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by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

As 2008 chokes away its last gasps of life, Bill O'Reilly's radio career dost the same. While there are those who will say that the Factor radio era will not be missed, I am not of that crowd.

I will miss his fool's gold pipes and his laughable pretext of impartiality, but most of all I will miss Bill's radio style that was reminiscent of the 1930s and 40s glory days of radio. The days of radio theater where shows like Orson Welles' The War of the Worlds, a 1938 version of the H. G. Wells novel, convinced the logic-challenged Folks that Mars was actually invading Earth. That, Mr. Cavett, was entertainment.

There are those of you in some larger metropolitan areas like Philadelphia who may not even known that Bill had a radio show. At WPHT, the major talk signal in Philly, you would have had to tune in to their prime midnight-2AM spot to find Bill's taped Factor. But listening to a show that promotes what will be on TV that night hours AFTER the TV show runs is not my cup O'Factor tea. As I am a Philly guy and BO fan, me and the family chose to sit around the old radio and tune in the scratchy signal from New York's WOR.

Why, you ask, would a show as successful as Bill said it was turn up in the graveyard slot? If you need to ask then you just don't understand the radio wizardry that was Bill's. Where fact need not get in the way of good entertainment. Where boasting of success need not be supported by statistics that actually gauge success. You might call it lies and deceit that treats the Folks like infantile pinheads. I call it radio magic.

Successful radio shows -- Gunsmoke, Dragnet, Jack Benny, Sean Hannity -- have made successful transitions to TV, but none were able to translate that TV success into a profitable new radio show.

I will miss hearing Bill on the Radio Factor. Sure, you say, I can always tune in to his TV Factor and turn off the picture. Not the same. It was on radio, where the bit of honest unscripted interaction showed the real Bill O'Reilly.

I will miss the radio Bill where saying "I could be wrong" allowed Bill to excuse and roll hyperbole, rumor and innuendo into two hours of radio content.

I will miss the O'Reilly who threatens innocent callers ("We have your number") with visits by Fox Security.

I will miss the no-spinster who could disrespect those, like sidekick Lis Weihl, who sat in mostly nodding agreement only to be humiliatingly slammed for the slightest disagreement, even when that disagreement came from an attempt to make Bill accurate.

Oh, sure, Bill can still lay waste to Fox Contributors like Jane Hall by turning turn off her microphone for refusing to buy into Bill's fiction, but it doesn't allow for the imagination to run wild with wonderment at what glares Bill's sidekicks must be giving Bill as he checks out his next spin.

I will miss hearing the show where TV Factor ideas were born like when he offered the astute analysis that kidnapped teen, Shawn Hornbeck, liked his captivity by an adult sexual predator ("The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents... And I think when it all comes down, what's going to happen is, there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstances.")

As I've always tried to look into the positive side of negatives (wrote a book in fact), while there are even those (all?) on the Right who say the Bill's foray into radio has ended because of a lack of success, those in the know understand that Bill is leaving radio it really matter? TV Bill will continue to swing wildly at imagined enemies of Christmas and everything else Bill thinks is right with the world, and for that, Factor entertainment will continue to live on.

Award-winning TV writer and author of Great Failures of the Extremely Successful, Steve Young was an original talk show host at L.A.'s KTLK and blogs at

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Albion Monitor   December 12, 2008   (

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