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Jewish World Review Feb. 20, 2003 / 18 Adar I 5763

Steve Young

Steve Young
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Consumer Reports


So you want to be a liberal talk show host




http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | You say you just can't stop talking about Woodstock and the 2000 election? You, my good friend might just be a candidate for liberal talk show host.

There's a serious search (read money) going on for the Liberal Rush Limbaugh, or at least a moderate Bill O'Reilly. The left has tried this before (Mario Cuomo, et al) and there are way too many classical music stations to plow through on the left side of the dial before you find NPR.

Point is the same ole, same ole of the left just hasn't worked. If you're going to compete with the bellicose blowhards of AM you're going to have to play their game. Here are some suggestions that can help turn a failed progressive investment into a veritable rating gold mine.

START WITH YOU. A LOT OF YOU

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.

CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC CAREFULLY

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.


THE AUTHOR ON NATIONAL TV

Watch Steve Young and his eBay family on Feb. 20's John Walsh Show. ...


Check local listing for time and station.

THE BLAME GAME. BE AGAINST SOMETHING.

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.

COMMITMENT

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.

ACTUAL NEWS

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.

DISSENT (THE ART OF HANGING UP)

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.

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)

YOUR SCREENER (THE GATE KEEPER)

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.

GUESTS

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.

I TOLD YOU SO (TAKING CREDIT)

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.

MISCELLANEOUS Give your show a powerful, yet subtle maxim along the lines of "Genius On Board" or "Master Of All That Is Right And Good."

Constantly drop names of high-profile people you have golfed with.

Good luck. Have fun. Make liberal waves. Make a lot of money. Let me know how you do. I'll be watching TV.



JWR contributor Steve Young, Prism Award winner and Humanitas Prize nominee for his television writing, is contributing editor at the Writers Guild of America's "Written By" magazine. He is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful: Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Stepping Stones to Success," "The 130 Tales of Winchell Mink," Harper Collins (Winter, 2003) and the director/writer of "My Dinner With Ovitz." His website is www.greatfailure.com. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Steve Young