Some news that flew under the media radar (as I knew it would): Michael Savage has been voted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Other talk show hosts have larger audiences, but few will venture where Savage does five days a week, with passion (or nastiness, depending on your point of view). His basic un-PC message, heard in more than 200 markets, centers on language, culture and borders. Salon magazine called him “the Godfather of Trumpmania.”
Among other finalists in the Spoken Word On-Air Personality competition was Sean Hannity, who’ll have to wait until next year’s public vote. Hannity and Savage compete head-to-head in several big markets, and Hannity has the advantage of a high-profile cable show on Fox News, so he’ll get in eventually.
Don’t expect to see Savage on TV, because those in the industry haven’t forgotten an incident from 2003, back when the Department of Homeland Security was being organized, Roger Ailes was riding high and MSNBC aired viewpoints not expressly approved by the Democratic National Committee. The weekend show was called “The Savage Nation,” same as the radio show today. From Mediaite:
“Savage concluded his July 5th, 2003, show by taking viewer calls. As he went to an unnamed caller, the host put on sunglasses (because why not?) and listened in as the man rambled a bit.”
It soon became obvious that the caller had outwitted the screeners and the conversation took a turn into accusing Savage of homophobia. The exchange – and his TV hosting career – ended this way:
Savage: “Oh, okay, so you’re one of those sodomists? Are you a sodomite?”
Caller: “Yes, I am.”
Savage: “Oh, so you’re one of those sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. (At this point somebody off-camera said, “Whoa.”) How’s that? Why don’t you see if you can sue me, you pig? You got nothing better to do than to put me down, you piece of garbage? You got nothing to do today? Go eat a sausage, and choke on it. Get trichinosis. Okay, do we have another nice caller here who’s busy because he didn’t have a nice night in the bathhouse who’s angry at me today?”
The day after, Savage apologized on his radio program and his website. He survived that flap and a legal battle with his radio syndicator, which kept him off the air for several weeks in 2012. Now comes the call to join the all-time greats, at the age of 74.
I’ll close with some other fun facts. Dr. Savage is sometimes referred to that way because he has a doctorate in nutritional ethnomedicine from the University of California, Berkeley, where presumably few people like or listen to “The Savage Nation.” He is barred from entering the United Kingdom for “fostering hatred.” He is a prolific author, both under his radio name and his real name, Michael Wiener. And as successful as he’s been, his son has outshone him. Russ Weiner invented the Rockstar energy drink and became a multibillionaire.