Archive for the ‘1950s’ category

Why Alternative Media is Better than the Good Old Days

June 28, 2014

The rise of new media has produced too much “advocacy journalism” according to Larry Atkins a journalist and attorney.

Walter Cronkite (

Walter Cronkite (

From Huffington Post

Over the past 15 years, as newspaper circulation has declined, more and more people are turning to advocacy journalism via websites, talk radio, cable TV, and blogs to get their news. …

Advocacy journalists do not set out to inform; they set out to advance an agenda, whether it be conservative or liberal. While FOX News and conservative talk radio show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are the worst offenders, liberal television hosts like Al Sharpton and Rachel Maddow also fall into this category. They are all giving their opinion and reporting news with a goal and a biased agenda.

In light of the explosion of media outlets ranging from cable news outlets, talk radio, blogs, and websites, we need to be more savvy news consumers. As I tell my journalism students, it’s important to consider the source of the information before we make our judgments.

Atkins is both right and wrong.

Neither Rush Limbaugh nor Rachel Maddow are journalists, and have been known to omit facts to push their point of view.

However, Atkins longs for the good old days that never really existed, of The New York Times setting the agenda and Walter Cronkite telling America, “That’s the way it is.” Today we know that establishment media had their own agenda and framed debates in one way.

So the public should be more savvy news consumers and always consider the source of information. That’s always been the case. What’s better about today than Atkins’ mythical yesteryear is that an alternative media has produced multiple sources to check both politicians and media.

To learn more about how talk radio established a successful commercial model for the exploding alternative media universe of today, read The Right Frequency.


Barry Farber Calls for Electing ‘Solutionists’

June 1, 2014

In a tongue-in-cheek commentary, one of the earliest talk radio legends slammed ideological politics and called for electing “solutionists.”

Barry Farber in 1977 New York Mayor's race (Credit: Library of Congress)

Barry Farber in 1977 New York Mayor’s race (Credit: Library of Congress)

From WND:

After that magic moment, I changed my “registration” from “right-winger.” I’m now a “solutionist.” We did more, accomplished more and hated each other less when the nation cared less about who’s left and who’s right than about how to dig a Panama Canal after the French had failed. Some problems have difficult, or maybe no, solutions at all. But others are finger-snappingly simple, effective and eminently do-able!

Farber was a pioneer in conservative talk radio, was a mayoral candidate in New York and debated the Soviets in the 1980s.

To learn more about Farber’s amazing radio read Chapter 4 of The Right Frequency.

One Year After Release, The Right Frequency a Bestselling Radio Book

September 1, 2013

One year after its release, The Right Frequency stands strong on Amazon.

The Right Frequency, released in August 2012, reached the Top 20 over the past week on Amazon’s Radio History & Criticism category for Kindle books. This book reached the top 10 on Friday, Aug. 30. The Right Frequency also returned to the bestseller list in Amazon’s Radio category.

The Right Frequency paperback edition also returned to the bestseller list for Amazon’s History & Criticism category.

The book, that chronicles the history of talk radio from the days of Walter Winchell through Rush Limbaugh, has been an Amazon bestseller for four consecutive months.

Click here to order a copy of The Right Frequency.

Boston Globe post on National Radio Day

August 20, 2013

The Right Frequency was featured on The Boston Globe’s website in a posting about National Radio Day, Aug. 20.

Of the day, the article said, “[O]ne trend that appears obvious is the shift to talk radio away from music radio due to the demand for music being satisfied by iPods, YouTube and a variety of electronic factors.”

“And when it comes to talk radio, one of the very few experts on the subject, Fred Lucas, author of ‘The Right Frequency,’ a history of the remarkable influence talk radio has had on Conservative politics in the United States, is well aware of the trend.”

“Radio is becoming more widely used than ever before,” Lucas said. “There are more portals through radio, and I mean talk radio, flows today than ever before. When one considers the portable electronic devices in use today, the numbers are staggering. Talk radio influence appears to be never ending.”

Click here to order a copy of The Right Frequency.

Radio Surived and Thrives Through Media Revolutions

August 18, 2013

Silobreaker, a publication on technology, carried a recent posting on The Right Frequency.

The article said, “The book explains how radio not only survived but thrived despite various media revolutions over the past 90s years. It also details milestones in the radio era such as the Payola Scandal of the early 1960s and the end of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine in the late 1980s, both of which contributed in its own way to the proliferation of talk radio.”

The piece was posted just days before National Radio Day on Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Click here to order a copy of The Right Frequency. 

Does New Fairness Doctrine Threaten Internet Freedom?

August 4, 2013

The Internet is the next battleground over the Fairness Doctrine, a recent Naples Daily News article warns.

“In more recent years, such individuals see things like conservative talk radio as the bane of our democracy, and that such enterprises need to, in the least, be reined in. Many such folk do speak of the good old days of the Fairness Doctrine, a piece of legislation which is in reality the antithesis of free speech. Not surprisingly, many of these individuals hail from a liberal/progressive camp,” the article says.

It continues, “No one is left to solely rely on radio and television, nor do they necessarily have to contend with programming schedules. There’s a universe of information on the Web that can be accessed on demand by computers, tablets, and smart phones. You can get the news that the mainstream media offers, and you can also go to alternative sites. Many libraries across the country are going digital, and you can download books and other materials from their websites for free.”

“It’s out there. All a person has to do is take the time and effort to look for it,” the article further states. “Unfortunately the future of the Web is uncertain. Just as some have been clamoring for the return of the Fairness Doctrine, there have been demands that speech on the Web be regulated and restricted.”

The piece speaks to the potential threats of the Fairness Doctrine. The Lyndon Johnson administration engaged in a “challenge and harass” strategy by using the power of the government to silence radio critics of the administration. These abuses are detailed in detailed in Chapter 5 of The Right Frequency,

Below is an excerpt from The Right Frequency on the Fairness Doctrine.


The story of how Democrats used Nixonian tactics before Nixon was ever elected president began in the fall of 1963 when President John F. Kennedy wanted to get the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union approved by the U.S. Senate. The treaty had bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition, thus was
expected to be a close vote. A big concern was criticism of the treaty by the Revs. McIntire and Hargis.
Kenneth O’Donnell, the appointment secretary for President Kennedy sought the advice of former New York Times reporter Wayne Phillips on forcing stations to provide equal time. A behind the scenes effort prompted the front group Citizens Committee for a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which targeted talk radio. The Rudder & Finn public relations firm, which coincidently is the same PR firm the DNC used, did publicity for the committee. Each time McIntire or Hargis took a swing at the treaty, the committee sent letters to the stations that carried their programs. States where these show aired that had senators on the fence were specifically targeted. A special program was taped specifically for responding in each of those stations. When the Senate ratified the treaty by a surprising 80-19 vote on September 24, 1963, the administration saw how the Fairness Doctrine can be used for high priority legislation.
In January 1964, after Johnson had taken office, Phillips began monitoring conservative radio. “It soon became apparent to me that the extreme right-wing broadcasting was exceptionally heavy on particular stations and in particular areas of the country, and that the content of these broadcasts was irrationally hostile to the president and his programs.” Phillips eventually came on board in a more formal role as the Director of News and Information for the DNC. He hired Wesley McCune, head of Group Research Inc., which did research for the DNC, to help him with full time listening duties.
The DNC prepared a kit that it delivered to voters and activist explaining, “how to demand time under the Fairness Doctrine.”
Phillips also brought Fred J. Cook, a friend from his journalism days, into the fold to write a piece for The Nation magazine lashing out against conservative talk radio. Cook had just finished a book “Barry Goldwater: Extremist on the Right.”
The talk radio piece in The Nation ran in the May 25, 1964 issue with the headline, “Hate Clubs of the Air.” It said, “The hate clubs of the air are spewing out a minimum of 6,600 broadcasts a week, carried by more than 1,300 radio and television stations—nearly one out of every five in the nation in a blitz that saturates everyone one of the fifty states with the exception of Maine.”399
According to Friendly’s book, “Because of the close association of James Row with President Johnson and also because of [DNC Chairman] John Bailey’s standing as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, there is little doubt that this contrived scheme had White House approval.”
Bill Ruder, an Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the Johnson administration recalled, “Our massive strategy was to use the Fairness Doctrine to challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters and hope that the challenge would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue.”
The DNC mailed out thousands of copies of Cook’s Nation article to Democratic state and local parties and Democratic officials. The DNC also mailed the article to radio stations, with a letter from DNC counsel Dan Brightman warning that if Democrats are attacked, demands will be made for equal time. When McIntire criticized Brightman for sending the letter, the DNC demanded and got free airtime to respond on about 600 stations. Then, when Dan Smoot assailed LBJ during the Democratic National Convention, the DNC got free airtime to respond on 30 stations, though others declined.
Democrats believed their strategy was successful and decided to accelerate things, setting up another front group called the National Council for Civic Responsibility that took out full page newspaper ads that said, “$10 million is spent on weekly radio and television broadcasts in all 50 states by extremists groups.” Picked to head the group was Arthur Larson, a liberal Republican who had served in the Eisenhower administration. Larson insisted at the National
Press Club, “The council’s formation had nothing to do with the presidential campaign or with the right-wing views of Republican candidate Senator Barry Goldwater.” Though, he later came clean that leading the organization was not his proudest moment. “The whole thing was not my idea, but let’s face it, we decided to use the Fairness Doctrine to harass the extreme right. In light of Watergate it was wrong. We felt the ends justified the means. They never do.”
He also added, “As soon as I found out the Democrats were putting money into it, I wanted out.”

Click here to order a copy of The Right Frequency.

Richard Nixon and the Talk Radio Host Who Made His Political Rise Happen

July 24, 2013

This week marks two key events in the political life of Richard Nixon — whose political career was largely made by talk radio host Fulton Lewis Jr., the Rush Limbaugh of his day.

On July 24, 1959 Vice President Nixon was in his famous “kitchen debate” with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. On July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee proposed articles of impeachment  against President Nixon before he ultimately resigned over the Watergate scandal.

The Right Frequency details how Lewis, a towering conservative media figure in the 1940s and 1950s pushed Nixon, a California senator known mostly for his anti-communism in Congress, into the national spotlight.

Below is an excerpt from The Right Frequency.

Fulton Lewis Jr., like others on the right, had misgivings about Dwight D. Eisenhower’s moderate brand of Republicanism. But he was delighted with Eisenhower’s choice of a running mate, California Senator Richard Nixon, a man with strong anti-communist credentials from his HUAC days.

Lewis had frequently entertained Nixon at his 275-acre Maryland ranch. After Nixon was officially nominated for vice president at the 1952 Republican National Convention in Chicago, he hugged Lewis and said, “Except for you Fulton, it never would have happened.”

That may also be true of Nixon remaining on the ticket. Though Nixon helped himself with the famous “Checkers speech,” Lewis was also a staunch defender of the VP nominee when Eisenhower considered dropping him from the ticket after revelations that businessmen were financing his personal expenses, which would violate Senate ethics rules on gifts and possibly the law. Lewis urged his listeners to contact Eisenhower’s campaign and demand that Nixon remain on the ticket.

His attitude toward Eisenhower: “A man morally fitted for his job, certainly and emotionally in so far that he in—in so far as he intends sincerely to do a good job,” compared to enthusiastically saying, “Dick Nixon is a young, very aggressive, probably the best trained man that has ever stood in possible line for the Presidency. A very sincere individual, a very fine, clean, family man and an ardent anti-communist.”

Click here to order a copy of The Right Frequency.