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Jewish World Review April 2, 2004 / 12 Nissan 5764

Steve Young

Steve Young
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Lib talk can make it: The Left must learn to be unquestionably Right | Liberal Talk Radio is on the air. It won't be for long, if you listen to critics, especially those on the Right.

The lackluster Liberal Talk Radio of the past; the fetid attempts of Mario Cuomo, Jim Hightower and the couple others have left the lefties limp. Obviously Franken, Garafolo, et al are no Cuomos but humdrum intelligent chat or the antics of raucous stand-up comics won't make a dent in the Conservative Talk Machine.

If liberals are planning to truly compete with the bellicose blowhards of AM you're going to have to play their game. And much of that game has to do with always being right even when you're left.

So-o-o. Here are some suggestions that can help turn a failed progressive investment into a veritable rating gold mine.


Always open your show with a insufferable, protracted diatribe reiterating your stated point of view; the same point of view that you've reiterated every single day before. It helps to vary your explanation of that same viewpoint, though not so much that you force your listener to think. Remember, repetition sells...repetition sells.


State a supposition based on your topic of the day. The premise need not be all that factual, but all logic based on the premise that follows should be logical. In this way you're presenting the truth, as you have created it. The only thing that's faulty is the original premise and by the time you finish talking, no one will be able to remember what that was. Therefore, no matter where your diatribe takes you, you will be totally justified.


I cannot make this point more strongly. Find something to be against. This is not a concept to be taken lightly. Being for something garners the kind of ratings that necessitate public funds and the graveyard shift on NPR. If you want to be for something, don't be a talk show host, join the Peace Corp. Railing against brings out the passion AND the audience; the fans who will follow you into war. The fans who will call other shows and talk about you. The legions who'll write letters espousing your wisdom and shout your name on Larry King; devotees who will be willing to pay big bucks to see your kisser in person when you do your tour; disciples who will buy your books.


When you do commit against something (or someone), you must be willing to drive it unmercifully into the ground. I'm talking about using a wood on the green. Pedal to the medal, even on the victory lap. Tear down the park and put up a parking lot. If you have nothing to rail against, use Hollywood or the "wackos" who run it. It's a gimme.


Aside from your standard antagonist, you will be privy to some yearly piece of news (or lack of news) which will have legs. Legs? A centipede would be jealous. These stories should last the entire year. If you're lucky, even longer. Remember some of the classics of the past decade? Simpson, President Clinton, Campaign Finance Reform, Senator Clinton, Gary Condit. With the exception of Simpson, who still can be counted on to do something idiotic every few months, the others remain a viable treasure chest of daily grist.


Here's your opportunity to shine. You probably know way more than anyone who would be willing to hang on the line for two hours to talk with you. When a insurgent gets though, pounce on him like a female tiger on a distracted gazelle. Let him state his point, then rip him a new one. Your fans will cheer you and awaiting dissident drone will cower from your mastery, limping back to the bunker to warn the waiting opposition troops.

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Always remember, it's your show. You get the last word. Always be ready to articulate closing rhetorical questions at the drop of a hat. Most important, make sure you've already hung up on the caller. Here's a fun note. Never let the caller know you've hung up on them. They'll be responding to your statement for twenty minutes before they realize they're not on the air. That, in fact, is the real reason why we tell them to turn their radio down. I swear, it's a hoot.

Here's another caller tip. When a caller is about to rip apart your argument with facts, immediately hang up on him, then concede that it was your fault; that you hung up by mistake. Announce that if the caller calls back, you'll put him right through. (See YOUR SCREENER)


This trusted servant should NEVER put through any call that you just hung up on, no matter what. He should only let through the supporters of your position, or even better, lame defenders of the opposition. He should be sharp enough to differentiate between real fans who are only calling to agree and those who are faking it.


Keep to an absolute minimum. These guys have a habit of going off script. Try not to ask them any questions. In fact, try not to let them talk at all. And if you must have a guest, always remember a key to proper debate tact: Never let 'em finish a sentence.


You can never be humble, although you must say you are. Always take credit as being at the forefront, if not totally responsible, for any positive change in the world. When anything happens as you have said they would, take thunderous credit. When things don't happen the way you forecasted they would happen, ignore it. And for G-d's sake, don't ever apologize.

Well, that should get you a couple months on the air. Good luck. Have fun. Make liberal waves and a lot of money. Let me know how you do. I'll be watching The Daily Show.


JWR contributor Steve Young, is an award-winning television writer, author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful: Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Stepping Stones to Success" . Comment by clicking here.


© 2004, Steve Young