Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Do What I Say Not What I Do

The guru of conservative family values, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, probably has some work to do at home if a story reported in the Salt Lake City Tribune about the aberrant behavior of the radio talk show host's son are true.

According to the report, published in the May 19 edition of the Tribune, Schlessinger’s son Deryk, who is currently serving in the Army in Afghanistan, is under investigation for a graphic personal web page that one Army official has called "repulsive."

The site, believed to be Deryk's, reportedly featured "cartoon depictions of rape, murder, torture and child molestation; photographs of soldiers with guns in their mouths; a photograph of a bound and blindfolded detainee captioned 'My Sweet Little Habib'; accounts of illicit drug use; and a blog entry headlined by a series of obscenities and racial epithets"

It was shut down on Friday.

"Yes . . . F---ING Yes!!!" said one blog entry on the site. "I LOVE MY JOB, it takes everything reckless and deviant and heathenistic [sic] and just overall bad about me and hyper focuses these traits into my job of running around this horrid place doing nasty things to people that deserve it . . . and some that don't."

The site indicated Schlessinger's team has survived numerous mortar, rocket and roadside bomb attacks. It also included several graphic cartoons. In one of the stick drawings, a top-hatted man laughs as he rapes a bound and bleeding woman in front of her family. In another depiction, a man forces a boy to perform oral sex at knifepoint as the child's mother pleads for her son's life.

The talk radio host, who refers to herself as "my kid’s mom" and has recently taken to calling herself "the proud mother of a deployed American paratrooper" speaks frequently about her soldier son before military audiences nationwide.

In an interview with The Tribune, Mike Paul, a spokesman for Schlessinger suggested that the web page could be a fake.

This contention was echoed by Army spokesman Robert Tallman, who said "it may be possible that our enemies are actually behind this."

"Our enemies are adaptive, technologically sophisticated, and truly understand the importance of the information battlespace," Tallman continued. "Sadly, they will use that space to promulgate and disseminate untrue propaganda."

It's unclear who created the cartoons, but Army spokesman Robert Tallman said the drawings "are repulsive and not anywhere near being acceptable," for a soldier's personal web page.
David Accetta, public affairs director for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, said the Army "will investigate thoroughly and impartially."

Laura Schlessinger's appeared last week in Utah. At that time she met with Army families at Fort Douglas and in an interview with The Tribune, she said, "We raised our son to be a warrior."

After her Utah visit, Schlessinger received criticism for telling The Tribune that she didn't want to hear the complaints of military wives whose husbands are deployed.

"He could come back without arms, legs or eyeballs, and you're bitching?" Schlessinger said. "You're not dodging bullets, so I don't want to hear any whining."

This is not the first time that Dr. Laura has been associated with behavior that appears to be inconsistent with her message of conservative family values.

On her daily radio show, she advocates the basic "family values" -- no sex outside of marriage, moms shouldn't work, divorce is wrong, abortion is wrong, living together without marriage is wrong, getting married too young is wrong and foolish, a marriage without children is hardly a marriage at all, homosexuality is destructive and "a biological error", gay marriage is wrong, girls should not dress like "sluts", and the family unit is of paramount importance.

However, her own behavior and family life have not lived up to this standard.

When she broke into the radio business in the mid- 1970’s she was the protégé of Bill Balance, who some consider the father of modern talk radio. While still married, she apparently had an affair with Balance, before taking up with her current husband Lew Bishop, who is Deryk’s father. Her relationship with Balance would have been a small footnote in her career, if not for her decision to pose for a series of nude photos that have circulated on the internet for several years.

Another questionable aspect of Schlessinger's character is her decision to call herself Dr. Laura, suggesting that her doctorate is in psychology. Actually, it is in physiology, which dictionary.com defines as a branch of biology dealing with the functions and activities of living organisms and their parts. In her website drlaura.com, Schlessinger is referred to as "Dr. Laura" more than 40 times. "

In addition, to her marital infidelities and the problems displayed by her son, Schlessinger also, has displayed some strange behavior with other members of her immediate family.

According to the biographical website NNDB.com, Schlessinger describes her childhood as "difficult" due to the rocky, "unloving" marriage between her father, a Jewish US citizen, and her mother, an Italian Catholic war bride.

Schlessinger never got along with her father, and she and her mother had been estranged for at least 14 years before her mother's death in 2002. (Her partially decomposed corpse had been on the floor of her apartment [a few miles away from Schlessinger's home] for several weeks before being discovered. Police initially suspected foul play.)

Schlessinger has also been estranged from her sister since the mid-1970s, and has reportedly told friends she is an only child. She says it was her family that shunned her, not the other way around.

"My door is open", Schlessinger has said, on those rare occasions when she mentions her sister. On her show, however, she has often advised listeners to break off contact with troublesome family members. "I love shunning", she says. "It reminds people they have an obligation to others".

Schlessinger has also exhibited some ambivalence about her religious views.

NNDB reports that she has changed her religious orientation several times during her life.
In 1996 Schlessinger and her son Deryk converted to Conservative Judaism, then switched to Orthodox Judaism in 1998. She has said that her husband Lew, raised an Episcopalian, also converted, but he later admitted he had not completed the conversion.

In 2003, Schlessinger announced on the air that she was no longer an Orthodox Jew, that she felt frustrated by the effort she had put into the religion, and complained that she felt little or no connection with God. NNDB claims that she converted to Christianity that same year.

Schlessinger's radio show can be heard on 200 stations across the nation or on-line here.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Worst Talk Show Hosts of the Week

Week Ending: May 18, 2007

The worse talk show host of the week was Michael Savage. Savage called the National Council of La Raza, a leading Hispanic civil rights organization "the Ku Klux Klan of the Hispanic people" and "the most stone racist group of I’ve ever seen in the country."

In the May 17 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Savage blasted the NCLR because their name includes the Spanish word ‘raza."

While the term "la raza" in Spanish literally means "the race," it often translated as "the people" and usually refers collectively to Mexican-Americans.

The NCLR describes itself as "the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States." They conduct research, policy analysis, and advocacy, providing a Latino perspective in five key areas -- assets/investments, civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health.

So it appears that Savage based his characterization of the NCLR on the term "la raza." He said, "they certainly stand only for one race. That's the name of their group: La Raza -- 'The Race.' "

He didn’t point out any other problem with the group, or identify any activity that the group is involved with to suggest that they were similar to the Ku Klux Klan. Nor did explain why the group is racist.

You can listen to Savage's rant here.

The worser talk show host last week was Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh was angry with the "drive-by media" because of comments made by some journalists that the all of the Republican candidates for President are white men. On the other hand, the Democratic candidates include a woman, (Hillary Clinton) an African-American (Barack Obama) and an Hispanic (Bill Richardson).

On the May 17 edition of his nationally syndicated show, Limbuagh accused the "drive by media" of not playing fair because they did not consider the Democratic field in 2004.

"There's a template developing for the Republican debate last night," Limbaugh said. "How come there are no women and minorities on stage?" I guess you forgot about 2004. And I guess -- you know, the Democrats never get those kinds of questions because it's always assumed that they're fair and just, and not discriminatory and all that."

Limbaugh’s claim, which was no doubt blindly accepted by his minions of dittoheads, was that in 2004 all the Democratic Presidential candidates were also white men.

The only problem with his claim was that it isn't true! In 2004 there were two African-Americans actively campaigning for the Democratic nomination -- Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun (who is also a woman.)

Here's what El Rushbo said.

However, Savage and Limbaugh got beat out for worst talk show host of the week by a local market talker.

"Gunny Bob" Newman, who yaks on KOA/850 in Denver defamed more than a civil rights organization or a group of Democratic Presidential candidates. Newman defamed an entire religion.

On his daily talk show, "Gunny Bob," upset over an alleged plot to attack Fort Dix in New Jersey, said "I want every Muslim immigrant to America who holds a green card, a visa, or who is a naturalized citizen to be required by law to wear a GPS tracking bracelet at all times."
He also proposed that the government "bug their places of work and their residences" and "monitor all mosques and community centers. If they don't like the idea ... throw their asses out."

His boss at Clear Channel, Kris Olinger defended Newman’s right to insult all Moslems in the U.S.

"I think 'Gunny' was expressing an opinion, an extreme one, but his opinion. Hosts are paid to express opinions. That's the nature of what we do, Olinger said.

Apparently, Clear Channel will be paid less to continue expressing harsh and inflammatory opinions in Denver. At least three metro-area businesses have asked KOA to pull their advertisements from "Gunny Bob’s" show.

The companies, Excel Roofing, Ralph Schomp Automotive and Three Tomatoes Catering, asked that the ads run in different time slots on KOA after being petitioned by ProgressNowAction, an political action group in Denver.

Here's what "Gunny Bob" had to say.

"Gunny Bob" Newman. The worst talk show host of the week.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

***Breaking News***
Air America Radio Gets a Makeover

Well, it’s taken over three years, but Air America Radio finally has a user friendly website, where you can find information about the network and interact with the hosts.

The liberal talk radio network launched its website today and will introduce a new ad campaign in conjunction with the official "re-launch" of Air America 2.0 on May 21.

At that time, all 12 AAR hosts will air some 30+ taped interviews with prominent headliners-- including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Gloria Steinhem and Mike Bloomberg --who discuss their thoughts on the Iraq war, campaign finance reform and the ’08 election, among other topics.

The new campaign even has a slogan – "Become an Air American." and a new logo.

According to AAR Prez Mark Green "the completely redesigned website will give AAR listeners another platform to participate in the progressive movement through an interactive blog where they can read and give commentary on topical issues of the day,"

The network's hosts will begin to regularly blog on the new site. Nancy Scola, who has been chosen to head up the blog, is a Brooklyn-based blogger and writer who has served as a congressional aide and a presidential campaign staffer. Scola writes widely online, on everything from the latest in technology policy to the rebuilding of New Orleans.

The network will also be kicking off a new "I'm an Air American!" ad campaign in various radio trade publications, featuring the actor Paul Newman, as well as several of the AAR hosts.

AAR is now in the midst of programming makeover.

On Monday, the Lionel Show launched in the 9 AM to 12 Noon EST time period formerly occupied by Sam Seder.

"The Air Americans" hosted by veteran Mark Riley, with correspondents Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, David Bender and Laura Flanders, airing at 8p-12a weeknights. New weekend shows including "Seder on Sunday" from 4-7 PM and "7 Days in America" 6-7 PM Saturdays, with Arianna Huffington, Mark Green, Bob Kerrey and Bob Shrum will also be launching over the next few weeks.

Green said that this new AAR phase in has three goals:

"First, we’ve created an even stronger lineup based on proven veterans, like Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow, and The Young Turks. Second, we’ve rebuilt the website to create a community and conversation that becomes the go-to progressive bulletin board and social network in the country. And third, we’re asking all progressive patriots interested in talk radio to become 'Air Americans.' "

We have forth and fifth questions.

Will the listening public respond to the new AAR and will they be able to stop (and hopefully reverse) the trend where stations are dropping the lib talk format (23 in the past 14 months!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

XM Suspends Opie & Anthony for One Month

Conservative Talk Hosts Sees Congressional Action Against Conservative Talk

Opie & Anthony have been Imused by XM Satellite Radio for a bit they performed on their show last Wednesday. During the bit, a fictitious caller named Homeless Charlie detailed a fantasy where he would have rough sex with Condoleezza Rice, Laura Bush and Queen Elizabeth.
Also, two leading right-wing talk show hosts issued warnings that Congressional Democrats will use this controversy to limit the free speech rights of conservative talkers.

In an announcement issued about an hour ago, XM indicated that they were suspending the shock jock duo for 30 days "to make clear that our on-air talent must take seriously the responsibility that creative freedom requires of them."

The details of Homeless Charlie’s sexually explicit interview with Opie and Anthony are contained in a previous post on Talking Radio as well as a link to the audio segment.

Opie & Anthony (AKA Greg Hughs and Anthony Cumia) apologized to their listeners for the bit, issuing the following statement on their Friday Show:

"We apologize to the public officials for comments that we made on our XM show on May 9th. We take very seriously the responsibility that comes with our creative freedom and regret any offense that this segment has caused," they said.

However, the XM statement issued today didn’t accept the shock jock’s apology.

“Comments made by Opie and Anthony on Friday's broadcast put into question whether they appreciate the seriousness of the matter," XM stated.

Outrage over the “Opie and Anthony” bit has been growing steadily over the past few days. Ironically some of the most vocal critics have been right-wing talk radio hosts, who fear that public outrage over the matter might lead to restrictions on their ability to make strong statements about liberals and other opponents of the Bush administration.

In piece posted on the conservative Townhall Hall site, right-wing talk show host Neal Boortz blasted O & A, who he referred to as “two extremely immature and sick people trying to be cute.”

“These two pathetic fools need to be removed from XM satellite radio right now. Today. No suspension. No warning. Fire them. Now, Boortz (who calls himself a free-speech proponent and libertarian) exclaimed.

However, Boortz focused most of his venom on Democrats in Congress, who he claimed would use O & A to curtail conservative talk radio.

“By the end of the day today you’re going to hear liberals in congress and the media referring to these two morons as talk show hosts. Comparisons will be drawn between them and people like Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage and myself. You’ll hear the phrases “hate speech” and “hate radio” over and over again as these leftists push their Stalinist-inspired plans to destroy conservative and libertarian talk radio,” he stated.

Boortz went on to say, “by the time the dust has settled the majority of the people in this country --- who don’t by the way, listen to talk radio --- will absolutely believe in their hearts that this O & A stunt is representative of all talk radio, and these people will be eager to support their politicians in their goal to shut us all down.”

So it appears that Boortz and other right wing talkers appear to be more concerned about their job security than the impact of O & A’s offensive bit on Condoleezza Rice, Laura Bush, and Queen Elizabeth

Boortz said that Democrats will use the controversy to push legislation to regulate talk radio, which currently offers conservatives a robust 13 to 1 advantage over liberals in number of hours of programming carried by terrestrial radio stations.

“Right now we have a little gem called H.R. 3302, the “Media Ownership Reform Act,” in the congress. H.R. 3302 is a project of DC Democrats who know that conservative talk radio constitutes a real threat to their plans for total victory in 2008,” Boortz warned. “If H.R. 3302 were to become law, talk radio as you know it would be dead inside of nine months. Period. Thanks to the antics of these two idiots there will be more congressmen who will be willing to join in this and other efforts to control broadcast radio and, incidentally, to control satellite broadcasting as well.”

Boortz offered some historical perspective and challenged the concept of “the public airwaves.”

“But by the time broadcasting came around politicians were savvy enough to find a way around the First Amendment in their goal of controlling broadcast content,” he said. “They created this ridiculous fiction of “the public’s airwaves” and have exploited that asinine idea to their benefit for years. Now they’re working to increase that control through H.R. 3302 and, at the same time, considering ways to spread their censorship agenda to satellite radio.”

So at the end of the day the public outrage about Imus’s infamous “nappy-headed hos” comment last month, JV and Elvis’ racist, sexist, and vulgar phone call to a Chinese Restaurant, and O & A’s latest outburst, could damage conservative talk radio.

“Opie and Anthony just gave these control-freak politicians a huge bit of leverage with their crude little skit,” Boortz said.

Boortz is not the only conservative talk show host to view O & A supension as liberal plot to get conservatives. Syndicated radio talk host Glenn Beck, appearing on CNN's American Morning, said it "smacks of leftist witch hunt in many ways."
"There is a real feeling, I think, on the left -- they couldn't get the Fairness Doctrine out, and so what they're trying to do is to shut people down," Beck said "If you look at the people that are on the shock radio list, you will see that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity -- and I am on that list.
I guess Boortz doesn't have to worry, since according to Beck, he's not on the list."

Monday, May 14, 2007

CBS Can't Get Out of the Dog House

The headline in today’s New York Post says it all:


JV and Elvis, who were suspended on April 23 for a mock call made to a Chinese Restaurant on their WFNY morning show called The Dog House got canned by CBS Radio this weekend.

In the call, which was riddled with Asian stereotypes and sexual innuendo, the caller told a woman employee that he would like to "come to your restaurant so I can see your hot Asian spicy ass."

He then attempts to order "flied lice," and uses a series of racial slurs and four lettered words.

The caller tells the first restaurant employee, "I would like some Asian food, son of a bitch" as well as to the second employee; "I would love to have lots of Asian food, son of a bitch."

The caller then tells another employee that he would like some "flied lice," but not "some old dung" and indicated that "I am training in Kung Fu, bitch" before ending with "Tell that hot Asian girl answering the telephone, I'd like to tap her ass."

You Tube has the audio file of JV and Elvis bit. You can listen to it at this link.

The bit was actually performed prior to the famous Imus meltdown on April 4, when he referred to Rutgers women’s basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." For some strange reason it was rebroadcast the next day.

The first airing of the bit did not attract any attention, but when it was rebroadcast it fueled a controversy that spread from Mott Street in New York to Beijing in China.

The Organization of Chinese Americans expressed outrage over the bit, which it described as "racist, vulgar and sexist."

In a press release, the OCA called for an immediate apology from the hosts, their producer and the station. They also demanded the immediate firing of the shock jocks.

CBS still reeling from the Imus fall out, immediately suspended the duo without pay. Now over a month later, the beleaguered network has confirmed on Saturday that the "The Dog House with JV and Elvis," hosted by Jeff Vandergrift and Dan Lay, "will no longer be broadcast on WFNY."

The OCA was pleased with CBS’s decision.

"This is a victory not only for the Asian-American community, but for all communities who find themselves constant targets of racist and sexist programming," said Jeanette Wang, an OCA executive.

No doubt complicating the situation for CBS was the outrageous bit performed by syndicated shock jocks Opie and Anthony on Thursday, where they interviewed a character named Homeless Charlie, who described his desire to have rough sex with Condaleezza Rich, Laura Bush, and Queen Elizabeth. O & A’s performance was recognized by Talking Radio, as the Worst Talk Hosts of the previous week.

CBS confirmed that O & A were not being suspended or cancelled and their show will be broadcast today in its regular time period – 6 AM to 9 AM EST.

Talk radio fans are concerned about whether the firing of JV & Elvis, represents an infringement of free speech rights of talk radio hosts.

More than 100 people turned out for a rally in New York to offer support for them, Imus and other radio personalities under fire.

"It’s not about whether you like what you heard or not," said Debbie Wolf of Far Hills, NJ, president of People Against Censorship. "I find censorship to be far more offensive than anything that was said."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Worst Talk Show Hosts of the Week

Week Ending: May 11, 2007

Our Worse host of the week is Glenn Beck. On Nov. 14 Beck angered American Muslims when he sandbagged newly elected Congressman Keith Ellison [D-MN] by asking him to prove that he was not "working with our enemies." Rep. Ellison is a Muslim. Now he has insulted the American Jewish population by saying that he wouldn’t vote for a Jew as President. On the May 10 edition of his syndicated talk radio show, Beck said that he "wouldn't vote for Joe Lieberman [I-CT] as president "because of the way the Middle East would use it."

Beck did not explain the distinction he drew between asserting that he would not vote for Lieberman, who is Jewish, and asserting that he wouldn't vote for any Jew for president.

He stated that although he believes Lieberman "knows how to fight this war," and "even if I didn't disagree with him on so many social issues," he would refrain from voting for him because of the "complications it would add in this country or on the planet right now."

Here’s a link to Beck’s claim that he won’t for a Jewish Presidential candidate.

Michael Savage is our Worser talk host this week. On the May 9 edition of his syndicated radio show, Savage called Rep. Maurice Hinchey [D-NY] a "rotten, stinking, verminous [sic] congressman." He went on to say "by the time I get through with you, if you should call me to Congress, I'll have you in prison, because you're in cahoots with Al Qaeda. You are enabling Al Qaeda." He added, "you are a threat to our national security, as are all the other left-wingers who have signed that that fatwa against Michael Savage, and the others who want to disseminate the truth."

What was Savage railing about? No, it was not some position that Hinchey has taken on war Iraq or the fight against terrorism, but rather a piece of legislation that the New York Congressman is sponsoring called the Media Reform Act. The MORA would reinstall the Fairness Doctrine that was removed by Ronald Reagan’s veto in 1987, even though it was passed overwhelmingly by Congress (with more than 100 Republican votes) and upheld by the U.S Supreme Court.

So somehow Savage was able to suggest that Hinchey was "in cahoots with Al Qaeda" because he supported broadcast regulation provision, which was the law of the land for about 40 years.

Here's in link to Savage's rant.

This week we have a duo of Worst talkers. Opie and Anthony, who have been shocking their radio listeners, for several years now, might have crossed the proverbial line with a bit they performed on their May 10 XM Satellite Show.

During the bit they interviewed a guest named Homeless Charlie who fantasized about have sex with Condoleezza Rice, Laura Bush and Queen Elizabeth.

Although an early account on the bit covered in the Drudge Report suggested that Homeless Charlie said that he wanted to rape Rice, CBS Radio (O & A’s radio syndicator) denied that this occurred. Here’s a transcript of Homeless Charlie’s bit with O & A and you can make your own decision.

Charlie - "I'd love to f--- that bitch dude" (laughter)

Charlie - "She's the F---in man"

O&A - "yeah"

Charlie - "I'd F...that bitch...."

O&A - "I just imagine the horror in Condoleezza Rice's face as she realizes what's going on as you were just holding her down and F--- her."

Charlie - "Punch her all the F--- face, shut the F--- up bitch"

O&A - "that's exactly what I meant"

Homeless Charlie also went on to say that he also wanted to have rough sex with Laura Bush and the Queen of England.

In what has proved to the pattern of such incidences in the post Imus era, O & A apologized for the offensive bit on a show later in the week.

"We apologize to the public officials for comments that were made on our XM show" the duo stated. " We take very seriously the responsibility that comes with our creative freedom and regret any offense that this segment has caused."

Although the bit was only carried on the XM show, pressure remains on CBS to suspend or fire the shock jocks.

While CBS recently fired WFNY/New York talkers JV and Elvis, after the duo performed an offensive bit containing profane, racist, and sexually explicit insults directed to workers in Chinese Restaurant, they have not indicated that they will take similar action against O & A.

We aren’t suggesting what CBS should do, but have decided to make Opie and Anthony or Worst Talkers of the Week.

Listen to the O&A audio here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Clear Channel Flips Have Flopped

About three months ago Clear Channel flipped four liberal talk radio stations to other formats claiming that the stations were not performing well.

Now, the results are in and it appears that format flips have proved to be flops.

Also, according to an article that appeared in the Columbus Dispatch, where the lib talk station, WTPG/1230, was flipped to conservative talk, it appears that CC’s motives were not to improve to the programming but rather to protect dominant status of their heritage conservative talk station WTVN/610.

During the last two weeks of December, stations operated by CC in Boston, MA and Columbus, and Cincinnati, OH dropped lib talk in favor of new formats.

WXKS/1400-WKOX/1200 in Boston became The Rumba (a music format targeting Hispanics). WTPG in Columbus became a conservative talker with new call letters – WYTS, and WSAI in Cincinnati was changed to eclectic mish mash of lifestyle talk calling itself The Source.

Now the Winter Arbitron survey results are in and the news for Clear Channel are not good.

Hispanics in Boston have not picked up on the Rumba where listenership has dropped by 75%. Conservatives in Columbus, who seem to be happy with WTVN, are not flocking to WYTS, which saw listenership fall by 38%. And talk radio listeners in Cincinnati are not tuning to The Source, which has resulted in stunning 90% decline in WSAI’s ratings.

Collectively, the three stations have lost about 70% of listenership over the past three months.

Next ratings period we will see how the other CC flips have worked out --e.g. in Akron, WARF/1350 and in New Haven WAVZ/1300 where the stations have switched to Sports.

Remember what CC managers said at the time that they announced these three flips.

"It wasn’t working. We thought it best to do something else," said Tony Bender, program director at WTPG.

Obviously, what Bender came up with is apparently working less.

We’ve reported extensively on comments made by Darryl Parks, CC’s operation manager in Cincinnati who refers to himself as "the 'Grim Reaper' of liberal talk radio."

"It was a format that was set up not to entertain, but it seemed set up to get people elected, for a lack of a better way to put it," Parks said. " "There were some good (liberal) shows, but they need to start looking to more broad-based subjects than just harping on politics."

Tom Thon, CC’s market manager in Columbus told the Dispatch that the format flip was just a "business decision".

"Unfortunately, central Ohio listeners did not respond to the progressive format," Thon said. "It’s been very underperforming in ratings and revenue."

However, that same newspaper in Columbus revealed that CC might have had a different motivation.

On Wednesday, the Dispatch, reporting on the sharp ratings declines experienced by WYTS, confirmed that CC had no desire to return to lib talk in spite of the miserable ratings they were receiving for the newly launched conservative talk format.

"The station now ties up talk-show hosts such as Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly and Michael Savage in case another station in town wants to flip an FM station to talk,"the Dispatch reported.

So it seems that "the business" decision that CC made was not designed to get higher ratings for WTPG (WYTS), but rather to protect their conservative talk franchise on WTVN.

Lib talk radio fans in Boston, Columbus, and Cincinnati are working hard to get the format back in their respective markets. For more information check out their discussion boards.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Clear Channel Pulls a "Big One" in Cincinnati

They say timing is everything. This is certainly true for a blog like Talking Radio.

On Monday we posted a story about how Clear Channel’s Cincinnati Operations Manager, Darryl Parks had challenged our accusation that he was instrumental in the purge of the Liberal talk radio format in three Ohio markets -- WSAI/1360 in Cincinnati, WTPG/1230 in Columbus and WARF/1350 in Akron.

Parks, who identified himself as "the Grim Reaper to ‘progressive’ talk radio," claimed on his blog that he was "not that powerful," and "if the radio sucks, the program will be on a suicide mission all by itself. "

Then on Tuesday we posted a story about the launch of a syndicated talk radio show. The Mario Solis-Marich Show debuted yesterday on two Entravision stations -- KHRO/1650 in El Paso and KNVO-FM/101.1 in McAllen-Brownsville, targeting the booming Hispanic market in an English language format.

Now, today we are reporting on the strange confluence of these two stories. It seems that Parks and rest of the nutty Clear Channel management team in Cincinnati decided to pull down about a dozen billboards that contained a blatantly offensive message that offended many members of community in general and virtually all Hispanics in particular.

The billboards, created by Clear Channel’s marketing department and the Lamar Advertising Agency, were intended to promote WLW/700, which is referred to in Cincinnati as "The Big One." So what those creative ad guys came up with were billboards showing a donkey and a man wearing a sombrero with the slogan "The Big Juan." (Get it?)

The response from the Hispanic community was swift and indignant.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Alfonso Cornejo presented a hand-delivered letter to the WLW station management last week demanding that the signs be taken down. The letter also demanded that Clear Channel offer a written apology to the Hispanic community and an explanation for the "hateful campaign" by the area's top-rated station.

"Perhaps someone at your station believes there was humor in this hateful campaign. But rest assured, this is not funny in the least," said the Chamber's letter.

Copies were also sent to Clear Channel corporate executives in San Antonio, Texas.

Chamber board members also have discussed a possible boycott of the station and its advertisers.

Although no written apology has been issued, Chuck Frederick, Clear Channel’s Cincinnati Market Manager told the Enquirer that all of the signs would be removed by yesterday.

A spokesman from Lamar Advertising, says one billboard could cost between $5000 and $7000 a month. However, since Clear Channel is the largest billboard operator in the U.S., it is likely that were able to get a better deal than that.

Now does anybody really think that Clear Channel executives, even Parks, the self appointed "Grim Reaper," really thought that this promotional campaign would not produce a public outcry? Of course, they knew it would, and that is why they went ahead and did it.

Since the controversy erupted last week, WLW has received tons of free publicity in the local newspapers and on all of the TV news stations.

John Kiesewetter, Enquirer radio reporter, summed it up on his blog:

Was anybody surprised that the Spanish-language billboards were put up by WLW-AM? In phase two of the campaign, there's a Mexican fellow, "The Big Juan." But we already knew that WLW-AM was the ugly American.... This helps build ratings? Only by having people talk about WLW.

Right wing talk radio blogger, Brian Maloney, also feels that there was a ratings strategy behind WLW's racist campaign:

Cinci's megatalker has enraged ethnic separatists at the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as radical leftists at the area chapter of LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens. Was it really that easy to trick them?...just in time for the spring ratings book

And WLW aging conservative white male audience ate it up. Here are a few comments from WLW radio listeners:

Absolutely hilarious billboard. Keep it up, Clear Channel. This stuff is a riot.

I get tired of all the Mexican crap. My birth certificate says Ohio, not O-Mexic-O. If the Mexicans don't like it, leave!

To all of you who are sooooo outraged about WLW and the billboard campaign, thanks. It's tools like you who are the reason Speedy Gonzales cartoons have been banished from the face of the earth.

This appears to be the m.o. of talk radio stations in the post Imus era. They seem to follow the formula that it is easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask permission. That’s why JC and Elvis are profusely apologizing to the Asian community for their five minute bit insulting several employees of a Chinese Restaurant.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

New Talk Show Targeting English Speaking Hispanics Launches Today

A new talk show launches today in two Texas markets. While there are many Spanish language talk shows offered in highly penetrated Hispanic markets like Miami and Los Angeles, the Mario Solich-Marich Show will be the first nationally syndicated show targeting the booming Hispanic market in an English language format.

The three-hour show debuts at 2 PM CT on KHRO/1650 in El Paso and KNVO-FM/101.1 in McAllen-Brownsville. Both stations are owned and operated by Entravision, one of the largest operators of Spanish language radio stations in the U.S. You can listen to the Mario Solich-Marich Show by selecting a link on the KNVO webpage.

KHRO already offers locally produced English language talk programming, while KNVO currently offers a music format directed to Hispanics. KNVO is expected to make additional programming changes in the near future.

For the past year, Solis-Marich has done a show on LA liberal talk station KTLK/1150, which is a Clear Channel Communications O & O station.

Hispanics are the fastest growing population group in the U.S. According to the Census Bureau, there are 46 million Hispanics in U.S. In fact, since the year 2,000 nearly half of 9.4 million Americans added to the U.S. population have been Hispanics.

According to a Talker’s Magazine survey only 7.9% of talk radio listeners are Hispanic. That same survey found that 19% of talk radio listeners were African-Americans. So despite the fact that Hispanic’s account for a larger percentage of the American population than African Americans (14.0% versus 12.5%) they are much less likely to listen to talk radio than non-Hispanics.

According to Paul Woodhull, president of Media Syndication Services and a partner in the new venture, Solis-Marich “has been honing his skills as talk show host in LA (where he is the number one weekend talk host) and now he is ready for prime time."

Woodhull should know a thing or two about talk show programming. He developed and owned The Ed Schultz Show, which he sold about two years ago to Product First --owned by radio veterans Randy Michaels and Stu Krane. He is also currently is part owner of The Bill Press Show.

Woodhull claims that while the show will attempt to bring Hispanics “to the talk radio table,” it will be presented in the familiar format of entertaining talk, interviews, and callers.

“Senor Pizza, the fastest growing pizza chain in the U.S, is owned by a company headed up by Hispanics, but they still use cheese, tomato, and dough to make their pizzas,” Woodhull said.

Solis-Marich confirmed that his new show will have an inclusive format.

“We don’t need to change the conversation, we just need to invite Hispanics into the conversation," Solis-Marich said. "Other talk shows have not invited them into the conversation. They haven’t focused on the issues that Latinos care about like the environment, education, and immigration.”

While it might be true that Hispanics are not big fans of talk radio; they seem to love all other kinds of radio, especially the Spanish language format.

According to Arbitron, Spanish language radio is far and away the fastest growing radio format. Over the past eight years (from 1998 to 2006), the combined AQH share of Spanish stations has grown from 6.7 to 11.2 -- a gain of 67.2%. The only other formats that have grown during this period are Sports -- 52.4%, Religious -- 38.1% and Urban -- 23.2%. Every music format has seen their share of the radio audience decline. News/talk, has essentially been flat over the past eight years, garnering a 14.3 share in 1998 and a 14.4 share in 2006. That’s a gain of less than 1% in eight years!

In addition to fact that the Hispanic population is growing much faster than the general population, there are other reasons why Spanish language radio has been experiencing double digit annual growth. Hispanics prefer radio to other media like newspapers and television. Also, they spend more time listening to radio than non-Hispanics – 22.5 versus 19 hours per week.

If Hispanic radio listeners accept Solis-Marich's invitation to table, that will probably be a good thing for liberal talk radio. In the last election, Hispanics favored Democratic candidates over Republicans by a 2-1 margin. Hispanics appear to be particularly annoyed with conservative talkers like John and Ken on KFI in Los Angeles.

The LA talkers spend about 50% of time bashing immigrants and making fun of Hispanic politicians like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (who they call Villa “Reconquista”) and former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (who they call Busta “Menche”)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Clear Channel's Ohio Trifecta Revisited

Like all blogs, Talking Radio provides readers with the opportunity to post comments on the stories that we cover. (See below.) However, occasionally these comments wind up somewhere else and the only way we find them is by searching the blogosphere.

This is what happened when we posted a story two months ago about Clear Channel, and its Cincinnati Operations Manager Darryl Parks' decision to cancel liberal talk radio in Ohio. In the story, we questioned CC’s decision to drop lib talk in three Ohio markets – WSAI/1360 in Cincinnati, WTPG/1230 in Columbus and WARF/1350 in Akron -- and the motives of CC in general and Parks in particular. Here's what we said:

Is it possible that a broadcasting company that gives more money to the GOP than any other broadcasting company (about 95% of CC’s political donations go to Republican candidates) is trying to influence future elections in the important swing state of Ohio. They use to say, "as Ohio goes, so goes the nation." This was definitely the case in 2006. Democrats swept all the key statewide races and went on to big a national victory.

CC’s Cincinnati Operation Manager, Darryl Parks, told the Cincinnati Post in December that lib talk needed to be dropped in the Queen City because it was "agenda driven."

"It was a format that was set up not to entertain, but it seemed set up to get people elected, for a lack of a better way to put it," Parks said. " "There were some good (liberal) shows, but they need to start looking to more broad-based subjects than just harping on politics."

Now that there are no lib talk stations in Ohio, Parks is probably less worried about losing elections.

Well, a few days ago we came across an item posted by Parks on his blog, which challenged our conclusion.

Here’s what CC’s Cincinnati Operations Manager had to say in his defense:

If you read the liberal blog-o-sphere, you know I single handedly killed off "progressive" talk radio and Air America Radio in North America. Believe me, I'm not that powerful. If the radio sucks, the program will be on a suicide mission all by itself. Well, check out this article that was written on March 28, 2007, months after I finally went on the mission of mercy and pulled the plug on the "progressive talk" station in Cincinnati, after giving it almost two years to work. They just can't stop blaming me.

Okay, Darryl, I won’t blame you for moving lib talk from WCKY to much weaker WSAI in July, 2006. I also won’t blame you for changing the format to something called "The Source", which resulted in WSAI plunging from 1.0 share in the Fall Arbitron survey to 0.0 share in Winter 07 .

However, I will hold you responsible for making the above referenced comments to the Cincinnati Post and for the closing comment that you made on your blog entry where you attacked our post on “Clear Channel's Ohio Trifecta.”

I continue to enjoy being the Grim Reaper to "progressive" talk radio.

As your friend Bill O'Reilly would say, you get the last word.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Worst Talk Show Hosts of the Week

Week Ending: May 4, 2007

Our worse talk host of the week is Barb Stanton, who formerly did a noon to 3 pm talk show on KIXW/960 in Victorville, CA. We say formerly, because Stanton was immediately suspended from the Clear Channel station, which serves this small market northeast of Los Angeles, when she urged her listeners to withdraw their money from a local bank following the announcement of a merger with Pasadena-based East West Bank.

According to the Victorville Daily Press, Stanton said that customers would "see more Chinese faces in the bank than ever before." She also called East West President Dominic Eng, a "Chinese-looking guy," and "a foreigner." (Ng is an American citizen.)

Clear Channel, which is involved in multi-billion dollar effort to take the company private, did not waste any time in suspending Stanton. It’s one thing to attack Asians, it’s another thing to attack Asian bankers.

Our worser talk host this week is Glenn Beck, who shamelessly played the Hitler card in an attempt to criticize Al Gore’s campaign to heighten public awareness of global warming.

On the April 30 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Beck likened the former Vice President’s fight against global warming to Adolf Hitler's use of eugenics as justification for exterminating 6 million European Jews. Beck said:

"Al Gore's not going to be rounding up Jews and exterminating them. It is the same tactic, however. The goal is different. The goal is globalization. The goal is a global carbon tax. The goal is the United Nations running the world. That is the goal. Back in the 1930s, the goal was to get rid of all of the Jews and have one global government."

He continued: "You got to have an enemy to fight. And when you have an enemy to fight, then you can unite the entire world behind you, and you seize power. That was Hitler's plan. His enemy: the Jew. Al Gore's enemy, the U.N.'s enemy is global warming."

Talk show hosts are known to make unkind comments about each other, but I can’t recall when a host has spoken out unkindly about another host's mother. (Especially when that mother was recently deceased.) This is exactly what Mike McGee Sr. did on his weekday talk show on May 3, when he expressed some disparaging and disgusting comments about the mother of WTMJ/620 talk host Charlie Sykes.

Two days after Katherine Sykes died in house fire, McGee, who did a weekday talk show on WNOV/860, told his radio audience that he “ain’t got no tears” about her tragic death." He continued, “matter of fact, a woman that would have a fool like that deserves whatever is coming her. She raised a sure enough idiot.”

McGee even went so far as to suggest that Charlie Sykes was responsible for his mother’s death.

“My instincts say Charlie Sykes killed his momma, cuz she live out in this big palace in Mequon all isolated. He got tired of waiting for her money,” he said.

McGee was immediately suspended.

Sykes' boss, WTMJ general manager Jon Schweitzer, kept his cool when asked for a comment on McGee's monologue: "I won't dignify it with a comment, especially out of respect for Charlie at this time."

Sykes and McGee have maintained an on-going feud over the airwaves for several years.

WNOV CEO/President Jerrel Jones said that McGee’s comments were “absolutely across the line” and said “it would be a long time before McGee returns - if ever.”

We say that McGee’s outrageous comments wins him the title of the worst talk host of the week.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Stephanie Miller's on the Tee Vee

Just got my new DVR on Sunday and I programmed it wrong -- so I missed Stephanie Miller’s debut appearance on MSNBC this morning.

So I did what any video challenged blogger would do and went to You Tube. There, I found the following clip of the first ten minutes of Stephanie’s show on Monday.

After reading several blogs by Freepers and other conservative wingnuts about how unfunny Mama was including this gem which was posted here as a comment.

"Who is this clown they have in Imus' old spot on MSNBC? This person they have on today in his slot is horrible! Forget that host sounds like a total moonbat,it's like they copied Laura Ingram's show except made the format even more obnoxious. There is a news network that has totally lost it's direction and identity. They are becoming the "Pennysaver" newspaper of cable news."

But, overall, the early reviews were much more favorable:

On You Tube, several favorable comments were recorded. Here are a few of them:

This was totally worth getting up at 3 am for! Stephanie Miller is the queen of talk radio. Yes, she is the Cher of progressive talk radio!

Oh Mama you were soooo good this morning on MSNBC. You're even better looking on TV than you were at the KPHX 1480 party in Phoenix! With your fabulous fanny and Cici Goldwaters incredible rack (meant with the utmost respect) not only do the two of you appear to have been separated at birth, but together you are the perfect woman. Can't wait 'till WTF o'clock tomorrow. Oh wait I have TiVo . . . D'Oh!

Lib Talk fans were predictably upbeat. On Air America Place almost all the comments were positive:

Steph's TV experience was very apparent. She was animated and quick - and as usual very well prepared. The overall feel of the show was smart, sassy, snarky - a good fit for MSNBC. Even the callers who never heard of Mamma before seemed to like her. I checked with a co-worker who always used to wake up to Imus (as he called it, "the only thing on the damn TV that I can stomach in the morning") was impressed.

...Mama and the mooks were fabulous this morning. Mama was smoking hot (as usual), Jim was Jim (love him), and Chris was so freaking adorable. I just want to put him in my pocket and take him home!!!!

And then there was this serious piece of criticism on Radio-Info

Stephanie was speaking in hyper-warp speed, and it turned out to be much easier to follow her on radio than on television. The mooks were also much quieter than normal, and Jim Ward resembled Christopher Reeve in his wheelchair - he definitely needs to loosen up. Reading off the spiral notebook didn't help either. Usually when Stephanie gets out of control or loses her train of thought, one of the mooks picks up the slack, but that happened a lot less this morning.

I put this all on nerves. Going into a strange studio and dealing with the equipment and atmosphere is not easy for a radio show host who normally sits in an enclosed and familiar studio every day. And because Miller's show is heavily dependent on the add-on effects and bits, when something starts to go wrong, it becomes very quickly apparent.Overall, it did work and was fun, but she needs to slow down and calm down. We'll see how Tuesday and Wednesday goes. It seems there is going to be a whole parade of guest shows on MSNBC in the morning, and Miller has said on her show she doesn't want a permanent MSNBC gig.

Fans of the Stephanie Miller are encouraged to send a note to General Manager Dan Abrams and VP Bill Wolff at MSNBC. Let them know that you'd like to see her in the mornings instead of another Fox wannabe like Michael Smerconish.