Voting with the Off Button

I listen to KLIF on my clock radio. I listen to Coast to Coast AM as I go to sleep at night, so I just get whatever is on when it is time for me to get up. They have had Darrell Ankarlo on for a while, and while I probably wouldn’t choose his program (I still miss Neal Boortz in the morning) I don’t mind listening to him now that I have figured out his Devil’s Advocate gimmick.

This morning, they had a guy on who just made me turn off the radio. His name was John David Something. It isn’t listed on the website, so I am at a loss. The topic was about this story about Haitians being pissed off at Vice City and suing Rockstar Games. He was holding the position that GTA:VC should be banned. That isn’t what made me want to turn off the radio — it was the way he was arguing it. He was just spouting off, with no internal logic, and even a disregard for the facts.

It was a simple error that turned me off at first. He asked the first caller I heard, “How old are you?” 28. Two minutes later, he said, “See folks? That’s 2 from that 18-24 male demographic that I warned you about.” Nope. Sorry, John. No fair fudging the numbers to make a lame point. The other thing that got me was that when he was called on the logical inconsistency of calling for the censorship of a game, he was exercising a free speech right that he wanted to take from them. He fell back on the old, “well, you are free to disagree with me.” No, not if you get your way.

That is going beyond Devil’s Advocate. When you are playing Devil’s Advocate, you have to follow the rules. You have to be consistent. You have to pay attention to the facts as they are. The thing to remember is that if you are playing Devil’s Advocate, your real goal is to lose. You can’t try to lose, but your goal is to fight as hard as you can and still be proven wrong. That means you were right to not support the contrary position. What he was doing was plain sophistry.

That is the thing that always pissed me off about O’Reily, who is what this guy reminded me of. His radio show sucks, because that is what he does. You can’t claim that you are playing Devil’s Advocate if you resort to dirty tricks to win. The Devil’s Advocate wants to hear the other side’s full argument so that they can prove him wrong. O’Reily just wants to get o’reiled up and try to cause enough controversy to pull in attention. I think part of it is that he started on TV, where it more important to be sexy and photogenic and you only have to fill an hour. You can fill an hour with bullshit. You can’t fill four. (That might be why his radio show is only two hours.)

O’Reily started out on TV, and should have stayed there. The TV show is (was?) hot, but the radio show isn’t. Stern was the opposite. His radio show is hot, but the TV show is tepid. They should have stuck with what they were good at. The only exception that I can think of is Russ Martin and J.D. Ryan here in Dallas, but even that isn’t a true one. I think of them as starting on TV, because that is where the pair started — on Hot Tickets. But that isn’t where they started, because they were both radio jocks first. (I know why Russ doesn’t want to talk about Hot Tickets. Back then, it was “J.D. Ryan and Russ Martin”, not Russ Martin and J.D. Ryan. I remember the show. J.D. was the star, and Russ was the goof. That is why Russ won’t release the tapes.)

Stick with what you are good at, people. Don’t emulate O’Reily for your radio show — emulate him for your TV show. Get ratings the way Howard and Russ did, by being smart and entertaining, not by trying to keep people perpetually pissed off. (At least with “perpetually” in this, I don’t have to worry about J.D. trying to read it on the air.) Hell, they made an entire radio format around Howard, and it turned out to be Russ’ format instead. If you made your break in radio, there was a reason for that. If you made your break in TV, there was a reason for that. And like Russ says, if you want to get into radio, you don’t start out in the 7th largest market in the nation; you start out in the 207th.

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