Friday, February 22, 2008

Medved's Misrepresented Call of the Week

The Michael Medved Show
KTTH 770 kHz
Weekday afternoons 12-3

Near the outset of his program each Friday, Michael Medved runs his "Call of the Week". The feature culls for re-air invariably one of the goofiest phoned-in contributions from the previous four editions of his often superb nationally-syndicated broadcast, which originates at KTTH/Seattle.

Setting up the segment each time is a substantial example of what newstalk radio people call "production", in this case a montage, complete with sarcastic voice-over introduction, of outlandish called-in snippets from previous Medved shows. But at least one of them wasn't even contributed by a caller but rather in fact by an invited Medved guest. Her clip, which seems as wacky as all those others strung together by his longtime production guy Jeremy Steiner, has her opining that "Everyone goes to the bathroom on campus every day, unless they have some great powers..."

I was tuned in the afternoon a couple years back when that line was originally heard by Medheads, as his hardest-core fans among his national audience call themselves. (That wasn't just happenstance; I usually manage to catch all fifteen of Medved's weekly broadcast hours myself.) His guest (whose name and affiliation I don't recall and haven't been able to ascertain) was a campus newspaper columnist. She'd provocatively proposed, in the interests of both an enlightened collegiate community and budgetary savings, unisex restrooms for her school. (We actually had a few such facilities on the Back Bay campus at Boston University way back in the 70s--we called 'em "People's Pots"--yet my alma mater is still standing in 2008.)

But Medved's conservative and moralistic sensibilities naturally found the co-ed's serious-if-impractical proposal over the top, so he invited her for a telephonic interview. It was during their first segment that she uttered the line which has been living on in national newstalk infamy every Friday ever since. But I distinctly remember thinking upon initially hearing it, "Hey, at least this woman's witty..."

Sure, Medved readily demolished her simplistic arguments for phasing out gender-segregated bathrooms, but that's beside the point. Indeed, as I recall she said many ill-reasoned things that hour, but what ended up in the COTW montage wasn't one of them.

A newstalk host is obligated to never misquote or misrepresent the ideas of his previous guests. (That applies equally to his callers, of course, whom I also consider to be a host's guests, as reflected in my line often used over KIRO to "book yourself as a guest on the broadcast by calling in".) Accordingly, in the interests of fairness and intellectual honesty, Medved should instruct Steiner to delete her restroom quip from that aural assemblage.

But better yet, Medved might consider altering the entire focus of the COTW feature. I mean, just today he stated something which implies the COTW works at cross-purposes with this mostly solid program's overall thrust.

It happened during the daily minute live promo heard only by his Seattle listeners that Medved inserts upon Rush Limbaugh's sign-off from Florida or New York at 11:59:00. (Medved only adds this brief program preview on days when his ensuing show isn't on remote and therefore is originating from KTTH.) Limbaugh closed with a quick word praise for his screeners, for the calibre of calls they had cleared for him this morning, Medved then echoed that sentiment for his own national callers: "And we also have the best callers in talk radio on The Michael Medved Show, coming up right after the news."

So instead of putting the spotlight on the loonies, why not so designate and re-air one of the many literate and trenchant contributions of a Medved caller during the shows earlier that week? Medved would thus be highlighting what's terrific, rather than what's foolish, on a program that ranks (behind, of course, Limbaugh) as consistently the second-most-fulfilling listen in all of syndicated newstalk radio.


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