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Steve Kamer: Getting to Know a Familiar Voice

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After losing his gig as overnight personality at now-defunct radio station Mix 105 in New York, Steve Kamer knew his best route to a lucrative life in broadcasting was going full throttle into a voice-over career.

“The choice was not mine, but the decision was easy to make,” Kamer told BNM.

He was able to parlay 17 years as a “terrible jock” into his on-air reinventing for himself.

By the time Kamer was “transitioning” as air personality, he was already the announcer for NBC’s Today show.

Over the next three decades, Kamer has established himself as a leading sound for many media companies.

Familiar Voice

Despite decades of high-profile voice-over work, with an upbeat and energetic style, there is no resting on any laurels for Kamer, 58, who is still working with coaches to hone and refine his style.

“It’s how you stay at the top of your game and not become a flash in the pan,” Kamer said. “Even though I’m working at what some would consider ‘the peak,’ there’s the next peak.”

He just concluded work for the Olympics on NBC. For two weeks you heard him primarily announcing sponsor billboards. His voice-over work in the sports division goes back to the early 1990s. But under the new management his vocal responsibilities are only needed every two years.

Kamer is also the voice of CBS Radio’s Top of the Hour network newscasts. However, since Entercom took over (and since changed to Audacy), he isn’t allowed to air on the affiliates.

He is the local and network branding voice for Saga Communications’ cluster of news/talk stations.

“In their case, Scott Chase, who’s the group PD, likes the idea of having the network voice doing the local promos,” Kamer said.

Along with the news entities, Kamer “found his voice” in daytime talk shows. His promo list could be part of a Paley Center exhibit. He estimates being heard on 20 programs over the years—Montel Williams, Geraldo, Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, Jerry Springer, Ananda Lewis among them and currently Tamron Hall.

Others are familiar with Kamer for joining the final season of Judge Judy after original announcer Jerry Bishop died.

Style aside, Kamer says he separates himself with customer service.

“If somebody commits to you as their announcer, you’re expected to be available when they need you,” Kamer said.

That means if he’s on vacation, Kamer is still expected to produce as necessary for his clients.

“I have a portable travel studio that I set up in the hotel room,” Kamer said.

Early in his voice-over career, he decided to create a home studio and be more accessible to his clients, while also saving himself from the commuting headaches.

“The bad news is everybody who has a home studio can compete for the same work,” he said.

The technical set-up doesn’t feature many bells and whistles. He uses all Apple products, including a Mac mini. But there is no separate announcer booth for Kamer.

“The whole room is padded and the sound is great,” he said.

In 2018, Kamer left the studio to surprise Steve Harvey, who never met his announcer, as he was interviewed from the audience about being single and taking care of his 92-year-old mother.

Beginnings

For Kamer, who hails from South Jersey, it started in radio at just 14 years old. His upbringing helped align the stars for his microphone mentality. At an early age, Kamer would sample stations from New York City and Philadelphia during the day and other markets at night.

“I always was intrigued by listening to voices on radio, and ultimately on television.” Kamer said.

The broadcasting bug bit as a youngster as his parents took him to several game show tapings in Manhattan and he was mesmerized by the announcers, especially watching the legendary Don Pardo do the audience warm-up for the original Jeopardy! on NBC.

The love for the industry was there and so was the voice.

“Even at a young age, I had a voice that stood out,” he said. “It didn’t have a New Jersey accent, which I think was probably a plus.”

During the Olympics, Kamer had to block out time each morning to record the latest scripts for producers in Stamford, CT. There was overall a lead time of two days from producing the audio to airing.   

“They want to call or page, and have you immediately drop what you’re doing, get on the microphone and record with them,” Kamer said. “I always put my best voice forward.”

Breaking news could also force Kamer to quickly rerecord a new promo for shows like Tamron Hall even just hours before airtime.

Many weekdays Kamer can get in his recording booth at 8 a.m. and not finish until midnight.

To New York area sports fans, Kamer is the voice of the YES Network with his famous “Only on YES!” delivery. He’s been with the Yankees’ broadcast home since its inception in 2002.

“TV pays the bills, but radio is very exciting,” Kamer said. “There’s just no way around it. It’s immediate. I like to record something, hear it on the air and know that I’m a part of the overall station.”

He’s recently got a three-year renewal to remain as the voice of WGN Radio in Chicago.

“People commit for long periods of time because they don’t want you to go somewhere else in the market,” he said.

So, the value of voice affords him “some sense of stability in a job that’s considered a freelance job.”

Even more so than traditional broadcasting, the voice-over business is highly competitive.

“There are a lot of great voice-over announcers, but there’s one Steve Kamer,” he said proudly. “That’s the mantel I claim. I play in my own sandbox.”

The next generation of voice-over artists ask him often how they can also become successful. He said a good voice isn’t enough. It can’t be a hobby; you need a coach and demo tape that stands out and shows your strongest assets.

“You can’t come across as desperate,” he said.

While every gig is important and treated with the same care by Kamer, he delineates the work, for example: “When I’m doing a radio station in Atlantic City, Des Moines, or Nashville, I put on a voice that’s reflective of wearing a pair of jeans or khakis,” Kamer said. “When I’m doing the Olympics, I put on my tuxedo voice.”

Typically, he works independently without direction, a process he considers “more efficient.”

“You might listen after a while and say, ‘They all sound the same.’ And maybe they do. But I try to give each one a little bit of its own uniqueness.”

Kamer has to “own the copy” by fact-checking and, obviously, confirming any confusing pronunciations.

CNN viewers were likely hearing him on promos in the run up to the cable network’s airing of the NYC Homecoming Concert on August 21.

Always Growing

However, his popularity has not translated into commercial work. 

“[They] have not been an area that I’ve had a lot of success in,” Kamer admitted.

Another part of voice-overs that eludes Kamer are movie trailers and network prime-time promos.

“That’s a hard one. That really borders on being a good actor,” Kamer said. “Although the jobs that I do require some acting, those movie trailers and network promos require all acting.”

Those artists are storytellers and “the minute I put on the headphones and read a script, I’m not as good a storyteller as many of the people who are currently booking them,” he confessed.  “I haven’t given up on those things, but those don’t come as easily for me. I would say that a lot of the people who do movie trailers and network promos can’t easily transition to what I do.”

He was able to separate himself from those high-profile movie announcers who missed out on work for months during the pandemic. Kamer, though, has been busy throughout for his radio and TV gigs, including Inside Edition.

“The style changed in many cases. I couldn’t be as hard hitting and abrasive in some reads. I had to pull it back and reflect what’s going on in the world, even in subtle differences,” Kamer said.  

You’ll also find him doing narration work for the Smithsonian Channel, but “you really have to stay committed and interested in the subject matter.”

Despite his many assignments over the years, few people outside of the industry connect the dots to Kamer’s work.

“My voice is a celebrity. I’m not. Only my voice is famous.” Kamer said. “It’s exciting to be out and hear my voice on the TV or radio somewhere. But I like the anonymity of being in a room and not being known as the announcer guy.”

That cache as a voice on marquee projects has helped bring more big-name jobs.

Kamer is not worrying about spreading his voice too thin.

“If someone recognizes the voice, that’s fine,” he said. “But we want the voice to sort of be in the background and the message to be in the foreground.”

Sometimes his voice literally is spread too thin with a cold, or worse, laryngitis. Instead of it being a deal breaker, Kamer has been able to use the huskiness to his advantage.

“I’ve booked the job and then I can’t duplicate it when my voice gets better,” Kamer laughed.  

Upon a visit to Atlantic City you might hear Kamer welcoming guests to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, where “they blast my voice with announcements constantly.”

Plus, using his fondness for transportation and his Jersey roots, he “greets” PATH train riders with next stop alert and the famous “please stand clear of the closing doors.”

He also enjoys being heard on a handful of New Jersey radio stations.

“It’s just really cool to be on local stations that you grew up listening to,” Kamer said.

When it comes to picking projects, Kamer needs to feel passionate about the topic.

“It’s not driven by money,” he admitted.

Despite that, Kamer was intrigued by the chance to earn his annual radio salary in a month of voice-over work.

That said, his rates are based on various factors, including market size and amount of copy per month.

“A local radio station isn’t going to pay the same as NBC Sports. That would be ridiculous,” Kamer said. 

With a great career that shows no sign of slowing, Kamer occasionally wonders “what if”? 

“Had radio continued to embrace me as a jock, I might still be doing it today,” he said.

BNM Writers

Bring Back the Art of Debate

In small doses and in the proper situation, it’s well worth your time to have your own ideas, along with the audience’s, challenged. 

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The last few weeks I’ve thought a lot about a quote I recently heard from Bill O’Reilly. I believe it was in a recent interview he appeared in with Glenn Beck, and O’Reilly was discussing his years as host of “The O’Reilly Factor”, the most-watched cable news show in the history of the medium. He was discussing how he went about booking his guests and said, and I paraphrase, “I tried to book the smartest people who could challenge me.” 

That’s one of the reasons that O’Reilly’s show was so successful. He did that on a nightly basis for over 20 years.

Unfortunately, that premise has gone by the wayside, in favor of echo chambers across the media landscape, including talk radio. 

But that doesn’t mean it can’t come back in some capacity and it doesn’t mean the host has to compromise their values. 

Each week on my morning show on KCMO Talk Radio, I interview Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. Lucas is a Democrat, who has certainly angered lots of conservatives over the last 18 months on issues of COVID lockdowns, masks, and policing policy, just to name a few. One can debate how far left Lucas is on the “liberal spectrum”, but he will be the first to tell you he is a proud Democrat. 

Shortly after the pandemic began, I spoke with his office about doing a weekly hit to update the city on what was happening on the COVID front. The interview has continued ever since, every Thursday morning at 7:30, but has touched on any and every topic relevant to Kansas City.

And while every listener, plus Lucas himself, knows I have disagreed with much of his policies over the last 18 months, our conversations are challenging, but cordial, respectful, and informative for the audience.

However, like clockwork, after each weekly conversation, there will be a barrage of calls, texts, social media messages, and e-mails saying that I, as the host, “let him off the hook”, “am too soft”, and all the usual criticisms that come from a portion of the audience. These individuals insist they are done listening to our weekly conversations.

But you know what, something funny happens when I look at the KCMO Talk Radio streaming numbers each day or look at the ratings at the end of the month: Thursdays at 7:30 end up being one of our most-listened-to and highest-rated segments, by far. 

Then, when I go out in the real world, people tell me how much they appreciate the weekly conversations with the mayor, despite how much they may disagree with him. They think it’s important that our audience gets to hear from him, even if we aren’t his “based” constituency. 

To Lucas’ credit, he comes on my show, despite our differences. That’s a lost art for most politicians, left and right, who only want to go on media that is sympathetic to them and their beliefs. 

And then on the flip side, hosts on TV and radio have gone too far into the echo chamber, where they don’t want to hear from those who disagree with them. They also believe that the small portion of the audience that “wants blood” (theoretically speaking, of course) from their opponents, are the majority of the audience.

My research shows that’s not the case. And to reiterate, none of this requires a host to compromise their beliefs or become “squishy” on their opinions.

Granted, I wouldn’t spend hour after hour with guests who are disagreeable or don’t align with the audience, but the right guest in the right spot has real potential to create an excellent conversation and really good radio. 

There’s no doubt it’s harder than ever to book these guests, based on the aforementioned reasons, but in small doses and in the proper situation, it’s well worth your time to have your own ideas, along with the audience’s, challenged. 

And while hearts and minds are unlikely to change given the divisive climate we find ourselves in, you created a moment that connected with the listener, either good or bad, that will be memorable to them and keep them coming back for more. The loud-mouth haters be damned. 

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BNM Writers

FOX News Remains Go To Network For Noteworthy Events

“Fox News’ special “A Gabby Petito Investigation with Nancy Grace” drew 1.78 million.”

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Several noteworthy news events occurred during the week ending September 19, most of which Fox News Channel was the leading cable news outlet in its coverage viewership.

On Sep. 13, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was the first Biden administration official to testify publicly to lawmakers since the Islamist militant group, the Taliban, took over Afghanistan. His appearance before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee   was tabulated only for MSNBC by Nielsen Media Research, to a delivery of 542,000 total viewers (from 2:16-4:00 p.m. ET). On the following day (Sep. 14), Blinken’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee aired on both Fox News and MSNBC. Fox News was the clear victor, more than doubling MSNBC in total viewers (1.576 million vs. 0.648 million) and nearly quadrupled in the key 25-54 demo (257,000 vs. 66,000).

The California gubernatorial recall election on Sep. 14 that resulted in Gavin Newsom remaining as governor was extensively covered for four hours on CNN: 

10-11 p.m. ET: 1.049 million total viewers; 309,000 adults 25-54

11 p.m.-midnight ET: 1.013 million total viewers; 344,000 adults 25-54

midnight-1 a.m. ET: 0.846 million total viewers; 283,000 adults 25-54

1-2 a.m. ET: 0.575 million total viewers; 185,000 adults 25-54

Fox News covered the election results only in the 11 p.m.-midnight hour, averaging 2.05 million total viewers and 411,000 adults 25-54 — no doubt, assisted by its highly-watched prime time lead-in.

MSNBC spent only 26 minutes of live coverage in late night, resulting in 659,000 total viewers and 93,000 adults 25-54 (from 1-1:26 a.m. ET). 

MSNBC was the lone cable news outlet to air testimony by American female gymnasts before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the morning of Sep. 15. Gold medalist athletes Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman relayed to lawmakers how the FBI and U.S. gymnastic and Olympic officials failed to stop the sexual abuse that they, along with hundreds of other athletes,suffered from former doctor Larry Nassar. From 10:43 a.m. to 12:06 p.m. ET, MSNBC averaged 753,000 viewers and 62,000 in the key 25-54 demo; the gymnasts’ press conference from 2:10-2:30 p.m. (also on MSNBC) drew 813,000 viewers and 95,000 adults 25-54.

On Sep. 18, Fox News covered SpaceX’s return of its Crew Dragon spacecraft from orbit, with the capsule carrying the four members of the Inspiration4 mission back to Earth after three days in space. It was the furthest humans had traveled above the surface in several years. The capsule Resilience splashed down off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida in the Atlantic Ocean. From 7-8 p.m. ET, Fox News posted 1.155 million total viewers and 141,000 adults 25-54. SpaceX is owned by Elon Musk.  

Lastly, on Sep. 19 at 10 p.m. ET, Fox News’ special “A Gabby Petito Investigation with Nancy Grace” delivered the highest-rated cable news show in the 25-54 demo of the entire weekend with 317,000 viewers. In total viewers, the live special drew 1.78 million.

Here are the cable news averages for September 13-19, 2021.

Total Day (September 13-19 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.483 million viewers; 238,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.767 million viewers; 86,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.587 million viewers; 125,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.194 million viewers; 60,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.140 million viewers; 34,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.137 million viewers; 27,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.135 million viewers; 18,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.084 million viewers; 11,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (September 13-18 @ 8-11 p.m.; September 19 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.659 million viewers; 417,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.375 million viewers; 156,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.799 million viewers; 177,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.206 million viewers; 63,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.203 million viewers; 65,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.163 million viewers; 25,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.151 million viewers; 29,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.046 million viewers; 6,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 9/14/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.776 million viewers

2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 9/15/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.574 million viewers

3. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 9/14/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.528 million viewers

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 9/13/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.343 million viewers

5. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 9/14/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.294 million viewers

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 9/16/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.274 million viewers

7. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 9/15/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.202 million viewers

8. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 9/16/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.171 million viewers

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 9/17/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.151 million viewers

10. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 9/13/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.121 million viewers

17. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Tue. 9/14/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.611 million viewers

127. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Wed. 9/15/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.209 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top  CNN and MSNBC programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 9/14/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.629 million adults 25-54

2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 9/15/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.621 million adults 25-54

3. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 9/15/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.568 million adults 25-54

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 9/16/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.544 million adults 25-54

5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 9/13/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.542 million adults 25-54

6. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 9/14/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.538 million adults 25-54

7. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 9/16/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.514 million adults 25-54

8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 9/17/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.510 million adults 25-54

9. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 9/14/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.491 million adults 25-54

10. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 9/15/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.479 million adults 25-54

29. CNN Special Coverage “California Governor Recall Election” (CNN, Tue. 9/14/2021 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.344 million adults 25-54

36. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Tue. 9/14/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.315 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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BNM Writers

Pivoting to News/Talk Was A Natural Move For Steve Malzberg

“Censorship from management is something that you just need to put up with. If you don’t like it, you can leave.”

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RT America host Steve Malzberg’s accomplished career began in sports but deep down he always had a passion for politics. Even before right-wing commentators were accusing the woke sports media of pandering to a specific base, Malzberg saw the hypocrisy in some of the day-to-day coverage.

The liberal bent fueled Malzberg’s creativity and desire to be different. Topics like race in sports often gave him fodder for his nightly shows in New York City. Years of railing against liberal opponents eventually made switching to news/talk full-time, seamless.

Malzberg’s unique skill set has translated well in both radio and television. Following a lengthy run at iconic WABC Radio, he was hired at WOR Radio and was eventually replaced by New York’s former governor David Patterson.

In 2013, he was hired by Newsmax TV to host the Steve Malzberg Show. Last year, he inked a deal with RT America to host a media commentary show. Now, very content and with plenty of creative freedom, Malzberg offers his expertise on media bias to millions of people. Malzberg recently sat down with Barrett News Media to discuss his path to success, his job at RT America, and how the death of Rush Limbaugh rocked conservative media to its core.

Ryan Hedrick: How did your career start?

Steve Malzberg: I started in sportsfor the first ten years or so of my career. I hosted the New York Yankees pre and post-game shows for a year, Jets pre and post-game shows for four years, Devils pre and post-game shows for a year. I had the honor of going to Super Bowls, Stanley Cups Finals and everything else you could imagine.

RH: Was the news/talk format one you envisioned moving into?

SM: I always had politics in me. My career took a different turn the night OJ Simpson was driving around in a Bronco. That event led to me switching. I was supposed to cover the Knicks who were playing the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden in the NBA Finals.

My program director asked me to stay around, come on after the game and cover the OJ story. He invited me to come on the very next day and provide live coverage of the OJ saga and after that I started filling in for other hosts doing political talk and more in the realm of current news events.

RH: One of the biggest challenges for transitioning from sports talk to news/talk is finding your voice. Did that come naturally to you?

SM: Yes. I used to love covering Jesse Jackson when I was doing sports. He would protest that athletics needed more Black coaches. I remember Filip Bondy and Harvey Araton wrote a book on the NBA. One of the themes was how hard and how terrible it must be to be a Black NBA player and deal with white public relations people, that irked me.

RH: You were the first-ever host of Newsmax TV. Are you still a viewer of the network? If so, what are your thoughts on how it’s developed?

SM: I am not going to say anything bad about my former place of employment. Chris Ruddy who runs Newsmax TV was always very hands-on. I am sure he’s just as hands-on now. I know after I left, they brought in a lot of people with hard news experience. I think they have a great mix of talent there, but I can’t say that I watch so I don’t have much to say about the programming.

RH: You’re currently hosting for RT America. What role do you believe you and your network are playing in educating conservative news media moderates push back against cancel culture?

SM: On RT America I host Eat the Press which is kind of a play on Meet the Press, but it’s not aimed at the show by any stretch of the imagination. What we do is really devour the press and their bias. I have the freedom to present examples of media bias every week and I think I do my part of trying to hold the media accountable.

I also have wonderful A-list guests who continue to come on with me. Great conservative Hollywood people join the show such as Robert Davi, Kevin Sorbo, and Maria Conchita Alonso. They buck the trend in Hollywood.

Conservative media is doing a great job getting the word out there. Shows like Fox & Friends are blowing away CNN and MSNBC in the ratings. However, the media is still dominated by the left, and with the advent of social media and the ability and willingness of Big Tech to cooperate with the government and in some instances ban conservatives, we have an uphill fight!

RH: What role do you feel social media plays in helping conservatives get their truth out?

SM: Social media is where it’s at. If we are limited then we are losing. We can’t put doubts about the vaccine or questions about a third shot or any topic without the liberals at Facebook and Google monitoring us and taking us down.

RH: As a host with strong opinions, are you ever concerned about being censored or canceled?

SM: Censorship has existed in one form or another in broadcasting throughout my career. I could go back to any of the stations or networks I have ever worked at and tell you that I’ve been told what not to say, not so much what to say.

Censorship from management is something that you just need to put up with. If you don’t like it, you can leave. I always found that my censorship was carried out in my passion or support of Israel. At RT America, we have a meeting. I come up with the guests and ideas and book the guests and there’s only been one disagreement with a guest. I have never been told what to say or how to say something.

RH: What type of impact do you feel the death of Rush Limbaugh has had on conservative media as a whole?

SM: I was fortunate enough to know Rush and be there when he arrived at WABC in 1988. I knew Rush for many, many years. Limbaugh is irreplaceable. His death set conservative media back. No offense to the people that have taken over for Rush, but I don’t listen. It’s not the same and it’s not appointment radio. I just don’t see how you fill the loss.

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