Daily News from New York, New York on April 29, 1997 · 545
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Daily News from New York, New York · 545

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New York, New York
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Tuesday, April 29, 1997
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545
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- a . low' entertainment Talk - ixed Signals : ,i Tilts right but downplays politics ui3uio S6ndin i t r . ." : . By DAVID HINCKLEY Daily News Staff Writer f HEN CONSERVA- tf! tive Curtis Sliwa and radical attorney Ron Kuby kicked off their new joint Saturday morning WABC radio talk show two weeks ago, Sliwa joked that his partner is "the only one of your kind left here." It's an ironic observation, almost exactly a year after WABC was accused of appeasing the left by firing conservative Bob Grant But it's pretty much accurate. The dismissal in February of WABC's only weekday left-of-center talk host, Lynn Samuels, left WABC tilting more than ever toward conservative white males like Rush Limbaugh, Sliwa and Samuels' replacement, Sean Hannity. Add Grant's daily show on rival WOR, and the two biggest talk stations in New York would seem to be betting that the cliche of the '90s about talk radio is true: It's the home nest of the right wing. But people in radio say it's not that simple. "There aren't many and there aren't many women," says Samuels, who is looking for a new radio gig. -Ct. LA t STIRRING 'EM UP: WABC's Rush Limbaugh vy GUARDIAN Curtis Sliwa "That's pretty obvious. But there's also less discussion of serious issues. I don't know if it's intentional, but it seems like there's a dumbing-down." "It's very disheartening, because there are listeners who do care about issues." In the early '90s, politics was the image of talk radio. In New York, the image was WABC holding down the right and WLIB wielding a radical club on the left Today, some of the hosts who got the most attention then Jay Diamond of WABC, Clayton Riley of WLIB don't have full-time gigs. When WOR needed to replace the late Barry Gray, it picked Joan Rivers over Diamond. Within the talk radio biz, the hottest name today is WABC's Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who gives personal advice. Lifestyle, it's said. That's what people want though Rivers and Schlessinger are also strong conservatives. -J ft!- J The listener who ventures outside the biggest stations still can hear plenty of sociopolitical talk around the spectrum. . WLIB has Imhotep Gary Byrd, Mark Riley and Felipe Luciano daily. WBAI has Bernard White and Amy Goodman in the morning, Utrice Leid in the afternoon. WNYC is in there, and WEVD morning man Bill Mazer jokes that he's the last admitted liberal. Bob Law, who hosts the syndicated "Night Talk" show heard on WWRL, says radio simply may have overestimated interest in politics a few years ago. "Our research," he says, "shows that people want information, but at a time when they can digest it They don't want to be overwhelmed." He also suggests a small number of high-profile hosts made talk radio look more political than it was. For instance, he says, critics of black radio in the early '90s "really only targeted three people me, Byrd and Al Sharpton." Still, Law says, things do change. "We had Mayor Giuliani on recently. Two years ago, we probably wouldn't have asked and he wouldn't have accepted." r f of the right: WABC and WOR say politics has never been the point anyhow. "Politics is only one element and often not the most important," says John McConnell, VP of programing at WABC. "You need more than one note. Predictability is death." "A good host just has to be passionate about something, because that's what gets the listener excited. With Rush, it's politics. With others, it's other things."" At WLIB, station manager Janie Washington says 'LIB "programs for the community," not to promote ideology. But she adds that even the perception of ideological slant must be addressed, because WLIB has lost ad revenue over fears its message was too radical. "If the image is there, you have to deal with it" says Washington. "I think all stations do things to counter negative images. It's a business. You have to survive." ' i . i I 4 - ,J TWO TO TANGLE: Ellen DeGeneres (left) laughs with Laura Dern, r nil There'll be a DeGeneres helping of By WHITNEY WALKER Daily News Staff Writer YEARS FROM NOW, PEO-ple may ask, "Where were you when Ellen Morgan came out on national TV?" If you don't want to sit home alone for the sitcom star's outing tomorrow night, there are plenty of parties around town honoring the first gay lead on the tube. "This is a landmark in American television," says Allen Klein of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and even the most "jaded New Yorkers" will be celebrating. Valerie Kameya, a web designer from Park Slope, Brooklyn, says she'll see "Ellen" with friends at a local lesbian bar. Doug Conomy, who works for the nonprofit HIV Data Link, will watch it at a Wall Street potluck dinner. And, if she gets the invitations out, independent film maker Jen Heck will throw a huge "camp-oriented" party on the upper West Side. In addition to a "Come Out With Ellen" screening at Irving Plaza, GLAAD distributed 1,500 home-viewing kits all over the world. Virtually all the city's gay and lesbian bars also will host parties. Critics claim the much- r v hyped "coming out" episode, which follows Ellen DeGeneres' own declaration that she is gay, is a desperate ploy to save the show, ranked 39th in the ratings last year. it , i j POSTER GAY: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is hosting one party. Fans are excited about the "watershed event," as Kameya calls it, but some worry about upcoming episodes. "My fear is that this will actually make it harder for her to make those slight attempts at social comedy because people will write it off as the opin who plays her love interest, "Susan. parties citywide ion of a lesbian," comments David Van Leer, author of "The Queening of America" (Routledge. $16.95). Though Van Leer will view the show, he won't attend a party. "Ellen" airs tomorrow at 9 on ABC. Here are some of the parties: "Come Out With Ellen" at Irving Plaza: 17 Irving Place; (212) 807-1700 GLAAD. Theater screen, celebrity guests, "Ellen" memorabilia raffle. Starts at 7 p.m. Tickets $20. Crazy Nanny's: 21 Seventh Ave. South; (212)366-6312. Deejay dance party, big-screen TV, trivia contest, 8 p.m. -3 a.m., $5. Henrietta Hudson: 438 Hudson St.; (212) 924-3347. Drink specials, live music after show. 8:30 p.m.-4 a.m., $5. Love Lounge at Tatou: 151 E. 50th St; (212) 753-1144 or (212) 686-5665. Large-screen TV, hot appetizers, drink specials, dancing. 6 p.m.-midnight $6 before 8 and $8 after 8. Claire: 156 Seventh Ave.; (212) 255-1955. Large TV, costume contest. 7 p.m.-12:30 a.m., no cover. Cubbyhole: 281 W. 12th St; (212) 243-9041. Free buffet, three TVs, 8 p.m. -3 a.m., no cover. Rubyfruit Bar: 531 Hudson St; (212) 929-3343. Free buffet two large TVs. 7:30 p.m.-2 a.m. No cover. T3

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