Now that we’ve cleared the air on the sad state of local talk radio, lets take a look at Talkers magazine’s "Heavy Hundred" for 2011…
The first thing worth noting is there’s nobody on it that broadcasts locally. No Mike Murphy or Tom Becka types. And somewhat obviously, Mike Shanin and Scott Parks are nowhere to be found. Not even on the watered down 101 to 250 list that does include Becka, former KC guy Ray Dunaway and KMBZ’s Darla Jaye.
Columnist insert: Talkers is a trade pub that relies on radio hosts and stations as readers, subscribers and advertisers.
So it’s maybe a safe bet that some of the aforementioned personalities were listed in Talkers expanded Top 250 list by either schmooze or sheer attrition. My impression over the years being that just about anybody in the biz with a regular gig can more or less find their way onto the list.
Let’s take a look…
1) Rush Limbaugh. "Twenty-three years in syndication and still the most important talk show host in America."
He’s also the goofball/loser who flunked out of KC radio before he learned how to pimp rednecks and pols.
2) Sean Hannity. "A multi-media mega star in conservative talk. Solid mainstay of the genre."
Hannity’s also a disingenuous political charlatan of the first order, imho.
3) Glenn Beck. "High-profile star of the current conservative talk media genre. King of controversy."
Here’s a guy so out there that – on occasion – I find him fascinating to watch/listen to. However I have to confess there’s an element of train wreck to that fascination.
4) Michael Savage. "Boisterous talk radio personality heard on more than 300 stations."
I can see where smartman kinda digs this dude. Me? Eh! I went along for the ride for a little while but I don’t miss him.
5) Laura Ingraham. "A major fixture in the world of conservative talk entertainment Top female in talk radio."
That’s true. Who even remembers the Fabulous Sports Babe anymore anyway? In Ingram’s early days I thought she was a fresh breath of conservative air and had a far better music bed than anybody else. But ever since her cancer battle a few years back, she’s been predictable at best. And so patently partisan even in the pro Nixon days of my youth, I’d have had a hard time relating. How’s that for a confession?
6) Dave Ramsey. "A media superstar in the world of personal financial advice and multi-media industry icon."
Nothing bad to say here – just not my cup of tea. Haven’t listened much but at least he’s not a total demagogue.
From here the list gets a little obscure by Kansas City standards, so I’ll do a little cherry picking.
11) Neal Boortz, 12) Howard Stern, 17) Lou Dobbs
19) Mancow. "High-energy talk personality. Focus on pop culture and youthful topics. Nationally syndicated."
Like many radio personalities, Mancow’s had his share of ups and downs. When Stern went to Sirius, Mancow was pegged as his successor and went into large scale syndication. He was also a regular on Fox News. While the Stern successorship never quite worked out, Mancow remains a force. The other night, for example, foodie Anthony Bourdain was doing Chicago and included an entire segment with Mancow.
20) Dr. Laura Schlessinger. "Still an important player with legendary status. Unique personal advice host. Heard exclusively on satellite radio."
How the mighty have fallen. I can remember vividly how enthusiastic KMBZ overlord Ron Carter was in the mid 1990s on discovering Dr. Laura and bringing her to KC for a schmooze tour. She was new; she was hot and she was charmed by KC. At one point Dr. Laura was on 450 radio stations, second only to El Rushbo. But in the end she was undone by pressure from gay rights groups on her advertisers and a controversial racial epithet. And let’s not forget the nude photos of the good doctor her ex released.
22) George Noory. "Ubiquitous purveyor of late-night paranormal and oddities chat."
Not to mention the successor to Art Bell.
23) Jim Bohannon. "Seasoned late-night broadcaster with journalistic qualities. Political moderate heard in syndication."
Remember him? Zzzzzzzzzz.
26) Don Imus. "Legendary talk media personality still performing daily syndicated morning show simulcast on cable news/talk TV."
33) Dennis Miller. "Multi-media entertainer heard in more than 280 markets. Made it big in talk radio after TV career. Politics, pop culture and more."
34) Rusty Humpries. "Hard working talk media pro heard in national syndication and locally in Atlanta."
And, as I discovered to my embarrassment at the Savoy Grill just before the recent Rainmakers reunion at Knuckleheads, a KC export with ties to Kansas City as a DJ. He was named by Talkers as one of "America’s 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts" for 12 years in a row, and nominated "Talk Personality Of The Year" by Radio & Records in 2006.
39) Kim Komando. "Super-successful personal computer issues talk host. Heard in more than 450 markets."
And still looking kinda hot.
61) Mitch Albom.
Otherwise known as Jason’s Whitlock’s pal, "Myth Albom."
62) G. Gordon Liddy.
Remember him? Liddy even had Craig Glazer and father Stan on two years ago for Glazer’s book, "King of Sting."
"I think I did that show for two hours," Glazer says. "Stan was on at the end for about 10 minutes and (Liddy) gave my dad a little shit. He asked him if he felt responsible for all three of his sons going to prison. And Stan came back with his usual line of, ‘Oh, I’m a fifties father.’ You know, fifties parents could hit you, they could make you walk to school. So being grounded, being punished was normal. But in reality it was just an excuse to be an absentee parent."