Live from Kenwood, It's Bill Cunningham
Well, Bill Cunningham has opened his national talk show at 10 p.m. tonight with a big star: Sean Hannity, the Fox News Channel co-host and also a nationally syndicated radio host. Hannity praised Willie as "the greatest of all great Americans."
Here's some background on their relationship: When Hannity brought his Freedom Concert to Kings Island in August, that's when Cunningham learned that Matt Drudge was giving up his Sunday night national radio show on Clear Channel's Premiere Radio Networks. Sean Compton, the Clear Channel VP who started at WLW-AM, was there and asked Cunningham if if he'd like to replace Drudge. And Cunningham and Hannity spent a lot of time talking about it then, and since. Hannity also assured Cunningham that he'd do all he could to keep as many of Drudge's 325 affiliates-- including WABC in New York -- on board for the Cunningham launch.
Cunningham was on his best behavior for this opening segment. He can be a clown at times -- too often? -- but when he wants to do a serious news interview, he can do an excellent job. He's proven this throughout the years, talking to judges or newsmakers about a story in the headlines, debating back to the Home State S&L collapse.
We'll have to see what happens after Hannity, when he deals with callers.
He just took another break, and still hasn't gone to a caller. He spent last five minutes talking about what I mentioned above, how Sean Compton of Clear Channel offered him the Sunday night Drudge slot at Hannity's Freedom Concert at Kings Island in August. He also promised a national sports report from Seg Dennison at 11:30... earlier in the week, he had told me Seg could be on at 10:40 and 11:40. Either they changed the format, or they skipped it to do another segment with Hannity.
After fumbling through three lines, Willie finally gets to his first caller, Cecilia. Usually he puts the wackiest caller on first to light up the lines, but Cecilia -- a Drudge listener and fan -- was calm, sane and rational. She praised him for his "nice, crisp way of handling things... I think you're a normal guy from Ohio. I'm going to enjoy listening to you..." (Where was she from? She sounded to sincere to be a plant.)
Here comes the "Bad to the Bone" theme. Gotta break for news. One hour, one guest, one caller.
Three callers this half hour, all talking politics. That's surprising, because Cunningham in an interview a few days ago told me that he wouldn't do much politics because most people don't care.... He's railing about how "the media" has determined that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, and maybe win the presidency. "The media tells us what to think, and we regurgitate it..." Gee, isn't Cunningham part of the media? And Rush, Hannity, Ingraham, O'Reilly, etc.? And don't they have far more listeners and clout than Air America or any liberal talk radio host?
It sounded like a "Stooge Report" to me, Bill Seg Dennison's first national sports report, with audio cuts dropped in from "Airplane," President Bush, Dr. Phil and Rocket J. Squirrel from Rocky & Bullwinkle. (Hokey Smokes!) Why did Seg do the 1 p.m. NFL games first, instead of the baseball playoffs just ending now? But I digress... Will be interesting to hear if national audience comments on the Stooge/Sports Reports we've been hearing for years on WLW. But first caller after break wants to talk more politics....
Is anyone listening in NY or LA (other than Sean Hannity)? Willie went to the midnight news break saying he had callers on hold -- two from Florida, three from Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus, Lima) and one from Alabama. At least he has enough callers stacked up to carry through his final hour, after he does interview with La. newspaper.... Hey, Tim Lewis is doing the midnight news. What a schizophrenic life he has, being a WLW-AM overnight newsman/news anchor, then doing WCKY-AM sports talk for morning drive (radio's prime time)...
WLW just pulled the plug on Willie! So I guess it doesn't matter to Cincinnati listeners that he has full phone lines or anything. They're airing the overnight trucking show instead of carrying the third hour of Cunningham's national debut! I had to tune in WABC-AM (770), Hannity's station, to hear the third hour. What a insult to Willie! Gotta keep the truckers (and their advertisers) happy, I guess....