Walk The Talk -- Grant the Grant

There is a controversy brewing in the industry and on the major boards such as Radio-Info about how the R&R Talk Conference has rescinded its planned Lifetime Achievement Award to Bob Grant -- the always and still equal opportunity offender that he is.

In the interest of full disclosure, I know Bob Grant from his Philly talker days and I've always liked him as a person. I never let his views affect me for one minute on that.

R&R is feeling the heat from minority interests who consider Grant a racist. I feel their pain. Here's how R&R tried to handle a very difficult situation they found themselves in: “R&R is sensitive to the diversity of our community and does not want the presentation of an award to Mr. Grant to imply our endorsement of past comments by him that contradict our values and the respect we have for all members of the community.”

I'm nauseous. What corporate gobbledygook.

Look, R&R is and always has been a fabulous industry treasure from the Bob Wilson days through Dwight Case's stewardship to Erica Farber's outstanding management. I didn't always feel that way about R&R because -- hell, I had to compete against them. Bob Wilson and I weren't in a mutual fan club for years. We had it out many times. Our egos, you know. Later in life we grew up and appreciated what we had both accomplished. This doesn't sound like Erica's work, either. I may be wrong, but this mishandling of an honor may be coming from VNU-Nielsen, the corporate owner.

Ironically, it is causing them, the community that they say they want to protect and radio more embarrassment.

I can't stand today's talk radio.

I know it is still a very viable part of a dying radio business but it is buffoonery of the first order. The most successful are big blowhards that remind me of those bigger than life hot air balloons that barely make it through the Macy's parade in Manhattan. Too often -- not always -- these shows pander to the lowest common denominator -- the mentally challenged who believe every conspiracy, look for every opportunity to wave the flag and exhibit hatred toward people. They lie. They will do anything for ratings (oops, now we're starting to indict me and other programmers).

Today's talk radio is embarrassing.

I saw Rachel Maddow from Air America on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show the other night and just like her conservative counterparts she never shut up. They all talk over people -- they think the whole world is as easy to drown out as their listeners.

But I'll tell you this -- I will fight to the end for their right to say what they want on the air. I don't care if it's from the lunatic fringe right or the knee-jerk liberal left -- whether it's Lou Dobbs pandering to a new kind of racism (and that's my personal opinion) or Glenn Beck.

We need to fight for their right to make asses of themselves.

WVOX, Westchester, New York's legendary owner Bill O'Shaughnessy welcomed Grant back on the air this summer by writing, “He once called me a ‘stooge.’ And that’s when he was in a really good mood! But I am among those who take special delight that Bob Grant is coming back to enliven New York’s airwaves".

O'Shaughnessy hits it right on the head, "He (Grant) not only deserves a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award.’ But our great gratitude for being a feisty, provocative, outspoken, confrontational broadcaster. I’m reading Freedom for the Thought that we Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment by Anthony Lewis. I’m sending a copy to Greg Farrar, the president of Nielsen Business Media.”

We in radio talk a good game.

The phrase "talk the talk, walk the walk" has special meaning for us. We rail at anyone trying to compromise our freedom of expression -- even the right to be a racist or make a fool of one's self.

One of the best friends justice has is to actually hear injustice in its unabridged, unadulterated form.

Many of you have written to me expressing outrage over the R&R-Bob Grant abortion (did I use the right word here?). Some have asked me to weigh in.

Talk radio succeeds not only when it hits the highest virtues but when it sinks to the lowest level of humanity -- it airs the best, the worst -- it makes us think, learn, respond, take action.

I'm all for political and social correctness if it will benefit society, but in this case -- its time for the radio industry and those who write about it to come together and agree that it's okay to honor Bob Grant without putting an imprimatur on his words.

We are big enough to dislike the deeds and not the person.

Time for talk radio to walk the talk.

After all, you've hired Grant for the best part of his 79 years -- now all of a sudden you don't like him?

That's hypocrisy.

This is no way to end the golden age of talk radio.

Have we not learned a thing? We champion free speech above everything else -- with a wide latitude of forgiveness in between.

To dishonor a radio icon who some may think of as a racist is to indict the stations, owners and executives of those who have employed him for decades and continue to give him a microphone in the world's greatest city -- not to mention dishonoring the many Bob Grant listeners who kept him on the air.

Grant the Grant award and hold your head up high or disavow his service and repudiate all that we stand for.

May I have the envelope, please?

And the winner is ...

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