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Michael Medved Is Not A Right-Wing Whack-Job!

Medved, Deb, LarryThere have been a lot of rumblings regarding the decline of conservative talk radio. (I wrote about it here “The Free Fall of Talk Radio.”) Recently, Salem Communication’s talker Michael Medved was on the Radio Stuff podcast so we could hear an insider’s perspective on the state of right-wing talk. (Listen here)

Medved gets angry sometimes about being lumped together with “whack-job” talk hosts. He believes conservative talk is more varied than people give it credit for and laments some prominent hosts are irresponsible. In an interview with the Radio Stuff podcast this week, Medved spoke frankly about colleagues, supposed conservative talking points, and the industry.

“One of the things that I find tedious in a lot of the shows of my colleagues is you have callers saying, ‘oh you’re a great American.’ ‘No, you’re a great American.'” Medved mockingly continues,”We’re all great Americans! And we’re all right! We’re so right! Right! Right! Right! Right!’ Both right wing and right, right right.” The difference between him and them? ” I enjoy arguing with people.”

rush-210x250Medved’s talk radio career was birthed after he was interviewed in the second edition of the Limbaugh letter and subsequently Rush invited him to fill-in for him.

“He remains the one defining master of this format who has survived year-after-year-after-year and all kinds of difficulties; losing his hearing, and certain level of scandal and opposition and boycott. Rush is still there and Rush is still Rush and he’s the king of conservative talk radio.”

He guest hosted the Rush Limbaugh show 30 times.

“This is actually advice Rush gave me the first day I was on the air with my own show. It was profoundly strong advice which is the key to success in radio is to be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not. There are a lot of people in this industry right now — and I think a lot of those shows are struggling frankly — who are pretending to be something they are not.”

As it relates to the buzz-worthy topics that have been driving conservative talk radio, Medved gets incensed.

“There was too much attention and credibility given to the birther nonsense. Rush always made light of it, good for him. And I always just ripped it. I thought it was disgusting frankly. This was disgraceful and frankly the associations with our industry with whack-jobs who peddle this kind of crap, I think soiled the entire industry.”

Medved doesn’t enjoy being lumped in with the “entertainers.”

“I do think that people would be surprised at how many people there are who do right wing talk radio who came into from Top 40 radio who aren’t primarily political activists, their motivations are not political. Mine are. But, there are a lot of people whose motivations are careerism.”

Looking at the recent dial position moves (new homes for Rush & Hannity in LA, NY and others), Medved is concerned about the future of the format.

“The turbulence in talk radio right now with so many of the leading shows including ours unfortunately switching dayparts, switching and moving around it’s terrible for the industry. And I worry that 2014 could be a very tough year for conservative talk radio.”

And here’s why.

“I believe Sean has been dropped or switched in the overwhelming majority of his top markets; in New York, in Chicago, in LA, in Seattle. I mean everywhere. And this is very tough, because part of what happens in talk — talk radio stations are successful if they have a line-up and you know what it is and you can rely on it and you can punch a button and you know what you’re getting. It becomes unsuccessful and people tune-out when, ‘Oh gosh, who is that?’ Why is he here? Who is that new voice that I don’t know? Because it really does become a relationship of trust.”

And Medved isn’t just pointing fingers at Sean Hannity.

Glenn-beck“A radio talk show that as a radio talk show is in a WORLD of trouble and hurt is Glenn Beck. If you keep talking about the apocalypse and it’s the end of the world and your money won’t work anymore and you have to bury pieces of gold that you buy from Gold Line — which he owns part of — and you bury pieces of gold in your backyard and you need to prepare for — you can only say that for so many years before you begin to lose credibility. ”

Even though people have been calling for the death of radio for years and years and radio has endured, Medved is nervous.

“Today it’s of great concern there are some cars that are coming out without AM radio. So, I’m not sure. I don’t think this is the end of radio, but I think we are going through an evolution. Rush almost single handedly rescued AM radio at a time when it was supposed to be dying before. This is time it might be for real.”

  1. January 13, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    My reaction to that interview was to ask: Is it a good thing for a host to be motivated by politics? Is it a host’s job to push a political agenda or to entertain and be a good radio host? I wouldn’t hire someone who thought that his or her job was to be a political advocate, which is a) NOT in the best interest of the station and b) a recipe for a sub-1 share. Not only is it not a host’s job to get candidates elected, but when they’re talking politics, they should represent the listeners’ interests, not either political party. But what do I know?

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