A few weeks ago, I attended the New Media Seminar, a series of conferences revolving around the talk radio industry. Live radio shows, people seeking work, people sitting on panels relating to the industry, (podcasting, program directors, esoteric programming, etc.) a cocktail party, a luncheon, and a lot of camaraderie.
You might think that since I am a liberal, I would be a pariah, an outcast, but not so. I am liked, I am welcomed, I am admired. I even have friends among the right wingers who dominate the trade.
However, there is one segment of the New Media Seminar that really tightens my jaws. That is the part where honors are bestowed. You might think it is because the awards go to conservatives that it ticks me off, but you would be wrong. Past recipient Al Franken got the freedom of speech award and talked for so long, he had to be pulled off the stage by Michael Harrison, the publisher of Talkers Magazine and the creator of the NMS. It didn't help that Franken spent a chunk of his speech dumping on a radio host syndicated by the people hosting the cocktail party that was the framework for the award ceremony.
This year was really a doozie. The freedom of speech award was rightfully presented to Joe Madison of WOL for his bravery in traveling to Darfur. After that,it was jabberwocky.
Bob Grant received the lifetime achievement award. Bob Grant who had called Black people savages, Bob Grant who wished full blown AIDS on Magic Johnson, Bob Grant who was fired from WABC for hoping Ron Brown had died in the plane crash that did take his life. Hmmm, I detect a pattern.
Dr. Laura Schelssinger received a community service award, undoubtedly for promoting family values, this from a woman who had not spoken to her late mother for over a decade or her sister for longer than that. Laura cut her speech short because she had to meet her son at the airport from his duty in Afghanistan. If your son was coming home from Afghanistan, would you be anyplace but the airport? I'm just asking.
Finally, Laura Ingraham received the Judy Jarvis award,given to the outstanding woman in radio. Ms. Ingraham, who outed gay students while at Dartmouth. Ms. Ingraham, who wants entertainers to shut up about the Iraq war, unless they agree with her. Ms. Ingraham, who espouses family values, but like other blond females in radio, are eternally single and childless. When they sing "We Are Family," they mean it.
Please know that Michael Harrison of Talkers Magazine has been a good friend to me, and is responsible for placing talk radio on the map as a player in the world of international communications, and these awards are given to people who have made a real impact on the profession. I just think there have to be other people who might be, well, more, well, humane, or even human.
Sam Greenfield is the morning drive host at WVNJ in Teaneck,N.J. He has been a radio host for over a decade, and lives in Manhattan