Separating The Men From The Boys

Or the women
from the girls, as it may be: which of our local hosts have been able to handle the economic meltdown topic?

And who showed about as much interest in the issue as Barney Frank has in visiting his nearest Hooters restaurant?

Stock market crash 2008.jpg

In times like
these, unskilled and untalented talkers expose themselves quickly as major news events go right over their heads. While no one expects a general issues talker to be an expert on credit default swaps (if you were, you’d be on a trading floor at Canary Wharf making real money, not fishing around for Howie’s Kowloon leftovers in radio station breakrooms), you’ve got to have at least a basic level of economic literacy.

At his blog site, programmer Alan Furst nails hosts in his region that blew off what has suddenly become the year’s most important topic:

In tuning around the dial it is amazing to hear local talk show hosts talking about anything but the economic crisis.

Amazing, no make that stunning.

There’s a guy in Ohio talking about football. Are the Buckeyes really what listeners want to talk about today?

He’s not alone, I’ve heard others that are way off track too.

Talk radio is about talking the hits.

Today there is only one topic that matters. That is what the financial crisis means to Main Street.

Talk is a very easy format. All you have to do is talk about what people care about.

Think about what is on their minds today. Pick what is most important. Then talk about it in interesting ways.

Sure local shows must compete with the national guys for content. Rush, Hannity and the others will be all over this topic.

A local show that continues to bash Presidential candidates when Rush and Sean have that covered is wasting air time.

In this area,
I’m amazed at how much local talk we have, yet how little time is spent on local issues. Between corrupt politicians, government bureaucracy and troubling long term economic issues, Massachusetts is a topical goldmine. Why not take advantage of it?


Bye-Bye Barney?

Conventional wisdom has
it that Barney Frank occupies one of the safest seats in Congress. After all, it’s an ultra-liberal district created through one of the most outrageous examples of gerrymandering in American history.

In addition, he almost never has a significant opponent. Who would waste the time and money in such a reliably Democratic district?


With the events of the past few weeks, however, all bets are off. Frank has been the architect of a wildly unpopular bailout plan that has constituents seeing red. After its failure today, Barney looked especially foolish trying to blame Republicans for the loss:

Democrats later said that if her speech truly cost votes, then Republicans, in the words of Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, were guilty of punishing the country because Ms. Pelosi had hurt their feelings.

Amazingly, Frank could
not even deliver the full Massachusetts delegation for the bill, as three voted against the plan. Worse, many of his fellow House Financial Services Committee members nixed it.

Already, Frank’s past role as chief defender of the excesses at Fannie and Freddie are coming back to haunt him and he’s taking a lot of heat here at home.

In today’s Globe,
Jeff Jacoby nails Frank for his quasi-criminal antics:

But his fingerprints are all over this fiasco. Time and time again, Frank insisted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in good shape. Five years ago, for example, when the Bush administration proposed much tighter regulation of the two companies, Frank was adamant that “these two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis.” When the White House warned of “systemic risk for our financial system” unless the mortgage giants were curbed, Frank complained that the administration was more concerned about financial safety than about housing.

Now that the bubble has burst and the “systemic risk” is apparent to all, Frank blithely declares: “The private sector got us into this mess.” Well, give the congressman points for gall. Wall Street and private lenders have plenty to answer for, but it was Washington and the political class that derailed this train. If Frank is looking for a culprit to blame, he can find one suspect in the nearest mirror.

What’s fascinating is
how a strange coalition of conservatives and liberals came together to defeat Frank and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Wall Street Journal chronicles that process here.

So far, the political fallout is unknown. As citizens sort through their feelings on the matter, polls most certainly can’t be trusted at this time.

But this IS shaping up as one of those “throw the bums out” years, where absolutely anything could happen on election day. We get one of these perhaps once in a generation.

And that’s why Frank should be worried: there is a warm body running against him, a person who just might benefit from the angriest protest vote in many years.

His name is Earl Henry Sholley and he’s a Republican. As I’d never heard of the guy, I did some digging: Sholley’s a longtime parental rights activist who has previously made unsuccessful runs for the statehouse.

Sholley Earl Henry MA-4.jpg

After serving jail
time for slapping his daughter many years ago, Sholley embarked on a judicial crusade for parental rights as they relate to family discipline.

In any other year, Sholley and his no-budget campaign would be lucky to generate 20% of the vote. But this year, with Frank’s betrayal of the working class members of his district, particularly the conservative Democrats on the South Coast of Southeastern Massachusetts, election night could give Barney the scare of his life.

The still-building anger against Frank is so stunningly intense that his traditional base of support could be ready to send him to Chappaquiddick in a rusty Oldsmobile Delmont 88.

It’s the same kind of outrage that could threaten a number of elected officials from both parties this year, as conventional political wisdom is thrown out the window. This meltdown occurred much to close to election day for Barney’s own good.

And even if he does survive the election, beating his no-name opponent, Frank’s political credibility is toast, as is Pelosi’s. Monday, they looked like morons.

WRKO’s Revealing Debate Plans

As a host
, want to know where you stand with station management? Promotional events often provide real clues.

And in tonight’s WRKO debate coverage, the suits have laid their cards right on the table.

The station has scheduled a pre-debate show using none other than Todd Feinburg, apparently back as a fill-in, as its primary host.

Where’s The Felon? Or “Reese Hopkins”? They aren’t participating, though Howie Carr will join Todd during the second pre-debate hour.

WRKO debate coverage.jpg

Instead, “Hopkins” is
hosting some kind of “viewing party” at Shoe central. Snacks and drinks (hopefully non-alcoholic) will be served.

This type of on-air event is normally utilized to showcase a station’s key talent. The Felon’s omission is not a good sign. Was the opportunity turned down, or was he simply not included?

As for “Hopkins” (or whatever today’s claim may be regarding his real name), why is he relegated to this second-banana role in favor of a fill-in host?

Yes, the hand has been revealed.