Thursday, June 28, 2007

Malloy's dose of reality

So far, in's continuing series of interviews with progressive radio personalities, we have gotten an inside look at what goes into a radio show, and where they're coming from. Not surprisingly, the most recent interview, this one with Mike Malloy, is probably the most honest and straightforward yet.

Malloy doesn't mince words here. He talks about what he things of conservatives, politics, TV news and his show. It's a pretty good interview, and especially noteworthy as our so-called 'news channels' have been bombarding us with ridiculous stuff like Paris Hilton and Ann Coulter. But more on that later.

On the style of his radio show:

Regarding the political issues, it's very confrontational. Regarding my callers, I have no patience with Republicans or right-wingers, and very little patience with people who are middle of the road. I believe in what Jim Hightower said a long time ago: "The only thing you find in the middle of the road is a yellow line and dead armadillos."

On dealing with right-wing callers:

"Over twenty years of talk radio, but especially in the past three or four years, I've found that most right-wing or conservative callers, or people who call who think they're going to challenge me on a specific point, are functionally illiterate. Their minds are capable of parroting only what they've heard from Rush Limbaugh, or a Free Republic, or Sean Hannity. They are incapable of carrying on a dialogue. They are eaten up with right-wing religious garbage...I know that the majority of my audience doesn't want to hear this. They don't want to hear it because they deal with it constantly out in the real world -- at the workplace, in their churches, in their synagogues, on the bus, in the carpool, at the PTA meeting. They hear these right-wing parrots who are utterly eaten up with fear, utterly eaten up with ignorance. And these right-wingers get their strength only from repeating over and over what they've heard from right-wing radio or right-wing television. So I don't want them to call me."

On show prep:

"My background before I ever came to talk radio was in deadline writing, when I wrote for a newspaper, and deadline newscasts, when I worked at CNN. As a result, I have been known to have an entire show prepared for the radio, and if there's breaking news at six p.m. and I go on at nine, I'll just toss out what I have prepared for that day and go with the breaking news...(At CNN) we were always told, back in the day -- I'm not sure it's true anymore -- but in the early Eighties, we were told to take a look at a story from four or five different reporting sources. ..Take a look at the same story from four or five different angles. Sadly, that has kind of changed in the past twenty years. You have pretty much two points of view now -- the American point of view, and the rest of the world. What I have found is that the rest of the world is pretty much on the same page regarding American foreign policy, and it's usually almost diametrically opposed to what is being consumed by American news consumers."

On writing for CNN:

"News writing was very restrictive, especially at CNN. Again, this was back when CNN was run by (Ted) Turner, and it was run as a news organization. It is not run as a news organization now. But it was very restricted back then. Our senior editors, senior producers, supervising producers, would tell us repeatedly they did not want to find even a nuance of opinion in what we wrote, to the extent that it became a game...There were about six of us working as writers at the same time, including Christiane Amanpour. Some of us would attempt to slant our stories with just one word, changing, for example, "would" to "could" -- and see if we could get it by the senior editor. We never could. We would kind of get our asses slapped for even attempting that. Writing news was very restricted back then."

On conservative versus liberal talk radio:

"The playing field has never, ever, ever, ever been level between right wing and liberal. The genius of Limbaugh was not Limbaugh, it was Roger Ailes...the person who comes up with the best marketing idea is the person who usually comes up with the winner, not the person who comes up with the best product. Right-wing talk radio is not a good product. It's toxic. It's destructive. It's negative. But it had behind it a marketing genius, Roger Ailes. So all of a sudden, you had the availability of a conservative talk show. So what happens next? Mid-level managers in this country -- I don't care if they're in media or in manufacturing -- mid-level managers, for the most part, are conservative. They're conservative because they're cowardly. If you remember, there was a book from the Sixties called The Peter Principle, which stated clearly that people in organizations rise to their level of incompetence and then stay there. Now in radio, in the Eighties especially, there was a level of mid-level management in radio stations that was totally uncreative. They couldn't find their ass with both hands. All of a sudden, you have a guy who's on five hundred radio stations. Well, what are you going to do? You're going to say: Ooh, there's a success. And you're going to grab for it."

Again, this is a very good interview, and in it, Malloy goes into more detail about his days at CNN, as well as more opinions about the state of talk radio. You can read it here.


hashfanatic said...

Excellent interview.

Mike is as fresh and relevant as ever.

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