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Radio Daze

This week’s parasha introduces a medium for distinguishing truth from falsehood. On the radio, where actors are hired to read scripts and pretend to be real people, things aren’t so simple.

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Last year, a young man called in to a radio station with a problem. He’d recently attended a bachelor party, he said, and a friend of the groom-to-be, clueless of the unwritten etiquette of maledom, brought his girlfriend along, derailing what was supposed to be a weekend of gambling, girls, and general debauchery. The caller told his story with passion and verve, and then asked the station’s listeners for their advice on how to treat his clueless pal.

Or at least he would have, had this been a real conversation. The young man—who asked to remain nameless in order to protect his chances for future employment—was an actor, and the staged call an audition. A short while later, he received the following email: “Thank you for auditioning for Premiere On Call,” it said. “Your audition was great! We’d like to invite you to join our official roster of ‘ready-to-work’ actors.” The job, the email indicated, paid $40 an hour, with one hour guaranteed per day.

But what exactly was the work? The question popped up during the audition and was explained, the actor said, clearly and simply: If he passed the audition, he would be invited periodically to call in to various talk shows and recite various scenarios that made for interesting radio. He would never be identified as an actor, and his scenarios would never be identified as fabricated—which they always were.

“I was surprised that it seemed so open,” the actor told me in an interview. “There was really no pretense of covering it up.”

Curious, the actor did some snooping and learned that Premiere On Call was a service offered by Premiere Radio Networks, the largest syndication company in the United States and a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, the entertainment and advertising giant. Premiere syndicates some of the more sterling names in radio, including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity. But a great radio show depends as much on great callers as it does on great hosts: Enter Premiere On Call.

“Premiere On Call is our new custom caller service,” read the service’s website, which disappeared as this story was being reported (for a cached version of the site click here). “We supply voice talent to take/make your on-air calls, improvise your scenes or deliver your scripts. Using our simple online booking tool, specify the kind of voice you need, and we’ll get your the right person fast. Unless you request it, you won’t hear that same voice again for at least two months, ensuring the authenticity of your programming for avid listeners.”

The actors hired by Premiere to provide the aforementioned voice talents sign confidentiality agreements and so would not go on the record. But their accounts leave little room for doubt. All of the actors I questioned reported receiving scripts, calling in to real shows, pretending to be real people. Frequently, one actor said, the calls were live, sometimes recorded in advance, but never presented on-air as anything but real.

Michael Harrison, the editor of Talkers Magazine, the talk-radio world’s leading trade publication, said he knew nothing of this particular service but was not altogether surprised to hear that it was in place. There was, he said, a tradition of “creating fake phone calls for the sake of entertainment on some of the funny shows, shock jocks shows, the kind of shows you hear on FM music stations in the morning, they would regularly have scenarios, crazy scenarios of people calling up and doing pranks.”

Rachel Nelson, a Premiere Radio Networks spokesperson, defended the Premiere on Call service and said that responsibility for how it is employed falls ultimately to those who use it.

“Premiere provides a wide variety of audio services for radio stations across the country, one of which is connecting local stations in major markets with great voice talent to supplement their programming needs,” Nelson wrote in an email. “Voice actors know this service as Premiere On Call. Premiere, like many other content providers, facilitates casting—while character and script development, and how the talent’s contribution is integrated into programs, are handled by the varied stations.”

***

In a strange way, this week’s Torah portion anticipates the state of affairs brought about by Premiere On Call. The parasha discusses a priestly vestment known as the hoshen. It’s a breastplate worn by the high priest, fitted with 12 jewels and looking a bit like a telephone keypad. And, like a telephone, it was an instrument of communication: The hoshen housed the urim and thummim, mysterious holy objects that, most scholars believe, were used for divination. In particularly fraught times, when truth and lies had to be sorted apart, the hoshen was called into service. It was, in a way, one of our earliest pieces of technology, a man-made object used to communicate, in this case, with the divine.

We’ve come a long way. Far from harbingers of truth, our media are now increasingly used to shake the foundations of the real. We know this to be the case with television, where the stars of reality programming are frequently found to follow the blueprints of writers and producers. And we know it to be the case online, where identity has become a playground and masquerading the norm. But radio seemed different. We listen to radio because the voice, we think, doesn’t lie. The voice is immediate and intimate and present. We attach ourselves to radio personalities with an intensity we’d never dream to extend to, say, television hosts—just look at the fierce and unparalleled devotion to Howard Stern—and this is because we feel as if we know them and trust them.

It is time to question this notion as well. The next caller you hear, the next personal story that makes you sniffle or shout with rage, may be the doing of someone at some faceless casting agency, hiring actors and writing scripts designed to titillate. The point is, without something like the hoshen, an object capable of channeling the celestial spirit and telling truth from lie, we’ll never know.

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Thanks! This reminds me of something related: when I was desperate for work I wrote “model research papers” (read: term papers for hire) for a legitimate company (which uses two different names, carefully words its press materials to remain ambiguous).

I had a great relationship with my employers, I needed the work, and I actually loved it – despite the moral complication. But the point is, as an honest and trusting person I could never have imagined that this underworld of deception existed, especially in academia, where I had spent so many years and in which I had placed so much faith.

I published a piece about it here: http://presentense.org/magazine/the-intellectual-giver

Alexander Diamond says:

i was a professional radio person for well over 35 years. I have witnessed the demise of this wonderful medium at the hands of witless owners, station managers, program directors, not to mention the usual detritus of so-called talk radio that washes up on radio’s shores. It used to be said that radio was the theater of the mind, but when mindless greed rules, the theater is empty. Today what’s left of radio is represented by Howard Stern, the last bastion of true radio as it was always meant to be.

Jerry Shapiro says:

Does Rupert Murdoch own Clear Channel?

Shavua Tov.I enjoyed the article, but Liel is not good reading and interpretin g Torah. If you want to know what can happen in the case of surprises see TB Ktubot 62B, in conjuction with EX 28:35

meowomon says:

“Premiere syndicates some of the more sterling names in radio, including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity.”

Typical right wing bloated bags of hot air. LOL, Couldn’t find the truth on Fox news if it fell in their big fat bloated laps.

Goliaf says:

Limbaugh and Hannity do not take calls in proportion to reality. Hannity’s screener simply hang up on people with tough questions after saying “I’ll pass it on.”. CLICK

What a crock. But now we know they have a set up for astroturfing conservative callers. This crosses a line. These guys need to be exposed and denounced. I am a real American, not a lying actor. Why don’t I have the right to call in and voice my opinion?

These call in shows need published criteria for calls and ombudsmen checking on their practices. Don’t let your kids listen to this propaganda. Actors, drop a dime on these crooks so we can rescue democracy, freedom and liberty.

trank says:

this should be the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.

it sure as hell needs to be – but if the left continues to believe 1000 coordinated radio stations that can turn a molehill into a mountain in a day is nothing to worry about then we can just go back to the same old.

“The point is, without something like the hoshen, an object capable of channeling the celestial spirit and telling truth from lie, we’ll never know”

You’re being sarcastic, right? The hoshen itself was most likely a distractive object that allowed the priest wearing it to “divine” the truth as he saw it, based I’m sure, on the conventions of the time.

Sean says:

The problem for conservative talk radio isn’t finding people who agree with them. The problem is that the people who agree with them can only make grunting noises and say things like, “ah… ya, ditto!”

This is how they give the class war against working people that seaming “Average Joe” stamp of approval. There are other services where people get hired to post on blogs – usually coming from Conservative “think thanks.” THAT’S how anathema their agenda is to the working people of this nation. It’s pathetic.

jana says:

This astro-turfing and false front strategy is rampant in our mass media and politics. It’s not just radio – have you ever watched C-Span’r Washington Journal? or read the anonymous comments after online news and opinion pieces? It’s privatized psyops on America and it undermines democracy – it’s all about the curtain and not what’s behind it.

With the consolidation of media – especially electronic media – it has become much easier to spread disinformation quickly. When the truth finally comes out – it is ignored in favor of the lie. “Self-interest, well understood” demands an educated populace and an ethical investigative press. We have neither in these times and it is dangerous.

David says:

“Michael Harrison, the editor of Talkers Magazine, the talk-radio world’s leading trade publication, said he knew nothing of this particular service but was not altogether surprised to hear that it was in place. There was, he said, a tradition of ‘creating fake phone calls for the sake of entertainment on some of the funny shows, shock jocks shows, the kind of shows you hear on FM music stations in the morning, they would regularly have scenarios, crazy scenarios of people calling up and doing pranks.’ ”

So…is there any evidence that Limbaugh, Hannity et al are actually using fake callers, or is this just extrapolation?

trank says:

David says: So…is there any evidence that Limbaugh, Hannity et al are actually using fake callers, or is this just extrapolation?

“You’re a great American Sean!” “Megadittos Rush!”!

When you’re listening to a local right winger and he’s taking calls from people in other states and it’s friday night and they ALL are lucid and clear there’s got to be something fishy going on. The right has been using paid internet trolls and it makes complete sense they would use paid callers to prime their most important media tool. And if you’ve listened over the years with a critical ear you’d probably notice.

Harrison doesn’t know? It’s a service offered by at least one of the giants in the industry. The guy is lying. And the real stuff is probably coming out of the Heritage foundation and pentagon and US Chamber of Commerce.

One wonders is bloviators like Hannity and Limbaugh even know they are talking to scripted actors?

They are so self involved and are so used to preaching to their clueless choir are we certain they are complicit in the deceit?

Ron Hyatt says:

All you liberals are projecting. The ones that are scripted are bought and paid for by DNC. DIAF Lib Wackos.

Jughead Obama says:

‘These call in shows need published criteria for calls and ombudsmen checking on their practices. ” Who? Leftist Obamunist Hacks? Lib Wisconsin Union Liberal Teacher Idiots? YOU? STFU, Moron.

Liberal projection. Premiere Radio Networks represents liberal and conservative talkers, in addition to non-political talk. While only conservative talkers are mentioned in the article, the liberal talkers, being less popular, are the ones who would need to create callers. The conservatives listed always have non-stop waiting lines to get on, so their screeners have a wide selection to choose from. The liberal talkers are waiting for callers, thus the need for fake callers.

This is very dishonest reporting. There is NO PROOF whatever presented in this “report” that proves that Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity uses fake callers, but their names were linked to the practice anyway.

If you have proof that Hannity of Limbaugh use fake callers, then present it. But don;t lie with guilt by association just because the company that has the fake caller service is linked to the network that broadcasts Hannity and Limbaugh.

Am I saying Limbaugh and Hannity don’t ever use fake callers? No. I have no idea. But the fact is YOU DON’T EITHER!!

Allan says:

Congratulations. This is an excellent story and receiving wide attention. And the influx of angry, subliterate comments shows you have struck a nerve.

To them I say: the story makes no specific allegations about specific radio hosts.

What it does do, however, is raise a legitimate question that those in the media can now ask of any talk-radio host: Do you now, or have you in the past, employed services that arrange for people to call into your program on pre-determined topics?

They should be asked, on the record.

Occam says:

Right, the service pulled its website down because there’s absolutely NO PROOF that Hannity and Limbaugh and Beck used paid callers.

As Bill O’Lielly would tell you, if they didn’t have anything to hide, they would not have done that.

I confess says:

Years ago, I was laid up at home after major surgery. I use to lay in bed and listen to Talk Radio shows. One morning the 9 AM Show did a segment on FDR’s 1942 radio address to the nation complete with audio and talking points about how the NY Times would editorize against it today and how the ACLU would probably file a lawsuit.

My 1st thought was why would someone make a topic on that plus where did he get the audio? After the 9 AM show, Rush did the exact same thing about FDR, Hannity did it, Levin did it, and Rusty Humphries also did it. The next day, I heard Steve Matzberg and Michael Savage talk about FDR’s 1942 address to the nation and play the audio. I sent an email to the 9 AM host who I had previously called. He told me that the FDR thing was packaged and produced by Newt Gingrich’s organization.

xenos says:

‘These call in shows need published criteria for calls and ombudsmen checking on their practices. ” Who? Leftist Obamunist Hacks? Lib Wisconsin Union Liberal Teacher Idiots? YOU? STFU, Moron.’

How about the FCC, which has full jurisdiction over this sort of thing.

xenos says:

‘Am I saying Limbaugh and Hannity don’t ever use fake callers? No. I have no idea. But the fact is YOU DON’T EITHER!!’

but we do know that the company that syndicates their shows also runs a business generating fake callers to shows like theirs. Which is a pretty good indication that the whole industry is corrupt, unethical, and faked.

And your response indicates that the mooks who fall for this ersatz discourse get their egos quite emotionally wrapped up in it too. Pretty pathetic.

Jay Diamond says:

With respect to the programs mentioned in this story, the actors making the phony calls are the most authentic and factual moments of these “shows”.

Exec. Producer says:

Wow, what paranoia out there!
This artice is so misleading. Is this the ONION or what??
I’m an Exec. Producer for a talk radio show, trust me, you’re giving these hosts waaaaay to much credit.
Those services provide actors the relationship games like War of the Roses, Friday Morning Hook-up, etc. that are played on the soccer-mom stations.
These services cost $$. The local ‘Billy & Sherri Cornflake Crew’ can get sponsors to facilitate the cost, most talkers are much to cheap.
Yes, content does ‘float’ down the line…that’s just a lack of originality on the hosts part. There are talkers that steal from our show constantly, and no, we are taking conference calls with other hosts. That’s the most horrific part about this article, that these hosts actually share info. HA! These hosts are protective of their content, and it’s an unwritten code that you don’t share…you steal it and do it better. ooops, well, it’s written now!!
This article has no credibility. This joker is just stirring the pot.

Gary X.B. says:

To the guy that said this is guilt by association, welcome to the world that Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck have created – the whole US media now uses pure speculation because they learned from the top talkers in the industry. Astroturfing uses passion to get people on their side, fake testimonials and sometimes unfounded insinuation. So why would a comment here blame Tablet without blaming Premiere’s millionaire hosts first and foremost?

Taking the source’s claims with a grain of salt, the cached text published on the Premiere site is damning all on it’s own – it says they don’t repeat voice actors for that “authentic” feel. Then, they take it off the site? Come on.

To the guy that says these actors are ONLY used on silly shows, where is the proof of that? Help settle this! And even if it’s true, is it right? If a guest makes something up, it’s on them – but if the show is faking stuff, the listeners should be told it’s fictional. Either way, Premiere’s service stinks if they mislead listeners.

Carlo says:

You can always tell that Beck and Limbaugh’s callers are for the most part stacked. You can tell this because a caller will phone in and ask a question that allows them to go on a rant on an obviously prepared talking point. I have heard Beck get a call, and respond by saying, “after the break, I will explain what I mean”. Then he goes into a very prepared 30 to 45 minute diatribe, which is clearly pre prepared. They totally stack their calls because if real callers did get through they would very quickly tear Limbaugh’s or Becks position to pieces. There arguments are very flimsy and cannot stand up to any critical attack or scrutiny.

Shuli Jewison says:

Howard Stern has callers constantly plugging his side projects.

Cherie says:

Ah, the ol’ “I don’t want to give my name…” routine. Show proof and the post. Otherwise, move on over to a tabloid rack and mouth away.

Miles DeMillas Lejos says:

Instead of cherry-picking Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck, the author could just as easily have named Alan Colmes, Randi Rhodes and “Reverend” Jesse Jackson, which are handled by the same company in the same way. Then he could have posted the whole misleading mess on some conservative page…

Except, of course, for the fact that conservatives investigate the facts (the evidence of which you’re now reading) instead of taking the bate and running like some of a certain OTHER sort do.

Amy Bush says:

This whole concept does not surprise me — very little does, anymore — but it most definitely does depress me. Egads.

JoeB says:

Nice try, but here’s your problem. You have ZERO (0) proof that Beck, Hannity or Limbaugh have ever used paid actors as callers to their shows. Why do you have zero proof? Because the claim is a lie.

Genie says:

A previous comment was that liberal shows could do this too. But I’ve listened to Randi Rhodes and Ed Schultz take callers who are conservative and have discussions with them. You never hear Limbaugh et al taking callers who do not agree with them. In fact Ed Schultz was once a guest on the O’Reilly show, and O’Reilly let him say one sentence and that was it, he didn’t let him talk for the rest of the show. Or the Limbaugh TV show – everyone in the audience applauded vigorously for everything Limbaugh said. They screened the people very carefully before letting them sit in the audience.

where is the proof that they use this in there show? Premiere Radio Networks Syndicates Randi Rhodes, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Jim Rome, and Ryan Seacrest so by what the article says they use the service also so where are there names in the article. Why just mention the right talk radio? Why hide these names?

will wait for the next article LEIBOVITZ, when you ask if Randi and Jesse answer the question have you used this service.

splashy says:

All who use the service should fess up. As it was pointed out before, many of the liberal shows have conservatives on and let them talk. Do the conservative shows do that? Rarely.

Birch'sGhost says:

The conservatives posting really need to find some other conservatives to state our case. You’re making us look like we can’t handle it when someone brings up info we don’t like, even if there’s truth to it.

I NEED PROOF PROOF PROOF!!!! nothing to back this article!!!!! The sad thing I saw this exact same article on 2 different unreliable site. Go To work quit complaining and deal with it so they disagree!!!

beejeez says:

There’s too much money to be lost using unscripted call-ins. Advertisers pay heavily for the pseudo-credibility of Limbaugh, Hannity, et al. Why should they risk their investment by allowing hostile callers to challenge their painstakingly marketed hosts? They didn’t get to be CEOs by being stupid. Usually.

Frank Provasek says:

Even though the fairness doctrine is long gone (payback from Reagan to right wingers) the airwaves still BELONG TO THE PUBLIC, and stations receive a LICENSE to operate in the “public interest, convenience and necessity.” For 25 years, “talk radio” has consisted of near 24/7 operation as a propaganda outlet for Republican talking points. And any attempt to bring back diversity, localness, or balance to the radio dial is attacked on-air as “censorship.”

James says:

To try and peg this practice on Limbaugh or Hannity is pure poppycock. If this were the case, every news outlet would be leading every broadcast with the proof that the biggest names in talk radio used actors to call in. If this were provable, it would’ve already made news, REAL NEWS, not tabletmag.com, no offense. It might have been used on Opie and Anthony or whatnot, not on Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Mark Levin or Neil Boortz. This is what is so offensive to many on the left, that many average people agree with talk radio.

Anybody who wants to see just how little Glenn Beck thinks of his listeners’ probity needs only to google “Beck vaporub” to watch him taping a “cry session”. There are many copies of this on YouTube, so I have no fear of it having been taken down. Here’s Beck making sorrowful faces, tears streaming down his cheeks for which he is so famous, and the makeup girl dabbing Vicks under his lower eyelids.

The shocking part is he doesn’t care to hide it, because he knows full well his bread & butter are not web savvy.

the buckaroo says:

…I fear I may infringe on the 3 inch rule so I’ll apologize now. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 put a stake through the fairness of debate. Dumping on the unions or rallying around any topic is as natural & as calculated as following the established game plan. In what world view does the little guy bankrupt the system…the one that vilifies all progressive leanings, regardless of merit.

The dog & pony show starts with the inner-connectivity of News Corp, Jacor, Liberty Media, Clear Channel, Romney, Bain Capital, Lush, Henpeck, Sharie’s Berries, ProFlowers, the Mays clan, the Bush Family, Premier Radio Network & Premier On Call…& is just a click away. It is a self supporting, self sustaining circus show with little moral character but a huge moral compass…go figure.

See who hires the actors that call in to the AM Conservative Brotherhood hack shows in a seemingly random shout out for various current affair views that just happen to be well versed on the topic. A script sent earlier that day with explicit instructions as to what, how & when to regurgitate the talking point of the day.

The plan to control the message by owning the rostrum was formulated in the 70′s & consolidated fairly recently. Does anyone think this is coincidence. Rupert & Zell own the media which print the feed story which gets picked up by their blog arm which in turn is expanded upon by the stooges of radio land then leads at Faux News. It couldn’t be more transparent nor blatant. Lush & Henpeck get their orders and game plan and callers from Premier On Call in a well orchestrated passion play. It is a 24/7 endeavor.

…as posted on krugman blog feb 25, 2011 by yours truly, enjoy.

John says:

Cable needs to be regulated like broadcast. Remember the game show, I think it was $64,000 Question, that got into trouble? Some people should be in trouble.

John says:

Its called “call screening”.
If you have an audience of, say, a half million people, and only 0.1% of them decide to call in? That’s still 500 people banging on your virtual door. Do you really think its difficult to get 5 out of those 500 people who are good callers?

I realize that the left doesn’t believe that the right can form coherent arguments, but this really is a new low in argument to suggest that most, or even some of the most respected right wing talk shows in the US *NEED* callers.

Frank says:

To the conservative posters here demanding “PROOF!” – where’s the proof that YOU are not a right-wing PLANT yourself? There isn’t any, so therefore – by your own logic – you must be one!

StGeorge says:

Those of you who believe all this are nuts. Maybe it happens with a shock jock show but you do know it is illegal by FCC rules to do it on talk shows right?

Kris says:

Wow… so your saying there are shows on the radio that use fake callers to boost ratings? No way… never would have guessed something like that could be going on. The laughter in most shows is canned, the weather man is standing in front of a bluescreen, the desks aren’t made of real wood anymore, just particle board, and your girlfriend / wife paints on a fake face everyday to go out and live fake lives in this fake society. Get a clue people… fake is the reality… is America… look in the mirror I bet you’ll find that your fake too.

Try listening to real radio like Alex Jones.

Considering this seems to be the source for anyone who published anything about this story, one wonders how much ad revenue this site is now getting for all the extra hits this story is pulling in?

The “anonymous actor” makes claims which cannot be verified by second source and a call to the company says they do stuff for clients to find voice talent is hardly “journalism”

…”We listen to radio because the voice, we think, doesn’t lie.” …
Anyone who does not use their intelligence, judgment and discernment when listening to any media can’t be taken seriously.

Using the symbolism associated with the vestments of the Chief Priest in holy matters of revelation and truth, doctrine and truth, or innocence or guilt, in context of this article, divines an image in my mind that involves a conversation between a pot and a kettle without the benefit of a Hoshen.

Perry N. says:

Liebovitz does an excellent job of blurring the lines of theater-like radio devised by that cretin Howard Stern (going back to his first days on 66WNBC in the early 1970s) and political “talk” radio hosts like Rush. I have come to expect no less from graduates of the Columbia School of Journalism; the same university which graduated Barak Hussein Obama.

After reading this hit-piece and the grape-koolade comments of your readership, it is abundantly clear many of your mishpokhe here have removed yourselves so far from the Bible and the Talmud that you know nothing of Judaism or what it means to be “Jewish” or even capable of being civil to opposing thought. I further confidently state that many of those who posted such left-thinking and hate-filled comments towards Limbaugh would also have been of the same mindset of self-hating Jews like George (Schwartz) Soros (who at age 13 aided his uncle in rounding-up other Jews for the Nazi cyanide death chambers 70 years ago, in order to be spared the same fate).

Such thinking is now found today in the people who support the policy of death-panels from yet another self-hating Jew by the name of Ezekiel Emmanuel. (BTW, it is Jewish Law which states life is to be protected at all and ANY costs; that means financial too! Something Limbaugh espouses each and every day, including his undying support of Israel!) I suggest that before you or Liebovitz print anything else about Rush, Sean, Glenn or fellow-Jew Mark Levin, you take the Limbaugh-challenge, and listen to his (or one of the other shows I have listed above) every day for 6 weeks. You just might learn something “revolutionary”! To do otherwise furthers my contention it is YOU who possess the closed mind; for 33 years ago, I stood on your side of the aisle. Like Winston Churchill said: “If you are not a liberal by age-20, you have no heart; if by age 40, you’re not a conservative, you have no brain!”

With Pseudo-Jews like you, who needs HAMAS or Hezbollah?

Shalom

ProudPrimate says:
Mar 7, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Anybody who wants to see just how little Glenn Beck thinks of his listeners’ probity needs only to google “Beck vaporub” to watch him taping a “cry session”. There are many copies of this on YouTube, so I have no fear of it having been taken down. Here’s Beck making sorrowful faces, tears streaming down his cheeks for which he is so famous, and the makeup girl dabbing Vicks under his lower eyelids.

The shocking part is he doesn’t care to hide it, because he knows full well his bread & butter are not web savvy.

———-

He was doing that for a photo shoot for a magazine cover, you idiot!

OhLook...AnotherTroll says:

Anyone see a double-standard in what Perry N is saying! Yeah, he’s religeous.

SirCoolBreeze says:

Perry N., Howard Stern was never on WNBC66 AM in the 70′s. That was Don Imus. Howard Stern moved to WNBC66 from DC101 in 1982 and worked the afternoon shift. The rest of your hate speech is what it is. Shalom.

George says:

First of all Perry I know that you are not a Jew or support the Jewish faith. To take the Limbaugh challenge is to subject oneself to the spew of hatred that has gotten us in this situation in the first place and the hatred that is originated from those so called informative shows??? It explains how logical intelligent people become idiots by listening to propaganda for just six weeks! I listen to him and I turn green with the lies that Rush feeds us. It is the conservative nature to be so selfish as Rush and is that Jewish? There is not one single thing that is Jewish that supports the hatred that Rush Spews and his idea to keep the Jewish state only barked out because it would alienate his christian conservative following. Can you really be this dumb? I ask you to take the truth challenge and listen to NPR for six weeks just after you listen to your injection of Rush. He is a drug that has you addicted to hate – hate that anyone else can have another opinion not like yours…ughhh perfect example of the right wing crap that I left 25 years ago as well.

BIlly Pringle says:

“some of the more sterling names in radio, including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity”. If those are some of the more ‘sterling’ names in radio, it’s no wonder I never listen any more. Those three are more like some of the more ‘scumbag’ names in radio.

Perry, does the Torah admonition against taking human life apply to dropping 2 million clusterbombs on Lebanese civilian areas while a truce is being written? How about dropping chemical ordinance on ambulances? Maybe it excludes running over peace activists with bulldozers and executing them at point blank range on the high seas?
Just wondering. Shalom.

Mark says:

Curious that of all the programs that Clear Channel, the worlds largest radio conglomerate, broadcasts, the author chose to point out 3 right wing political radio programs, then offer no further association between those shows and phony callers. It’s funny to see a dishonest media critique of dishonesty in media.

Wait, wait. The article drops the names of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck, but nowhere provides evidence that these Premiere callers, these actors, have ever actually gotten on these shows. Go back and read carefully and see how artfully the writer avoids the issue. There is a promise they will be used on “shows.” Notice that the initial example is of a call that would never be aired on a political show.

Premiere On Call wants you to think they are heavy hitters, and a big player in the industry. Read carefully, understanding that this report originates in someone trying to sell their product.

Discerning truth from falsehood? Liel, you might start with your sources, rather than who they purport to expose. You got played. Unless of course it was your intent to try and discredit those shows, in which case you’re playing us.

bullybored says:

Hurray for citing terribly cited, politically charged journalism!

The very fact that this system exists is rah-ther stinky, n’est pas?
Don’t worry, a politically-charged expose isn’t needed to smear the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity, their dishonesty and low-road personal attacks speak loudly enuf.

cynical-one says:

Truth and falsehood? The ethics and Ivy League / NE USA mix like oil and water. Demographically the likes of NE Ivy League universities are cesspools of unethical behavior. They can’t help it because it is in their base DNA, meaning everything is copacetic as long as it makes money for themselves, even if it screws others.

That’s where most of Wall Street and far too many USA policy makers from Congress to the Supreme Court received their hard wired embedded “ethics”.

It is, was, and remains…a class struggle.

The writer of the article does not understand anything about the modern radio industry. If he would have checked the ACTUAL product delivered by Premier On Call, he would have discovered that their service provides pre-produced bits for ENTERTAINMENT shows, usually morning-drive shows on teen-to-early- 20′s-oriented FM music stations. In some markets, these shows are called “Morning Zoo” shows and almost always do a lot of “wacky” calls as part of the show. Some years ago, radio personalities were allowed to do “candid camera” type stunts involving telephone calls to unsuspecting persons for their humor value. If you listen to morning radio on this type of station, you know what type of “bits” I am describing. The FCC, however, has outlawed the broadcast of any recording unless all parties are aware they are being recorded and give their permission. Thus, actors came into the picture to continue this “morning show tradition.”

Actors are NOT used on the various syndicated AM radio programs of a political nature, whether its Rush Limbaugh on the right or Leslie Marshall on the Left. What does occur with regularity on political talk shows is the “seminar call.” Whenever you hear a caller come on with something along the lines of “I’ve been listening to you for years and I’m a registered [insert party of your choice] BUT I disagree with you about…” this is almost always a “seminar call.” Political parties and special interest groups provide training, talking points and scripts for this purpose, hence the term, “seminar call.” Producers and call screeners usually catch these, but they have been know to slip through. Talk radio thrives on presenting authentic public expression and actors and seminar callers take away from this!

Disclaimer: I’m a veteran of over 20 years in radio in both music and talk formats, both AM and FM, including about 5 years with several stations owned by Clear Channel (I have never worked for the Premier Networks division.)

Tracey says:

Liebovitz is merely perpetuating another hoax from the left wing. Shouldn’t you do a little more research than to allow yourself to be fooled by this? Or are you so blinded by your ideology that you can’t see what should be clear.
A real journalist would likely lose their job for such shoddy research.

Chesty Puller says:

Garbage journalism…no surprise. No correlation between the allegations and actual calls into the shows that you are attempting to bring down. A little research would have reveled that shows like the Steve Harvey show rely on actors because 1) they do bits and 2) they need callers.

Shame shame

Jason says:

These callers are on FM radio stations, they are obvious when you hear them. Why no story on hiring protestors to attend democrat rallies, look in the back of any university newspaper and you will se ads for protestors wanted. they bring you in, give you some training and a pre made sign and send you out for about the same 40 an hour.

Mike says:

How irresponsible of you to call out Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity at the beginning yet have no actual testimony of any of these actors calling their shows. Premeir employs all different types of radio personalities and your connecting dots with very little basis. Shame on you for stooping to the level of people like Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck with this kind of misleading “journalism.”

The Muse says:

Perry N. says:
“With Pseudo-Jews like you, who needs HAMAS or Hezbollah?”

With hate mongers like you, who needs you?

Looks like no-one is mentioning the fact that talk radio, dominated completely by the right–which is willing to lose money to stay in the message-chair–regularly cuts off dissenting callers and bullies them.

(I worked for yrs in both am and fm radio also)

When someone tells you that 99% of all political talk radio is rightwing because of ratings and it’s “what the listeners want”..laugh at them.

James Pollock says:

Of course many of the phone-ins from “concerned citizens” are staged. There is too much at stake financially (listener ratings/entertainment value) and politically (conservative propaganda) to operate based on random call-ins from the audience of tongue-tied dolts.

Carls says:

Rush Limbaugh is a national treasure. I say this as someone who voted/supported the left for 12 years. I thought him a fat loudmouth when I first heard of him. But then I listened to the show and now consider him a genius. (For the record, to stave off any accusations of ignorance, I attended UC Berkeley and Harvard.)

Listen to his show.

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aidel says:

Perry, you can’t be Jewish. If you are: STUDY. You do not seem to have a clue what being Jewish is about. BTW, Zeke Emmanuel has written extensively AGAINST euthanasia and what you call “death panels” are actually only conversations between physicians and their patients about the patients’ wishes for medical treatment, especially at the end of life (newsflash: we all die). As an experienced critical care provider, I will tell you that allowing someone to die gently and with dignity is far more honorable than letting a beloved family member rot to death while supported by artificial means. You want a miracle? G-d doesn’t need the help of ventilators and feeding tubes to perform one. If you had any experience seeing people rot to death this way, I suspect your opinion would be different.

carls said:
“Rush Limbaugh is a national treasure. I say this as someone who voted/supported the left for 12 years. I thought him a fat loudmouth when I first heard of him. But then I listened to the show and now consider him a genius. (For the record, to stave off any accusations of ignorance, I attended UC Berkeley and Harvard.)

Listen to his show.”

Now THAT’s comedy!

I heard Limbaugh was making fun of the beautiful Michelle Obama saying she’s fat. Now that made ME laugh.

If it’s true that actors are used in political opinion shows, then that is very sleazy. But so far this seems like a good example of a story harvested before its time. A little more digging is needed.

I’ve worked in radio for 22 years. Yeah, actors are sometimes used for entertainment programs. But these guys, Hannity and Limbaugh, they don’t really need people pretending to be the lame-o’s that listen to them. They have a national audience. On any given day they’re working with full phone banks.

What is infinitely more important is that guys like Limbaugh are allowed to tell flat-out lies and get away with it. THAT should not be legal under the guise of “hey, it’s all entertainment!”

The lies are harming civic discourse in uncountable ways. They are documented at mediamatters.org. And the folks at that website stay pretty busy counting them. Personally I gave up Rush L. in the early 90′s when he started believing his own junk. Before that he wasn’t half bad.

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Gort says:

The author clearly has a political agenda by implying that Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity may use these fake callers. But Premier also produces the paranormal show “Coast to Coast AM” with that dingbat George Noory.

It’s clear that hired “actors” call Coast to Coast all the time telling George what a wonderful job he’s doing. Sadly, those callers aren’t fooling anyone because EVERYONE knows the show sucks since Noory took over from Art Bell. Noory succeeds in running every interview into the ground with his inane questions and comments, and his complete inability to keep up with whatever is being discussed. Those fake callers would be to help prop up dimwits like him.

AloyBoy says:

Very intriguing and eye-opening article. I too have no doubt whatsoever that the trainwreck of a show, Coast to Coast a.m., utilizes paid voice actors to call in and speak with the incredibly dim-witted, incompetent George Noory. This show needs to be completely scrapped and re-built from ground zero. A wonderful concept for talk radio which has gone wrong on so many levels it would take a couple of pages to effectively convey.

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Rushed says:

BTW, here is the audition request for Premiere radio. There are a few questions such as: How old does your voice sound? What accent do you have? etc. http://tinyurl.com/43eqa4g

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AFV says:

Haha.. Step 2 of Limbaughs demise.

wiretappuh says:

You’re just as guilty of generalizing just as much as the post. Congratulations.

BethesdaDog says:

This is an irresponsible article. You suggest that Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, utilize this service. The fact that it exists, and might be utilized by some local stations, does not mean that the leaders in national talk radio need, or use, paid callers. At most, by stating that this is a service offered by some company which is a subsidiary of Clear Channel, does not mean that the bigger names on Clear Channel use, or need, this service. Yet by making this connection, you improperly, and in a misleading way, imply that they do. Can you supply some proof that it is used by the big, national names in talk radio? I have met some of the leaders in talk radio–Hugh Hewitt, Mike Medved, and Dennis Prager–am familiar with their writings, been to some events featuring them locally, and I doubt they need to pay for such a service. They all have large, and growing, followings and listenerships.

I recently attended an event for Dennis Prager at the local JCC, and it was very successful, requiring a move to a larger room. This was with a Jewish crowd at a JCC in an overwhelmingly liberal community. Unfortunately, too few Jews pay attention to the wisdom of this very brilliant and original thinker.

And to the commenter who suggests Limbaugh is on his way to demise: I doubt that. He is immensely popular, and his popularity is growing. I’m not a fan of his, but he is not going away, and he has no need to pay for listeners. If you think his Sandra Fluke statement, was so devastating, don’t get your hopes up.

And by the way, didn’t Bill Maher call some woman, maybe Sara Palin, a “cu–”? Why no fuss over this by the liberals?

I would happy to ask any of Hewitt, Medved, or Prager, if they have the need for, or have ever paid for callers. I think I know the answer.

It is not an “excellent” story. It is trashy and irresponsible journalism. The author is apparently lazy and wishes to mislead. Otherwise he would have gone to the major figures in talk radio and put the question to them himself: did they ever utilize the service? But then, he wouldn’t have had an article.

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moabie says:

Who’s paying you to say this?

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Radio Daze

This week’s parasha introduces a medium for distinguishing truth from falsehood. On the radio, where actors are hired to read scripts and pretend to be real people, things aren’t so simple.

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