I’ve been emailing a couple of Denver’s conservative talk show hosts recently.
I had an extremely unproductive exchange with Bob “Gunny” Newman, host of KOA’s “The Gunny Bob Show.” Gunny’s listed me on his website as a “media extremist.”
I simply asked him if he would be glad if one or both of Denver’s daily newspapers were to shut down. His response:
Now now, Jason. I saw your ambush coming last time, just like this time. I find it sad you hold the 1st Amendment in such low regard, but the beauty of that amendment is that you have that right, which I trust, you, too, risked your life to defend.
Hmm. What? Let me know if you understand what he’s talking about. Plus, me, ambush somebody? Never. I don’t own a weapon.
A few months ago, I tried to find out why Cumberland Press canceled Gunny’s book contract, but Gunny never responded, despite repeated phone calls and emails on my part. I guess that constitutes an ambush in his mind.
Oh well. He’s paranoid.
Mike Rosen is much easier to reach. He’s always responded quickly to my emails. Last week, we debated my view that he should have accepted questions from listeners for his interview with John McCain. I mentioned this in my latest column.
He threatened not to respond to my emails again if I quoted him out of context in my column, and I told him I’d paste our entire exchange on my blog. So here it is.
Jason — Hi Mike …•I was listening to KOA’s morning news last week and the host asked if you wanted to receive email questions from listeners for John McCain. You said no, adding, “I’ve got my own darn questions.”
Do you really think so little of the intelligence of your listeners? Why didn’t you want to receive their questions? Don’t you think that it’s the listeners, as well as the guests, who make for great talk radio?
For my column or blog, do you have a minute to answer these questions?
Mike …• Jason. I’ve found my self-selected audience to be generally more intelligent and politically sophisticated than that of most other talk shows. I usually invite callers to question a guest, as I did with Steve Forbes who was in the studio for an hour, today. In this case, the McCain people told us that we had only an 8-10 minute window with the Senator over the phone before he boarded his flight to Denver. So many topics, so little time. I thought that time would be more productively spent with a few carefully focused questions from me. Mike
Jason — Thanks, Mike. Why wouldn’t you have benefited from input from listeners in coming up with your “carefully focused questions?” Jason
Mike — Jason, If you’d hosted a talk show for almost 30 years as I have, you’d understand better. As Forest Gump might put it, talk radio callers, even when they’re screened, are like a box of chocolates: on the air you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. Some are very good, some ramble incoherently and some are abusive. When you only have a few minutes with a guest like McCain, it’s not worth the risk. Talk shows aren’t a townhall meeting. Mike
Jason — Thanks. I understand what you’re saying, but in this case you were asked if you wanted listeners to email you questions for McCain. Jason
Mike — Jason, On my a show, I don’t normally respond to live e-mails or instant messages on the air and I don’t ask listeners to help me frame questions to guests in advance. It’s a call-in show and when I take calls I prefer live voices, it’s better radio interaction. Since McCain was using the Denver event to focus on economic issues, he asked that we concentrate on that during the brief 8-10 minute interview. I agreed and oriented my first questions on that topic. I also threw in a couple of questions on drilling for oil offshore and in ANWR, hoping to nudge McCain to announce a policy change regarding ANWR. That was my agenda (I think he’d be well advised to do that as good policy and as a vote getter) and it would have been national news had he done so. (He didn’t bite but when I followed up, he at least said he’d consider it.) Beyond that, there wasn’t time for much else. Talk radio isn’t always caller radio. Only a tiny fraction of listeners ever call. You seem to think a talk radio show is a democracy. It isn’t and you can’t let callers program your show. Talk show hosts that fail to understand that, tend to fail as talk show hosts.
If I weren’t watching the MLB All Star game (now in the 13th inning) while answering my e-mails, I’d be in bed by now. Mike
Jason — Thanks. April Zesbaugh simply asked if you wanted to get email suggestions. That’s all. You said no. I see this as closed minded, even arrogant, coming from a talk show host. Jason
Mike — Jason, “Close minded” and arrogant?” Please. Do you suppose you’re overreacting a bit? I’ve explained my reasoning to you as best as I can. If you don’t understand or see it differently, so be it.
As a man of the left, you seem to have a collectivist view of most things. The “Mike Rosen Show” on KOA isn’t a commune. I haven’t asked listeners to write my scripts in three decades and I’ve never asked them to write questions for my guests. Perhaps you’re confusing my show with that candidates “debate” involving You Tube submissions, like the stupid snowman on global warming.
The last time I had McCain in the studio for an interview, I asked him my own questions but since we had more time, we were also able to take questions from callers. As I explained earlier, there just wasn’t time for that on this occasion.
Since my approach to talk radio is apparently different from yours, I encourage you to put it to a market test and see how well you’d do with your own show. Your politics would blend nicely with Jay Marvin’s. Perhaps he’d let you fill in for him.
If you use any of this please quote me accurately and in context if you expect me to respond to you in the future. Mike
Jason — Thanks.
I wrote that you were closed-minded in this instance. I know you allow a variety of callers on your show.
You might have benefited from the input of listeners. That’s my point.
I will say that you pointed out the it was a short segment with McCain that you thought would be more productively spent with your own focused questions. I don’t have space for a long response from you. I will add all of this to my blog, however, if ok with you for all to see.
I try to be fair. Jason
Mike …• ok.