Friday, January 24, 2014

Bob Grant, R.I.P.

On New Year's Eve conservative talk radio
saw one of its longest-shining lights go dim.
Bob Grant, one of the forefathers of conser-
vative talk radio and of the "combat talk"
format, died at the age of 84.

Born Robert Ciro Gigante (he was of Italian
extraction), Grant's career spanned seven decades,
from the 1950s to 2013, the year of his passing.
Grant graduated from the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign with a degree in journalism,
soon going to work in the news department at
WBBM-AM in chicago, followed by a stint at
KNX-AM in Los Angeles as a radio personality
and television talk show host, then going on to
serve in the U.S. Naval Reserve during the Korean
War. Grant was, after guest-hosting for another
early conservative talker Joe Pyne, chosen to be
Pyne's successor. The year was 1964, and it
was the year Grant's career took off. Grant would
go on to host three different radio shows that year,
making an indellible mark in radio and in broad-
cast political discussion.

Along the way, Grant did garner controversy with
some of his statements and actions; in 1973 he
scheduled U.S. Rep. Ben Rosenthal (D-NY) as
a guest. Rosenthal, who at the time was leading
a boycott of meat, changed his mind about going
on Grant's show. Grant, in discussion with a caller
about the matter, called Rosenthal a "coward",
which prompted the congressman to file a complaint
with the FCC. the tussle went up to the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit,
which ruled in favor of Grant, due to the fact that
Grant offered the congressman an invitation to
be on his show, thereby granting Rosenthal equal

In 1984, Grant was hired by WABC-AM, which was
inaugurating a new talk radio station. Starting with a
morning time slot, then going to one in the afternoon,
Grant dominated the ratings in both periods. However,
Grant's lengthy stay at this post ended when he remarked
to a caller that he had "a hunch that (Commerce Secretary
Ron Brown) is the only survivor" of a 1996 plane crash
which was believed to have no survivors, further stating
that "... Maybe it's because, at heart, I'm a pessimist."
Brown was a member of Democrat Presidnet Bill Clinton's
administration at the time. After a lengthy media campaign,
Grant was fired from his show.

Grant would also make other incendiary remarks during his
long, storied, and checkered career, prompting some to call
him "racist" and "homophobic". Your faithful Peasant will
state here that, while Grant was a boost for conservative
talk radio as an alternative forum for conservatives to
gather around, Grant was nearly the finish for the format
with some of his content. While some of what Grant said
on air could be debated as to its appropriateness or lack
thereof, a few statements, such as the one regarding Ron
Brown, were definitely beyond the borders of good taste,
tact, and decency. That being said, Grant was the inspiration
for several current conservative talkers who are prominent
in the media, among them Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity
and Glenn Beck. Grant even met and advised these present
luminaries. So Bob Grant did some good which ultimately
outweighed his errors, and all conservatives as well as
those who appreciate hearing other points of view besides
that of the establsihment have benefitted greatly as a
result. The on-air talent, in subsequent years, were more
refined and prudent in their commentary, thus helping the
nascent conservative talk show format grow and mature.

May Bob Grant rest in peace.


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