With Cumulus powerhouse Michael Savage soon moving his show to the 3-6 PM slot, the NY Daily News interviewed the native New Yorker about what his show will be like when it launches on WABC-AM there. Here are some excerpts from the interview story:
“When Michael Savage is prepping for his daily talk radio show, which moves into the 3-6 p.m. afternoon slot Wednesday on WABC (770 AM), he doesn’t listen to talk radio.
More likely, he says, he’s listening to Blue Note’s 25-CD collection of great jazz recordings.
“Doing radio for me is a lot like playing jazz,” says Savage. “It’s all about reaching for the notes, even the ones I know I can’t reach. Like Charlie Parker. “My regular listeners know that. They hear me reaching all the time, and if I can’t get there, it’s all right. That’s what radio is.”
Savage knows that landscape and says it’s one reason he has a good chance to rise above the pack once New York talk radio plunges into its biggest shuffle in many years.
As of Wednesday, WABC’s long-time afternoon anchors — Rush Limbaugh at noon and Sean Hannity at 3 p.m. — move to WOR (710 AM).
WABC has not announced a host for Limbaugh’s spot. Savage is taking Hannity’s, and all eyes will be watching to see who’s on top when the dust starts to settle. Savage thinks he offers a strong alternative to Hannity.
“I know what Sean does,” he says. “He works from Republican Party talking points. He says he doesn’t any more, but he does.
“I don’t. You can’t drone on about the Bill of Rights. It’s just not interesting radio. My show is also an Obamacare-free zone. Who wants to hear about that?”
It’s not that Savage never talks politics, or hot-button issues. Ask any listener who has heard him crank it up on immigration, border security or what he sees as the ever-growing tentacles of big government and the entitlement society it encourages.
“My views changed during the year I was a social worker in New York,” says the 71-year-old Savage, who was born in the Bronx, graduated from Jamaica High and Queens College and now lives in the San Francisco area.
“I was working for the Department of Welfare, and I began to realize people who were on welfare — my clients — were living better than I was. That opened my eyes and changed my political beliefs.”
Regular Savage listeners have heard him expound on this subject in dire tones, warning that the “50% of the country” that doesn’t want to work is suffocating the 50% that does.
Savage says he doesn’t consider himself a prophet of doom. “Hope,” he says, “springs eternal.”
He does not, however, hold out much hope in this area: “I see no way big government, once it starts to spread, can be stopped.”
What he does see is a world where, mercifully, politics is not the only concern.
“On my show tonight,” he says, “I’ll talk for a while about a museum I visited, and some things I saw there. I won’t lead the show with it, but I’ll talk about it, because my listeners will be interested.”
A typical Savage show will weave through food, travel, music and his dog Teddy as he sorts out the events of the day.
What matters, he says, is that there’s a point to all of it and he will get back there. Just like that jazz taxman.
“When I was growing up in New York, I’d listen to Symphony Sid at 2 in the morning,” he says. “I’d listen to Mel Allen. Their voices were reassuring to me.
“In the same way, my listeners like having my voice in their lives. They know that if they keep listening, they will hear the songbook.”