31 December 2006

State of Talk Radio in the Valley 2006

Furiously, I race to complete this 2006 roundup as 2006 draws to an end. With every passing year, the publish date for my annual roundup of radio talk show offerings in the Valley of the Sun comes later and later. Well, I've run out of buffer space, lest I completely omit 2007 from the ledger. And if I did cease to provide another account, will there be any listeners left to even notice? A big reason for the delay is that in 2006, with all the podcasting fare available (and a subject for a subsequent article) and a significant decrease in my commute time, it's been difficult to give a listen to all the shows reviewed here.

KTAR made the boldest splashes in 2006, culminating with a move to 92.3 FM, mirroring their AM programming at first, but starting in January 2007, 620 AM will morph into sports talk only leaving 92.3 FM as the Valley's flagship news/talk station. This move coming after a return to a live and local talk format, and the restoration of Pat McMahon to the talk host lineup. More lineup changes lie ahead, with McMahon jumping to afternoons and Bill O'Reilly clone Darrel Ankarlo assuming Mr. McMahon's morning position.

KFYI 550 AM keeps chugging along, led by syndicated conservative blowtorches Limbaugh and Hannity, along with a pack of junior wannabes and an uninspired Mister Komando and his faithful sidekick Cruella Michella Buffy Lee Larson. Although there are reports that KFYI's financial master, Clear Channel, is going to slash local programming even further.

Early in the year, Liberal Air America was booted off of KXXT 1010 AM in lieu of fire and brimstone style religious programming, but just a month later found a new home at 1480 KPHX AM. Missing from the migration was Charles Goyette, who instead landed at KFNX 1100 AM, nestled between colon blow informercials and entire shows dedicated to hawking silver and gold. KFNX itself is a gross disservice to the listening public, a waste of broadcast spectrum that should be providing the public interest, so much so that the FCC should revoke their license, but fat chance of that happening.

Back to the saga of Air Americaout the ashes of its bankruptcy and inevitable demise, arises a new progressive network, Nova M, with it's flagship KPHX 1480 AM. Hopefully, Sheldon Drobny, one of the original AAR backers, in tandem with Mike Newcomb, prospects for the new network are greater than the train wreck that was AAR. It does appear that Nova M management, unlike the lords of AAR, actually get radio and will program accordingly, instead of trying to do cheap imitation Daily Show knockoffs on the radio. While I think Mike Malloy's spiel is just as awful as Limbaugh and Hannity, I am encouraged by others filling slots now — Thom Hartmann, Peter B. Collins and John Loftus to name a few.

So onwards and upwards, or more aptly, downwards to the roundup.

  1. Andrew Tallman Show (KPXQ 1360 AM, 5p-7p)
    I rarely agree with the host except for some basic tenets of Christianity. He's totally off his rocker, arguing against science, doesn't believe in evolution and actually once made an absurd statement that he voluntarily would keep his head in the sand in favor of the interests of conformity (in regards to not caring if the 9/11 truth movement was correct or not). He's dreadfully misinformed, often blindly repeating talking points from syndicated hosts like Michael Medved or Dennis Prager or whatever the neoconservative outrage du jour is, depending on what the Moonie Times or townhall.com are beaming about. Why, pray tell, then, do I have him at the top of the list? Brushing aside the lackluster quality of the competition, because, simply, the Andrew Tallman show is a great testament to how the medium of talk radio can actually serve as a source of edification and enlightenment. The host doesn't try to verbally whip you into thinking exactly like him, and for the most part, refrains from demonizing opposing views, instead, eggs them on. The listener is incited to think for themselves, to consider the evidence and appraise accordingly. And dissent is encouraged. Even non-Christians may find the show to be of interest to them, and if the spectrum of callers phoning in is indeed representative, there does seem to be a diverse audience for the program. I still think the "Wacky Wednesday" program (where the host takes the side of an issue he thinks is "wacky" and lets callers make the case for the "right side") is entirely silly and the host is guilty at times of framing (but who isn't, we're all propagandists in a sense), but for 2006, the show is at the top of my list, and one I eagerly tune into when I get the chance.
  2. Mike Newcomb (KPHX 1480 AM, 7a-10a)
    Just like the Andrew Tallman show, I realize the Mike Newcomb show isn't for everybody. And he can be just as shrill as the blowhards 180 degrees politically apart. But he runs a lively show, packed with callers sounding off and informative guests. I just wish the show would concentrate more on providing information and resources and less on demonizing conservatives.
  3. Charles Goyette (KFNX 1100 AM, 6a-9a)
    Charles, you've been back on the air for over six months now, yet your website still is entirely empty of content. During your previous KXXT 1010 AM tenure, I really enjoyed your audio archive, as your time slot rarely allows me to catch the whole show. Maybe Mr. Goyette figures it won't be long before he's seeking a new home. Nevertheless, Goyette provides a valuable treasure of knowledgeable voices shunned by the mainstream media, including many sober anti-war sources, but I have noticed that Charles has started to slink back into bellicose Clear Channel host mode, at times belittling those who challenge his views. During his KXXT 1010 AM Air America tenure (and I think Goyette has worked for just about all of the Arizona stations), he seemed to be striving extra hard to rein those tendencies in, aiming to appeal to a broader audience. Goyette may be at a career fork here — his career resembles that of John Dayl, which minus the phlegm, may not be all that bad.
  4. Ted Simons (KTAR 92.3 FM, 1p-4p)
    Come the new year, it appears that Simons will be without a talk host gig, and will revert back to the singular role of newsman. The Simons was refreshing at times, but it suffered due to producer cookie cutter shoehorning. That each show is segmented, and the topic for this allotted slice is X, then Y, then Z. I believe it's much better when the host can cast several topics out there and see what the audience bites on. It makes for more passionate, and hence, interesting radio content.
  5. Pat McMahon (KTAR 92.3 FM, 9a-12p)
    The former long running children's television show star returned to the microphone. Well, not really, as he still did a weekly McMahon Group roundtable show every Friday, and hosts the God Show on weekends, so he really never did leave the air. "McBland", he has been branded by detractors. Some of the criticism is warranted, for example: Pat still thinks its 1974, Phoenix is a small town, and he is a young buck that is a big fish in the small pond. At times, Pat does seem to be engaged on the other side of a time warp — memo to Pat: there is more to the Valley than downtown, the Suns, ASU and Bill Johnson's Big Apple.
  6. "KFYI Wheel of Hosts" (KFYI 550 AM, 7p-10p)
    Every night a different host. David Leibowitz, Mike Broomhead, Roberta Gale, Terry Gilberg, and others have sat in the chair. Of these, Leibowitz, former KTAR talker, is the best of the bunch, and he sounds comfortable where now his mushrooming neoconservative tendencies and Bush adulation fit the "victim radio" mentality like a latex glove. Broomhead is a nice chap, but woefully uninformed, repeating urban legends that anyone with a web browser could debunk within 30 seconds. Gilberg, I've not heard enough of to appraise, but Gale is the coffee talk host of the bunch, who gets all giddy over interviewing fireman and other uniformed men. That fare might be better suited for tabloid television shows.
  7. Bruce Jacobs (KFYI 550 AM, 5a-8a)
    I like Bruce. As a sports talk host, he's one of the best — he may be over the top but unlike politics, he knows his stuff. Unfortunately in the realm of current and historical events, he's a minor league fringe player. And furthermore, it's embarrassing, him channeling Archie Bunker in 2006.
  8. Inside Politics With Clancy Jayne (KFNX 1100 AM, 12p-1p)
    Cause what the world needs now is another right wing talk host like I need a hole in my head. Seriously, I've not heard enough of Clancy Jayne other than to note his promotional bit makes it sound like he's a racehorse.
  9. Joe Crummey (KFYI 550 AM, 4p-7p)
    From the cushy confines of Studio City, CA, Joe Crummey manages to conduct a "local" Phoenix talk show, even to the point of interjecting commentary as if he's a man on the Phoenix scene. A great radio voice, Crummey makes apt work of the agenda his neoconservative masters set for him. As Republican corruption and scandals, the Iraq quagmire, plummeting Bush approval rating, rising oil prices, etc. plague the current administration, topics on the show now conveniently center on coffee talk topics, or indignation and outrage over folks showing less than common sense. I suppose that without a Democratic president embroiled in sex scandal or outlandish charges originating from white supremacist organizations, that's par for the course.
  10. Liddy and Hill Show (KKNT 960 AM, 3p-6p)
    The national gig didn't quite work out. Without Rush and Hannity to locomotive their way, they're now mired in irrelevancy. Nothing I wrote last year has changed much — Once, conservative talkers frothed at the mouth over the Clintons and entertained caller indignation over liberal lunacy. Now, with the rampant corruption and indictments the country's conservative political leadership is entangled in, the focus of Liddy & Hill shifts to mothers breast feeding in public, teenaged body piercing, tatoo parlors, and other such "coffee talk" topics. And they really need to work on that website, as it's dated and in poor form.
  11. Barry Young (KFYI 550 AM, 8a-10a)
    For an assessment of the nearly finished one, I will turn to a recent post by Phrank in Phoenix: Cruella Michella Buffy Lee" Larson Young's producer and straight gal is out of town on vacation this week. Yet she's still slogging through two full hours with the Mouth that Bored every day ... by telephone! Barry can't hang for even a week without her? I sincerely hope this marks the end of the end for the "Nearly Famous Barry Young," a news talk-talk show that's taken way too long to die. Let me just add, that the inclusion of the incessant canned sound effects sounds even staler than ever. Memo to Mr. Komando: the ghosts of old time radio have come calling and they want their gimmick back! Incredible, considering the digital audio tools available today to artfully rip and mix sound clips.
  12. Gaydos After Dark (KTAR 92.3 FM, 9p-12a)
    What a joke! Incredible, even with the horrid competition here, the Gaydos show still manages to be the worst show in Phoenix. Not satisfied with his insufferable schtick of annoying sidekick was elevated into regular nighttime host mode. Does this show have any fans besides friends and family engaging in acts of unconditional love?

Coming in 2007 — more articles on the realm of radio, including a Best Talk Podcasts, an assessment of local weekend host fare, a roundup of local sports hosts and more. Stay tuned to this AZplace channel!

Say it ain't so, Willy Bills hates radio.

Comments

An interesting review. I can't comment on your number one pick because I never listened.

Mike Newcomb: I have tried to listen, but if you ask me he is just as bad as the kool-aid drinking right-wing hosts. I think he has gotten worse as time has gone on.

While I would put him higher then most of the right-wingers, I am not sure if I would put him higher then Charles Goyette. Mike sometimes can produce a good show, but his left-Limbaugh style comes through too much.

Charles Goyette: He must really love being a talk show host to have agreed to go on KFNX AM 1100. It hurts his talk radio career. Your comments on the FCC are disappointing. You really think they should have this power? I certainly do not. (What would they replace it with anyway? KFNX can't afford a full line-up of talk. Music? Could they make money on that?...)

As far as Charles becoming more aggressive or whatever, I am not seeing that. The only way he has opened more up to speck his mind is his views on economics, which are Austrian/libertarian. But this is a good thing. While war talk is important, I do not want to listen to it for three hours a day, every day. The more he opens up to a few more topics, the better.

Ted Simons: Toaster Talk. Don't listen.

Pat McMahon: Toaster Talk. Don't listen.

"KFYI Wheel of Hosts": Leibowitz is best. I agree. They should hire someone already! Get Leibowitz. Or put Crummey back here, and put Leibowitz 4-7.

Broomhead, while I think he is a good guy, is like a small starry-eyed kid eating up all the talk points believing they are all true. I can't take listening to a program like that. It is so pathetic. This is why Broomhead is the worst of the bunch.

Roberta Gale, yes, is the coffee talker. Actually, this is not too bad *once in a while*. The first time I started listening to her, I did not like her at all. But she has grown on me.

Terry Gilberg I have mixed feelings on. I am not sure what my overall view is. One negative is that she sometimes oddly gives out the phone number or says "NewsTalk 550 KFYI: The Valley's Talk Station". You would think she would be able to get this right by now. It makes her sound like an amateur.

Bruce Jacobs: Mixed bag. Even though he is a kool-aid drinker, and the like, he can (surprisingly) put on a good show.

Inside Politics with Clancy Jayne: Only listened once. But I like the idea...broadcasting live daily from a restaurant open to the public. Other then that, my impression was primarily negative.

Joe Crummey: I have not been listening these days. But if he is focusing on "coffee" topics, then it might be worth it for me to turn him on once again. (He would be better on these topics then hearing talking-points on the Iraq war!)

If they carry Crummey, he should be on in the evenings. What I want to hear is a local show with a host that knows what he is talking about when it comes to local issues.

Sometime back they had a guest host filling in for him....I wish I knew his name....He was actually pretty good. Yes, he was somewhat a partisan to the Republicans, but there was more independent thinking that made the host actually listenable and much better then Joe's show.

Liddy and Hill Show: Don't care for them. I would place Barry Young higher then them.

Barry Young: He has ratings; at least that is what he says. So he must be doing something right. But you are right.....the show is a train-wreck.

Gaydos after Dark: I have caught his program. Yes, bad, bad, bad. Wow is it bad. But I would not call C2C horrid competition. Despite its craziness, Coast to Coast AM can be quite entertaining. (If only Art Bell would replace George Noory during the weekdays....Noory can be quite stale.)