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The Coming Civil War

“Beck often touts his ability to predict future events, albeit without precise timing. On this account, he has both won and lost.”

Rick Schultz

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“There is a clear choice – good versus evil,” the talk-show host implored his audience recently. “We are headed towards a revolution and a civil war.”  And quite possibly, he thought, by the time we reach Christmas.

For many, the words of radio and television talk show host Glenn Beck seem a bit far-fetched. Just shock-jock talk aimed at drawing a reaction. This is what Beck is known best for, no? And isn’t generating a response – good or bad – the goal of the talk-show host?

Beck does have a flair for the dramatic. He has often gone out on the proverbial limb, predicting impending doom and crisis. The sky was falling under our last president, and initially he didn’t expect much better from this one. Is this latest prognostication nothing more than strategic hyperbole cooked up by one of the country’s leading experts in riling up an audience?  

How could any talk-show host compare 2020 to the 1860’s? Could the riots of today actually be the precursors to a second War Between the States? Perhaps it would be easier to put the mind at ease, dismissing his claims without a second look – if only Glenn Beck hadn’t been correct about many other similar issues over his on-air broadcast career.

Beck has predicted, over the years, that we would see increased division and bloodshed in the streets, with Americans pitted against one another. On this account, one cannot question his prescience. For more than a decade he has foreshadowed the type of events we are currently watching in our neighborhoods or on our television screens. He has been sounding the bell since his days hosting his nightly Fox News television show.  And today we see cities, streets, homes, businesses and police under attack.

Yes, he’s been vindicated for promoting the Overton Window theory over the past many years – where a society advances the most radical, extreme positions, only to come across as sensible by eventually settling for much more “centrist,” acceptable positions in the end. Even though such a position would have been seen as too radical at the outset, it now seems tolerable relative to the extreme alternative. In other words, you tell your parents you expect to get an F on the test, so then actually coming home with a C seems acceptable. Partial government-controlled healthcare seems reasonable when juxtaposed against total Medicare for all. Removal of some statues and flags seems acceptable to many who otherwise would never go along with tearing down our National Monuments. Extreme environmental regulations are tolerable compared to a complete ban on fossil fuels. Beck foreshadowed many of these changes through the Overton Window effect he espoused. 

But his record is not blemish-free. To this point, the markets have not completely melted down, bringing with it the entire world economy. The Cloward-Piven strategy of “overwhelming the system,” if it was indeed attempted over the past decade, was unable to bring forth the extreme, rapid transformation of American Society. And to his credit when Beck, in his opinion, has been incorrect with his predictions – as he recently, and quite publicly, announced he was during his negative barrage against then-candidate Donald Trump – he has admitted so publicly and forthrightly.  

America is undoubtedly politically divided. From 2008 to 2016, half of the country looked on in horror as the American heritage was in the crosshairs from within, and many things they hold dear were attacked and demonized. For the last 4 years, the other half of the country has felt similarly.

America is divided on masks, divided on the weather and divided on the roll of God in our society. Just to name a few. And this was all before a vacant Supreme Court seat stole the headlines. 

According to Gallup, in 2012 69% of Americans felt we were divided. In 2012, that number had risen to a record-high 77%. Today Gallup says 55% of Americans believe race relations in the country are poor. According to Rasmussen Reports last Friday, 53% of Americans approve of the job President Trump is doing. 48% disapprove. Is it not the job of the talk-show host to point out these divisions and ruminate on where that may be leading us as a country?

With these national trends as a backdrop, should we give Glenn Beck’s prognostication more credence? Simply because he has been correct on some accounts, could we really be staring down the barrel of another Civil War in America?

“The plans have been laid by revolutionaries who have very high connections and lots of money,” Beck said on his nationally-syndicated radio talk show last month, as he pointed out the rapid rise in rioting and looting this summer. “Why won’t the Democrats come out against these protests, calling them peaceful protests?” he asked. “They are riots! They are burning our streets down!” 

Beck theorizes that mayors and governors of these ravaged cities are sitting by on their hands, hoping President Trump will overstep his Constitutional authority and take action – a move that would act as the catalyst and spark the true revolution. He also shared a first-hand discussion with a business owner who joined an organized militia group as a means of protecting his business and his family. 

“This is the clear fault of the Democratic Party,” Beck said. “This party is a threat to the Constitution. They know exactly what they’re doing. The press is in bed with them.”

He then pointed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inflaming tensions by calling out her supporters to “mobilize and organize,” while referring to her Republican political opponents as “domestic enemies.” 

Glenn Beck often touts his ability to predict future events, albeit without precise timing. On this account, he has both won and lost. Regardless, Americans continue to listen. 

Let’s hope 2020 is the biggest miss of his career.

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BNM Writers

How a Love of Sports Led Chad Pergram to Cover Politics at Fox News

“I work in the Capitol every day. It’s my office. It’s a place that I treasure.”

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A photo of Fox News reporter Chad Pergram
(Photo: Chad Pergram)

Fox News’ Chad Pergram knows the rules of the game when it comes to Congress better than some of the Congressmen who serve America’s citizens.

Tonight, however, the Senior Congressional Correspondent, along with John Walton, will be trading his suit and tie for a ball and glove at the Congressional baseball game. Pergram believes there’s a larger relationship to America’s pastime and the halls of Congress than what meets the eye. “You’re always kind of looking for an advantage in politics and it’s the same with sports.”

Pergram, began his journalist career while still in High School at WKRC-AM in Cincinnati. “I thought I might do politics and government and that type of thing but I also thought I might do sports.”

A chance encounter at an Ohio diner set the stage for a lifelong career and commitment to journalistic integrity. “One of the guys who was a local judge said ‘You should come down and sit with us sometime for lunch.’”

At lunch, the young Pergram ended up sitting next to John Boehner. “I covered his first race for Congress when I was still in college. But I worked, full-time at a radio station in Cincinnati. And so I’ve always kind of covered politics, specifically Congress.”

While he’s been with Fox News since 2007, Pergram believes his work at C-SPAN, his first Washington D.C. job, elevated his reporting to the excellence we see on screen today.

“When I came to C-SPAN, that was probably some of the best training I ever got about covering Congress. It’s not because you just show up at C-SPAN and they drop all this information into your head. No, it’s because it helped me get to know the players, meaning the members understand the congressional rules.”

Pergram noted a lot of people don’t know or pay attention to the rules, including some members of Congress. “A lot of the members don’t even know the rules, nor staff.”

He believes knowing the rules of Congress is as important as knowing the rules of baseball. “I remember I would sit in my room as a kid in rural Ohio, and there was not a lot to do in the 70s. And I would just study baseball cards. I can tell you statistics on the back of those baseball cards and what every player looked like. It was the same thing coming to Congress.”

The rules help distill votes to a numbers game. “I always say it’s about the math. And so when there’s certain numbers who are out, it’s going to affect the vote total. It’s the same type of scouting reports that you put together in sports as you would for covering Congress.”

Chad Pergram said those in Congressional leadership have to know the rules really well but noted, “We haven’t seen anybody really as good since Robert Byrd left.” Another example Pergram gave of a Congressman who knew the rules well is John Dingell. “He used to say, ‘If you write policy and let me write the rules, I will beat you every time.’”

Tonight’s 7 PM Congressional game is the second consecutive year Pergram will be on the call for the play-by-play, “It’s really fun to do the game. It’s a lot of work that, like most things in life, when you put on and a lot of hard work, it pays off.”

His wife, who is also a sports fan, helps Pergram compile stats and bios for the game. “It’s kind of a labor of love, frankly.”

Some of the challenges of covering tonight’s game include players with the same number. “You know their voices. But when they put on the uniform and a ball cap, you know, you don’t always know who they are.”

While the GOP will wear the same uniform (minus the baseball cap), democrats typically do not. “They wear everything. A lot of major league teams, college, college teams, high school teams, community colleges. For example, I remember Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) would wear the Brooklyn Cyclones.”

Since the annual game doesn’t provide regular statistics, it’s Pergram’s personal knowledge and years of coverage that make it unique. Additionally, the rules of the game are slightly different than regular baseball. “Steve Scalise leads off for the Republicans, and he can’t run because of the shooting several years ago. So they put a designated runner next to him, and it looks like he’s getting in the starter’s blocks, you know, the 100-meter dash or something. And then [the designated runner] takes off on contact.”

Chad Pergram noted his passion for all types of news, adding, “If I probably wasn’t covering Congress, even though I cover some sports stuff, I would probably be doing sports [journalism]. So this is my one occasion from time to time, besides doing the Caps’ game, to do sports.”

Some of his most notable stories have happened both on and off the Congressional field, including the death of Osama Bin Laden, two Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearings, the 2017 Congressional Baseball Game shooting, and the January 6th protests.

“I work in the Capitol every day. It’s my office. It’s a place that I treasure. To see the building ransacked on such an important day where you certify the Electoral College and the Capitol Police get overrun. I’m in the basement, barricading the doors, but on the air live all day.

“Then reporting on the riot and reporting on the certification of the Electoral College. This is how we have a peaceful transfer of power. I mean, that was, beyond dramatic and beyond terrible, frankly.”

For those looking to follow in his footsteps, Chad Pergram believes two things, they need to “pay attention” and “need to be willing to do things that others aren’t willing to do.” For example, “When I was young I got an opportunity but it was working all night doing anchoring the newscast at the radio station in Cincinnati. So everybody else would be going out on Friday night, and I’d be going to work.”

The strategic sacrifice, bunting on a play (aka a night out) just might end up giving someone a career grand slam, as it has for Chad Pergram.

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How the Guilty Verdict of Donald Trump Affected Local TV Ratings

The 34-count conviction provided significant ratings increases for the national networks, especially on cable news. That boosted effect also occurred on the local channels

Doug Pucci

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A photo of Donald Trump
(Photo: Gage Skidmore)

The 34-count conviction of former President Donald Trump on May 30 provided significant ratings increases for the national networks, especially on cable news. That boosted effect also occurred on the local channels for where the hush money trial took place: New York City.

ABC’s New York affiliate WABC was tops in the market. According to Nielsen, during the breaking news of the Trump verdict, (from 4:45 PM-6:30 PM), WABC achieved an average audience of 435,400 total viewers, 28 percent higher than its closest competitor Fox News (~340,000) in solely the New York area.

In the key 25-54 demographic, WABC posted 93,000 viewers, a 48 percent advantage over #2 Fox News (~63,000).

WABC’s Eyewitness News at 11 PM on May 30 was #1 with 338,000 total viewers, 75 percent higher than #2 WCBS (~193,000), In adults 25-54, WABC delivered 82,400 viewers, #1 over runner-up WCBS (~33,400) by a margin of 147 percent.

NBC’s New York affiliate WNBC saw its 5 PM News deliver a 1.27 household rating (which equates to 96,520 households within the New York market) and a 5 share (meaning 5% of all New York, households with televisions in use had WNBC on) representing an increase of 67 percent compared to the same 5 PM hour on the prior six Thursdays  (Apr. 18-May 23).

Demo-wise, the increases were even larger. among adults 25-54,  a 0.52 rating/5 share (42,764 viewers aged 25 through 54; +136 percent) and among adults 18-49, a 0.35 rating/4 share (30,257 viewers aged 18 through 49; +94 percent).

WNBC’s other early evening newscasts also benefited:

6 PM to 6:30 PM

  • Households: 96.857 (1.28 rating/4 share; +2%)
  • Adults 25-54: 51,163 (0.63 rating/6 share; +80%)
  • Adults 18-49: 37,277 (0.43 rating/5 share; +54%)

7 PM to 7:30 PM

  • Households: 85,434 (1.12 rating/4 share; +15%)
  • Adults 25-54: 41,872 (0.51 rating/4 share; +70%)
  • Adults 18-49: 33,396 (0.38 rating/4 share; +58%)

Between 4:45-7 p.m., New York City’s 24/7 local news station Spectrum News NY1 experienced a +167 percent increase in ratings vs. the previous month’s average during this period — the largest increase of any broadcast or cable news network based on Nielsen Live+same day household ratings

NY1 continued with extensive coverage until midnight, leading to NY1 experiencing a +100 percent increase in household ratings between the longer period of 4:45 p.m. – 12 a.m.

Updating from Friday’s preliminary numbers, Nielsen’s final data released on June 3 indicated more than 20 million tuned in to the Trump guilty verdict across seven nationally-televised networks. 

Fox News was tops with 4.38 million viewers in the 4:45-6 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 30. MSNBC was runner-up with 3.54 million, followed by ABC (3.47 million), NBC (2.53 million), CBS (2.5 million), CNN (2.4 million) and Univision (1.066 million from 7-8 PM).

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‘Ramblin’ Ray Stevens Relishes Opportunity to Wake Up Chicago on WLS-AM 890

“If you go up to a Coke machine, and you press a Coke, a Coke better come out. And that’s what we’re gonna give (conservative listeners) in the mornings.”

Garrett Searight

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A photo of Ray Stevens and the WLS-AM 890 logo
(Photo: Ray Stevens)

In a surprise announcement Friday, WLS-AM 890 announced that country radio legend turned talk host “Ramblin” Ray Stevens would be replacing Steve Cochran on the station’s morning drive show.

Cochran’s contract was up, and the Cumulus Media station turned to Stevens, a former fill-in host who has spent the better part of a year hosting middays at sister station KCMO Talk Radio in Kansas City as its next host.

It’s a return home for Stevens, who had hosted the daypart with former WLS host “Big” John Howell after departing US 99.5 in 2016.

Ray Stevens couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity.

“WLS is a conservative radio station, and I’m a conservative guy. They needed somebody that could fill that void because everything else on that radio station lends itself to conservative radio,” Stevens told Barrett News Media. “If you go up to a Coke machine and you press Coke, a Coke better come out. And that’s what we’re gonna give (conservative listeners) in the mornings.

“We’re gonna be fair, We’re gonna talk about everything in the city that needs to be talked about. And we’re going to be involved in charity.”

The charity aspect is one that’s near and dear to Stevens’ heart. His mantra has long been “Doing good in the ‘hood,” helping people all around the Windy City however he can. It was something he missed without a radio job in the city.

“I love to be involved and if you can’t get out there and get your hands dirty and get into the communities, you are never going to be able to make a dent,” he shared. “We got to put ourselves in front of people, we got to work hard and use social media.

For the longest time, I was still doing a lot of charity work in town, but I didn’t have that behemoth of a radio signal to help me get that message out.”

The return to the news/talk outlet is one Ray Stevens is relishing, knowing that he’s better prepared for the opportunity now than he was in 2016.

“To come back and be able to have a little more experience under my belt and top world and to do it in Chicago, my hometown? I never wanted to work in L.A., I would have. I never wanted to work in New York, I would have,” he said with a chuckle. “Chicago, for me, listening to the greats that have sat in this chair … this is something that doesn’t come along very often.

“You have to cherish it. And you got to work hard for it because, at the end of the day, we’re renting this chair. And there’s always going to be the next person on this station. The listeners own this chair and I just want to do a good job for ’em. I want to do things that are relative to them, that matter to them, and not waste their time. Because we simply cannot waste their time with stuff that doesn’t matter.”

The ratings battle in the hotly contested Chicago market will be an uphill climb for WLS-AM 890. In the winter ratings book, the station earned a 0.6 share in morning drive between Cochran’s show and the first hour of The Chris Plante Show in the Persons 35-64 demographic. It jumped slightly to a 0.8 in the Persons 25-54 sector. Comparatively, WGN Radio’s morning offering from Bob Sirott garnered a 2.5 share in the Persons 35-64 demographic, with all-news WBBM scoring a 6.1 share in the same category.

It’s a fight Ray Stevens is ready to embrace.

“On WLS, the morning show is lagging behind the national programming. It’s lagging behind (Dan) Bongino, it lagged behind Chris Plante, and that needs to change,” he said. “Otherwise, why have local programming?”

He added that with a more cohesive view point — strongly slanted toward the conservative side of the political aisle — throughout the day, he believes it will only help the station grow.

“We’ll bring conservative values, if you will, to the morning show. This radio station is known for having conservative hosts that have an opinion. And we’ll bring it to them. Doesn’t mean we can’t be compassionate, doesn’t mean that we don’t care about people, because I think that’s sometimes the rap that you get if you’re a conservative.

“We will still be working in the hardest hit neighborhoods. We’ll still have people from both sides of the aisle on. But some of these politicians don’t deserve a spot on this radio station and I’m not going to give it up,” Stevens continued. “This is beachfront property and if you share our vision, well, then you’re welcome. And if you disagree with us, then call in and tell us but let’s at least have the debate.”

Ray Stevens, who will continue to host middays on KCMO, gave major kudos to the station’s Program Director and morning host — Pete Mundo — for helping prepare for this moment in his talk radio career.

“He’s taught me so much about talk radio here,” said Stevens. “You get out in your career and you think you know everything. I’m so happy that I got the chance to know Pete Mundo … You just gotta have confidence in yourself and work with people that understand you and believe in you. I really found that for the first time in my career with Pete Mundo. This guy gave me the ability to know that I could do this on this level. He gave me all the tools I needed.

“We’re not ever above learning. I think that if more people did that and relied on people that have a vested interest in them and understand that they know what they’re talking about, and that you believe in them, then when you apply what they’ve taught you — we see what’s happened in Kansas City with the ratings and the proof is right there.”

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