Thursday, December 15, 2005

From 1982 to 1987 I was the afternoon drive-time talk show host over what was then the only all-talk station in our market.

I always loved radio and for me it was a dream job, except for the pay that was pathetic – $5 an hour! I also earned 75 cents for every live commercial I did. That’s right, every person has his price and mine wasn’t even a buck!

I spoke to a lot of interesting people an as I was the station’s liberal, I received the most creative hate mail.

There’s lots of talk on the radio these days, although precious little is local and that is a shame.

And of course, most of it is conservative, which I find, depending upon my mood, either sad or hateful.

The liberal talkers are a little better although I can’t stand most of the people on AirAmerica because either they are simply bad broadcasters or boring.

The only shining star is Rachel Maddow who has left her early morning news show for a new assignment: a two hour show that will debut in January from 7 to 9 a.m.

I’ve interviewed Rachel twice since she has a strong connection to our area. Here is a piece I ran earlier this year.

NEW YORK CITY – At 8:30 a.m., Rachel Maddow’s workday is done and she admits that she is ready for bed.

Maddow, the former Pioneer Valley radio personality who left the area to co-host the nationally syndicated talk program Unfiltered on Air America, has a new program that started in mid-April, The Rachel Maddow Show. It airs from 5 to 6 a.m. and Maddow admits the adjustment has been a challenge.

"You know I’m not yet adjusted at all. I’m completely out of my mind and I could go to bed right now," she told Reminder Publications with a laugh in a recent telephone interview.

Unfiltered was replaced former television shock host Jerry Springer’s new talk program and Maddow was given a new show and a new time slot.

She described it as being "the front page for Air America." It is the first show of the day offered on the progressive talk network’s schedule and the format is heavy on news reporting and analysis.

Originally, Maddow thought she could arrive at the studio at 3 a.m. to prepare the show, but discovered that she had to arrive at work about 12:15 a.m. to get ready for the program.

She explained that the newspapers on the East Coast put their editions online at midnight so she prepares 11 to 16 stories for her broadcast. She gathers sound bites from major stories as well. She said the work is doing for her new program is "more highly structure" than for Unfiltered.

Maddow’s style is to mix straight news reporting along with commentary.
"We got a good show for your day: a sudden growth of a spine, which is good news, in unexpected quarters of the Democratic Party," Maddow announced in the opening of her May 5th program.

At this point, she is not scheduling guests, but is concentrating on a "rapid fire template" for "people who care about news."

The only element of Unfiltered that carried over to the new show is the commentary on the news by comedian Kent Jones.

Maddow said that low ratings were not the cause for Unfiltered’s demise, rather it was Springer’s availability as a talk show host and his selection of the 9 a.m. to noon Unfiltered time slot that caused the cancellation.

Maddow explained that many affiliate stations immediately picked up the Springer show in order to capitalize on his television notoriety. Springer’s radio show is nothing like his television show. Instead it is a serious liberal talk show.

"I don’t have any regrets," Maddow said. "It was easy to sell the Springer show and really happy to have my own show."

Unfiltered was co-hosted by Maddow, comedian Liz Winstead, and rapper Chuck D and featured numerous interviews with newsmakers, authors and commentators each day.

Saying that the show had an "incredibly loyal" fanbase, Maddow added, "The people who liked us, really liked us."

She noted that the show’s format of having three hosts was different than most talk radio.

"We had an ensemble that was very diverse: a straight black rapper, a feminist comedian and an unknown lesbian activist. We did a great job," she said.

She said she is grateful for the opportunity to continue with the network, but she still has figured out if she should maintain her work-week sleeping schedule through the weekend.

No comments: