinnock, Lord Kinnock, the great labor leader from Great Britain. Here's more archival audio on Joe Biden for you, Anita. This is July 23rd, 2007, Charleston, South Carolina, during a YouTube debate. Viewer Jered Townsend said, "Good evening America. I'm Jered Townsend. I'm from Michigan. To all the candidates, tell me your position on gun control, as myself and other Americans really want to know if our babies are safe. This is my baby, purchased under the 1994 gun ban. Please tell me your views. Thank you." Anderson Cooper says, "Senator Biden, are you going to be able to keep his babies safe?"

BIDEN: If that's his baby, he needs help. Uhhh... (mocking laughter) I don't know that he's mentally qualified to own that gun. I'm the guy that wrote the assault weapons ban. Look, we should be working with law enforcement right now to make sure that we protect people against people who don't -- are not capable of knowing what to do with --


BIDEN -- a gun because they're either mentally unbalanced and/or because they have a criminal record.

RUSH: (laughing) So he just insulted the guy in the YouTube question by basically saying he's insane and doesn't have the right to own a gun. Here is something a little bit more serious. This is Meet the Press September 9th of 2007. Tim Russert says to Joe Biden, "General Petraeus said in a letter to his troops, 'My sense is we have achieved tactical momentum and wrested the initiative from our enemies in a number of areas of Iraq. We are, in short, a long way from the goal line, but we do have the ball. We are driving down the field.' Is that what you expect him to say tomorrow?"

There's another point, however, that apparently wasn't made on today's shows: how the odd timing of Obama's 3am announcement seemed designed to circumvent talk radio's weekday schedule.

Think about it: with the news breaking early Saturday morning, Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly and others had to wait two full days to talk about it on the radio. That gave Obama's campaign more than 48 hours in which to spin the decision the way they intended, without much in the way of opposition.

Your Radio Equalizer discussed this at the other site over the weekend.

And what coverage did occur came from the fawning mainstream media (MSM), which couldn't help but heap praise upon their leader for his "wise" decision.

With talk radio so often at the center of this year's political debate, it's not surprising to see a major candidate use a tactical maneuver in an attempt to circumvent its power. In the long run, however, Obama's still on the losing end with this profoundly weak VP choice.

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22 August 2008

Rachel Maddow's Curious Interest In Fox News


Libtalker's Attempt At Fox Gig Raises Questions

Though it was just a minor point (and exclusive scoop) made in our piece on Rachel Maddow's move to a full-time position at Keith Olbermann's MSNBC, word that she lobbied for a similar position at the Fox News Channel has raised eyebrows in cyberspace.

That proved especially true as another inside source independently confirmed our report, which then appeared in Jossip and TVNewser:

Was Rachel Maddow being shopped to Fox News? That's what Radio Equalizer hinted at, and Jossip confirms from a "reputable insider" today.

"Maddow's agent, Jean Sage at TV Talent (also Keith Olbermann's agent), asked to send her tapes over to FNC's head of programming, Bill Shine, we're told by a reputable insider," writes Jossip. "But Shine declined."

Jossip does point out this very easily could have been, "negotiating tactics"...but FNC?

Maddow's bizarre interest in Fox News raises many questions, so many that it's hard to know where to begin.

How about here: what in the world was she thinking? Did Maddow wonder for even a moment about how all twelve of her Air America listeners would react?

What if they had actually hired her? Would the left be so quick to shower her with praise?

And if Fox is so evil, as Air America hosts are constantly maintaining, why is it okay to work there?

Another consideration is the embarrassment this has caused her deranged mentor, Olbermann himself. As he brags about his ability to dictate MSNBC programming, how does it feel to know she could have just as easily left for the network he so despises?

Especially considering how Olby attacked Rush for calling Maddow a "failed radio host", what kind of loyalty is that?

As with much of Air America's programming, Maddow is still a broadcast rookie. That she's been elevated so quickly is no substitute for a lack of experience on the playing field. In the coming months, watch for additional blunders from someone who may or may not be ready for primetime.

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21 August 2008

Media Matters Finds Any Discussion Of Obama's Ethnicity Objectionable


Media Matters All About Cutting Off The Debate

Once again, Media Matters has left no doubt that its real agenda is to apply selective censorship and cut off debate on key political issues.

This time, it has decided that conservative commentators including Rush Limbaugh are not permitted to discuss Barack Obama's ethnic background and its role in his campaign's success. Here's the excerpt they find objectionable:

CALLER: Yes. And you hit it right on with Barack. It -- they keep talking about all these reasons: Why is it the poll's so close? What's going on?

And it reminds me of that, that scene in Caddyshack -- I don't know if you're familiar with where Chevy Chase is trying to teach Bill Murray how to golf and he's kind of saying, "You're not, you're not ..." And he's standing behind him and he's trying to -- and he says, "You're not good."

You know, it just reminds me of that. He's just not good.

LIMBAUGH: What did, what did he say? You're not what?

CALLER: He -- Chevy Chase --

LIMBAUGH: Oh. "You're not good. You're not good."

CALLER: Yeah, he's tryin' to say, you know, you're not leaning, you're not doing -- you're not, you're not good."

You know, so it just reminds me of that. You know, he's just not cut out for the job. So --

LIMBAUGH: No, he's not. He's -- it's -- to me, it is striking how unqualified Obama is and how this whole thing came about with, within the Democrat Party. I think it really goes back to the fact that nobody had the guts to stand up and say no to a black guy. They just -- they were -- liberal policies are always going to end up strangling liberals, too.

Isn't it interesting how Media Matters has no problem with Jesse Jackson and other so-called civil rights leaders slamming Barack on racial issues, but won't allow conservatives to engage in significantly milder rhetoric? Why should listeners "take action" and contact stations just because he's said something they don't like?

For his part, Limbaugh has made it clear the issue is actually one of character, as he pointed out on Monday:

RUSH: So there's lots to do here on the program, but this Obama disinformation about McCain hearing the Obama interview and Obama's answers on Saturday night, is priceless. This shows the ugly underbelly of news and leftist politicians having been roundly destroyed in that Saturday forum because Obama's complete lack of substance and experience was impossible to conceal. He even caught himself. When he was asked about Clarence Thomas, "Well, I don't think he has the right exper..." He caught himself and said he wasn't qualified at the time he was elevated to that position -- and here's a guy who's been to Yale, a guy who's been to Holy Cross, who spent a year on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. He worked for Ashcroft as assistant attorney general in the state of Missouri, and Obama is what? A street agitator with 140 days in the Senate, and Obama claims that Clarence Thomas is unqualified?

Obama could not shine Clarence Thomas' shoes! He's not fit to shine Clarence Thomas' shoes. By the way, if you look, Kathryn Lopez at National Review Online today put together a great little piece looking at all of the cases that Thomas has decided that agree with Obama's positions, and all of the cases that Obama's favorite jurist, Ruth "Buzzi" Ginsburg, voted against Obama's positions on these case. He's so out of his league. The thing is, we've all known this. We've all known he's out of his league in terms of substance, experience -- and, by the way, here's another thing. You all have heard about Clarence Thomas' life story. You've heard about how he grew up in Pin Point, Georgia; how he escaped abject poverty with a tough and demanding grandfather.

Obama was born with a silver spoon in his mouth compared to Clarence Thomas. Clarence Thomas has more experience living life as an American than Obama will ever understand, and Obama's side is knowing it. New York Times yesterday, big Democrats very worried here that Obama start getting specific about all this "hope" and specific about all this "change," 'cause all this lofty rhetoric -- as I said last week -- has worn off. After awhile, everybody begins to demand substance. Now, back to this cheating business. There is no evidence of any kind that any cheating occurred. The evidence, in fact, shows that McCain was still driving to the event, that he was sequestered in the holding room when he got there. Both candidates were informed generally beforehand of the topics in advance. So guess what? Yesterday morning on Meet the Press, David Gregory filling in, spoke with the correspondent Andrea Mitchell (NBC News, Washington) about the Saddle Sore Civic Forum, and Gregory said, "Andrea Mitchell, there was a pretty clear contrast between Obama and McCain."

But you won't see Media Matters providing its readers with the whole story on Limbaugh's positions when it comes to race and the elections. Bill O'Reilly is correct when he calls it a "smear site" and it has certainly lived up to that reputation today.

In a political contest as important as the presidency of the United States, the public deserves a full vetting of the issues, including an open discussion about race. To spend millions trying to cut off that debate reveals the sinister nature of some of Obama's supporters.

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20 August 2008

MSNBC Changes Reaffirm Lack Of Network Leadership


Ratings Speak Louder Than Fawning Press Coverage

Almost as soon as it was announced that Air America's Rachel Maddow would be taking over for Dan Abrams in cable prime time, your Radio Equalizer began to receive emails. Would this site rant and rave simply because a leftist television network has replaced one "progressive" with another?

In the past, we haven't been afraid to counter some of Maddow's Franken-esque glowing press coverage, calling attention to her lack of experience and other shortcomings. Your Radio Equalizer believes she's absorbed a bit too much of this praise, which could lead to yet another cable talk personality flame-out.

This time, however, we're not worked up over the move itself. Read on to find out why.

According to the New York Times, Maddow's insertion into the lineup is part of MSNBC's umpteenth "shakeup". In addition, we've learned from an industry source that Rachel had recently shopped her tapes to rivals and made a surprisingly determined effort to land a position at the supposedly-evil FOX News Channel! How well would this have gone over with the HuffPo/ DailyKos crowd?

From the New York Times piece:

The addition of Ms. Maddow as a prime-time host had been expected for some time. Only a month ago Mr. Griffin said she was at the top of the list to get a program at the network and was likely to secure one soon.

MSNBC has put heavy emphasis this year on presidential election coverage (it has given itself the tag line “The Place for Politics”), and it has turned to Ms. Maddow frequently both as a guest and as a substitute for its most popular host, Keith Olbermann. Mr. Olbermann’s emergence as the signature personality on MSNBC has led to its unofficial rebranding as the liberal alternative to Fox News, which is dominated by conservative hosts like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.

MSNBC has been known to be seeking a way to capitalize to a greater degree on Mr. Olbermann’s popularity. A program with Ms. Maddow as host will almost certainly be a closer ideological fit with Mr. Olbermann’s.

It's more than simply "capitalizing" on Olbermann's supposed popularity, as the man himself has actually taken credit for the move:

On his Daily Kos blog today, Keith Olbermann is taking some of the credit for Rachel Maddow getting her own show at 9pmET. "Let me answer the key questions in advance," he writes:

4) Yes, I had something to do with it.

5) Yes, you had something to do with it.

An insider tells TVNewser, "This is further proof that Keith Olbermann really does run MSNBC."

But Olbermann's "popularity" is only in theory, as is MSNBC's. Don't believe us? Take a look at Nielsen data released just yesterday, where it ranks a mere twenty-seventh in primetime cable overall, while rival FOX News Channel takes second, just behind USA.

As for Maddow, she's consistently been one of Air America's lowest- rated hosts, with a show that has been picked up by relatively few affiliates and an almost total inability to drive revenue growth.

Given those credentials and the network's overall non-performance, why should there be any outrage about Maddow's hiring? Isn't she a perfect fit?

As they did with Al Franken during his Air America tenure, the mainstream media seems to believe that a nonstop flow of positive coverage can lead to big ratings for their "progressive" friends. Unfortunately for them, the proof is in the pudding.

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18 August 2008

San Francisco's KGO Takes Huge Tumble With New Ratings System


New, More Accurate Ratings Damage Longtime SF Leader

Perhaps they should
have spent more money on promotion and less on fancy parties at the Four Seasons Hotel.

As if they needed another headache, beleaguered news-talk radio operator Citadel Communications (NYSE:CDL) has seen ratings tumble at one of its largest stations, all because of new technology that tracks figures electronically.

Designed to eliminate inaccuracies in data collection under the old diary system, Arbitron's Portable People Meter records listening precisely.

Already, self-appointed civil rights activists in New York City are crying foul about PPM use in the Big Apple, since preliminary data there has badly hurt hip-hop stations, to the benefit of talk radio and other music formats.

But in the San Francisco Bay Area, the opposite has occurred: longtime news-talk leader KGO has seen its legendary ratings dominance crushed into tiny bits.

Late last week, the first PPM report representing July 2008 was released to clients and obtained by your Radio Equalizer.

Featuring a mix of milquetoast and fiery liberal talk shows, plus traditional newswheel programming in morning and afternoon drive, KGO has long been considered the Bay Area's top radio station.

While the station did retain its number one position in the overall 12 and older demographic, it was killed in the all-important Adults 25-54 segment. Because advertising rates are set based on a station's performance in that category, strong ratings there are a must.

But KGO's new figures show it ranks just eighteenth overall, with a particularly disappointing eighteenth showing during the crucial morning drive period, followed by seventeenth from 10am to 3pm, an abysmal twenty-third in afternoon drive and twentieth between 7pm and midnight.

By contrast, all-news competitor KCBS was number one in morning drive.

Rock-bottom numbers like that should have advertisers thinking twice about paying a premium to advertise on KGO.

Also badly neglected under Citadel's overtly leftist executive management, sister conservative talker KSFO fared poorly, with a thirty-first ranking overall in the 25-54 demo.

After firing talker Melanie Morgan in what was claimed to be a cost-cutting move, KSFO's morning show generated a mere twenty-second showing.

In addition, conservative competitor KNEW had a thirty-fourth ranking, while Air America's KKGN came in thirty-seventh.

Though all of the Bay Area's news talk stations were hit hard by the PPM system, KGO has more at stake. Between a large newsroom, highly paid local hosts and a long legacy of being number one, these results have got to hurt.

Ultimately, the buck stops with Citadel's senior management, who seem absolutely unsure what to do with the mega-ABC stations they've recently acquired from Disney. Recently, they've seemed more concerned with utilizing solar power to run the station's generators than with marketing, promotion and programming.

How many more hits can this company take before the house of cards finally collapses?

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15 August 2008

Amid Cutbacks, Citadel-ABC Throws Lavish Celebration


While Company Struggles, Citadel $pends Big On Wild Party


Within the radio industry, watching Citadel-ABC Radio slowly croak has become a spectator sport. With a heavy debt load, shaky revenue outlook and stock price stuck under a dollar, how long can the owner of some of the nation's largest news-talk stations survive?

Between their ultra-liberal executive management ranks (which nearly caused Sean Hannity to leave the company), financial difficulties, layoffs and personnel issues, we've covered Citadel (NYSE:CDL) extensively.

Programming decisions have been bizarre: while dumping successful hosts like former KSFO talker Melanie Morgan, they've taken out the checkbook to bring fossil-talker Don Imus back from the dead.

But even your Radio Equalizer wasn't prepared for Citadel's latest controversy, an extravagant party held earlier this week at San Francisco's Four Seasons Hotel. It has had outraged insiders eager to spill the beans.

Intended to celebrate KGO 810 AM's number one ratings, several inside and industry sources place the cost at between $100,000 and $150,000. It is said to have included cast members of the city's long-running Beach Blanket Babylon production.

According to one insider, KGO President and General Manager Mickey Luckoff "hired a ventriloquist for entertainment and provided a live band for more than 200 guests, including local politicians, KGO staff and alumni from the past thirty years. Champagne was served as a parting gift for party-goers who danced past midnight."

Previously, we covered Luckoff's wish to rehire disgraced former host libtalker Bernie Ward, who now faces sentencing in his child pornography case.

In addition, the observer noted widespread employee dissatisfaction with the message it sent: "always the big spender, Luckoff’s poor choice did not resonate well with many current and former staffers who complained that while many employees are losing money and jobs company-wide, KGO continues to act as if budget constraints are not an issue. With more cut-backs expected at Citadel stations next week, Mickey Luckoff may be wishing he invested the party expenses closer to the real bottom line."

Another staffer (who also spoke on condition of anonymity) expressed dismay that many rank-and-file staffers weren't invited to the party, while San Francisco politicos and former execs were included.

With more layoffs coming soon and the company's prospects so dangerously poor, how does Citadel justify spending this kind of money? Is it because they don't care about who might lose their job to cover this kind of extravagance, or have they simply given up on the future and would to go out with a bang?

Either way, Citadel CEO Farid Suleman deserves a grilling from already- angry investors on this latest excess.

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Hotel images: Four Seasons San Francisco, Party images: Kenny Wardell

14 August 2008

Kooks Blame Hannity, Malkin For Arkansas Dem Chairman Shooting


After Tragedies, Blogs, Talk Radio Become Instant Targets

Between blogs, talk radio and Republicans, it's getting hard to keep up with all of the global mayhem they're causing these days.

Just this week, for example, George Bush was declared responsible for provoking the invasion of Georgia by Russia, simply for the unspeakable crime of building a friendship with a pro-western government.

Not to be outdone, GOP presidential nominee John McCain apparently "complicated the situation" there after he "shot from the hip". Rush Limbaugh saw this one coming a mile away:

RUSH: (laughing) McCain's made the situation worse! This is the American left. Obama calmed the situation by saying both sides are to blame and asking them to stop. But McCain may have complicated the situation. Barack's thing, according to his own advisor here, we're going to look at everything and then we're not going to do anything. We're going to wait 'til we have all the facts and then we're going to take into account what steps are appropriate, and we're not going to do diddly-squat about this 'til we get all the facts. Unable to recognize naked aggression, the Obama campaign is now blaming -- I told you all this was going to happen yesterday. You didn't believe me, did you? You did not believe it would get this bad. I told you.

Topping them all, however, is the latest use of the blame game to smear one's enemies. This time, Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin are somehow responsible for the shooting death of the head of the Democratic Party in Arkansas.

As Malkin writes:

There is no indication of his political affiliations, his ideology, or his motives for singling out the Democrat Party chairman.

No matter. I’m already getting blamed for the incident.

Yeah, I did it:

Greg Cancilla
date Wed, Aug 13, 2008 at 2:42 PM
subject Once again

Once again the hate you and folks like Hannity spew has caused another right wing nut to resort to violence. What you do is nothing less than starting a riot and you should be held accountable. You should be in jail. Your hate turns people to murder.

I am also guilty of last month’s shooting at a Knoxville church, for which a nutroots blogger similarly says I need to be held “accountable.”

For what? For blogging, writing columns, and authoring books with which they disagree.

Here, Stop The ACLU has additional examples of unhinged kookiness connected to the savage slaying in Arkansas.

What's next? Is Rush to blame for your burnt toast in the morning? Is that unusually weak cup of coffee from Starbucks the result of Bill O'Reilly distracting the baristas? Is Mark Levin causing traffic congestion in New Jersey?

The silliness never ends.

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Image: AP

12 August 2008

DC Hybrid Talk Station 3WT Shutting Down


Dreadful Lib/Conservative Talk Outlet Fails

Hey, here's an idea: let's create a new FM music station that plays country in morning drive, followed by hip-hop in the afternoon and classical after dark!

Would you want to be a manager stuck implementing that crazy idea? Luckily, because it is so preposterous, the concept would probably never get off of the drawing board. Somewhere in the chain of command, a corporate suit would know better, right?

When it comes to talk radio, however, even the most experienced executives seem baffled by the basics of programming. That's certainly the only way to explain Washington's 3WT.

Featuring a bizarre mix of liberal and conservative talk programming, its slogan was even harder to comprehend: "Left, Right and Whatever We Want". Huh?

Yesterday, station owner Bonneville announced that 3WT would soon disappear, less than a year after its initial kickoff.

Utilizing three Beltway frequencies, 3WT has featured libtalker Stephanie Miller in the morning, followed by Bill O'Reilly, Neal Boortz, Glenn Beck, fellow "progressive" Randi Rhodes in the afternoon and conservative talker Jerry Doyle. In addition, Washington Nationals baseball has often pre-empted 3WT's evening lineup.

Isn't that a lot like mixing country, hip-hop and classical on the same station?

Not only was the mix of syndicated programming bizarre, but there was a complete absence of local hosts in a region that could sure use a few more. Is it any wonder this concept failed?

And this isn't the only format idea that has flopped using these signals. From the Washington Business Journal:

“We didn’t get the kind of ratings that we were looking for and therefore didn’t have the revenue or the profit,” said Joel Oxley, senior vice president of Bonneville. “This lets us move our distribution to WFED, which has a tremendous growth opportunity.”

The latest moves also make WTOP a trimulcast station, broadcasting on three FM frequencies, further increasing its regional coverage.

This is the third incarnation for the trio of stations since March 2006 when Bonneville partnered with The Washington Post to launch Washington Post Radio. Bonneville and the Post ended that relationship last August, citing low ratings.

Now, they're simply giving up.

Here we are, a full twenty years after Rush Limbaugh took radio by storm, blazing a trail that helped to build radio's most important format. More recently, FM music has rapidly been abandoned by young people, meaning that talk represents land-based radio's only real future.

And yet, judging by the incompetence, you'd think the medium had been created yesterday.

With so much on the line, why have talk radio programming decisions been placed in the hands of executives who lack even a basic understanding of the audience and its interests?

Because radio is the one industry that never seems to learn from its mistakes, expect to see 3WT's hopeless format tried again elsewhere. Bet on it.

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09 August 2008

Obama-Supporting Station Owner Issues Anti-Theft 'Shoot To Kill' Order


Longtime Civil Rights Leader Combats Rising Crime

A local crime wave targeting an FM radio station has its owner issuing a controversial "shoot-to-kill" order against the thieves responsible for stealing his equipment.

By itself, that might not make headlines, but this case is different: the station is Jackson's legendary WMPR 90.1 FM and its owner is longtime civil rights leader Charles Evers, older brother of slain movement hero Medgar Evers.

Evers also hosts a popular talk show on the station.

Already in the news today for his defense of Barack Obama against white supremacists who believe the latter's election could trigger a backlash and subsequent boost for their cause, Evers hopes station staffers will permanently vanquish the burglars if they return to the property.

From WAPT-16:

"I don't want them to worry about them to come back," Evers said. "It doesn't make any sense for us, who work hard every day to make an honest living, for some thug who lies around all day to come and take our stuff."

Friday morning, Evers said two of his overnight announcers shot at some car burglars. They missed, but Evers said that if the thieves come back, they might not be as lucky.
Surveillance video showed the men Evers said he thinks are breaking into the cars at the station. A man can be seen running from the parking lot with DJ equipment that Evers said was stolen from cars.

Thursday was the third night in a row that cars at the radio station on Pecan Park Drive were broken into and vandalized.

No one was found after that shooting. The announcers said they don't think any of their shots hit the thieves.

"We have got to be more visible ourselves and help our officers," announcer Joe Washington said. "Try to protect ourselves and our belongings, that's all we can do. And pray that God gives us a solution."

Evers installed cameras, lights and a fence to keep thieves out. But he said the thieves have kicked down the fence and broken his lights repeatedly.

Though a longtime Republican, Evers is outspoken in his support for Democrat Barack Obama. From today's San Jose Mercury News:

Barrett, a New York City native who moved to Mississippi in 1966, said the Nationalist Movement has members in 36 states, but he won't say how many. He compares today's skinheads to the minutemen of the American Revolution.

"The Revolution, if you will, in 1776 brought the 13 colonies together against the king. And the same thing can happen now against Martin Luther King, with the 50 states," Barrett said, if Obama's elected.

Barrett says he is a Democrat but won't say whether he's voting for Obama. He'll only say he won't support McCain, Libertarian Bob Barr or independent Ralph Nader.

Charles Evers, brother of Medgar Evers, the Mississippi NAACP leader killed by a sniper in 1963, chuckles when told about Barrett's assertions.

"See, Richard doesn't really mean what he says. It's popular for him to say it. That's the way he makes a living," said Evers, who hosts a talk show on WMPR-FM in Jackson. "Same as Jesse Jackson, some more of our black revolutionaries who make a living off of keeping things emotional."

Although a longtime Republican, Evers supports Obama. He says the Democrat is more qualified than McCain.

Evers, whose office has photos of him with Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush and other politicians, said he sees broad, multiracial support for Obama, even in parts of the South where the white establishment dug in to try to preserve racial segregation decades ago.

"I think we're past that stage," Evers said. "I don't think the majority of white people are thinking that way anymore."

Good point, but
how does Evers reconcile his support for Obama with tough-on-crime stances clearly not shared by his candidate? Does he really believe Barack would back him up when he shoots intruders?

Beyond that, what would happen to Second Amendment gun rights under an Obama Administration?

While we have nothing but respect and admiration for Evers and his fascinating life story, here, the ideological pieces just don't fit.

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Still of burglar: WAPT-16

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