In Memoriam: Bob Grant—Father of Conservative Talk Radio, Although It’s a Wayward Child

James Kirkpatrick, VDARE, January 5, 2014

Leftists rejoiced with characteristic crudity at the passing of Bob Grant, the conservative Talk Radio pioneer who died December 31 at age 84. Daryle Lamont Jenkins of the One Person’s Project, er, “One People’s Project,” shrieked in triumph that Bob Grant should “Rot in Hell!” This is the same Jenkins who recently ordered to pay $50,000 to Comanche patriot David Yeagley for his role in forcing the cancellation of the 2010 American Renaissance Conference at which Yeagley was to speak. (Read Yeagley’s 2012 AmRen speech here. )

Bob Grant was an exemplar of the confrontational conservative radio hosts that the Main Stream Media loves to describe as “shock jocks.” Beginning in the 1970s, Grant steadily built a following in New York City as a token conservative who eventually emerged as a dominant force on Talk Radio during the Reagan years. [Bob Grant, a Combative Personality on New York Talk Radio, Dies at 84, by Paul Vitello, New York Times, January 2, 2014]

As most obituaries noted, Grant was notorious for controversial remarks. He referred to the now-sainted Martin Luther King Jr. as “this bum, this womanizer, this liar, this fake, this phony.” He expressed great pessimism about the future of the country, because “the quality of the citizenry seems to be heading down.” Finally, and most damningly, Grant noticed the great double standard you are not supposed to mention, saying, “You can talk all you want about ‘minorities’ rights,’ but heaven forbid you talk about white rights.”

Grant’s fall in 1996 came about because of an ill-considered crack at the news that then-Commerce Secretary Ron Brown’s plane had crashed. Grant joked that because he was a pessimist, he thought Brown would be the only survivor. Unfortunately, Brown actually had died.

With help from Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the Leftist vigilante group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) managed to get Grant fired from WABC. Though he would continue on other stations and blog and speak until his death, the damage was done. By 2008, in an example of the curious intensification of Political Correctness after what VDARE.com describes as the post-Soviet “Interglacial,” Grant was deemed too controversial to be given an industry Lifetime Achievement Award because of comments he had made years earlier. [Magazine Cancels Award For Shock-Talk Pioneer, By Paul Farhi, Washington Post, January 19, 2008]

Even after his  death, FAIR is still shrieking about Grant’s “racism.” [How Racist Do You Have to Be Before the New York Times Calls You a Racistby Peter Hart, FAIR, January 3, 2014]

Needless to say, this hypersensitivity about conservative Talk Radio is utterly hypocritical on the part of the Left and the “Respectable Right,” considering who else is on the air. For example, Al Sharpton, who is at least arguably responsible for deaths in the Crown Heights Riots and who famously summarized Western civilization as the theft of philosophy and mathematics by “Socrates and them Greek homos,” is still proudly aired by MSNBC. The back of Sharpton’s new book The Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path to American Leadership features praise from both President Barack Obama and . . . President George W. Bush.

Zingers aside, the Left’s view of Grant was always a caricature, and in his later career he was considerably more moderate. He even noted in 2011 that on “some social issues, like abortion or gay marriage, I was more what you’d call libertarian. It would make some of my listeners furious.” [Bob Grant, conservative Talk Radio legend, dies in Hillsborough at 84by Sergio Bichao, Daily Record,January 2, 2014]

Grant was pro-choice and praised RINO Jon Huntsman on the air and in writing during the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries. Eventually Gant went on to support Mitt Romney as the (don’t laugh!) “most electable candidate. ”

Grant was also an enthusiastic supporter of Israel, writing columns such as “God Bless the Jews!” And he was a True Believer in the Republican Party. Like Dennis Prager, Grant identified America itself with the GOP, writing that America died upon Obama’s re-election and making the usual tired comparisons between Barack Obama and the Nazis.

Nevertheless, Bob Grant, christened Robert Ciro Gigante, like Tom TancredoJoe Arpaio, and Lou Barletta, was an example of Italian-Americans who completely assimilated to the historic American nation. More than that, Grant himself really did represent his listeners—saying what they thought but couldn’t say, communicating their views, and standing for their interests. For this reason, he was, and is, hated.

In contrast, the contemporary MSM, from the Huffington Post to the Washington Post, sees its role as defending the political elite from the dangerous extremism lurking in Middle America. While the MSM can’t be bothered to investigate the President of the United Statesa foreign policy disaster that leads to the death of an ambassador, or the political connections of the powerful, it is in constant hysteria trivia a politically incorrect tweet, a reality show star’s comments about homosexuals, or the unacceptable political beliefs of Chick-Fil-A executives.

At its peak, Talk Radio allowed certain personalities to circumvent this kind of policing. As the introduction to Grant’s program put it, his show was dedicated to the idea that “as American citizens you have the right to hear, and to be heard.” [Bob Grant, Father of Conservative Talk Radio, Dead at 84by Bill Hoffman, Newsmax, January 3, 2014]

And Conservatism Inc. has been ultimately dependent on mobilizing (and then betraying) implicit white racial identity. Thus politicians like George Pataki and Rudolph Giuliani credited Grant with ensuring their political victories in New York. However, this may be a thing of the past. Grant hosted a number of those deemed “controversial” over the years, including David Duke. Bob Grant also praised Jared Taylor (audio clip helpfully provided by the One People’s Project.)

Even as late as 2012, Grant said to those of “European stock” that “I want to awaken in you the spirit of all the nationalities, a sense of pride.” [Celebs, media stump for ObamaBobGrantOnline, November 1, 2012]. But Grant’s heirs on the air are now more likely to hammer away at the kind of safe Conservatism Inc. economism that even he was susceptible to. It’s perhaps symbolic that Grant’s direct successor at WABC was Sean Hannity, whose principles are simply the Republican talking points of the day and who famously flipped on Amnesty (and then possibly back) after the 2012 election.

Part of this is due to the increasing concentration of Talk Radio ownership in cowardly corporate hands. WABC, formerly Grant’s flagship station, is now owned by Cumulus Media. Cumulus is even backing away from Talk Radio titans such as Rush Limbaugh out of fear, as advertisers continue to face pressure because of Limbaugh’s comment that Sandra Fluke was a “slut” because she demanded government pay for her birth control. [Talk Radio on WABC Shifts Focus to the Localby Ben Sisario, New York Times,January 2, 2014]

The result: a chilling effect on Talk Radio hosts when it comes to issues that really matter. Limbaugh has been noticeably careful about immigration–although when he has spoken up, the impact is immense—and the less said about Sean Hannity the better.

Talk Radio is losing the “forbidden fruit” quality it enjoyed in the early days, and the result is something more predictable, partisan, and boring.

Americans who want to hear things “they can’t hear anywhere else” now have the Internet. But it doesn’t have (yet) the kind of mass access enjoyed by someone like Grant at his peak. Grant is now receiving the same kind of sneering treatment reserved for people like Sam Francis. But that’s not really what his career was about. It’s telling that Grant’s estate is calling for donations to Young America’s Foundation, a Beltway group that is using its vast budget to get college students to celebrate . . . Ronald Reagan’s birthday. It’s a metaphor for the entire movement: populist passion is channeled into the dead ends of economic wonkery or infantile partisan sloganeering.

Grant bears at least partial moral responsibility for this. He may have been the father of conservative Talk Radio, but his child today is essentially an adjunct of the Beltway Right.

The lesson: Talk Radio—and the conservative movement—needs to speak openly for the audience that supports them.

Now that Bob Grant has passed, we should remember that he did that—if only in his best moments.

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  • MekongDelta69

    Only the good die young

    • Oil Can Harry

      Bob Grant wasn’t good, he was great.

      A pro-white conservative and race realist who made hamburger out of p.c. sacred cows (he used to call MLK a “scumbag”).

      New York’s liberal establishment was outraged that he had the city’s number one rated radio show for decades.

      Grant spoke truth to power. May God rest his soul.

  • D.B. Cooper

    Hopefully, 10 more just like him will rise to take his place for the next 30 years.

    • Spartacus

      We wouldn’t need a single one of him if enough of us manned the &%*# up already…

  • bigone4u

    Living in the south, I never heard of Mr. Grant until Drudge featured his passing on Friday. Hannity and Rush are staples here. I have a taste for red meat, but corporatism means that talk radio is not the place to find it. The best sources of unvarnished truth are those small bloggers like mindweapons, chechar, and vikingbitch. May the Internet breed tens of thousands more.

    • Bob Grant filled in for Michael Savage a few times about 10 years ago. He’s one I wish I would have been able to hear more of.

    • So CAL Snowman

      I never heard of him either because I just don’t listen to radio. I much prefer reading to listening.

  • ricpic

    I’m surprised at the tiny number of comments. Grant was sui generis, the lone voice of conservative sanity on talk radio for literally decades before Rush and then Sean, Mark and Mike Savage arrived. He was the one and only defender of what are called traditional values, a lone voice against the leftist tide. Although it’s impossible to measure these things he may have been a factor in at least keeping that tide from totally washing over and obliterating us. RIP.

    • Mergatroyd

      I thought the same thing. Bob Grant was an enormous and founding voice in the conservative movement and paid a heavy price throughout his career, although he did get a little soft toward the end. He openly (and bravely) mocked and ridiculed big lefties, in New York City, no less.

      John Lindsay : “the tower of jelly”

      Ed Koch : “the arrogant emperor,”

      Ted Kennedy : The SWIMMER (where do we hear THAT now?)

      David Dinkins — The men’s washroom attendant

      On Bill Clinton — The great stain maker

      On Mario Cuomo – The Sfaccim

      RIP Bob, you will be missed AND remembered.

  • ben no

    Liberalism should be treated as a mental illness, and those that wish to be one, should go on medication. Those with liberal tendencies should be checked for IQ, in case it is dangerously close to retardation, 70-

  • AutomaticSlim

    He was fantastic!!!
    He used to call Mario Cuomo “Il Sfacim”.
    It was the perfect name for that SOB.

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      What he said was this to the “Cumo” crime family: “Mario, assenza me! Tu sei profano sfaccim!!”

      (loosely translated, and yes I know what “sfaccim” is)….”Mario listen to me you are a low life..”

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Get your digitalis!!

    Bob Grant filled in and then took over for Joe Pyne in Los Angeles. Pyne is a local legend who used to tell IDIOT callers to “go gargle with razor blades!!” — Bob carried on Pyne’s combat radio style until he, like Rush, left California for New York.

    Grant left in 1970 and people around here STILL talk about him.

    Bob Grant paved the way for Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk radio hosts including enduring multiple suspensions and firings for speaking out about “controversial” topics.

    Rest in Peace, Bob, you were an original — and know that Sean Hannity could never and will never fill your shoes.

    I only wish you’d never left California.

    And, as Bob Grant personally reminded us: “Your influence counts… USE IT !”

    NOW GET OFF MY PHONE YOU FAKE, PHONEY, FRAUD

  • IstvanIN

    I listened to him faithfully for years. I wonder how much of his show was staged? It is obvious that Rush Limbaugh’s show is entirely staged. No one who calls disagrees with him. On the other hand people did disagree with Bob Grant. He may not have given them quite the free and open exchange I would have always liked, I love a good debate, but he never seemed staged. Sure, he had his standard lines like “get Quadafi”, but the show, overall, seemed on the up and up.

  • Extropico

    Bob Grant sounded like a patriot. That is an adjective that has been marginalized in recent decades as too often it has been used to support the folly of foolish bellicosity abroad rather than as an ascription of a national policy in favor of the nation’s citizenry.

    RIP Mr. Bob Grant.

  • rentslave

    On Judgement Day,Bob will be on God’s right side,while the Democrats will be on his left.

  • NoMosqueHere

    Growing up in New York, i remember Bob Grant very well and listened to his show often back in the day. In general, i never liked talk radio that much since most of the callers are dolts. But Grant was funny and controversial and never, in his words, afraid “to call a spade a spade.” LOL. RIP.

  • Earl Turner

    I’m glad the article mentions Cumulus. That abortion of a company owns the local AM talk station here in Maconga. They truly suck. The only good choice they’ve made in this market was getting rid of Jose Hannitystein.

    • Joe blow

      Hannity is another one who is bold in criticism of anyone but jews and Israel. Another coward.

  • Hunter Morrow

    Judaized talk radio, great.

    PASS.

    The phrase “If it wasn’t for him we would not have Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity” is one
    of the most insulting things I have ever read. Thanks for nothing, Bobby.

  • Hal K

    This article sums it up pretty well. I listened to Bob Grant regularly for a few years. My favorite line of his was “you’re getting on my nerves, pal” which he said to callers from time to time.

    He wrote a book titled “Let’s be Heard” towards the end of his career.

    Overall I would describe him as a civic nationalist, but as the article indicates, he can’t easily be pigeonholed as a “mainstream” conservative. He got into race realism sometimes, and he was very outspoken on black crime.

  • Joe blow

    I liked Grant, although I have to say he was a craven tody for Israel and anything Jewish. He attacked blacks, mercilessly and appropriately, for their behavior, because they were, and are, essentially powerless; but slavishly praised Israel and the jews–whom he knew run the media and could have crushed him at will. He threw in poorly-pronounced yiddish words into his rants, to the point where I remember one listener asked him if he was doing that “to impress his friends.” He also said, I remember, that “Anyone who brings up the USS Liberty is an anti-semite”. He was terrific, in many ways, but, in the end, essentially a coward.

    • Hal K

      In his book “Let’s be Heard” he wrote

      I’ve known and loved Jews since I was a kid, but sometimes they can be vexing. If they’re your frinds, they’re extremely loyal. But if they’re out to get you, look out.

    • NoMosqueHere

      No. Bob Grant understood how sick nazism is and its pernicious impact on the white self image. The nazis destroyed the white race, not the jews.

  • mich

    The press hated Bob Grant so much, because at the time, there was NO OTHER VOICE for real Americans. Since the 50’s, ALL of the press were simply an arm of the Democratic party. Ronald Reagan said that a conservative starts off 20 points down in any presidential election, do to the lies of the television networks and the newspapers.