Open Mic

Open Mic

"Blogosphere" boom launches Pundit Review hosts into global talk radio

By Gerry Boyle '78 | Photos by Tracy Powell

The blog connection was by no means unique. Richard Carbery, a former WRKO executive producer who recently moved to Fox News Talk Radio in New York City, said he was "hyperaware of the blogosphere.— The station already had a "political junkies— tab on its Web site, linking to dozens of blogs.

But still, Pundit Review soon got management's attention. Stuck in a Sunday night slot, without a strong lead-in show preceding it, Pundit Review still outpaced its closest competition (on rival WBZ) in its first weeks. "There are some points of the show where it's just full lines,— Shattuck said, "which is something that doesn't happen with the highest-rated shows sometimes.—

Gregg Jackson ‰90
Photo by Tracy Powell
Fielding e-mail comments about the show Monday mornings, he also noticed that these listeners weren't from greater Boston.

"Let's see,— Shattuck said, going to his computer. "Baghdad. Beijing. Hawaii. I got an e-mail from Vatican City. I honestly don't know what to make of it.—

Nor does the local talk-radio industry know how to effectively turn its new far-flung audience into a global-sized profit. Ratings still are based on actual radio listeners. Some traditional radio people still don't know what a blog is, Shattuck said. But they will soon, he added. "It's inevitable.—

Carbery, in New York, cautions that radio is entertainment, first and foremost, and that Pundit Review will succeed or fail based on its hosts' ability to entertain. In a sign that management sees potential in Whalen and Jackson (who now actually get paid), the pair was asked in November to prepare a formal presentation for the station's sales team. Shattuck said he expected Pundit Review's one-hour slot to be at least doubled soon. And the show was nominated for a Weblog Award (the Oscars of blogdom) in the media/journalist blog category. Another nominee: embedded blogger Yon, who, as the show began, was standing by on the phone in Iraq.

The subject: the referendum vote on the new Iraqi constitution. Jackson and Whalens' view: the mainstream media is pooh-poohing, even denigrating, the historic enactment of the Iraqi constitution. For the "elite— media, Iraq's glass is always half-empty. "It took us, what?— Jackson said. "Thirteen years? It took them thirteen months.—

Headphones on, leaning into his microphone, reading from a folder of notes, Jackson runs down a list of media outlets and recounts how they reported the constitution's approval.

Boston Globe: "U.S. Image a Tough Sell in Mideast.— "U.S. Toll Rises,— he said, anger building. BBC: "Sunni Area Rejects Iraq Charter.—

"That was the glimmering piece of good news,— Jackson said, dripping sarcasm. "The most momentous event ever to take place in the Middle East, arguably. Fifty million people vote to govern themselves in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the BBC says, 'Sunni Area Rejects Charter?'—
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