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

MICHAEL SMERCONISH IS on the toilet.

It should be noted here that Michael Smerconish is not actually on the toilet, as in sitting on the john, but rather is on the topic of the toilet. More specifically, the one he recently bought, for $500, from one of the sponsors of his Philly-based syndicated radio program. He’s talked about the toilet on his show — he does that sort of thing — and it’s now installed in all its porcelain glory inside the stately Villanova Tudor he shares with his wife, the glamorous real estate maven Lavinia, and their four kids. But he has yet to use it properly. Meaning, he hasn’t utilized what makes the toilet worth talking about on the radio, its “Washlet” function, which is sort of a fancier bidet that precisely aims the water shooting up your heinie. “I haven’t taken the time to read the manual and understand what I’m supposed to do with it,” he says with a bemused shrug. “It looks complicated. It’s like a computer keypad.”

T.C. Scornavacchi, who with her shiny raven hair and husky voice evokes the image of a more voluptuous Angie Harmon, is the official executive producer and unofficial mother hen of The Michael Smerconish Program. She comes in shuffling papers, has caught the tail end of all of this. “Oh, you must be talking about the toilet,” she says.

We’re sitting in a Bala Cynwyd studio at WPHT 1210 AM, “The Big Talker,” where every morning from 6 to 9 (the 5-to-6-a.m. hour features highlights from the previous day’s show), Michael Smerconish sits behind a microphone and holds forth on toilets and anything else he feels like to listeners in Philly — and now, thanks to a new syndication deal, a dozen other markets, ranging from Youngstown, Ohio, to Biloxi, Mississippi. Another 14 mainly “conservative” talk stations — in more cosmopolitan locales like New York, Boston and Portland — broadcast a new afternoon version of his show, which Smerconish does from a studio inside his home. “It also has a drying component,” he’s saying, still talking toilet. “Now when I finally use that and discuss it, people will be totally into it.”

The toilet has swirled into discussion, if you will, because Smerconish just finished a segment, replete with interview with an expert, on how ultra-soft toilet paper is decimating rainforests. This has led to a lively jousting match with the three staff people who also get up at an ungodly hour each day to make this show happen, basically polling who would sacrifice his or her rear to save a tree. And, as an aside, of which there are many on The Michael Smerconish Program, whether it’s prudent to install a urinal in your bathroom.

“When people tune into these stations that are carrying me, they’re anticipating that they’re going to hear somebody kick the shit out of Obama,” Smerconish will tell me later. Instead, they’re getting … toilets, among other ephemera. “I would have never discussed any of that — the Washlet, the urinal, or a lot of the things that come up here — when I was practicing law and I was juggling both careers,” he says, peeling back a banana. “I think I would have been embarrassed that I was going to have to go in front of a jury or judge or clients afterward.” The first night of his solo talk-radio show on WWDB, back in 1992, when his day job was still attorney, his topic was the latest papal encyclical. “I can’t even listen to that now,” he says. “Not even for laughs.”

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?
"DON’T LOOK SO shocked,” he says as he whips through the door of the West Conshohocken Wawa and spies me standing by a freezer, sipping hot chocolate and, I suspect, appearing catatonic. “It’s not even 4 a.m. yet.”

His eyes are, as they always are, open a tad too wide when he looks at you, which sometimes gives his face a certain Wild Man of Borneo quality. As I watch him zestfully grab a bushel of bananas, a carton of yogurt and the morning’s papers, I’m thinking it should be illegal to be this alert, this cognizant, this caffeinated, at 3:50 in the morning, before the Wawa overnight crew has even finished bathing the floor in its fetid daily coat of ammonia, before he’s even taken a sip from his 16-ounce paper cup of piping black coffee. He’s in a blue cotton oxford and well-worn jeans and work boots, a mustardy houndstooth blazer and a knit wool cap, a look accented by the square-framed glasses that are now his trademark. It all telegraphs a certain age-appropriate hipness, Ashton Kutcher at 47. We push outside into the chilly air, the sky an inky black that won’t brighten for another two hours.

This is el dia daily for Michael Smerconish, a day that begins at 3 a.m. and won’t end until 18 hours later. As we rumble down the Expressway toward the station in his mud-splashed black F-150, I ask him how long it took to get used to this horrific schedule. “Two years,” he says. “When I started this, someone said, ‘Everyone will give you strategies about how to do this. None of them work.’ He was right. The human body is not meant to get up in the middle of the night.”

We walk into the small conference room where The Michael Smerconish Program (note the implied intellectual heft: it’s a “program,” not a “show”) comes together each morning. Scornavacchi, 35, Smerconish’s executive producer since 2004 (they met when she was teaching his kids at the Gladwyne Montessori school), busily clacks away on a computer as the boss sits holding a tiny pair of blue plastic grade-school scissors, cutting out newspaper items for possible discussion topics. The show’s researcher, stocky, sedulous John McDonald, 25, suggests others: A fake baseball memoir. Someone punched McGruff the Crime Dog. Meghan McCain is posting online about her dating life. “I already knew that,” Smerconish says dismissively without looking up, in a curt style that suggests The Devil Wears Lands’ End. He pushes his people hard, of which he is aware. He tosses out requests like machine-gun ammo: for statistics, on-air guests, background, sound bites, bits of music. Balancing Scornavacchi and McDonald is Greg Stocker, Smerconish’s 29-year-old tech producer and regular on-air foil, who with his blond highlights and ubiquitous man-jewelry looks at first blush like some stoner surfer who’s mistakenly wandered in from Oahu. “Michael can be a tremendous, tremendous pain in the ass,” Scornavacchi tells me later. “There is no question about that, and he would not be surprised at me saying that. But he is also very, very fair. And he doesn’t ask any of us to work any harder than he is willing to work.”
If there’s one thing no one — right, left or center — can question about Michael Smerconish, it’s his work ethic. Each day he does two shows of three hours each; the time before, between and after is spent researching, taping interviews for future shows, making thrice-weekly appearances as a talking head on MSNBC, writing columns for the Inquirer and Daily News, and being a suburban dad. Somewhere in there, he managed to pen his fourth book, the just-published Morning Drive: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Talking, a combo 10-point political “Suburban Manifesto” and chatty stroll through his radio career. “I don’t know how he keeps up his schedule,” admits his wife, Lavinia. “It’s awful.”

Of course, a sizeable ego helps. In his defense, this is somewhat of a prerequisite to do what Michael Smerconish does: How do you spend hours on the radio every day spouting your opinions if you don’t think your opinions matter? Still, it can sometimes overwhelm his show. He’ll indulgently play entire songs from the oeuvre of some obscure ’70s rock band he worships; more recently, he’s been relentlessly shilling for Morning Drive. (Touting a one-night appearance in a Collingswood auditorium to hawk the book, he had the set designer on to break down every piece of decor. Twice. In the same show.) “Absolutely he has a big ego,” says Sil Scaglione, who as general manager at WPHT worked with Smerconish. “You want him to have a big ego. That’s what makes him appealing. People want to hear his big personality. If you don’t have a big ego — and I mean this in a healthy way — there’s no place for you in talk radio.”

But does that mean there’s automatically a place for Michael Smerconish? He is seizing what might be termed the Obama Moment, as the nation copes with messy times while still clinging to the hope and change the election promised. Smerconish doesn’t want just to be a part of the Moment; he wants, it seems, to lead it. “I think 90 percent of television is passion and spontaneity,” says Chris Matthews, who sees Smerconish as embodying both. Smerconish is a frequent contributor to the cacophonous parrying that is Matthews’s Hardball. “Finding a point of view isn’t hard, but finding a developed point of view is — someone who has put thought into it, enriched it. And that’s what he does: He enriches his ideas, he thinks about them. That’s what separates the talker from the thinker-talker.” Matthews sees Smerconish as part of an emerging coalition of reason within the Republican Party, along with Susan Eisenhower and Christopher Buckley, two high-profile party loyalists with royal GOP bloodlines who also defected to back Obama.

Smerconish’s bloodline, while not quite as Tiffany, boasts parents with sparkling Bucks County GOP bona fides, and he lived an apple-pie, bike-rides-after-school childhood in Doylestown. Even at an early age he showed the force of will that now defines him. In his mid-teens, Smerconish begged a pal whose dad ran a pool business to let him tag along to deliver chlorine to Larry Kane, at that time Philly’s most popular TV news anchor; at the house, Smerconish snowed the maid into believing Kane had to sign for the delivery himself. As a sleepy Kane staggered to the door, Smerconish introduced himself and took a commemorative photo. Kane later helped Smerconish break into radio.
Politics proved a natural outlet for all this relentless drive. “When I first met him, he was hard-core right-wing. He was Reagan, Rizzo, Right,” says public relations executive Larry Ceisler, one of his closest friends. “And he probably wasn’t the most socially tolerant person. He basically saw the world in black and white.” Smerconish ran for state rep at 24 and lost; later, post-law-school, he found himself in the Office of Housing and Urban Development during the administration of George H.W. Bush, his pin-striped suits and often glowering countenance conjuring an image of a younger, handsomer Karl Rove. After leaving government to join the storied Beasley law firm, he used his political connections to remake himself as a part-time political pundit, laying the foundation for his radio career, first at WWDB and then at ’PHT, where a very public snit with Scaglione in 2001 led to his contract not being renewed. Scaglione tattled to the Daily News’s Stu Bykofsky that Smerconish’s ratings were “mediocre” and that “the radio show is a hobby and not his career,” and Smerconish returned fire with vitriolic verve, leaking an e-mail sent six months earlier in which Scaglione had expressed his wish “to build the station around you.”

Scaglione later begged — and got — Smerconish to return, and in 2003 Smerconish gave up law and committed to a career in media, doing the ’PHT show, penning newspaper columns, and foraying into guest stints as a “conservative” talking head in the company of Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. His show became must listening for the power crowd that ran Philadelphia. “He was networked in, which goes back to his political years,” says Ceisler. “He knew a lot of people.”

Smerconish’s journey to a new political philosophy, if not a new political identity, has been just as public. He joined a cadre of other high-profile GOPers (most notably The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan) who spent the better part of the last decade hand-wringing over the slow death of the Reagan era’s ideals of a strong defense and small government, watching helplessly as the far-right faction of the party veered the Bush administration into two unwinnable wars and profligate spending. Smerconish often mused on the air about his deep concerns with the party’s direction. The nadir came last year in the Denver airport, when he looked up from his USA Today to see a television monitor announcing that Sarah Palin had been selected as John McCain’s running mate. Disappointed — he believed Tom Ridge was the best choice — Smerconish headed to Minnesota for the GOP convention, where on his way to hear Palin’s acceptance speech he bumped into none other than Comcast exec David L. Cohen.

“You’re about to be wowed,” Cohen told him.

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Smerconish replied, still skeptical. “By Sarah Palin?

“No, I’m telling you. I met her, and she’s really more impressive than people are giving her credit for.”
Post-speech, Smerconish helped himself to a gulp of the Palin Kool-Aid, pulling out his cell phone and dialing his dad back home. “Maybe I got it wrong,” he joked in the call. “Perhaps they should reverse the order of the ticket, because she is really, really dynamic.”

But the campaign’s sheltered rollout of Palin, coupled with a party platform Smerconish felt was unconscionably rigid (for example, no abortion exceptions, even for rape or incest), quickly took the bloom off his GOP rose. “The middle,” he says, “was lost.”

Still, when he came out and publicly endorsed Obama on Hardball and in his Inquirer column, the elephant dung hit the fan. Callers and e-mailers excoriated him for treason; the furor grew so large that ABC News’s Jake Tapper did a story about it. Even his own mother was livid. “Shortly after, we went away with her for her birthday,” recalls Lavinia. “She walked in, she pinned McCain/Palin buttons onto our three boys as we were headed toward the airport, and that was essentially the end of it. No one said another word about the endorsement for the entirety of the trip.”

Which is, in a way, emblematic of what happened to Smerconish’s radio show as well. The show’s growling introduction notwithstanding (“Broadcasting from the Cradle of Liberty, this … is The … Michael … Smerconish Program”), post-election and post-syndication, Smerconish has begun to subtly steer the show away from unyielding analysis of the day’s headlines into a more watercooler kind of affair. (It’s no coincidence that his idol is Larry David, the creator of Seinfeld; his BlackBerry ringer, which goes off about every three minutes, is the theme to Curb Your Enthusiasm.) This wasn’t tactical, something strategized or planned, but more organic, fueled by his belief that “If I’m into it, I think I can get you into it.” While he still tackles charged, provocative topics — he recently mused about whether it was okay for white people to use the N-word — the spread of his show nationally has coincided with what amounts to more or less a divorce from the culture wars. “It’s a challenge, here in Philadelphia, to be surrounded by a lot of ideology,” he says of sharing the airwaves with the likes of Hannity and Rush. “But I’d rather do it this way.”

 

LABELING MICHAEL SMERCONISH politically has become a rather tough proposition, even for him. His political idols remain Arlen Specter, Rudy Giuliani (the local-guy version, not the pandering-to-the-base presidential-candidate version) and Mitt Romney (ditto). Like Matthews, who earlier this year aborted a possible U.S. Senate run against Specter, Smerconish is sometimes floated in idle chatter as a potential candidate down the road, a prospect he summarily dismisses. “I don’t know that I would be able to rein in my thinking,” he says. “Let’s see, here’s my platform: Torture the bad guys. Get out of Iraq. Go into Pakistan and hunt bin Laden. Close the borders. Legalize prostitution, decriminalize marijuana, be pro-choice, and give gays civil unions.” He laughs, a big, throaty laugh. “Who’s for that?” Other than Ayn Rand, probably no one.

“What makes Michael interesting is that he’s passionate about his moderation,” says Rick Santorum, who was a frequent guest on Smerconish’s show during his tenure in the U.S. Senate. “Most moderates aren’t passionate; they’re the mushy middle, if you will. You can say a lot of things about Michael, but ‘mushy’ is not one of them. He takes on the positions he takes with a zeal that makes it entertaining.”

For several years, Smerconish has answered the siren song of television. Breezy appearances on everything from The View to The Today Show proved him a natural: striking, self-assured, articulate, knowledgeable. But each time it looked like his own TV gig was coming — on CNN, on MSNBC, on HLN — the cheerleader waving the pompoms for him got cut from the squad. “The worst thing that can happen to you if you’re a television producer is to look kindly on me,” Smerconish says with a rueful laugh. “’Cause chances are, you’re leaving.”

“People don’t know all of the rejections and dejections he’s had across his business life,” says Pat Croce, who lives next door to him in Villanova and has become both a mentor and a friend. The two often take long, head-clearing walks together during which Smerconish brain-dumps, seeking advice. “There have been times when he’s wanted to kill something,” says Croce. “Everything happened on CNN, then the head guy leaves. He fills in when [Don] Imus is gone, and something else politically happens. It wasn’t fair, but then, business isn’t fair. So I said, ‘Stay at it, stay at it. You’re in the hunt. You’re always in the hunt.’”

And so the hunting ground became national radio, as Smerconish focused his efforts on syndicating his show. In Philadelphia, only the first six minutes at the top of each hour of The Michael Smerconish Program are now local, which is why you hear him chatting up Sid Mark or the Phillies ball girls in that slot. The rest of the morning version beams out to a dozen other affiliates (most notably Washington, D.C.) as Michael Smerconish attempts, one station at a time, to burnish an identity as The Other in talk radio.

He’s currently ranked 35th in Talkers magazine’s annual list of the “Heavy Hundred,” the most influential talk-radio hosts in the nation (predictably, Limbaugh, Hannity and Savage are the top three); he was recently named best news/talk/sports local personality in the nation by the trade publication Radio & Records. But it will still be several months before the awards committee that counts — in the form of the national Arbitron ratings — decides whether Smerconish and his hard-to-pin-down anti-ideology are winners or not. Six months ago, at the height of election fever, Smerconish was averaging some 238,000 weekly listeners in Philly; by February, that number was 136,800, a tumble of 43 percent. How much of that is attributable to talk-radio fatigue, how much is people temporarily tuning out a torrent of daily, awful economic news, and how much is an actual judgment on Smerconish himself is as yet unknown. But when I told my brother, a staunch but hardly intolerant suburban Republican, that I was doing a story on Smerconish, his response was swift. “Oh yeah, he was good, I used to listen to him all the time,” he said. “But then he got all … liberal.”
“I just don’t think he’s as relevant in today’s political discussions,” sniffs Karl Frisch, a senior fellow at Media Matters, a self-proclaimed progressive media-watchdog group that monitors conservative talk radio. “You don’t hear about him as much as you may have at one time.”

Perhaps that’s because as Smerconish has taken his show one way, his peers have run in the other direction to be even more inflammatory. To be famous. Minneapolis’s Chris Baker called Obama a “little bitch”; San Francisco’s Lee Rodgers labeled leaders of the feminist movement “a bunch of hags” who “couldn’t get laid in a men’s prison.” Denver’s John Caldara described former presidential candidate John Edwards as “the very definition of faggy.” The blue ribbon for vulgar punditry may go to Langdon Perry, who on Baker’s show said, “I’m convinced that Magic [Johnson] faked AIDS.”

“It’s the same thing, every day from every host,” Smerconish says wearily. “I’ve received a tremendous blowback from the hard-core, traditional talk-radio listener. The question is: Is that person typical of the broader market I’m trying to reach? I don’t think that they are.”

"COME ON, WALK in here,” Michael Smerconish says, waving me into a low-ceilinged, sharply gabled anteroom off the den where he broadcasts his afternoon show. His house is big, with a swinging black-metal gate and lots of stonework, which you would expect, but also feels lived-in and homey, like an upscale Poconos lodge, which you wouldn’t.

He’s dressed today in a slouchy oxford, a chocolate blazer, expensive chinos and matching cowboy boots, and in the small space, he prowls like a panther, pointing here, pointing there, wanting me to see this, to look at that. The walls are cluttered with concert ticket stubs, random posters, photos and other nostalgic bric-a-brac, a shrine to his passion for classic rock. “Yeah, here’s Jethro Tull,” he says, plucking a ticket stub off the wall. “I’ve got a ton of Yes, Van Halen. I’ve been hugely into Pink Floyd for, like, forever.” He points to a photo of him near the stage at a Roger Waters concert at Madison Square Garden he went to with Paul Lauricella — “Liberal Paul,” a lawyer at the Beasley firm and one of his frequent on-air callers. The photo shows him heckling Waters. “He was going into this tirade about the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo,” Smerconish says. “So I shouted him down.”

The rock gods of his youth frequently find themselves guests on his show. “I am totally self-indulgent,” he says, his eyes almost shining. “When these ’70s rockers come through town, I am probably the only person who puts them on. I’m a sucker for it.” I ask him what listeners think of this randomness, a discussion of whether it’s okay for a white person to use the “N” word one minute, a sit-down with the guitarist from Yes the next.

“Did you have to say ‘randomness’?” he retorts. For the first time in all the hours I’ve spent with him, he seems almost … wounded. I offer the adjective “eclectic” instead. His face brightens instantly. “I like eclectic,” he says, the word clicking off his tongue. “Eclectic is like ‘eccentric’ instead of ‘crazy.’ To the extent that there is a guiding principle to the program, it’s that there’s a little something for everybody. And if you’re not into it, you can leave me for 10 minutes or a half-hour and know that if you come back, I will have changed it up and we’ll be into something totally different.”
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.

 

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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 moveon.org 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

    I AM MIKE'S UNCLE AND WAS ALWAYS IS FAVORIE UNCLE ACCORDING TO MIKE. I AM ASHAMED THAT MIKE WOULD POSE FO SUCH SMUT. IT IS A EMBRASSMET TO HIS FAMILY, WIFE, CHILDREN, SEP-DAUGHTE AND ALL THE RST OF US.MIKE, YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. YOU MUST THINK TOO MUCH OF YOURSELF TO DO SUCH SMUT. IF MY MOTHER WAS STILL ALIVE SHE WOULD SAY THE SAME.YOU USE TO BE BGGER THAN THIS.

  • 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 mags.now 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