In Brenda’s shade.

Tuesday, July 27th, 1999

This sure feels like a recovery week to me, after the madness that is Coverage These Days Of A Major Event. This just in: JFK Jr. is still dead, and, mercifully, the sidebars and "touching human stories" are fading away—except on Neal Boortz’s radio program, where he just can’t let go of any part of this story—er, issue—er, story.
They used taxpayers’ money to bury him at sea! (He always speaks in italics.) The liberal Democrats are pushing him as a hero on the unsuspecting public!
Okay, Neal, give it a rest. It’s hot out here, outside your air-conditioned studio. Is this the fabled mastery of the talk form that catapulted you to the cover of this publication? Mark my words: there is a Neal Boortz saturation point, and I’m pretty sure we’re there now. He’s always on, and if he isn’t, Clark is! Generic rich white guys! And not rich enough—apparently. That’s why a big chunk of their programs are syndicated beyond the Atlanta market (dead giveaway: whenever Boortz or Howard say it’s 12 past the hour, they’re not talking to Atlantans, but to generic radioland.)
I think it’s the heat getting to me, but I just feel a complete disconnect from this kind of concocted, syndicated radio mush. Thunk! Thunk! I have to poke the grimy ‘AM/FM’ button several times now on my broken-down 85 Honda to get it to bandshift. There’s 99X, increasingly generic outside the Morning X domain. The House of Retro Pleasure could be located in any city, anywhere, instead of crumbling on a corner off of Little 5 Points (as I’ve always visualized.) Poke! Mash! Why doesn’t WABE carry NPR’s fine Talk of the Nation in the afternoons? Who’s really listening to generic classical stuff? (And why aren’t they just enjoying it on AM stereo 1190?)
Thunk! Back to AM. The Honda’s a/c is wheezing. I detour slowly around the inexplicably abandoned construction site that has closed down Morningside Drive. And Boortz is letting Royal Marshall promote his show (which airs on AM 680, WCNN.) Boortz is an industry unto himself, a spawner of spinoffs. Next thing we know his Dodge truck or his pressure-washed house will have their own shows on WCNN, and WSB overnights will air reruns of Neal’s bathroom breaks.
It’s just too damn hot. I pull into the Harris Teeter parking lot and am shaded by an enormous billboard of Brenda Wood, who, as I realize, squinting upwards, looks great in this photo. Not the typical anchor preen—it looks like she’s actually thinking. But then there’s the ‘We want you to know’ tagline. Know what, exactly? On the radio, Howard’s show is starting, and his openings sound increasingly canned, syndicated, generic: "welcome to your daily consumer empowerment zone." And remember—don’t mention the name of the company that’s screwing you, don’t mention where you’re calling from, help us out here so that Clark can cash in and become more consumer-empowered his own bad self.
Poke! Thunk! I’ve got some sort of acoustic-y bluegrass-y stuff coming out of my trashed car speakers now. Ah! WRFG finally cools me down a bit—the aural equivalent of a drink of lemonade in Brenda’s shade.