However, a number of media critics have now heard the fledgeling network, and they appear to be enjoying it even less than those of us who haven't. Here's a good summary of the opening week reviews from Ben Williams in the liberal online magazine Slate:
"Rush Limbaugh can sleep soundly. For now," said the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after this liberal talk radio network's debut. Critics agreed that Al Franken, who leads the programming, needs to sharpen up: Howard Kurtz called him "meandering and discursive," the Boston Globe said "he is not a good interviewer," and the New York Times thought his mix of "mockery and mild indignation" proved the difficulty of matching "the fervor and ferocity of right-wing radio." Right-wing radio hosts were happy to agree: Jay Severin claimed "audience demographics" would be "the death knell" for liberal talk, and in the Los Angeles Times, Richard A. Viguerie and David Franke questioned Franken's commitment (he has a one-year contract), reminding that the conservative talk empire "was the result of decades of hard work." Franken did win praise for high-powered guests—but the New Republic noted that it "doesn't bode well" when a show's "most entertaining segment is one featuring Al Gore."Incidentally, in case you hadn't heard, Franken's show on the network is called "The O'Franken Factor." Get it?
As it turns out, I am familiar with the network's afternoon drive host. The talent-free Randi Rhodes has been a talk show host up in the 39th-ranked West Palm Beach market for a number of years now. About two years ago, her company (Clear Channel) tried to expand the program a few miles further south to the 15th-ranked Ft. Lauderdale/Miami market. It was a dismal flop. It was hysterically bad.
But in all fairness, I'm sure it wasn't Randi's fault. It can be daunting for liberal ideas to gain a hearing here in the conservative bastion that is South Florida, home of Peter Deutsch, Alcee Hastings, Bob Wexler, Janet Reno, Donna Shalala, and Madonna.