Friday, June 01, 2007

Post-Imus Discharge

Have you been listening to the pitiful replacement hosts WFAN has been trotting out to try to take Don Imus' place? If you thought those two weeks with Mike & the Mad Dog filling in were a disaster, it's only gotten progressively worse. But perhaps "progressively" is the wrong choice of word, because it's mostly been a series of right-leaning guest-hosts spewing the same tired crap morning after morning, only the names are changed.

Not that I'm listening regularly. I just tune in every couple days to see what new direction the clueless station manager will take what was once their flagship program. (Can't wait to see the post-Imus ratings for WFAN.) I guess it's still Program Director Mark Chernoff calling the shots, although I couldn't confirm that with a cursory glance at their Wikipedia page. It did, however, list the fill-ins for the 6-10am slot, and folks it ain't pretty. Check out this roster of "talent" tapped to replace the One-&-Only I-Man, all paired with the increasingly pathetic Charles McCord, who you get the feeling is to the right of David Duke but just hides it a lot better than the more outwardly deranged Bernard McGuirk. After Mike & the Mad Dog's mercifully brief run, for no discernible reason the station gave ex-jock Boomer Esiason a shot, whose sole qualification for broadcasting seems to be a nice clear voice, the sound of which he is hopelessly infatuated with; followed by the lesser tennis-playing McEnroe, Patrick, and then his brother John, selected in all likelihood because they're friends of Chris Russo. Then listeners were callously subjected to a few days too many with has-been windbag Geraldo Rivera(!); followed by the sonorous tones of anti-immigration-obsessed Lou Dobbs, then one or days each of newsman David Gregory, financial guru Jim Cramer, some sports guy from Chicago appropriately named Mike North, and this week the wheel of misfortune stopped at Joe Scarborough, former Congressman and right wing cable show blowhard.

Now comes word that
Mike Francesa will be doing mornings solo on WFAN starting next week. This is what passes for innovation at this radio station. Exactly what this guy is supposed to bring to the table as a morning host is anybody's guess.

Through it all McCord forges on. You get the feeling if they paired him with Pat Robertson or his old high school classmate (and soulmate?) John Ashcroft, he still wouldn't bat an eye. Bernie thought he had a morning gig tryout lined up at a Boston station, but that fell through at the last minute after the station received complaints about McGuirk's history of racist insults. Karma's a bitch these days.

This very morning, in the less than 5 minutes I tuned into WFAN, I heard some right-wing legal scholar trying to convince everyone that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is actually the possessor of a great judicial mind. She went on and on about how The New York Times is borderline racist because they portray Thomas as voting in lockstep with his mentor Antonin Scalia and the other conservatives on the court when in fact he often is the one convincing them and leading the way on legal issues before the Court. That would all be well and good except for one little fact: it has no basis in the truth, because according to a recent account, it turns out that Thomas quite literally has uttered nary a word or viewpoint of his own throughout hours and hours of recent Supreme Court records. Scarborough swallowed her bullshit whole, as did McCord, chiming in with their own allegations of New York Times pro-liberal/anti-conservative bias.

You've also heard the same tiresome carousel of conservative commentators like
Monica Crowley parading through WFAN and offering their patented brand of mock outrage at time-tested targets like Hillary Clinton, the New York Times, immigrants, Nancy Pelosi et al. Somehow listening for five minutes the other day to Jim Cramer proved most offensive. He looks and acts like a madman. The other day Media Matters ran a clip of him lambasting Jimmy Carter for his recent anti-Bush remarks. That's okay, he's entitled to his own lame opinions, of course, but what made it beyond the pale even for cable TV standards of irresponsible commentary is that Cramer all but accused Carter of treason. That makes him a gutless Bush toady and a fat, bald, ass-kissing right wing suckup. In my own opinion, of course.

Cramer unfortunately resembles a cousin of mine who also happens to be a total nutjob. Sometimes you can judge a complete headcase by his looks. We do it all the time here in New York City. It's called mental profiling, and it works. My cousin lives in Huntington but we grew up together in Astoria. When he came to my mom's wake three years ago he shows up wearing tight black leather pants, and I'm still pissed off about that. When my sister mentioned how me and him were always playing Batman & Robin together as kids, he rudely blew it off and instead kept changing the subject back to all the weight he lost recently. He came off as a total self-centered asshole. Never once did he think to put his arm around me and say something like, Sorry for your loss, She was a great lady, or the good old She's in a better place ... Nothing. Maybe he's still mad that I always made him be my sidekick Robin while I naturally took the lead role as the Crime-Fighting Caped Crusader. Too bad. In any case, if I ever run into him again I plan on snubbing him. Big Time.

Anyway, 'FAN suits appear clueless and are no closer to finding a full-time replacement than when they fired the I-Man two almost months ago. At the very end there, Imus was consistently playing stuff by some of my all-time favorite artists, including cuts from the new Lucinda Williams record almost every day; the Band and Levon Helm; and I heard him play
Uncle Tupelo's Give Back the Key to my Heart on more than one occasion ... the whole song, not just a fade-out to commercial. Where the hell else are you gonna hear this stuff? Try nowhere. Such songs contain more "truth" and "wisdom" than all the rest of the radio dial's depressingly similar morning shows, most of which are really nothing more than bad imitations of the Howard Stern show -- by now you know the Morning Zoo format where the host or co-hosts crack vulgar, tasteless jokes or engage in mindless celebrity gossip and everyone yucks it up in the background with fake-sounding laughter. These types of shows give me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

What's left to choose from most mornings? There's ESPN-Radio if you wanna hear sports; and Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg can be entertaining. Air America still has Armstrong Williams and Sam Greenfield talking politics, but I can't take that for more than a few segments. By 9:00am most of us are already out the door and at our jobs or in the car, so we're missing the most original voice in contemporary radio, Lionel of the Lionel Show, who just recently made the switch from nights (9-11pm) on WOR to mornings (9am-12pm) on Air America. Unfortunately, who listens to the radio at that time? I guess we'll find out, but most radio is just better at night somehow. If you feel like music then there's always WFUV-90.7, playing an intelligent blend of rock, folk, blues & country. Meanwhile as time goes on, it's become evident that even a declining Imus in the Morning, warts and all, is still casting a long shadow over what's left out there in non-satellite radioland.

1 comment:

jimithegreek said...

Warden, right on the mark! The FAN is unlistenable in the AM now. Good bloggy