But what if they don’t come back? What if the new listeners turning the dials in the cars and kitchens of Huntsville, Alabama, and Columbia, Missouri, and Orlando and Oklahoma City, pursing their lips and thinking Let’s see what this Smerconish guy is all about, turn on by? Friends say Smerconish is privately on tenterhooks about the national rollout, worried about what it will mean for his career — for who he is — if his brand of freewheeling radio fails to catch on.
He sinks back into the brown leather sofa, sighing. He’s thinking. He does not want to be Them, become Them, the hard-liners now thrashing in the La Brea Tar Pits of the right-wing insurgency, calling for Obama to be led to the Bastille, inciting the troops to oppose, shout, scream, fight.
A silence settles between us for a moment, something a tad disquieting in the company of a guy who talks for a living. The empty air seems to be waiting for a decision, which Michael Smerconish is: waiting to see if talk-radio-listening America will renounce polemic for his folksy, kitchen-table, “Hey hon, did you see this in the paper today?” style of discourse. He’s waited for verdicts before. He’ll wait for this one, too.