Confessions of a Former Talk Show Host

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Confessions of a Former Talk Show Host

I have a confession to make.

During the 1990’s I did a nationally syndicated talk show.

3 hours daily, Monday through Friday my yammerings and those of my guests and callers were faithfully recorded onto cassette tapes.

Last week I decided to sort through the tapes and keep only the ones worth saving.

And here is my confession–only a small percentage of the shows made the cut.

Many of the topics that seemed so urgent and pressing are forgotten today.

The personalities that dominated the landscape—where are they today? Remember Arsenio Hall? Where is he today? I rest my case.

A lot of the authors were just dead wrong in their predictions of the future¢â‚¬¦I’d tell you which ones, but it would be uncharitable.

There were a few high points-discussions about ideas that matter with people who had something to say, but in retrospect, illuminating discourse seemed slimly sandwiched between ample servings of trivialities, misguided opinions and earnest discussions of daily, faddish provocations and preoccupations; much ado about nothing.

Sadly, by comparison to others, my show was generally considered a bright beacon, an oasis of thoughtful talk in a broadcast world of intense heat and little light.

In baseball the most basic rule is to keep your eye on the ball¢â‚¬¦

In reading the news, keeping your eye on the ball means separating the important from the faddish and frivolous, and when it comes to religion in the daily news–there’s a lot of sizzle and very little steak.

Last week on one day I read the following—

¢â‚¬¢ A review of a new book titled, “Greetings In Jesus Name” a look at the bogus e-appeals from Africans in need of financial help.

¢â‚¬¢ The I Phone was referred to as the “Jesus Phone” in light of the messianic expectations placed on it.

¢â‚¬¢ There was a story about a radical Hamas children’s TV show in which Farfour a Muslim Mickey Mouse knock off was murdered by a Jewish fanatic, this an attempt to rally Palestinian youth to take the land back.

¢â‚¬¢ Then there was the story of an camp for atheist children called Camp Quest that bills itself as “Beyond Belief,” and is the nation’s first sleep-away summer camp for atheists. Founded in 1996, it has inspired four similar camps across the nation for children whose parents are either opposed or indifferent to religion. Do the math and you realize that after 8 years, and five camps each camp averages 30 kids a summer.

¢â‚¬¢ Read the news and you’ll discover that Tom Cruise’s is having problems in Germany where he is being barred from filming the story of Claus von Stauffenberg, the anti-Nazi hero who attempted to blow up Hitler. The problem? Germans love von Staufenberg but can’t stomach the idea of Tom Cruise playing him in the film. The reason? Germans detest scientology and Cruise is it’s biggest celebrity ambassador.

¢â‚¬¢ Paris Hilton was on Larry King offering in-depth insights into her horrific 21 day incarceration (Who needs Alexandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn when you’ve got Paris) and the spiritual awakening it stirred.

¢â‚¬¢ Then there is the forgettable film “License to Wed” in which Robin Williams (whatever happened to the intelligent “dead poet’s society” Robin Williams?) plays a deranged clergyman with a loony approach to premarital counseling. NYT film critic A.O. Scott said of the film,” I will confess that the only thing that kept me watching “License to Wed” until the end (apart from being paid to do so) was the faith, perhaps misplaced, that I will not see a worse movie this year.”

So religion in the news on that one day circled around pathetic exploitative e-appeals, a deranged martyred Islamic mouse, a new cell phone, a camp built around the non-existence of the deity, mr. jump-on-oprah’s-couch Tom Cruise and yet another film featuring a crazed clergyman.

When it comes to religion in the news it is tough to keep your eye on the ball, because some days there is no ball.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in July 4, 2007 by | No Comments »

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