November 29, 2015

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The Crowley Effect (10/20/08)

Monica Crowley's rapid rise in talk radio could be said to parallel the path of another tough-minded, frank woman who recently emerged on the national stage. The Talk Radio Network-syndicated host, whose show just moved to Monday-Friday after a successful run on Saturdays, is undeniably conservative, but with a young, fresh, and often funny take on the issues that brings something new to the sometimes-predictable talk radio arena.

What has your listeners buzzing these days?
Monica Crowley:
There are only two issues, and they are intricately related: the presidential election and the economic situation. A year ago, the conventional wisdom was that this election was going to turn on Iraq; that's essentially why Sens. McCain and Obama got their party's nominations. The dramatic progress there has rendered that issue marginal, and it’s been replaced by a crisis of a different kind. My listeners worry about their own financial situations, but they're even more worried about the state of the national economy. There hasn't been much leadership during this crisis — from any quarter — and that has a lot of people concerned. When neither presidential candidate nor the sitting president look in command of a spiraling economic crisis, it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

So, have your listeners abandoned McCain?
Not at all, nor is there a sense of resignation about an Obama victory. My listeners may not be madly in love with McCain, but they understand that the alternative will be far worse. If the economy is shaky now, just imagine what it will be under the massive new taxes and $1 trillion in new spending Obama has proposed. For close to three decades in the U.S. Congress and Senate, McCain has been a fiscal conservative, fighting for limited government, tax cuts, spending cuts, and the elimination of earmarks. And then he votes for the $812 billion bailout behemoth bill that many believe won't work? It makes no sense. Conservatives just want McCain to be McCain — to run as the conservative he is, and to draw the philosophical and practical distinctions with Obama, the most liberal member of the Senate.

What's been the impact of McCain's running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin?
She's dynamite. Like Obama, she's a once-in-a-generation political talent. Unlike Obama, she's been subjected to the most disgusting attacks on her character, her parenting skills, her family, her choices, her appearance, and her policies. Ironically, however, those attacks have helped: They've emboldened her, and they've endeared her even more to the voters she's targeting. McCain didn't choose her because she's a woman. He chose her because she's exactly the type of person Obama put down a few months ago while speaking in San Francisco: somebody who "clings" to her "guns" and "religion." There are a lot of Americans who also cherish their guns and their religion, and she's speaking directly to them. Many of them also live in swing states. If McCain wins, he can thank Palin for being such a breath of fresh air, and carrying the message that she's one of them, and they are not forgotten.

What will be her longer-term impact?
I think Palin's impact will be longer lasting than that of either Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi. They are yesterday's news. Palin is tomorrow. She is a gifted communicator who holds real conservative values of smaller government, lower taxes, and defeating our enemies by staying on the offense. She's Reagan in a skirt. She represents the future of the Republican party, a party that needs her energy, vitality, and fresh outlook.

Any predictions on what will happen on Nov. 4?
If McCain packs away that "Mr. Bipartisanship Nice Guy" routine and gets back to his conservative roots, he just might win. It's not enough to tear down Obama. McCain needs to articulate a compelling, positive reason to vote FOR him, rather than just AGAINST the other guy. He must offer a coherent, conservative governing philosophy, and deliver it with passion and vigor. That's who he is anyway. If he does, he could win. My hope for this final stretch is that McCain will be McCain, a fighter for his country who doesn't like to lose.

With a background in political analysis, how did you find yourself in radio?
After college, I served four years as foreign policy assistant to former President Richard Nixon, and that led to writing two best-selling books and launching my television and radio career. I think Nixon would have been pleased to see me as a permanent panelist on The McLaughlin Group, since both John McLaughlin and Pat Buchanan are veterans of his White House.

WABC/New York GM Phil Boyce liked what he heard when I guested on Batchelor & Alexander, and he soon gave me my own show. I moved from weekends to weekdays at WABC, for a time broadcasting right after Sean Hannity and building a very loyal fan base.

Liberals have Jon Stewart. It's time for conservatives to have some fun. I've always believed that you attract more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. My show is young and sharp and controversial without being insulting or mean-spirited. It's about informing and entertaining the audience, making them think and giving them some laughs.

What's the plan for expanding the show's reach?
Being live Monday through Friday is a natural extension of what I have always done. But separate from my love of radio performance is my love of the business of radio.

Sarah Palin — whether her ticket wins in November or not — has revolutionized thinking about women at the highest levels. That "Palin Effect" will have an ever-growing influence on every industry. Most media buyers are women. In most American households, women make the decisions about disposable-income spending. Having great female broadcasters is going to be increasingly beneficial to stations. One strong, smart, dynamic woman on the air is a token. Two is a culture. And the Palin Effect, which will last long after the election, will have an enormous bearing on programming, content, personalities, and increased station revenues. Many of my listeners call me the "Sarah Palin of the airwaves" — a high compliment indeed.

Are you extending the Monica Crowley brand?
The originality of my brand lies in the originality of the experiences that got me here, and in my own take on the issues. The radio show is the greatest vehicle for that, and we're expanding it all the time. I also appear on The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel and on the network during the week. And I write my blog, www.monicamemo.com, and weekly articles for Human Events. I also host charity events and take part in panels, including one for the Comedy Festival in New York.

How do your online efforts help support the show?
They're critical to giving the listeners a place where the "national retreat" of my show continues, even when I'm off the air. It's important for the audience to feel they've got a touchstone place to go, where they can talk back to me and talk to each other. It's the essence of interactivity.

Offering past shows archived on the site and in podcast form is another way of keeping listeners engaged. The online presence fosters a sense of community in the same way the show does.

What's the one thing you want your audience to know about you?
Above my microphone I keep a postcard I bought at the Winston Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms in London. Under a photo of Churchill is his exhortation to "Deserve Victory!" I go on the air every day driven by a deep love for America and a desire to protect it from threats from abroad and within, whether they come from Islamic terrorists or malicious liberals — all the while doing it with a deep understanding that this is an entertainment medium first and foremost. I fight for the defense of limited government, free-market capitalism, and ordered liberty, with a mix of humorous ridicule, satire, and using absurdity to backlight absurdity.

I want us to retain the freedom for which Churchill and Roosevelt and so many others fought, and I want us to retain the goodness that makes us deserve victory.

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