Bob Grant came to WMCA radio in 1970 and set the airwaves ablaze with his slashing attacks on liberals and his angry catchphrase, 'Get off my phone!'

Long before the advent of Rush Limbaugh, there was Bob Grant, a legendary New York "conservative"talk radio host who broadcast on WOR for much of the 1970s before leaving for WABC in the eighties and, after getting fired, returned to WOR again in the 90s. (One of his firings was due to his having referred to New York's African-American Mayor David Dinkins as "that mens room attendant"). Grant's act is largely one of yelling at callers who call in with political gripes or complaints about Grant himself. He eschews the long monologue format of Limbaugh, though he does occasionally drift into a ruminative state of mind, and has no sidekick or news segment or even, very often, guests. (Though he did, apparently, have David Dukes on a number of times. Hm.) He accuses most callers who speak with accents of being in the country illegally, contemptuously calling them "pal" before screaming "get off my phone!" and moving onto the next caller. Though Grant always opened the show with the claim that it was everyone's right to "be heard", and that was what the function of his show was, the calls would immediately degenerate into abuse and tirades. (I have a theory that this is where Fox News "fair and balanced" shtick came from--a kind of wink at Grant's own completely false claim at the top of his show). It's his complete lack of courtesy or even interest in any other point of view than his own that I find so bleakly hilarious.

bob grant 660.jpgGrant made national headlines in 1996 when he was fired again for mocking the plane crash death of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. You may (or may not) remember that there was a slim chance of hope for survivors of the crash and Grant speculated that he thought Brown might be alive. Then he added: "That's because I'm essentially a pessimist".

It's odd to hear how much more moderate old 'conservative talk' was--the below clips are from the early 1990s and, save for some prickly nationalism and insulting third world slurs, Grant sounds basically like a right-leaning liberal. But it was really something of an act--the joy of Grant's show is his increasingly irascible and unreasonable attitudes toward the callers, many of whom appear to enjoy the abuse. Like him or loathe him, Grant is an excellent example of what makes a true broadcaster; he has the ability to make you want to stay and here what he's going to say next.

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