15 August 2002

State of Talk Radio in the Valley 2002

It's even a more sorrowful deal than when I wrote State of Talk Radio in the Valley 2001. My friends ask me why I even bother listening to talk radio - they feel it's an unfruitful pasttime fraught with dogma and jingoism (well, they don't say that exactly, but it is an accurate abstract of their expressed thoughts ...). I've been listening to talk radio ever since childhood. Back in the 70's, several Pittsburgh AM and FM stations provided plenty of talk programming. I would listen to Larry King do almost six hours a night in the 80's when I worked graveyard shift or while I was studying late into the night, near the radio. But outside of a infrequent glimmer here and there, the landscape of talk radio is just littered with rubbish. But I continue to listen.

There have been some changes to the Valley lineup of radio talkers - Tony Femino departed for Oxford, Gary Segerstrom was replaced by John Dayl who had his Arizona Sunrise morning slot filled by Don McGuire, and the Gordon, Heather and Rick show was shelved in favor of the syndicated Mitch Albom show (I still can't figure out why Mitch Albom has a radio show and I wonder if their audience numbers total more than immediate friends and family ...). and Barry Young returned to KFYI in a more desireable time slot.

  1. David Leibowitz - Somebody has to be at the top of the list, even if it's seemingly a contest to see who stinks the least. Actually, the Real Life program keeps improving, and the show has tackled serious issues as well as the coffee talk types of topics.

  2. Bob Mohan - The only reason that Mohan's show rates this high is because of Blow out the Phones every Friday. That and I like to hear him get flabbergasted and launch into a tirade over cell phones, SUVs, loaded airplane pilots, etc. ...

  3. Jay Lawrence - Last year, I had him at the top of the list but this year he slides down a few notches, in an acknowledgement that I have to deduct points for hosts confined to weekend scrub duty. Still, his show frequently features prominent local guest appearances, and even with the weighty ego, I find I actually enjoy listening to his program, even if don't agree with his spins on the issues.

  4. Don McGuire - The new KXAM morning host. Sounds like the John Leo of the talk radio realm, railing against the absurdities of political correctness and bloated, wasteful bureaucracy. He's very receptive and respectful of both guests and callers. Even though I disagree with about 85% of his political stances, I enjoy listening except for one major gripe - the blasted infomercials. Devoting 10 minutes or more for an infomerical (plus a commercial spot right after the break) is an outrage and this kind of nonsense on the public airwaves should be prohibited by the FCC.

  5. Michael Hagerty - Another KTAR weekend scrub regular who has gotten some time filling in for Femino's vacated weekday slot. At times he's annoying to no end, especially on a topic he's woefully ignorant about, but his topic selection is good - at least his chosen news stories usually appeal to me.

  6. Austin Hill - Like Leibowitz, he has improved. His talking over the caller has been kept in check a little better, though his incessant effusion on personal responsibility is galling. I get the impression that he's lived quite a sheltered life, and it's colored his perception of things.

  7. John Dayl - Dayl used to be one of my favorite local hosts, but lately, his rendition of redneck repertoire is growing tiresome. Since his show moved to the afternoon time slot (originally, he co-hosted, then hosted Arizona Sunrise in the 6am-9am block), his show programming has consisted almost entirely of right wing ideologues from townhall.com or astroturf shillboys from conservative think tanks. Oh, occasionally there's a local slant, but these days it is far and few between. I think I would rather hear the faithful KXAM regulars phone in than the lobbyist shills and hard right columnist hacks.

  8. Charles Goyette - Every once in a while, Goyette puts on a nice show, even if it's a sensationalist ratings snatch. He's stirred it up with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, the Arizona Cardinals stadium, and the local knuckleheaded politician du jour. But it doesn't compensate for the lack of taste and overzealous name calling. His show is proof that the "liberal media bias" is a complete myth - any other radio host that spewed the type of rancor that seems to be a regular output of his rantings, they would be axed in no time. Calling the Clintons communists? Can you imagine any local host calling the Reagans or the Bushes Nazis?

  9. Barry Young - He made his triumphant return to KFYI and has delighted scores of of faithful conservative fanboys and fangirls, but in my view, "barely famous" Barry epitomizes the archetypical hate monger. I don't believe he believes half the tripe he trowels. His opening monologue now usually takes up at least a third of his show, and sometimes even extends almost to an hour and a half. I think he thinks he's the Howard Stern of Phoenix talk radio.

  10. Preston Westmoreland - I don't understand how this guy even was given a show and a time slot in prime time. Yoy! He's unprepared, uninformed, and sounds like he does his entire show off a script scribbled onto a deck of index cards. Even the cold voiced emotional responses sound oddly fabricated within the dull, monotonous cue card reading. Hey, that's what I wrote in last year's roundup ... well, nothing's changed here, except it's a year later. Yoy, I'm being pretty harsh here ...

Still no sign of Willy Bills ...

Eventually, I'm going to get around to a national talk host roundup, as I promised in last year's local talk host roundup report. So stay tuned.


I find David Liebowitz's voice so irritating that I don't bother to listen to what he says even if it is worthwhile. I can't believe Preston Westmoreland got an award from Talkers magazine. He was more suited to the toaster repair programs that he used to do.