And Starring Michael Smerconish, as Himself

Can a man succeed in the rabidly partisan world of talk radio by reaching out to moderates and channeling his inner Larry David? With a new national audience (and a new book), Philly’s most powerful radio personality is putting his ass on the line to find out

It can all seem a bit quixotic, this rambling on-air babble about whether it’s okay to love both televangelist Joel Osteen and profanity-laden shows on HBO, or the history of the free throw, or Percy Fawcett’s trek into the Amazon jungle in 1925. (Michael Nutter recently was on to discuss, not the city budget, but the love he and the host share for HBO’s The Wire.) It’s also not the same modus operandi that has, over the past six years, turned Smerconish into the most influential radio personality in Philadelphia.

Yet Michael Smerconish believes — has, in fact, bet his entire future on the notion — that whimsical, Seinfeldian chatter, mixed with a dollop of political gravitas, will elevate him into a national powerhouse in talk radio. Despite being first up in the batter’s box every day in a John Birchist WPHT lineup that includes Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, he feels America is ready for, is yearning for, someone riffing on the absurdities of life while meandering about the political middle like it’s a shopping mall. “Maybe I’m in a cocoon,” he says. “But I don’t think so.”

He better hope he’s right: Audiences for much of both cable and radio talk are down sharply, part of the hangover from last year’s epic election. Crafting a show that marries the political center with absurdist trivialities seems borderline insane in an arena whose currency is measured in invective. “Look, if I were looking for a bang in the ratings, I would simply follow the model,” Smerconish says. “And I would follow Rush and Sean and Glenn and Michael Savage. Because that is the easy career path to success in what I’m doing. But I’m not comfortable — I never have been — saying things I don’t believe.”

Smerconish holds some decidedly lefty social views; in the shot heard ’round the dial, he endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 general election. But he’s also the guy who ran for office as a GOP candidate at 24, worked in the administration of Bush 41, and touts the value of ethnic profiling in airports and the torture of terror suspects. What may appear a tangle of conflicted thinking is, he insists, actually a reflection of most of the beliefs held in America’s suburbs. And he’s banking that the people who live in those suburbs will hear themselves in his voice.

An interesting and risky strategy, stitching Libertarian-scented politics with fizzy pop-culture curiosities and what he calls “just shits and giggles.” Talk radio has long been the bully pulpit of the reactionary right, as WPHT’s rotation proves. It was after the plenteous fodder provided by the election evaporated into the political ether that his show took a decidedly further turn into infotainment, Face the Nation as moderated by Mary Hart. As Smerconish adds new affiliates weekly, launches his new midday version and unveils a new memoir, it just might work. Or it might turn the radio career it took him two decades to build into another repository of hot air: the Hindenburg.

It’s no exaggeration that the stakes for him have never been higher, that when he says, “I don’t think I am alone in how I look at this world,” he is, deep down, terrified that he may be alone in how he looks at this world — that, in fact, his approach may leave him without an audience. Because if that happens — if the public abandons his tap-dancing down the stripe of the talk-radio highway for the cozy comfort of their ideological bunkers on the right and the left — where does that leave Michael Smerconish?

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  • Bob

    It’s OK to have a huge ego, but he has become convinced that the show is ABOUT him, instead of being hosted BY him. His desperate need for attention is hard to take. The cover photo says it all.

  • john

    I was a big fan at the beginning of his radio career and then he sort of became too far right for me. He seems to have moved more to the middle now, but his EGO is out of control. He takes less listener phone calls and does long monologues…and his sidekick Greg is a moron.

  • Karen

    Smerconish is daring to bet the ranch and the dogs; is scared to death and not afraid to be open about it… Yup, his ass is out there, so no reason to start being shy now….

  • Bob

    That Greg clown is unable to string words into a coherent sentence. Seriously, listen to the next time he speaks. I'm finding TC the best voice on the show these days.

  • Kathy

    I love Michael and his show. He's an independent thinker like me which I love more that the talkers who all worship at the same 'shrine'. He gets really interesting guests and I love his weekly summer local treasures segments. While he can be self-indulgent (and what talk show host isn't?) at times, he is very generous to and respectful of his guests and audience. I think he really appreciates and understands his audience and is delighted with his success. Bravo Michael, keep rocking!

  • Will

    Listen the guy lost me when he licked Chris Matthews leg well before that ill thought out Obama vote. Michael thing is now to expand his market and that is his MO.

  • Rich

    I actually like listening to him when he's talking about stuff or to interesting guests. But it gets tedious when he starts telling tales of the minutae of his life, which he is unfortunately doing more and more these days. Kind of like that old friend who used to be funny but now just tells the same old stories all the time.

  • Rich

    Michael is wrong and this picture is revolting and beneath someone like him. The democrats are the ones with the radicals with no tolerance not the repubs. I'm sure that those in are not personally thrilled to have Specter (who is a fake) in their midst now. Lets hope people see him from what he is… a slimy politician who will do anything to hold onto his power base.

  • Will

    Upon further inspection he's got more hair on his ass than his head

  • michael

    love MS. I got exposed to him on HardBall. Where can I hear him on Boston radio?

  • Rich

    You really can't come up with any justification for such a picture other than "This will get attention!" So rather than some sort of 'statement', it really boils down to SSP: shameless self-promotion.

  • John

    Agree with an earlier post about Gregg the moron. Too bad Micheal doesn't get it that his stories about the toilet are far more interesting than some bloody story at 6:15AM when you're just waking up.

  • Sharon

    Let me add that, more and more often of late, I find myself so disgusted by the juvenile elements of the Smerconish morning program that I simply turn it off, and I keep it off for days or weeks at a time — sometimes months at a time. There are many, many other ways to get news and views without tolerating snide remarks from one pundit and the punk who's riding his coattails when he's wearing them. A lot of people are angry at MAS for moving toward the center politically, but I'm upset because he seems to be less and less centered on a personal level, and more and more interested in selling out to the highest demographic and the lowest common denominator.

  • Sharon

    Greg as moron: His recent tweet on Twitter says it all – "Breaking news arlen specter leaves the democratic party- about time!!!!" (9:08 AM Apr 28th from TwitterBerry) The boy has lowered the standard of MAS's program abysmally. He's there only to draw the younger demographic, but his peers have no interest in what used to make MAS's show great. It's turning (albeit slowly) into a Howard Stern wanna-be show. I still enjoy the political repartee when it happens, as it did on 4/28, but the inane chatter about what Greg thinks, which YouTube clips Greg likes, etc., are a waste of airtime and the listeners' time. WPHT, ditch Greg, keep TC and bring Doctor Maz and Susan Monday back to Michael's show! We're starving for intelligent conversation out here in radioland.

  • Sue

    I also find myself listening more to WIP or WHYY than I used to. Just too much random banter and silliness. That's not what got him where he is. But apparently the brain trust has decided that will appeal to the most listeners. Not working for me. (Oh, and the photo is just a visual manifestation of that same point.)

  • Ray

    MAS looks like an Old Homeless Guy standeing there. LOL….his show is definately a Howard Stern wannabe show, it has lost all of the good things it once had, more so when he was on in afternoons. Greg is a FruitLoop…aka Tinkerbell. And I dont understand how MAS could have an ego, outside of Radio. His looks, come on…he looks a good 10 years older than he is. And his beard may even add more than 10 years. But in every other aspect, he has no reason to even have an Ego. His voice sucks, his looks suck, and he is a Kiss Butt that will sell out everything to get where he is.

  • David

    This accolade of Michael never gives balance to the fact he begged other stations in Philadelphia to put him back on the air when he was fired at WPHT. The article never mentions the number 1 morning show in the nation is Bill Bennett's Morning in America " carried locally on NewsTalk 990 where listeners enjoy intelligent conservative talk where their voice is more important than the hosts ego. Michale is all about Michael , where Bennett listens to the listeners and makes them welcome to listen . Bill Bennett will be in Philadelphia May 18th with fellow hosts Michael Medved(a natiove Philadelphian, and Hugh Hewitt. All 3 of these hosts have greater depth in their background than Smerconish, yet you only focus on the immense ego of Smerconish. You should check out the other 3 hosts at the Union League May 18th in the evening.

  • Eileen

    Michael isn't perfect, but who his? That is what makes him and his show so great. He is human like the rest of us. He is very respectful to his callers. Love his guests, love TC and Greg. They each bring their own value to the show. So what that Greg is there to bring in the younger demographic. Those youngsters are our future. I'm happy to say, my husband's ass is much cuter!

  • Ralph

    Once Bill Paley's flagship station for the CBS radio network has become nothing but all-Michael-all-the time. Enough already. Does a great job when interviewing guests but enough with the self-serving "the show is all about me." When you ask the guest a question, please let them answer it instead of answering for them. Mostly everyone I talk to says the same thing, I used to listen to him but now I can't. And for Greg, surprised he hasn't self-destructed yet. Usually can't take the pressure and melts down. Michael only surrounds himself with people who will say yes to him and play the third-fiddle, not even the second fiddle that is why the news gal Joan was let go. Was too much of a threat.

  • Jim

    But he's got high hopes. He's got high hopes. And I hope he realizes those high hopes.

  • linda

    Some people ar so full of hemselves they would resort to anything. I subscribed to Philly mag for years then got sick of the gossip and stop buying the magazine or even picking one up to browse through – now I just subscribed after a Long break to open my copy and see an A..hole like Smerconish butt naked like a crazy hippie. I don't care that his wife turned down the cover years ago – the days of Demi Moore covers are old the only difference is that they are stars taking off their clothes not local wanna bees. How would you like to be one of their kids when your dad does something so stupid and sophomoric – he is out of shape, bald, and should keep his clothes on – mid-life crisis? Don't like him, don't listen to his crap and get over yourself – what an ego, if he wanted shock value then turn around!

  • onisha

    The butt shot is ridiculous; His "ecclectic" discourse IS a reprieve from a line-up of rating- hungry, angry, divisive tight-wing hosts on the station.

  • charles

    Great example to set for your children.He should change the name of his show to" It's so about me." He looks like he should be standing in someones garden

  • Charles

    I don't know where such activity can take place in a public venue without being in violation of something. Since Mr. Smerc. is an officer of the court how about at least an ethics inquiry. The family should be proud. I wonder if that photo gives Chris Matthews a tingle up his leg?

  • BOB


  • Rich

    …the boss on The Office. The British one, Ricky Gervais, who wants so deperately for everyone to read a mag article on him, but runs around saying "Oh, don't read that. It's rubbish." This is the real-life version.

  • rich

    loved the article, think your platform if you run is great, hard to put a tag on an independent thinker, still plan to go to Disneyworld I still have to make the trip since I was diverted at the Phila airport years ago.

  • Francie

    'nuff said….

  • B

    MAS – Nice work and nice arse!You are a good man and you represent a new generation of GOPers. Financially conservative and socially liberal.You make the family proud.

  • Anonymous

    I hate the move towards social liberalism. I don't think people reallu understand that wealthy people can litterally afford to be Liberal. They can send their kids to private schools and don't worry about all the politcal correct agenda the schools, & students must now face. They go away on great vacations while the poor have to deal with drugs on every small town corner and inner city hang out. The liberal social agenda people like Smerconish seems to have forgotten their roots and instead of helping to grow a moral community they opt for an easier path of spend irresponsibility. Michael's picture is just another example of the decline in our culture that one day will produce a culture of total disgust.

  • M

    I no longer listen to his show. The whole tone changed during campaign season last year. I can't believe the photo. I never would have expected it of him. But he has not turned out to be who I thought he was. And yep, Greg is an idiot. It is no longer a serious talk show, ends up sounding more like the start of a frat party.

  • Neville

    In that photo he kind of looks like one of those slimy slugs you find under a garbage can lid.

  • Jackson

    What and idiot! Maybe the romance with Chris Matthews drove him to this! Since Michael once cleaned pools for a living, maybe he can go to work for Benedict Arlen cleaning his pool after they both get the boot!

  • Dan

    hey idiots. this show is not a howard stern wannabe show. it's not even close and if you think it is, you haven't listened to him long enough. i don't mind greg all that much and he's not a sidekick. he has a job to do there and so does TC. for anyone who doesn't know what they are talking about just shut up and don't post anything. Michael is a good guy and i have listened to him for many years. sometimes i agree sometimes i don't but it's a good show and it's not all about politics.

  • Ray

    Ive been listening to this show for years as well, since he had afternoon slots. It is a Howeird Stern Rip Off Wannabe Show. He has even admitted that. With his puppet stuff about TC., along with other things they have done, and admitted that they stole directly from Howard. So how about you getting to know what your talking about. Sounds like youd like to be standing in back of him in the photo…or maybe in front of him..not sure.

  • Anonymous

    lost it – ego trip – borefest

  • Anonymous

    lets see how fast his boy gets bin laden

  • Margaret

    Michael, having thought you were an ass, I SEE that I was right, you are one!

  • Laarz

    OK Michael we get it,you drive an Acura MDX. Apparently a stand in for the part you don't show in the mag photo. Hey the "M" could stand for Michael as everything else on his show does!

  • benjamin

    The apple pie boy also had an early business selling fake ids to fellow Central Bucks kids.

  • Margaret

    I agree with every word written by "Dissappointed" on May 6, 2009. Smerconish should be ashamed of himself.

  • harry

    It used to be that nudididy was showing pictures of attractive young women in porny there is ever increasingly nude males of increasing age range.if you are into guys ,knock yourself out.

  • joey

    Michael Smerconish is like John DE Bella,his head looks like his keestar

  • brendan

    that picture confirmed the suspicion that MAS has diahreea of the mouth with POO POO coming out both ends.

  • ET

    When is Philadelphia going to tell arrogant Michael to start selling his BS somewhere else . . . we have been listening long enough to his selling of himself . . . used to enjoy his "redefining the headlines" but have grown very bored and tired with his "selling of him, his family, and his vengeful self"

  • ET

    While he may think it is funny, his daily putdowns of TC(her sexuality and intelligence) and his open suggestion that Greg is "pot" smoker all the while pushing himself as a clean machine is really really sick

  • ET

    Need anything more be said?

  • E

    Michael's postion regarding torture is so wrong . . . had he had the guts to serve in the military, even a basic hitch (4 years) or the ANG or Reserves, he would have a clue . . . but since he is much like the draft dodgers of the Vietnam Era, he speaks about what he knows not. He know nothing of Duty, Honor, Country . . .

  • ET

    Wonder if those who's shows on which he is asked to fillin are truly aware of the way he belittles and puts them down to make himself appear to be the victim when he is cut from their shows and cannot use the opportunity to sell himself and his own personal policital and professional get ahead agenda

  • ET

    Hey Michael, since you rarely read the Educational Devotion anymore, have the professionalism to change the introduction each morning reflecting TC as the actual presenter rather than you . . again another example of the arrogantr "me" first at everyone else's expense.

  • ET

    Michael's latest work of fiction is just that . . . again, he has dressed up his political and professional agenda, this time on the backs of those he has interviewed and be accquainted with . . . wonder if he is going to share his profits and roylities with them . . . probably not.

  • Adam

    I am over MAS, he has changed for the worse (and it has nothing to do with his middle right move politically).

  • Anonymous

    I stopped listening to him during the presidential campaign when he turned his back on the conservatives just to be able to get more face appearances on NBC.

  • Dewey

    Josef Stalin used to call people like Michael "Useful Idiots." They are used to promote agendas and when they no longer serve a purpose, they are disgarded.Mike will no doubt suffer the same fate and one day will be seen along side of Joe Fowler doing infomercials for the " Vita Widget" or some such thing.

  • ET

    Now that Michael is broadcasting 37 hours a week writing for two newspapers, traveling to/from and guesting on several TV shows, conducting book signings, stage shows, and speaking events . . . . no way he can take care of his responsibilies as a father . . . . . won't belong before we'll be learning that one of his kids has run afoul of the law . . . . another tragic A Reid type situation . . . but that is the potential cost for putting yourself first, even above your family

  • ET

    Once upon a time there was talk show host named Michael Smerconish, who loved and cared about his hometown and it inhabitants . . . . but then he was smitten by the "me first at all cost" bug . . . . and the rest is history.

  • Axel

    I listen to Sid Mark and Now I'm hearing " Michael this," and "Michael said this," and" Michael said that," Hey, I tune in to hear Sinatra. Sid is a class act and I don't want to see that image tainted by shilling for that self promoting,egotistical little lawn ornament. Who cares what Michael says since no doubt it was about himself anyway.Do you know he drives an mdx,if not,you must be living on another planet. Too bad Ol' Blue Eyes didn't sing " It's all about me," now that you could dedicate to Michael!

  • dweezil

    If Smerconish were a " Responsible Father " he never would have posed for that photo in the first place. He never gave it a thought as to how his children may be impacted by that photo going public. Yo —–, I saw your old man's butt in a magazine ! Real role model for his kids. The only thing more nausiating is the fact that reponsible people still have anything to do with him. Pop culture,you gotta love it.

  • Al

    I have been scrubbing my eyes with Lysol and a wire brush, and yet, the nude image of Michael Smerconish lingers.

  • Rich

    Create a buzz. Get people talking. No PR is bad PR. The MAS machine is in full swing.

  • Bob

    I stopped listening to the self indulgent ranting of MAS months ago. Listened on Tuesday to see if anyting changed. NOT… Michael does a lot of good deeds for others BUT he always needs to tell us what they are. Makes you wonder why he does them?
    I believe is you look close at the picture you can see Gregs lip marks….. What an ASS……

  • George

    What annoys me to no end is Main-stream Media’s referring to MAS as a “conservative” talk show host. Michael used to be conservative and very interesting, but has since sold out to become syndicated. Too bad for Phila listeners… now all we have during the morning drive is Bill Bennett, who’s nowhere near as talented as MAS. Michael’s close association with Specter should have been a good indicator about the man.

  • Kenneth Jr.

    MAS & his big ego are now starting to pay the piper for selling out his Philadelphia audience & joining the dark side on the left. The egomaniac’s radio show, though now syndicated outside Philly, has suffered mightily since the passing of the Presidential election. His ratings in Philly dropped 45% during the last quarter (this can be confirmed online for those not convinced) & boring old RINO Bill Bennett’s show has overtaken his. I have no idea what his syndicated ratings are like, but Philly Conservatives are tuning him out in growing numbers. As Ray Davies once sang, “every dog has his day”. The man is an ego driven male prostitute with no class & alot of growing up to do.

  • John

    I use to listen to him. Oft times, I enjoy his guests. But, it is abundantly clear that he has an agenda (Himself). It has always been my opinion that he takes a position based on how it will advance his career. You can’t help to just shake your head and switch to sports or Bill Bennett on 990AM. I really think that his big endorsement announcement was because of his market demographics. It is my humble opinion that the guy has sold his soul for his career. He is way too transparent.

  • George

    When I want to torture myself, I stop on the dial to listen to this moron for a few minutes and it blows my mind to think that people would listen to this for any other reason than being tortured. Zero intelligence. Zero common sense. Zero (minus) substance. All subjects are insignificant or totally boring as presented. He likes the sound of his voice and stream of babble. On second thought, it would be a perfect Saturday Night Live segment exactly as presented. It would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic.

  • Dr. C

    MS is in it for him … how can he become a bigger player and move-up to be even more important; that’s why he supported Obama and that’s what motivates everything he does: his own ego.

  • Jim

    MS is a populist and an opportunist. He has no real core values.
    No conservative would ever buy into the Obama style wealth redistrubution the Smerconish has.

  • mike

    the most boring show and host, torture to listen to

  • Henry Mercaldo

    I never knew anyone who was complete, but you are A COMPLETE A—-. This seems to be the only way I can send you an e-mail. I’ve tried at least 5 different ways.
    I don’t know why you keep having Arland Spector on your program. I’m sure his brain operation has cause him some serious problems, but you don’t seem to care.
    Also, which you proclaim to be independent, I find you to be totally liberal. You question on you r website today tells me that most of the people who listen to your show are liberal. MOST of the country is against gay marriage except for you liberal audiance.
    As far as Romney is concerned, why don’t you andthe media question ask any questions concerning his past? Who were his “girl friends” and what were his grade in College? Everyone in the media seems to have a million questions about Romney, but none about Obama. WHY?

  • Ron Bertotti

    What is that lump doing. The self appointed emperor has no clothes