Manhattan is blue. Deep, deep blue. It’s one of the reasons I love living here. An overheard remark like “Cheney should be in jail!” gets a “yes!” and a knowing smile not a glare. The wingnut in the Palin 2012 walking his dog in Central Park is a rarity to be stared at. That guy always wears provocative idiotic political statements. I think he’s spoiling for an argument. But I digress.
Here’s my point. In a place where you can’t swing a cat without hitting a Democrat, you’d think we’d have hot and cold running progressive talk radio, wouldn’t you?
We’ve got two – count ‘em – two right wing stations (both 24/7.) And only one lame-ass pathetic purportedly liberal talk radio station WWRL at the top of the AM dial with a weak signal. At one time we had Air America and I was able to listen to Al Franken’s extremely entertaining and informative show every day. But then Al went on to do something else. Air America, which has become synonymous with “progressive talk” and was the whipping boy of the right, may have been good on the air, it never worked on paper. As I heard someone say about it, “Radio should be run like a business, not a cause.” Indeed.
The right wing was gleeful at Air America’s demise last week as if that proved or meant that progressive talk went to the grave with it. Hardly. There are lots and lots of good liberal talkers all over the country. They just happen to be hard to find in New York City.
There’s Stephanie Miller who combines humor with information, Bill Press who’s in DC, Ed Schultz a passionate man of the people out of the Midwest, Norman Goldman Ed’s sub and “senior legal analyst” now with his own show out of LA, Thom Hartman, Shannyn Moore in Alaska, Nicole Sanders, and Randi Rhodes among others.
And what is WWRL’s line up? Beginning the broadcast day at 6 am is Errol Louis, a Daily News columnist. He’s a smart guy, good on the issues but his focus tends to be local and I prefer a more national orientation so I find him less than compelling. (Instead I prefer Bill Press whose show I can get on my transistor – yes, the kind you would put under your pillow when you were supposed to be sleeping and your parents couldn’t hear it still exists – for an hour or so from Buffalo’s station. When the signal turns to static I turn to the internet. God bless the internet where all the good talk can be found.)
At 9 am, while WWRL has two hours of blather about vitamins, I go from Bill to Stephanie’s show thanks to WCPT (Chicago’s Progressive Talk) which streams online. Her addictive show is very smart – like Bill Press, Steph gets good & interesting interviewees – and it’s also hilarious. In fact, as we learned yesterday, it’s Lily Tomlin’s favorite radio show. At 11 am, WWRL picks up Steph’s last hour and I go back to my transistor, liberated from the PC.
At noon it’s Ed Schultz. He’s the reason I got through the whole health care reform battle with my sanity and my radio. Big Eddie is just great. He’s all about the middle class, the worker, the people and American products.
At 3, WRL used to air Ron Kuby, the super-smart former partner of William Kunstler, whose politics are further left than mine. But he grew on me. Turns out Kuby’s got a good sense of humor and I enjoyed his show until Caroline Kennedy’s possible nomination to the Senate last year. Kuby hates royalty and she is just an American princess to him. But it became tiresome and I stopped listening. Apparently others did too. And that’s why he was gone, I guess, and in his place now, Montel Williams. His slogan is “not left or right.” Hey, WWRL, I want left! Bozos! I don’t listen to this show. It’s recorded in the morning and by 3 it’s old news. Matter has changed during the day which it is wont to do but Montel’s chatter doesn’t.
6 pm. Time for Ron Reagan, pretty good show. But I’m back home and free to choose between Nor-Man Gold-Man online or The Ed Show on MSNBC.
After Ron Reagan, WRL actually has Al Sharpton on. I cannot stand this man. And while I sometimes agree with his politics, I can never forgive him for his part in the Tawana Brawley hoax. To me he was, and always will be, an opportunist. Peh!
At 10 comes Alan Colmes. Perhaps because of his long stint under the thumb of Sean Hannity on Faux News, Alan seems to attract more than the usual number of wing nuts. Oh, sure, Steph has her “right wing love muffins” who regularly phone in and serve as her cat toys. And Ed takes calls from Conservatives, some to spew talking points which never get far with Ed, and some to actually debate. And that’s fine. Alan gets the tin foil hat crowd. It’s scary. But sometimes funny.
On the other hand, Alan has some strange positions. Last night, for example, he opined that the recent radical, outrageous Citizens United corporate coup by the Right Wing Justices of the Supreme Court is “not the end of democracy.” Apparently he is unconcerned by AlQaida, Inc.’s potential as the owner of a big chunk of Congress. This decision was a bigger threat to our republic than anything since World War II. Alan makes me glad I fall asleep fairly early.
Waking up in the middle of the night was how I discovered the show WRL broadcasts live from 1 -4 am. Out of LA is Phil Hendrie and it is horrible. He says, “Man” like kids say “Dude” and ain’t and “don’t” instead of “doesn’t.” He’s an ersatz hipster. Hendrie features fake interviews with fake callers with stupid positions (like the mother who still breast-feeds her kids and they’re in high school. Or the man who favors banning sunglasses-wearing by men at the beach to curb covert ogling) which provoke unwitting and fairly witless listeners to phone in and be pranked.
It’s stupid. Unfunny. Unlistenable. Worthless. This is not progressive talk. It’s a waste of time.
At 4 am, until recently we had Richard Greene and his Clout, promoting all sorts of progressive issues. Richard had been confined to one hour which could be frustrating when an interview would obviously be continued only not on our air. Room had to be made for “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 5 am. Less a radio show than replays of segments from her MSNBC show of the night before, this program made me think of the Monty Python “Contractual Obligation Album.” And I didn’t mind it. I kinda liked it as I was making the bed and brewing coffee. But talk radio? No. Progressive, no. And no longer. It ended last week with Air America which had given Rachel her start.
But this morning instead of Richard, WRL had another vitamin show. Pathetic!
So that’s the day in New York liberal talk radio. Slim pickings. Four hours out of 24 are appealing to me, a liberal talk junkie. It’s ridiculous that a city with as many progressive people as we have doesn’t have the liberal equivalent of WABC.