I’ve ripped on talk radio’s “Cult of Personality” – the belief, against all rational evidence, that “celebrities” make good talk radio hosts – for years.
It’s been a cancer on the business for a decade and a half, both locally (for years, KSTP-AM has figured that newspaper columnists and TV reporters are perfectly suited to host talk shows, despite a decade and a half of foisting flops like Pat Milan, Jesse Ventura, Katherine Lanpher, Nick Coleman, Jim Souhan and others on their poor audience; KTLK-FM briefly partook in the same madness with Brian Lambert and Pat Kessler) and nationally. For everyone who’s forged meat ‘n potatoes success at talk radio after coming to the business as a celeb – Dennis Miller, Bill Bennett, Michael Medved – there are piles of Al Frankens, Mario Cuomos, Joe Scarboroughs, Marc Marons, Chuck Ds, Janeane Garofalos, Mika Brzezinskis, Monica Crowleys and Jim Hightowers buried head-down in the cement on radio’s Cadillac Ranch.
Radio management seems to miss the key lesson of this past twenty years; the real successes in talk radio are radio people (Limbaugh, Laura Schlesinger, Hannity, Beck), or people who learn (or hire the learning) to do radio (Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage) as entertainment, rather than either preaching or extensions of their own celebrity.
All that being said, I’m genuinely of two minds about this dispatch from the radio rumor mill:
While not exactly shopping the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential candidate, sources say Palin representatives have been quietly testing the waters to see how much interest radio syndicators have for her.
Sources say Palin hasn’t committed to radio either, but rather it could be a possible next step for her.
On the one hand, I think she could be dynamite, especially with the right sidekick (airchecks available to syndication execs on request).
On the other? It’s not many people who can do radio really, really well as a sideline to other ambitions.
I don’t know that I see it happening, but it’ll be an interesting couple of months.