Friday, August 4, 2006

Personal Asides: Rating the National Radio Talk Shows…Harold Henderson: Ageist


Talk Radio.

As a political talk radio fan (it has to be since it has its own outlet on WLS-AM) this Blog manages to catch a good deal of the palaver every day. It has made for its own purpose anyhow, a rating of them. See if you agree. If you’re not conservative, you won’t be interested in this since all of those this Blog favors comes down on the side of the right (pun intended).

WLS’ Rush Limbaugh still gets (*****) five stars and the highest rating. While liberal snobs regard him as the red-neck smash hit, Limbaugh matches superb information-gathering with adroit bite-sized argumentation that helps enormously in debate. A phrase-maker, he has invented the designation “drive-by media” which eloquently explains the predicament this nation is in with as yet still superior numbers going to the major networks and newspapers. This Blog finds Limbaugh’s pretended egotism a great put-on and, unlike others, is not put-off by it. Rarely does he orate without facts and his analysis is shrewd, pointed and delightful.

WGN’s Milt Rosenberg gets (*****) as well but in another context. An academic with deep-rooted convictions, knowledgeable in philosophy, science and general wisdom, Rosenberg supplies an enormous amount of ballast in support of generally conservative social views. He can be witty, deft and sometimes cryptic.

WLS’s Sean Hannity (***) is combative, persistent and an excellent debater. This Blog doesn’t get from him what it derives from either Limbaugh or Rosenberg but his knowledge is steady, reliable and thoroughly grounded.

WIND’s Bill Bennett (*****), an academic and lawyer is on par with Rosenberg, adding his own seasoned experience as professor, secretary of education, drug czar and outstanding innovator of the famed K-12 course of home study which this Blog’s daughter, Mary applies with the youngest of her eight healthy kids. He’s on at 5 a.m. which is a bit of a disadvantage but his guests and learned discourse opens your eyes as you rise.

WIND’s Laura Ingraham (****) is a stunning looker but that doesn’t help on radio. She should be on TV and why her initial spurt on cable didn’t take is a puzzlement. On radio she is too shrill for this Blog’s continuing taste because she seems to start new topics with a youngster’s ooooeeee! A little too much into contemporary music for this senior citizen. Yet she’s very informed as a lawyer and former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas. She has a way of allowing one to invade her personal life which is touching and displays enormous self-confidence. This Blog worried when she came down with breast cancer, endured her chemo, suffered when her fiancĂ© took off (either that or she ditched him) and enjoyed it hugely when she was stopped for speeding, found the Virginia state highway patrolman cute and didn’t get a ticket. She spends too much time on the introductory promo to her show which contains snippets of prior broadcasts. Takes too much time and is repetitive.

WIND’s Dennis Prager (***), an expert on sociology and tradition as well as Judaism and Christianity is a scholar and adroit conversationalist. Sometimes the disquisition gets a little involved with more delineation than perhaps this Blog has patience for—but Prager, from Los Angeles, is probably the best-rounded host of them all: an expert in music, ancient texts, semantics, manners, mores, morals.

WIND’s Michael Medved (*****) is a Renaissance Man because he knows film criticism, economics, politics, history and is so intimately involved with the Middle East that he could well double as a talking head expert, is a good writer (his book “Right Turns” details his conversion from a Bobby Kennedy supporter who was on hand as an eyewitness to the RFK assassination). Medved makes the world’s best, most scholarly defense of Israel drawing not just on his own experience but that of his brother who is a scholar in Jerusalem. One criticism: he’s too invitational to the nuts who call him. No need to urge them to call including members of the Flat Earth Society: they’ll call anyhow. But, this Blog learns something whenever it hears Medved.

WIND’s Michael Savage (*) is too much for me. He’s a paleo-con, of course which pleases some readers of this Blog; is almost violently argumentative but as they say, like a stopped clock is right twice a day. Once in a while he comes up with a brilliant aphorism but frequently when he’s on a tirade this Blog turns him off.

WIND’s Hugh Hewitt (**), taught this Blog the little it knows about running a Blog with his masterly book on the subject. He should be better and more essential than he is: a law professor, evangelical, writer in World magazine. Most often he stays away from personal comments while giving the play to his guests (something this Blog has been accused of). For some reason he hangs on the phone with nationalreview.conline editor who is usually evasive.


Notwithstanding that my friend, Harold Henderson, at Chicago’s weekly dispensatory, the Reader, which publishes the most scatological stuff in the city, is an ageist, one who regards people of a certain years as over-the-hill with his remarks on the Reader Blog about “old man Roeser,”…ahem…only kidding…he has shown this Blog the good taste of reproducing some of its views on Jim Thompson and giving a link to it (which is appreciated)…and he asks if Thompson was as venal as U. S. prosecutor as he has become in his conduct of personal affairs. Answer: no. This Blog knew him fairly well when it headed Project LEAP which was devoted to fighting vote fraud and he was admirable in the way he contributed his time and judgment to LEAP’ s complaints. Thompson always impressed this Blog as one with gargantuan appetites. For fame, nothing could suffice but that he be president—rather like Teddy Roosevelt in that regard (whom this Blog knew when both were children). When Thompson became convinced that certain obstacles prevented him from running for president, he turned to the private practice of law which opened up an avenue for acceptance of each and every dirty and tattle-tale grey prospective client who came along.

On a subordinate item, as to whether Thompson is liberal, Henderson says that when one is as far right as is this Blog, anyone else seems left. But this Blog defies Henderson to point to one thing that Thompson has done as governor that is conservative. He is indistinguishable from regular Democrats in every particular: spending, taxation, social policy. Now he isn’t a Howard Dean by any means but he certainly would be equivalent to, say, Richard M. Daley. His great and good friend, George Ryan, whom he has defended against charges of corruption, has renounced his former pro-life stand, has urged cessation of the sanctions on Cuba, has come out against capital punishment (although I doubt if Thompson shares this view) and has been immaculate, if that word can be misapplied in sacrilege, in his conception of liberalism. Of course Thompson has defended him pro-bono because, as many surmise, Ryan could unload a lot of stuff about Thompson.


  1. I think Rush should concentrate on humor & satire. The gaps in his knowlege are amazing, and when he starts jabbering about "green eyeshade stuff" my eyes glaze.

    For my money, Hewitt is the best of the bunch. What about your WLS mates Bruce Dumont & Teri O'Brien? I used to enjoy G. Gordon Liddy & regret that he's not on here anymore.

  2. Lovie's LeatherAugust 4, 2006 at 9:52 AM

    I like Roe Conn...

  3. I do enjoy Dennis Prager, and Hugh Hewitt, but WIND or WLS should air Neal Boortz, (nearest city to hear is AM 1340 out of Joliet) and The Sage of South Central LA Larry Elder, he was on WLS for a short time period but for some reason he was taken off. I kind of fall in to the "Libertarian" mold.

    Ever since WIND went all talk I do spending more time at WIND except Sundays at 8:00 PM

  4. Michael Savage who is on WINd from 5-8 pm. He is the best thing on the radio, Rush is a phony chump, a drug addict who like to go on trips with lots of viagra, I wonder if any of the girls who he spent time with were under 18 ? I agree with Rush on most the issues but I just hate him personally. The best in this town is Bruce Dumont,Craig Delamore wbbm radio, Jeff Berkowitz Public Access and a guy named Tom Roeser

  5. Rush does his homework,just ignore his bravado.. Hannity love to argue too much, but has some good idea. WLS lost a champion, when Tony Snow went to the administration, but is doing a "Bang-Up" job there. I agree, I like Laura Ingraham, but can do without the music commentary.
    Never miss Tom Roeser on Sunday nite.
    So, thank God for WLD and WIND

  6. Rush is merely a shill for the administration (ditto Hannity, Ingam & others), and lost whatever credibility he had with his pill popping disclosure. Who needs Rush now that Tony Snow is at la Casa Blanca?

    Bennett, too, is a has-been hypocrite who should have turned off all "values listeners" with his gambling addictions and blown millions in Vegas while he rails against the latest cultural threat to distract attention from himself.

    Tom, I have to admit I'd never heard Savage referred to as a Paleo-con. This would be a surprise to the Rockford Institute folks or Pat Buchanan.

    With the sad state of conservative (falsley so-called) talk radio, I tune to WGN to hear the Cubs, or listen to Roe Conn or Jake Hartford.

  7. He is an extreme neo con when it comes to defending Israel, calling for massive nuclear retaliation against several countries. Savage has bashed Bush on other matters but he has spoken about Israel exclusively the past several weeks and I haven’t listened.

    I'd rate Tom Roeser a 5 star host on the local scene (though probably a 1 star if you discussed national issues - pro life being our only common ground).

    I'd give Rush 2 stars while I would give Hannity and Medved 0 stars.

    Most talk radio shows have degenerated the debate to the lowest common denominator. They have succeeded in pushing their political party's (GOP / Democrat) agitprop while leaving Americans divided while nobody is addressing the issues which will make or break America over the next two or three generations:

    1. The $73 trillion deficit for the socialist welfare schemes (SS, Medicare, Medicare RX).

    2. The tens of millions of illegal aliens who have snuck in since the 1980s and the plan to allow 66 million more.

    3. The fact that we have handed our economy to our largest enemy China and the continuation of sending the middle class in the country to the trash heap. Our dollar will collapse with the deficits and debt. Alchemy is a bogus science and the debt and deficit matters, despite what the neo-cons (Cheney) say.

  8. Two other people on WLS who are outstanding and deserve praise are Matt Drudge (now on 10 p.m. Sunday-1 a.m. Monday) and Mark Levin (on 10 p.m.-12 midnight during the week). The only problem with their shows lies not in anything they do, but in the way WLS chooses to run them. Drudge used to immediately follow Tom Roeser's excellent Political Shootout live, from 9 p.m. to midnight Sunday, but was pushed back an hour so that the station could run a real estate info-mercial from 9-10 p.m.--possibly the worst mistake WLS has ever made. The whole point of Drudge is that he specializes in BREAKING news; hearing it even one hour late reduces its effectiveness. (Note to WLS: lots of us now tune in Drudge live on stations out of Dallas, Louisville, Cleveland, Rochester, N.Y., etc. Save the info-mercials for after midnight.)

    Mark Levin is the greatest conservative commentator on legal issues in the country today. The only problem with Levin on WLS is that like his buddy, Sean Hannity, he's not on live. Hannity does his show from 2-5 p.m. Chicago time, Levin from 5-7 p.m.; but both are delayed here by 5 hours because that's how long WLS wants to run the useless Roe Conn every day--another huge mistake. If I were running WLS, I'd run Hannity and Levin live (as well as Drudge), and turn over 7-to-midnight to local talent like Debra Rowe, Teri O'Brien, etc.

  9. I agree with Teri P.

    In my house after the Tom Roeser show WLS is off for the night. Why would I listen to a commercial for an hour??

    It's a shame Mark Levin isn't on at his live hour, 5pm. I'll have to start listening to him on the internet, as WLS is worthless to listen to from 2-7pm weekdays.

    Keep up the great work, Tom!

  10. You don't even need to listen to Michael Savage to find out he's a neo-con. Just take a look at his website. He worships at the altar of the Israeli nation, hates Mel Gibson, hates Palestinians, hates Lebanese, hates just pretty much everybody Israel hates - the goyim.

    But then, what would we expect from a guy who considers a conservative hero a man who called an extramarital affair in his mid-40's a "youthful indiscretion".