“It’s The Kids!

“It’s The Kids!”

From Shakespeare’s Henry IV (1597) —

Constable: “I will cap that proverb with — “There is flattery in friendship.”
Orleans: And I will take up that with — “Give the devil his due.”

Giving the devil his due, Rush Limbaugh is the finest broadcast performer of his generation. Beyond question, Rush is one of the most powerful radio voices in the history of the medium and, as with Shakespeare, reflects with stunning accuracy the quintessential essence of 16th Century thought.

Given his awesome ratings generation on hundreds of stations across the country following a national syndication debut in 1987 on the imaginary “Excellence In Broadcasting” Network, I was delighted to feature Rush when I managed WSPD, “The KMJ of Toledo”, in the mid-’90’s. Obviously, we never used “The KMJ of Toledo” in our Ohio advertising, since no one there would have known what on earth we were talking about, but you get the idea. I even ran Rush twice each weekday from Noon till 3 PM, then repeated the whole show again from 3 until 6. We were a solid #1 for six straight hours. But there was an issue concerning fair content balance. I needed a listener generating counterweight.

And so it was that when WIMA-AM, “the KMJ of Lima”, a hundred miles to the south, starting regularly beating Rush Limbaugh rather handily in local Arbitrons with some guy named “Dennis Shreefer”, it seemed wise to check things out.

Dennis turned out to be a crusty old progressive codger several years my senior– a former major market TV anchor — who deserted fame and fortune to freely unleash his mind in Talk Radio, even though this meant starting a brand new career in a teeny-tiny town. He’d sent out tons of tapes and only Lima, Ohio called — where he was hired and proceeded to kick Rush’s royal rear. The radio trades went wild. WHP-AM, “The KMJ of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania”, got to Dennis first, luring him away with big, big bucks and a promise of autonomy — i.e., allowing him to say what he wanted on the air. So he did.

Six months passed and, following a major skirmish with General Public Utilities and Metropolitan Edison Company, Dennis was unceremoniously fired without recourse. The corporation, operators of a nuclear power plant known as ”Three Mile Island”, scene of a partial core meltdown in 1979, had canceled all of its advertising on the station over Shreffer comments relating to community safety and security such as, “We’re sleeping with a potential killer!” and “Your teeth fall out first!” Snappy stuff.

So I snapped Dennis up in a heartbeat and brought him to Toledo. At our first face-to-face meeting, he announced: ”You’re looking at a proud parent. My oldest son has just been voted “Resident of the Month” at the Omaha Rescue Mission.” That was true. And that was the essence of Dennis’s “act.” He simply told the truth as he saw it — damn the torpedoes — full speed ahead. Rock ‘n Roll is an ageless attitude and not restricted to music. In six months, WSPD’s (6 to 10 AM) ratings soared from an 8.1% to a 12.5% Total Audience Share, the largest morning show increase in Toledo radio history, unmatched to this day.

It was Dennis Shreefer who said it all in three little words.

One morning, as he was rolling through a typically convoluted, stream-of-consciousness, politically charged narrative on life as he found it, he suddenly stopped–paused–then softly uttered–”You know what? It’s the kids. Damn it. It’s the kids!”

A major Conservative talking point (let’s see if you’ve heard this one before) is: “American Guarantees Equal Opportunity–Not Equal Results.”

I am persuaded this new America of ours guarantees neither.

One out of every seven of our children now goes to bed really hungry every single night.

For the majority of our teenagers, higher education has become an impossible dream.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) measures student literacy in science, math, and reading among 15-year-olds, and is an often-cited reference for policy makers sounding alarm bells about the state of education in the United States and its implications for the ability of Americans to secure jobs in a global economy. The US is now ranked 29th, behind countries like Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Liechtenstein.

America has cut billions and billions of dollars in Educational funding over the past ten years at every level of government — Local, State and Federal, failing miserably in what should be our most important investment as a people.

There is a critical need for massive revision of national priorities, including immediate restoration of tax structures witnessed during the Republican Administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“Class Envy?” “Redistribution of Wealth?” “Handouts to Have-Nots?”

No, man!

It’s the kids, damn it. It’s the kids!

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