Tag Archives: broadcasting

Number 5 Bigot of the Year 2012: Mike Huckabee

27 Dec
Number 5 Bigot of 2012

Number 5 Bigot of 2012

Let’s start this year’s Bigot of the Year awards with a big thank you to all the readers who submitted nominations. We had nearly 20 well-qualified horrors make the short list, many with multiple recommendations. After careful consideration, TSM is ready to roll out the bottom five! I’ve paid special attention to those people and organizations with significant power, privilege, and influence and abuse it to oppress their fellow human beings.

At number 5, we have one of the newest entrants into Hate Radio. Since leaving the Arkansas governor’s mansion in 2007, Mike Huckabee has been a thorn in reasonable America’s side. A bloviating gasbag of toxic opinions, he has flirted with other political aspirations, always deciding instead to earn big bucks for spewing bile and demeaning as many groups of Americans as possible. In less than a year on the air with his own show, Huckabee has been the go-to place for certified hate groups like the Family Research Council to peddle their noxious ideas and work to sustain a white hetero supremacist paradigm.

Huckabee has plenty of those on his own as well. He was the creator of Chik-Fil-A Day, rewarding the sawdust sandwich empire for its homophobia and anti-equality stands. He lashed into  President Obama for supporting marriage equality. He was an early supporter of Todd Akin after his horrific rape comments. He loves to blame the LGBT community for every disaster that strikes. Pushing him over the top of his fellow “personalities” were his comments in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Huckabee was the first and loudest to propose that school prayer and teaching “intelligent design” would have prevented the shootings. What a charm-free ball of crazy!

Dishonorable mention at #5 goes to five old straight white guys who burned up huge amounts of money trying to meddle with this year’s elections. Karl “0% Success Rate” Rove, Sheldon “It’s MY Money” Adelson, David and Charles “Pour the Tea” Koch, and Donald “Birther #1”  Racist Trump poured hundreds of millions of dollars into post-Citizens United Super PACs, pushing the farthest right agendas. Perhaps we should be grateful that they proved that even that much money can’t buy success, but just imagine all the good they could have done if they had invested in social justice rather than selfish arrogance…

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 13, Mary Wickes

13 Jun

Today we honor and celebrate one of the most prolific character actors of the 20th Century. Born on this date in 1910, Mary Isabella Wickenhauser hailed from St. Louis. This society debutante had wealthy origins that belied the salty, working-class roles she cherished. Her abrupt, tell-it-like-it-is demeanor made her a consistent audience favorite on every medium for over six decades. She was particularly adroit in film parts that chided the super rich or exceptionally pious.

She originally intended a career in law, graduating from Washington University with a degree in political science. She participated in summer stock on the advice of a professor and fell in love with the theatre. She promptly moved to New York where she landed walk-on and understudy parts. Her first major role was as Margaret Hamilton’s understudy in The Wizard of Oz, for which she received unusually good reviews given she was not the lead.

After nearly a decade on stage, Hollywood came calling. Wickes reprised her role in The Man Who Came to Dinner for Warner Brothers and was fortunate enough to act opposite Bette Davis. The film was a smash and the hits kept coming. As a character actor, Wickes was not as restrained by the studio system and was allowed to freelance extensively. This gave her a chance to develop her chops and to work with a much broader range of talent than most of her contemporaries. She also served as the live-action model for Cruella DeVil in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. She also took on a number of television roles, again being a highly demanded guest. She had regular, critically recognized roles on the Gertrude Berg Show and Dennis the Menace.

A face everyone knew but couldn’t quite put a name to, she lived a quiet personal life. Her longtime partner, Abby Carson, was a playwright. They shared an apartment in New York for decades. She supported a number of social causes without fanfare and on her death in 1995 set up a $2 million bequest in her parent’s names to establish a library to capture the more obscure history of film and television.

I loved her in Postcards From the Edge (she was SO edgy), but for me, Mary Wickes will always be Sister Mary Lazarus in the Sister Act movies. It perfectly captures her unexpected wit and sensibility.

Happy Birthday, Carl Kasell!

2 Apr

Happy Birthday, Carl!

Today we are pleased to celebrate the 78th birthday of a broadcasting legend, the wonderful Carl Kasell. Born in North Carolina in 1934, Carl knew from an early age that he was destined for radio.

Before I even started to school, I sometimes would hide behind the radio, which would be sitting on a table, and pretend that I was on the air, and try to fool people who came by to listen.

His father would take him to the local station where he was mesmerized by the latest news spilling out of the teletype. In high school, his drama coach was Andy Griffith, who encouraged him to pursue the theatre. Kasell was drawn to the radio, though, and while getting his degree from UNC Chapel Hill he co-founded the campus radio station with fellow student Charles Kuralt.

His career advanced from announcer at his hometown radios station to news director at Arlington, VA station WAVA (where he hired Katie Couric as an intern). He moved to NPR in 1975; he was one of the founding voices of Morning Edition, staying with the program from 1979 to 2009.

A clear, recognizable voice with an understanding of the world’s events, Kasell has always been a beacon of journalistic integrity. His dedication to ensuring that his listeners understand the issues at hand rather than just receiving the sensational highlights should serve as a lesson to the 21st Century pseudo-news scaremongers.

Carl Kasell also has a great sense of humor and refuses to take himself to seriously. He’s the long-time scorekeeper for the news comedy program Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, a terrific outlet for his wit and charm. A highlight of TSM’s 2011 was the chance to see a live taping of the show last October and to meet Carl in person. It also showed the dedication of the program to social justice, teaching through humor.

Carl “retired” at the end of 2009, giving this lovely interview about his career. He’s still going strong, though, sharing his great talents with millions of lucky listeners every week. Happy Birthday, Carl!

Black History Month 2012: Hal Jackson

8 Feb

Today we honor and celebrate a man who has broken the color barrier in broadcasting many times over during his long career, the legendary Hal Jackson. Born Harold Baron Jackson in Charleston, SC in 1914, he grew up in Washington, DC and attended Howard University. He began his career as the nation’s first African-American sportscaster; he worked at a number of DC radio stations before moving to New York in 1954 where he became the first radio personality to broadcast three daily shows on three different New York stations. Four million listeners tuned in nightly to hear Jackson’s mix of music and conversations with jazz and show business celebrities. In 1971 he and business partner Percy Sutton became the first African-Americans to own a radio station when they bought WLIB (now WBLS).

Jackson is still going strong at 97, broadcasting a weekly show of R&B classics every Sunday on WBLS. Here is a short list of his accomplishments from the website for his show:

He was the first Black radio announcer in network radio; the first Black host of a jazz show on the ABC network; the first Black play by play sports announcer on radio in the country; the first Black to host an interracial network television show on NBC-TV; the first person to broadcast from a theater live; organized and owned the first Black team to win the World’s Basketball championship; the first Black host of an international network television presentation…

Jackson has also used his broadcast access to encourage petition signers to support Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Working with Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday campaign, he helped amass the over 6,000,000 signatures that were submitted to Rep. Shirley Chisholm and Rep. John Conyers. Astonishingly, as recently as 1990 Hal Jackson was the first person of color to be inducted into the National Association of Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. Five years later he was the first African-American inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. While he certainly deserves these accolades, it says a great deal about the persistence of the color barrier that it was only cracked in broadcast awards in the last decade of the 20th Century.

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