The Stephanie Miller Show
|Other names||The Stephanie Miller Newscast|
|Genre||Political satire - Observational comedy|
|Running time||3 hours|
(formerly Dial Global and Jones Radio Networks)
|TV adaptations||MSNBC (April 30, 2007–May 2, 2007)
Current TV (March 26, 2012–August 15, 2013)
Free Speech TV (January 6th, 2014–Present)
|Producer(s)||Rebekah Taylor (2004-2012)
Travis Bone (2012-present)
|Exec. producer(s)||Chris Lavoie|
|Recording studio||Los Angeles, California|
|Air dates||September 2004 to the present|
|Other themes||Various throughout the show|
|Website||Official show website|
|Podcast||The "Stephcast" by paid subscription|
The Stephanie Miller Show is a syndicated progressive talk radio program that discusses politics, current events, and pop culture using a fast-paced, impromptu style. The three-hour show is hosted by comedienne Stephanie Miller ("Steph") along with voice artist Jim Ward and the show's engineer and executive producer Chris Lavoie ("The Mooks"). The show debuted in September 2004 and is broadcast live each weekday morning on radio stations throughout the U.S. The radio show should not be confused with Miller's short-lived 1995 syndicated TV talk show with the same name.
Talkers Magazine named Stephanie Miller as one of the 100 most important radio talk show hosts in America in 2007, describing her as a funny, smart, and charming rising star of the progressive talk format. The Stephanie Miller Show is heard on 64 affiliates around the country and has a weekly cume of 2.5 million listeners. The show's audience has grown from 1 million in Fall 2005 on 40 affiliates.
The show was simulcast on MSNBC for three days starting April 30, 2007, as part of a series of programs filling the former time slot of Don Imus. On March 5, 2012, Current TV announced that the show would be simulcast on the network's new morning block as Talking Liberally: The Stephanie Miller Show beginning March 26, 2012. The show's simulcast on the network ended on August 15, 2013 with the end of live programming on Current in preparation of the transition to Al Jazeera America. The show is now simalcasted on Free Speech TV after a successful Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds to produce the show for TV.
- 1 Show format
- 2 Show features
- 3 Death threats
- 4 Production and distribution
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The show is primarily a mix of comedy and political topics, though Miller notes that "we talk less about politics than any other show in the progressive talk format". Much of the show takes the form of Miller introducing a news item or soundbite, followed by discussion among Miller, Ward, and Lavoie. The discussions are punctuated with sound effects, short audio clips, and imitations by Ward. Miller calls her show a mix of "high-brow" and "low-brow", and sometimes "unibrow" (in reference to her appearance as a teenager). Because the show can include interviews with political figures among jokes appealing to a juvenile sense of humor, Miller has described the show's format as "senator, fart joke, senator, fart joke." After a call from a listener who was complaining about the frequent use of sound effects and comedy elements, Miller, Ward, and Lavoie coined a new slogan for the show: "Facts with slide-whistle" (also with a slide-whistle sound effect).
Miller typically starts each hour of the show by reading a few e-mails from listeners. The e-mails can include anything from brief funny comments to elaborate humorous audio productions. Miller usually plays a mild applause sound effect after reading each e-mail.
The show takes several calls from listeners each hour at the phone number 1-800-STEPH-1-2. Miller says that "right-wing wackos go to the front of the line", and often refers to conservative male callers as "right-wing love muffins" while urging them to "come to the light". Callers converse mostly with Miller, rather than with Ward or Lavoie.
The show has been broadcast from several affiliate cities, with Miller and Ward appearing in front of a live audience (Lavoie stays at the studio). During these remote broadcasts, audience questions and interactions take the place of phone calls.
The show occasionally has guest hosts. Previously comedienne Elayne Boosler supplied a majority of the hosting duties in Stephanie Miller's absence, frequently joined by comedy writer Merrill Markoe. Frangela (an announcing team of two African-American comediennes named Frances and Angela) appeared as guest host, and frequented the show in a segment called "Fridays with Frangela." They were replaced in 2010 by comedian John Fugelsang, in a segment called "Fridays with Fugelsang." Comedian Hal Sparks frequently serves as a guest host, filling in for Stephanie Miller for as long as an entire week, when she is on vacation. Mostly, Sparks is not on the air with Lavoie and Ward, but occasionally they do appear together. Sparks and Fugelsang also occasionally appear together.
Stephanie Miller: Miller self-deprecatingly describes herself as a washed-up stand-up comic who is unqualified for any work other than her radio show. She jokes about consuming box wine. Having never been married, she considers herself to be a spinster (or "an elderly shut-in") with many fictional relationships with "future husbands". Her response to certain men (particularly firemen) is described by Lavoie as "slutty" while she says she has "a chick thing" for Sean Hannity and posts Photoshop images of herself and Hannity in compromising situations.
Miller, being the daughter of William E. Miller (running mate of Barry Goldwater), sometimes makes references to her Republican family, particularly her mother. Miller thinks that it's best that the show isn't broadcast in the city where her mother lives.
Jim Ward: Miller refers to Ward as "voice deity" (or sometimes "voice monkey") and "the official conspiracy theorist" of the show. Ward is said to believe everything even though he has pointed out some conspiracies that he does not believe in. More recently, he has compared many extreme right-wing viewpoints to naziism, usually under the phrasing "Do you know who (extreme thought or viewpoint?)....Hitler." Ward writes the comedy bits that he performs during "Stand Up News" and "Tinsel Talk", though Miller complains that he waits until the last moment.
Chris Lavoie: Miller refers to Lavoie as "boytoy" and "the official atheist" of the show. In contrast with Ward, Lavoie is said to believe in nothing. Also, Lavoie is considered "the official conservative" or "right-wing tool" of the show, much to the exasperation of Lavoie. Lavoie is known for his distinctive (some say annoying) laughing, particularly when Miller is the target of a joke. Both Lavoie and Ward enjoy pointing out Miller's errors.
Hal Sparks: Every Wednesday it's "Humpdays with Hal" on the Stephanie Miller Show. Sparks is an actor and stand-up comedian known for his work on Talk Soup, Queer as Folk, Dude, Where's My Car? and Spider-Man 2.
Jacki Schechner: Former Current TV news correspondent who used to do the morning headlines from Current's Los Angeles studio when the show was on Current TV. Frequently calls in and visits the studio. She is often called the Healthcare correspondent because of her vast knowledge on the subject.
"Right Wing World"
"Right Wing World," once a regular feature of the show that had been previously discontinued, made its return on September 16, 2009. It opens with Ward announcing in the style of a carnival barker, "Step right up, get your Republican talking points, get your peanut-size brains, your brain must be this (various) to go on this ride," with (various) being a topical ad lib by Ward. Also, as Ward reads the usual announcement, the pitch of his voice rises to a high pitch. In a humorous moment, Ward flubbed the opening when the segment made its return, joking that, "I haven't done this in a while", and that he was a bit rusty. Many recent soundbites from conservative media personalities are played, each followed by commentary. Frequent targets include Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin (whom Miller refers to as "Caribou Barbie", due to her status as the former governor of Alaska and ex-beauty queen), Rush Limbaugh, and Michael Savage. Miller says that she watches Fox News "so you don't have to." When asked to describe "Right Wing World," Miller replied:
"Right Wing World" is obviously clips from Fox and others. It's amazing. You get what the Republican talking points are for the day because they are endlessly repeated in a million different forms. O'Reilly says it. Hannity says it. Savage says it. We do "Right Wing World" mostly for comedy. It's really just a forum to mock them mercilessly. But it's also instructive to people: This is the propaganda you're getting. And this is why what they're saying is not true.—
"Right Wing World" was discontinued August 2008 during the Republican Convention, but was brought back on September 16, 2009 as a response to Republican efforts to stop health-care reform. In the absence of "Right Wing World," Miller played soundbites throughout the show and took caller response to them.
"Stand Up News"
This second-hour segment starts with Miller describing it as "some news we don't want to lose", followed by a pre-recorded intro by Ward, and then Miller stating that "when news breaks here, it stays broken". Miller reads brief summaries of news stories, with each providing the set-up for a short comedy bit, almost always involving impersonations by Ward. Miller ends the segment with the clichéd stand-up comedian closing "I'm here all week, tell your friends".
This third-hour segment starts with a pre-recorded intro featuring Ward backed by a disco version of Ethel Merman's There's No Business Like Show Business. The format is similar to "Stand Up News", except the focus is entertainment news. Some of these items come from tabloid sources Miller jokingly calls "The Paper" (i.e., The National Enquirer or The Star).
Although the show is humorous in nature, it uses its humor to educate its listeners about current events and politics. It is taken seriously enough, however, to frequently include Washington and political insiders as phone guests, via the "Celebrity Hotline". The segment starts with a ringing phone sound effect and Miller feigning surprise at the pre-arranged call. Guests have included Howard Dean (whom Miller respectfully referred to "by all three of his titles: Doctor Governor Chairman Howard Dean"), John Kerry, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer (nicknamed "the Matron Saint of The Stephanie Miller Show"), Byron Dorgan, Debbie Stabenow, Jon Tester, Linda Sánchez, Keith Ellison, Frank Rich, Jack Cafferty, Paul Begala (nicknamed "The Best Pundit In The WAH-urld", Jason Alexander, Harry Shearer, Tim Robbins, Gen. Wesley Clark, and John Conyers (nicknamed "the Patron Saint of The Stephanie Miller Show"). Representative Conyers coined the term "The Stephanie Miller Newscast", which continues to be a source of amusement for the hosts. Miller has said that she is somewhat surprised that an elected official would agree to call the show, but even more surprised when they agree to a second call-in.
One notable celebrity call-in was Melissa Etheridge, who spontaneously called the show 10 minutes after Congresswoman Maxine Waters finished her scheduled appearance on the "Celebrity Hotline". Lavoie noted that Miller was far more impressed with Etheridge calling the show than with a congresswoman calling the show. Since Etheridge's call was not pre-arranged, it was not referred to as a "Celebrity Hotline" call. More recently, Young MC (a rap artist popular in the early 1990s) also called in to the show. This also was not pre-arranged, and was prompted by a joke at Stephanie Miller's expense regarding her lack of knowledge regarding current pop culture, to wit, that she was so out of step that she "thought Young MC was still young."
Comedy of the Stephanie Miller Show
Impersonations by Miller and Ward on the show make fun of both sides of the political aisle. Usually these impersonations exaggerate the voice of various pundits or political leaders. Ms. Miller is also known to poke fun at herself often during the show. The show also incorporates a variety of recurring comedic elements within the show as well. Sound effects and short sound clips, or "drops", from movies and other sources are often inserted during discussions to emphasize points and many are used on a daily or near-daily basis.
This occasional segment involves Ward giving a detailed description of a conspiracy theory, backed by the theme from Mission: Impossible. Many of the theories presented by Ward originate with Wayne Madsen. Generally, Ward defends the credibility of the theories he presents, while Lavoie expresses skepticism; Miller has said that she wants to be skeptical, but that Ward frequently turns out to be correct.
"Guess the Quote"
This is another occasional segment. When it appears, it is usually an opening part of "Right Wing World" or used to fill time at the end of the show. Stephanie reads a variety of quotes which usually have a common theme to them (same subject, all from the same person, etc.) to the theme music from Jeopardy! Jim Ward then attempts to guess the source of each quote, however, his guesses are usually intentionally wildly inaccurate, reflecting an exaggeration of the theme of the quotes (for example, taking a contemporary public figure's quotation that the hosts deem to be racist and guessing that Adolf Hitler said it).
This is an occasional segment generally used as a sort of time-filler or segue. It features Miller reading news articles, usually of a humorous nature, discussing beavers. As she reads the articles, she also makes veiled references and innuendo relating to the slang use of "beaver". As these are read, the theme music from the 1950s television sitcom Leave It To Beaver plays under her report.
In October 2006, an Ohio man who called himself "Sock" sent Stephanie Miller a letter that was interpreted as a death threat. The letter was in response to the views that Miller expressed during an October 13, 2006 appearance on the Fox News program Hannity and Colmes in which she defended peace activist Cindy Sheehan. Since "Sock" included his phone number, Miller called and confronted him live on her October 30, 2006 show. On the October 5, 2007 show Stephanie Miller stated that the letter had been turned over to law enforcement shortly after she had received it.
Ward humorously noted that, while claiming to be a patriotic American, "Sock" suggested the use of an AK-47, which is a Russian rifle. Miller also expressed confusion over the letter's reference to her "glory hole".
In response to the incident, a listener created a jingle to introduce "Sock" which Miller now plays to highlight the hypocrisy inherent in the letter or similar types of attacks. The incident also resulted in a brief mention during the cable news show Countdown with Keith Olbermann, which delighted Miller.
On February 23, 2007, a listener nicknamed "Arvy", who identified himself as a Democrat, wrote a letter to Miller stating that "she is worse than George Bush and should be shot...if I only had a gun".
Production and distribution
The show was launched on September 7, 2004 by WYD Media Management in association with Democracy Radio. In November 2005, WYD Media Management acquired Democracy Radio's portion of ownership in the show. The live program is produced from Miller's house in Los Angeles from 6 am to 9 am Pacific Time weekdays and syndicated nationally by Dial Global, which acquired former syndicator Jones Radio Networks.
The show is not associated with the now-defunct Air America Radio, although the show is carried on many stations that were promoted as Air America affiliates. XM Radio began broadcasting The Stephanie Miller Show on channel 167 America Left in July 2008.
The show formerly aired on Current TV from 2012 to 2013 branded as Talking Liberally: The Stephanie Miller Show. It was part of a morning block with Bill Press. This morning block has reunited on Free Speech TV.
Before Current the show aired for three days on MSNBC.
- Netsky, Ron. "Stephanie Miller: From Sister Sleaze to progressive radio queen", Rochester City Newspaper, January 17, 2007
- Rothschild, Matthew. "Stephanie Miller", The Progressive, September 2006.
- "Latest Station Bulletins", Stephaniemiller.com, retrieved April 9, 2010
- "The Top Talk Radio Audiences", Talkers Magazine, March 2010
- "The Top Talk Radio Audiences", Talkers Magazine, Fall 2005
- "Rating Miller". WYD Media Management. November 28, 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-02-14. Retrieved 2006-06-13.
- PRNewswire (April 25, 2007), MSNBC Selects the Stephanie Miller Show to Fill the Former Imus Early Morning Program Slot for Three Days Next Week
- David Lieberman (March 5, 2012). "Current TV To Enter AM News Competition With Radio's Bill Press And Stephanie Miller". Deadline New York.
- Ring, Trudy (August 16, 2010), "Mama's Got Something to Tell You", Advocate
- NewsHounds entry (October 14, 2006)
- The BRAD BLOG (October 30, 2006)
- Official website
- WYD Media Management (Show owner)
- The Stephanie Miller Show at Jones Radio (Show distributor)
- Stephanie Miller's Future Husbands Club