By Ken Krayeske • 10:25 PM EST
A regular installment in the Continuing Saga of Morning Radio in America's 28th or so largest media market - New Haven/Hartford.
So it's October, but I gotta relate what happened Monday, September 15 when I heard Jesse Ventura's voice on WPLR's Chaz and AJ's morning show.
Mind you, since I heard the former Minnesota Governor and pro wrestler hawking his book, Don't Start the Revolution Without Me, Chaz and AJ have done thoughtful interviews with Congressman Joe Courtney and Ralph Nader (which in full disclosure, I helped set-up).
Chaz and AJ
took free speech a step further this week, as Monday, Sept. 29, they spent 12 or so minutes cancelled with Harold Burbank, the Green Party candidate from the Fifth Congressional district. Burbank still awaits his interview.
Burbank, an experienced human rights attorney, has been shut out of League of Women Voters debates between incumbent Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican with a mobster problem challenger David Cappiello. The League shut down Independent Party candidate Tom Winn, too. Susan B. Anthony would not be proud of the incorrigible suppression of free speech.
League president Jara Burnett and I don't see eye to eye on this. After I read her some history on the League's insistence on open debates from three decades ago, she hung up the phone on me today.
While Chaz and AJ have done that to me as well, the PLR morning show treated Courtney, Nader and Ventura with ultimate respect. I missed the Burbank interview, but the bits I heard with Courtney, Nader and Venture they were intelligent conversations about pressing issues.
While they still tossed some softballs, the timeliness of the Courtney interview - a day after he was the only Connecticut representative who voted against the $700 billion corporate welfare package - was impeccable.
Thursday morning, Chaz and AJ agreed with Nader about the problems with the two party conversations that pass for debates. Nader made me think with his comment about how when his vice presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez was president of the San Francisco City Council, he represented more people than in Alaska and Delaware combined.
Chaz and AJ "yes yes-ed" Ventura's points about the media being the problem in our political dialogue. I was stuck in traffic and I felt my blood start to boil. You guys are the media, I thought.
Ventura railed on the two parties for keeping Nader and Bob Barr out of the presidential debates, and he talked knowledgeably about the corrupt Commission on Presidential Debates, and Chaz and AJ ate it up.
I wanted to scream - they had Dick Cheney on the air, and Cheney refused to debate Winona LaDuke, Nader's running mate in 2000, nor would Cheney talk to Peter Camejo, Nader's running mate in 2004. Yet would Chaz and AJ ask Cheney that question? No. Never in a million years.
So I called up the magic WPLR phone number. The patched me on air right away. I wondered why they would talk to Ventura like that, and disregard me. I discussed how they ate up Ventura's talk about ballot access being impossible for third parties, but mocked me for the same criticism of the political system.
Then I challenged them straightaway - they were the very members of the media, and I talked abotu Diane Smith's kid-gloves treat of Nancy Pelosi, and how we need journalists to ask Pelosi directly to impeach the president. When I did, Pelosi laughed at me.
Chaz and AJ responded that they treat me the way they do because I bite the hand that feeds me. They want progressive commentary, and I focus on their playlist, as I see the mental environment as a progressive issue.
And I will bite the hand that feeds. Media personalities who wield some power don't like it when you criticize them directly. There are no sacred cows in free speech.
The conversation only devolved from there. It was good radio and entertaining, I'm sure, but the quality of debate dithered back into "Why so much Lynard Skynard?" territory, and I raised my voice.
Someone from PLR brought up my personal life, yet again, wondering if I have sex, and after a few more barbs, they hung up on me. I probably would've hung up on me, too, because I felt my voice raise. That's what makes good morning shows.
In many conversations with friends, parsing the on-air adventures since, I have a few conclusions. First, if I get huffy and puffy and go off, I lose the argument. The minute I start getting too passionate, they win, and I look silly. I need to demonstrate dexterity, where I can criticize policy one minute, and then laugh about something the next minute.
Second, I've made my point about their playlist. It struck a nerve and I'm done talking about it. My cousin made a proper point that PLR's listeners like the music, and I won't convince any listeners to investigate the factual foundations of my opinions if I criticize their taste in tunes.
So, I'm not sure where this goes next. I emailed the producer of Chaz and AJ yesterday afternoon, and said hey, let's try again.