The Fairness Doctrine's rebirth may be on the horizon, and despite what Mr. Hannity says, it will not shut up the Right as much as giving the Left a chance to speak without being interrupted.
If fairness does happens and you are on the Left - which is now anything left of Far-right - there will be plenty of opportunities opening up. But if you're going to compete with the bellicose Lords of Loud blowhards of the AM dial you might just have to have to play their game. Here are some suggestions that can help turn a failed progressive investment into a veritable rating gold mine.
START WITH YOU. A LOT OF YOU
Always open your show with an insufferable, protracted diatribe reiterating your stated point of view; the same point of view that you've reiterated every single day before. It helps to vary your explanation of that same viewpoint, though not so much that you force your listener to think. Remember, repetition sells...repetition sells.
CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC CAREFULLY
State a supposition based on your topic of the day. The premise need not be all that factual, but all logic based on the premise that follows should be logical. In this way you're presenting the truth, as you have created it and if done right, by the time you finish talking, no one will be able to remember what the premise was. Therefore, no matter where your diatribe takes you, you will be totally justified.
THE BLAME GAME. BE AGAINST SOMETHING.
I cannot make this point more strongly. Find something to be against. This is not a concept to be taken lightly. Being for something garners the kind of ratings that necessitate public funds and the graveyard shift on NPR. If you want to be for something, don't be a talk show host, join the Peace Corp. Railing against brings out the passion AND the audience; the fans who will follow you into war. The fans who will call other shows and talk about you. The legions who'll write letters espousing your wisdom and shout your name on Larry King; devotees who will be willing to pay big bucks to see your kisser in person when you do your tour; disciples who will buy your books. Note: You will be writing ( having someone else write them for you) books. Again, be against something.)
When you do commit against something (or someone), you must be willing to drive it unmercifully into the ground. I'm talking about using a wood on the green. Pedal to the medal, even on the victory lap. Tear down the park and put up a parking lot. If you have nothing to rail against, use Hollywood or the "wackos" who run it. It's a gimme.
Aside from your standard antagonist, you will be privy to some yearly piece of news (or lack of news) which will have legs. Legs? A centipede would be jealous. These stories should last the entire year. If you're lucky, even longer. Remember some of the classics of the past decade driven into the ground by the Right? President Clinton, Kerry's wartime cowardice, Senator Clinton, Edward's haircut, Dean's scream. If nothing comes up in the new, make it up. A loyal listener doesn't care as long as it helps him win an argument or comment on a blog.
DISSENT (THE ART OF HANGING UP)
Here's your opportunity to shine. You probably know way more than anyone who would be willing to hang on the line for two hours to talk with you. When an insurgent gets though, pounce on him like a female tiger on a distracted gazelle. Let him state his point, then rip him a new one. Your fans will cheer you and awaiting dissident drone will cower from your mastery, limping back to the bunker to warn the waiting opposition troops.
It's your show. You get the last word (and the next to last one, if you're good). Always be ready to articulate closing rhetorical questions at the drop of a hat. Most important, make sure you've already hung up on the caller. Here's a fun note. Never let the caller know you've hung up on them. They'll be responding to your statement for twenty minutes before they realize they're not on the air. That, in fact, is the real reason why we tell them to turn their radio down. I swear, it's a hoot.
Here's another tip. When a caller is about to rip apart your argument with facts, immediately hang up on him, then concede that it was your fault; that you hung up by mistake. Announce that if the caller calls back, you'll put him right through. (See YOUR SCREENER)
YOUR SCREENER (THE GATE KEEPER)
This trusted servant should NEVER put through any call that you just hung up on, no matter what. He should only let through the supporters of your position, or even better, lame defenders of the opposition (who you will call a Kool-Aid drinker because it's so-o-o funny, and saying it over and over somehow makes it even funnier). Your screener should be sharp enough to differentiate between real fans who are only calling to agree and those who are faking it.
Keep to an absolute minimum. These guys have a habit of going off script. Try not to ask them any questions. And if you slip and they try to answer, remember to...interrupt. Or better yet, mock them incessantly. Try not to let them talk at all.
I TOLD YOU SO (TAKING CREDIT)
You can never be humble, although you must say you are. Always take credit as being at the forefront, if not totally responsible, for any positive change in the world. When anything happens as you have said they would, take thunderous credit. When things don't happen the way you forecasted they would happen, ignore it. And for God's sake, don't ever apologize.
Give your show a powerful, yet subtle maxim along the lines of "Genius On Board" or "Master Of All That Is Right And Good."
Constantly drop names of high-profile people you have golfed with, and all the while, claiming to be just a regular guy or gal.
Good luck. Have fun. Make liberal waves. Make a lot of money. And don't forget to check out Washington, D.C. I understand some really successful no-spinner who got blown out left an nice opening.
Steve Young, former liberal talk show host who is presently heard nowhere, is author "Great Failures Of The Extremely Successful" www.greatfailure.com