Bob Grant (radio)
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|Born||Robert Ciro Gigante
March 14, 1929
Bob Grant (born March 14, 1929) is an American radio host whose real name is Robert Ciro Gigante. A veteran of broadcasting in New York City, Grant is considered a pioneer of the "conservative" and "confrontational" talk radio format.
- 1 Career
- 2 Characteristics of Grant's radio shows
- 3 Influences and legacy
- 4 Sources
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Grant graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in journalism. He began working in radio in the 1940s at the news department at WBBM (AM) in Chicago, as a radio personality and television talk show host at KNX (AM) in Los Angeles, and as an actor. During the Korean War, he served in the Naval Reserve.  He later became sports director at KABC (AM) in Los Angeles, where after some substitute appearances he inherited the talk show of early controversialist Joe Pyne in 1964 and began to build a following. Grant hosted three shows on KABC (AM) in 1964 titled, "Open Line," "Night Line," and "Sunday Line."
Move to New York City (WMCA: 1970–1977)
Grant came to New York in 1970, where he hosted a talk show on WMCA as the "house conservative", distinctively out of fashion with both the times and with some countercultural WMCA personalities, including Alex Bennett. His offbeat but combative style (along with Fairness Doctrine requirements of the era) won him seven years on WMCA, with a growing and loyal audience. His sign-off for many years was "Get Gaddafi", which meant remove Muammar al-Gaddafi, the dictator of Libya, whose anti-Israeli stance was in opposition to Grant's pro-Israeli feelings.
On March 8, 1973, Grant had scheduled New York Rep. Benjamin S. Rosenthal, who was leading a boycott of meat. Grant later learned that Rosenthal would not appear on his show, and in a discussion with a caller, Grant referred to Rosenthal as a "coward." Rosenthal then filed a complaint with the F.C.C., and the issue went all the way up to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Straus Communications v. Federal Communications Commission, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, January 16, 1976, Wright, J. The appeals court ultimately ruled in favor of WMCA and Grant, due to the fact that Grant offered the congressman an invitation to appear on his show, granting Rosenthal equal time.
One of Grant's most memorable regular callers was Ms. Trivia, who aired her "Beef of the Week", a series of seemingly trivial complaints. Ms. Trivia was Grant's guest at a Halloween Festival dinner held at Lauritano's Restaurant in the Bronx, where a young Ms. Trivia, not long out of her teens, revealed herself for the first time to a startled radio audience, many who had expected and assumed, based upon her articulation and intonation, that she would be an elderly, prudish woman. Instead, a statuesque and fashionable Ms. Trivia, wearing an elaborate Victorian costume, was the surprise guest seated next to Grant at the dais table along with several political figures from New York. The following day the majority of calls to the show were for the purpose of obtaining information about the mysterious Mm. Trivia, with Grant in his typical manner finally in exasperation hanging up on the callers, shouting, "THIS IS NOT Mm. TRIVIA'S SHOW!"
A linguistic "hoax" trivia question originated on Grant's WMCA show in 1975, "There are three words in the English language that end in -gry. Two of them are angry and hungry. What is the third?" While at WMCA, Grant attracted attention in 1975 from a commentary he recorded titled, "How Long Will You Stand Aside." Grant also released an LP record in 1977 titled, "Let's Be Heard," which was a recording of a speech Grant gave before a synagogue in New York. Grant left WMCA in 1977.
WOR AND WWDB
In 1979, radio host Barry Farber, fought with WMCA station manager Ellen Straus to rehire Grant. Farber broadcast during the 4-7 P.M. weekday timeslot on WMCA. When asked by Straus at a meeting if Farber was willing to give up his airtime for Grant, Farber replied, "Yes he can have my time. I'd rather he have my time than no time at all." While away from WMCA, Grant went up the dial to New York's WOR (AM) for a time, where he was fired for controversial remarks. Grant describes the remarks that got him fired from WOR:
|“||I had done my nightly show on WOR and a caller phoned in to the show saying he was upset with a woman who was blaming the police for what happened to her sons. I had read the story the man was referring to and noted that the woman, who was very angry with the police, was the public relations director or community relations director of WCBS newsradio. I stupidly asked the caller if he knew how she got that job. The caller said he didn’t know and I promptly and arrogantly said, “I will tell you how. She passed the gynecological and pigmentation test — that’s how!” Not only did that turn off Roger Ailes, but WOR was forced to fire me even though I had given the radio giant the biggest overnight ratings they ever had.||”|
After being fired from WOR, Grant worked at WWDB in Philadelphia. Grant had gone back to WMCA after working at WWDB in Philadelphia. It was reported upon Grant's departure that his ratings had slipped to number 23 out of 39 shows during the 4-7 P.M. weekday timeslot.
In 1984, WABC (AM) in New York City hired Grant to join their new talk station. The Bob Grant Show consistently dominated the ratings in the highly competitive afternoon drive time slot in New York City and at one point the radio station aired recorded promos announcing him as "America's most listened to talk radio personality." The gravel-voiced Grant reminded listeners during the daily introduction that the "program was unscripted and unrehearsed".
Grant's long stay at WABC ended when he was fired for a remark about the April 3, 1996 airplane crash involving Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Grant remarked to caller named, Carl of Oyster Bay (Carl Limbacher, later of NewsMax fame), "My hunch is that [Brown] is the one survivor. I just have that hunch. Maybe it's because, at heart, I'm a pessimist." When Brown was found dead, Grant's comments were widely criticized, and several weeks later, after a media campaign, his contract was terminated.
Return to WOR (1996–2006)
After being fired, Grant moved down the dial to WOR to host his show in the same afternoon drive-time slot. Grant's age began to show while broadcasting at WOR. He was less engaging with the callers, and not as energetic during his broadcasts. For a time, the Bob Grant show went into national syndication, but has been a local only show since 2001. Grant and his WABC replacement Sean Hannity would sometimes throw jabs at each other. Hannity defeated Grant in the ratings from 2001–2006.
Grant's WOR run ended on January 13, 2006. Grant's ratings were not to blame for his departure, according to the New York Post, which mentioned that the decision was reached because the station's other shows had niche audiences to garner more advertising dollars. On January 16, 2006, shortly after Grant's last WOR show, Grant appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show and TV program Hannity & Colmes, where his former competitor paid tribute to him. Having left his options open for "an offer he cannot refuse," Grant returned to WOR in February 2006, doing one minute "Straight Ahead" commentaries which aired twice daily after news broadcasts until September 2006. On September 8, 2006 Grant again appeared on Hannity's show to provide a post-retirement update, which led to premature rumors that Grant was returning to WABC. Grant then made various isolated radio appearances. He appeared as a guest host on WFNY (now WXRK) on December 7, 2006, and was interviewed by attorney Anthony Macri for Macri's WOR show on February 24, 2007.
Post-Retirement: Return to WABC and Internet broadcasting
His guest appearances became more frequent beginning in July 2007. On July 7, 2007, he guest hosted for John R. Gambling, and appeared on Mark Levin's show (which is networked from WABC) on July 10. Grant, guest hosted for Jerry Agar on July 9, 10, 11 and re-appeared as a fill-in host again for John Gambling on August 20 and 21. Then, on August 22, while appearing on Hannity's show, he announced that he was returning as a regular host to WABC, in the 8–10 PM slot that at the time was filled by Agar. It would later be revealed, on what was Agar's final show a few hours later, that he would be starting effective immediately, as Grant took over the final segments of the show. His first full show on ABC since 1996 was on August 23. The story of Grant's return, as reported by the New York Daily News, had been discovered only a couple of hours before Grant's official announcement.
Grant's stint lasted less than a year and a half, until his regular nightly show was pulled by WABC in late November 2008 as part of a programming shuffle stemming from the debut of Curtis Sliwa's national show, and later Mark Levin's show expanding to three hours, leaving no room for Grant. Grant did his most recent AM radio work as guest host filling in for Michael Savage on January 21, 2009, Mark Levin on March 23, 2009, and Sean Hannity on July 31, 2009.
During the week of July 6, 2009 Grant began hosting an Internet radio show titled Straight Ahead! which originally ran Monday through Friday from 8 to 9 a.m. Eastern time on UBATV.com. As a webcast, the show differed from Grant's radio shows, in that the viewer watched Grant as he did his broadcast. The first two months of Straight Ahead! were from inside Grant's home, and were run with technical assistance from independent filmmaker Ryan O'Leary. New York radio personalities Richard Bey and Jay Diamond were also brought on board to broadcast their own one hour shows. Grant mentioned that he did not get paid to do the UBATV show, but believes that Internet broadcasting is the future.
Beginning in September 2009, Grant reduced Straight Ahead! from five days a week down to two (Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 to 11 a.m Eastern time). Grant also moved the show from his home to a professional studio. Due to a low number of callers to the show, Grant usually interviewed only guests for the hour. On January 13, 2010, Grant did his last UBATV show. Grant's last UBATV show and his last WOR show both fell on the date of January 13.
On September 13, 2009, Grant returned to WABC for a third stint at the station, doing a weekly Sunday talk show from 12pm to 2pm. Grant's return to AM broadcasting has allowed him to continue interacting with his fan base through greater listenership and participation than his previous internet radio show provided. At the close of his first show, he expressly thanked the management of the station for "inviting him back" and said he looked forward to continuing this joint venture every week for the foreseeable future. Grant issued a statement in October 2012 that his October 7 broadcast would be his last, but then rescinded that message after the show, labeling it a "mistake" and an attempt to grab attention. He then took off a short time for medical work, and when he returned to the air, it was for a shortened 1pm to 2pm Sunday show (current as of November 2012).
Characteristics of Grant's radio shows
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Grant's political philosophy generally followed American conservatism, but with some lurches into populism, libertarianism, conspiracy theory, and unorthodoxy (such as being pro-choice and anti-Flag Desecration Amendment). Grant was known for using a number of catchphrases on his show, such as "You're a fake, a phony, and a fraud!", "Straight ahead", "Get off my phone!", "Anything and everything is grist for our ever-grinding mill", and his closing line, "Your influence counts. Use it." His opening line was used as the title of his 1996 book, Let's Be Heard, a title representing an abbreviated version of his original opener, "And let's be heard! Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to another hour of the free and open exchange of ideas and opinions in the belief that as American citizens you have the right to hear, and to be heard." Before his daily monologue, Grant would ask the rhetorical question, "And what's on your mind today, hmmm?", and would sometimes call women "chickie-poos". He occasionally referred to women as "broads" and when certain undesirable, lacklustre or contentious women were combative he referenced them as "several miles of bad road". One of his favorite put-downs was to refer to someone as a "cacazote". During the 1988 presidential bid of Michael Dukakis, this term took on a natural segue as Grant often referred to him as "Dukacazote". He also referred to feckless politicians as "craven bootlickers," especially when elected officials would cave in to political pressures, and Grant accused them of "folding like a cheap camera". Due to his Italian heritage, Grant frequently used Italian slang words to describe callers or other individuals calling them gavones (crude or uncultured persons), stunads (stupid, thick, dense) or chiacchorones (persons who talk excessively). During his second stint at WOR, Grant often closed his show with the phrase, "Somebody's got to say these things, it has to be me!" As a resident of Manalapan, New Jersey in the late-1990s, he considered running for statewide office, but eventually decided against it.
Grant occasionally made on-air reference to an always unheard, ethereal Beatrice-like presence à la Dante's Paradiso section in The Divine Comedy, "The Lady Josephine", to whom he constantly paid obeisance. His son, Jeff Grant, a traffic reporter with a different station, would call in occasionally. Grant made frequent references to the REO Diner in Woodbridge, New Jersey, his regular haunt.
For many years Grant closed each show with the exclamation, "Get Khadafy!" This was apparently an allusion to the practice of Roman statesman Cato the Elder ending his speeches with a call for the destruction of Carthage even if he had not been discussing Carthage in the speech. When Khadafy was finally killed in the 2012 Libyan civil war, Grant praised the decision.
When once asked by the caller George the Atheist whether he believed in God, Grant replied, "What if I tell you, George, that sometimes I do and sometimes I don't?" On his July 21, 2005 broadcast, Grant, a baptized and raised Roman Catholic, unequivocally stated to the same caller his opinion on the Second Coming of Jesus: "He's not coming back. Look, I don't believe he's coming back. I think that's a myth and I say it. I don't trumpet it but if a person asks — and you know one thing for sure, I've been deadly honest, dead-on honest all the time I've been on the air talking to people and they ask me questions or they make a comment that elicits a response, they are going to get an honest response. It may always not be 'correct' but it's honest." Grant has since stated that he is not an atheist.
Like many hosts in the talk radio format, Grant had his battery of usual callers that added interest to the show. John from Staten Island, Jimmy from Brooklyn, Al from Chappaqua, Greg from Chatham, David from Irvington, Dorothy from Montclair, Hal from North Bergen (at the time an undercover FBI agent provocateur posing as a white supremacist, he later went rogue), patients rights activist Eddie Carbone, and the popular Frank from Queens were some of the frequent callers. A few quasi-fictitious characters (played by Grant) were also employed during the show such as, 'Julian P. Farquar, Dexter Pogue, Rantz Greeb, Paul "needlenose" Monage, and Lucy Shagnasty.
Over the years, Grant has made a number of statements on his shows that critics have described as racist. For example, he was quoted in the Newsday of June 2, 1992, as saying "Minorities are the Big Apple's majority, you don't need the papers to tell you that, walk around and you know it. To me, that's a bad thing. I'm a white person." In his book, Grant defended this statement by writing that he did not intend to put down other races, but only intended to express that "no one likes to be in the minority," and that America can only survive by retaining its "humane, west European culture." Thus, he supports ending bilingualism and multiculturalism, two policies of which he has been highly critical.
On October 15, 2008, Grant said "Did you notice Obama is not content with just having several American flags, plain old American flags with the 50 states represented by 50 stars? He has the 'O' flag. [...] He had the flag painted over, and the 'O' for Obama. Now,...these things are symptomatic of a person who would like to be a potentate — a dictator." The "O" flag to which Grant referred was, in fact, the state flag of Ohio.
Grant distinguished himself from other conservative talk show hosts by calling for Obama to release his long form birth certificate, prior to Obama releasing it.
Although Grant is generally known as being a conservative, he has been a critic of hard-lined conservative advocates in primary races, including the Tea Party movement's candidates. This has been a frequent debate topic between Grant and his callers over the past few years. During the fall election of 2010, Grant criticized candidates, such as Christine O'Donnell, Rand Paul, and Sharron Angle. Grant endorsed Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio on a July 10, 2010 broadcast for the Florida senate primary. On a May 8, 2011 broadcast, Grant informed his audience that he supported the moderate Jon Huntsman, Jr. for the Republican nomination for president, although he would later go on to support Mitt Romney.
Influences and legacy
Being largely the innovator of his own particular talk radio style, Grant previously worked with the likes of Barry Gray and Joe Pyne. Pyne would often end each broadcast with "Straight Ahead" which is something Grant picked up, leading many to believe that Grant was the first host to frequently use that line.
Over the years, national radio talk personality Howard Stern has made differing remarks on his admiration for Grant as an early influence. Upon Stern's arrival in New York, he cited Grant as an influence, but as Stern's stardom rose, Grant became the subject of ridicule on Stern's show. During Stern's prime, he denied being influenced by Grant or having respect for him. Stern has also frequently criticized Grant for changing his act to appease management. Grant told Paul D. Colford, author of the 1996 Stern bio, Howard Stern: King of All Media, about being approached at a public appearance by Ben Stern, Howard's father, with a teenage Howard in tow. Father introduced son to Grant and told him of Howard's desire to go into radio. "I looked at this big, gawky kid and I said to him, 'Just be yourself,'" Grant recalled. Stern has denied Grant's version of the story. Soon after Grant's firing from WABC, and before his first WOR show, Grant appeared as a call-in guest on Stern's radio show. In more recent years, Stern began to praise Grant's legacy, and called in on his last WOR show in 2006.
Glenn Beck now uses the catchphrase "Get off my phone!" as a spinoff of Grant's earlier call-in talk show style, as do Tom Scharpling and Mark Levin; similarly, Sean Hannity often uses Grant's phrase "Straight ahead."
Radio & Records had planned to issue a Lifetime Achievement Award to Grant during its annual convention in March 2008; however, the award was revoked in January 2008 for "past comments by him that contradict our values and the respect we have for all members of our community." Several talk radio hosts have spoken out against the decision; Neal Boortz has stated:
|“||I usually try not to miss the Radio & Records talk radio convention... Not this year. Maybe never again. R&R has succumbed to political correctness... I don't call for boycotts. But I do think it would be wonderful to see talk show hosts refuse to appear at this convention... What we have seen here in this revocation of the award to Bob Grant is simple pandering to political correctness. Nothing more, nothing less.||”|
Sean Hannity, Opie and Anthony, Comedian Jim Norton, Lars Larson, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Lionel and Howard Stern opposed the move as well, with Levin stating "I am disgusted with the mistreatment of Bob Grant. I am fed up with the censors, intimidators, and cowards in this business."[this quote needs a citation] Don Imus deemed the award unimportant, offered to return awards he had received after treating them to his sledgehammer and block of wood, and called Grant's comments "stupid", although he also referred to Grant as a "legendary broadcaster."
- Colford, Paul D. (1997). Howard Stern: King of All Media. New York: St. Martins Press. ISBN 0-312-96221-5.
- Grant, Bob (1996). Let's Be Heard. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53721-0.
- Talkers Magazine Online
- National Radio Hall of Fame & Museum
- "WABC welcomes back Bob Grant". New York: Nydailynews.com. August 24, 2007. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- http://www.bobgrantonline.com/archive/2010/navex.cfm. Missing or empty
- "Billboard - Google Books". Books.google.com. 1964-02-15. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "530 F.2d 1001". Ftp.resource.org. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "ABA Journal - Google Books". Books.google.com. 1973-03-08. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "Endangered: The First Amendment". Bobgrantonline.com. 2009-06-09. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- Mm. Trivia. "Mm. Trivia's Beeves (Beefs) and Beyond". Mmtriviabeefs.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- [dead link]
- "Billboard - Google Books". Books.google.com. 1975-02-08. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "New York Magazine - Google Books". Books.google.com. 1979-02-12. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "Blackballed by Fox". Bobgrantonline.com. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "Billboard - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- New York Times, April 18, 1996, Bob Grant Is Off Air Following Remarks On Brown's Death
- "News/Talk 760 WJR". Wjr.com. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism - Sean Hannity - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- [dead link]
- "No Discussion At WABC About Rehiring Bob Grant | Media & Telecommunications > Information Services from". AllBusiness.com. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- "Hannity Hints Grant May Return To WABC/NY". AllAccess.com. September 11, 2006. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- David Hinckley (November 25, 2008). "Veteran radio host Bob Grant booted from nightly show on WABC". New York Daily News.
- "Bob Grant to Be Heard On UBA-TV". Bobgrantonline.com. July 9, 2009. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- "Exit, Laughing". Bobgrantonline.com. July 30, 2009. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- Munson, Wayne. All Talk: The Talkshow in Media Culture. p. 7.
- "Does Anyone Care?". Bobgrantonline.com. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "The Two Worst Verdicts in History". Bobgrantonline.com. 2011-11-21. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "Grant vs. Stern: animosity or respect?". Merit.edu. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- "Here He Is". Koam.com. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- Hinckley, David (August 24, 2010). "Howard Stern reacts to being ranked No. 2 by Talkers: 'There was no Rush Limbaugh til I came along'". Daily News (New York).
- "Some secrets are out – The Howard Stern Show". Howardstern.com. January 16, 2006. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- Talkers Magazine Online
- 2008 RHOF Inductees
- Rowland, Kara. Talk radio award revoked. Washington Times. January 17, 2008.
- Boortz, Neal. Nealz Nuze. January 17, 2008.
- Imus, Don. Imus in the Morning. January 19, 2008. Partial reaction here .
- Bob Grant Online — official web page
- Bob Grant Returns Home to WABC — WABC (AM) official DJ page
- YouTube of Bob while at WABC
- Bob Grant — About.com
- The Inventor of Controversial Talk Radio: Bob Grant — archived WOR (AM) biography page from 2004 on the WayBack Machine
- Hinckley, David (August 22, 2007). "Bob Grant returns to WABC". New York Daily News (New York City).
- Grant, Bob (January 18, 2008). Bob Grant: Talk Radio Legend. Interview with Rush Limbaugh. Clear Channel Communications. The Rush Limbaugh Show. http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_011808/content/01125112.guest.html.
- Maureen Nevin Duffy (April 27, 2008). "Radio's Royalty". Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, New Jersey: Gannett). Archived from the original on April 27, 2008.
- Hinckley, David (August 18, 2009). "Bob Grant set to return to WABC radio for third stint". New York Daily News (New York City).