What Fresh Hell Is This?

July 11, 2005

My Interview with John McIntire

First in a series of interview with local progressive Pittsburghers.

Looking rested and relaxed and arriving 5 minutes early in Bermuda shorts, flip-flops and a busy (though oddly quiet) summer shirt, John McIntire ordered an overpriced frothy coffee drink and joined me at a table in the corner of Market Square at the Starbucks. I had decaf.

First the good news.

John McInitire’s back on the air in Pittsburgh. This time he’s on KDKA on Saturday nights. He said the show, called “Life Lounge,” would create an atmosphere of a “high class groovy lounge” with interesting music where people could sit around and discuss life, culture and politics. It’s still “talk radio” but with some extra music to set the mood.

One added feature of the program are the music parodies. I heard some Michael Jackson parodies a few weeks ago. I’d wondered aloud where the music came from. Infinity Broadcasting (the station's owners) subscribe to a service where McIntire can pick and choose which song parodies (if any) to use.

For the summer the show goes on after the Pirate games and once the baseball season has ended (and we’re all hoping the Pirates can make it to at least a few games above .500 ball this season) the show will be 5 hours every Saturday. That’s five full hours of groovy lounge music on a Saturday night and five full hours of John McIntire every week. The republican red parts of this mostly blue-state city must be really really annoyed.

McIntire himself joked that it was somewhat of a “full circle” sort of thing. He began in radio in 1978 playing Sinatra and other “groovy” lounge music.

How can one categorize McIntire’s liberalism? It’s pretty straight-forward. He reads Krugman and Dowd and E. J. Dionne. Then there’s The Nation and Katrina van den Heuvel.

Pretty straight forward, but for Pittsburgh, of course, it’s radical - borderline treasonous. Online he sifts through the Huffington Post and the Daily Kos and Mediamatters.org. He did confess to peeking in on Matt Drudge every now and then. Me too. But I never respect myself afterwards.

On current events:

McIntire posed an interesting question when discussing the current administration. Now that polls show that most everyone “gets” that Bush is incompetent, “where were all these geniuses in November?” It’s too late to do anything about it now.

On the coming Supreme Court fights, he’s hoping that Arlen Specter will be able to screen out some of the more nuttier Bush appointees. On Alberto Gonzales, he figures that maybe Bush thinks that if he’s “pissing off both sides, then he’s gotta be doing something right.”

On the Commonwealth’s junior Senator, he’s betting everyone he knows that Santorum’s gonna loose. That he’s done too much damage to his reputation – the Hitler quote, the Homestead Tax Exemption, the Cyberschool thing, and now the book. The only downside is Santorum's prospective opponent, Bob Casey. Of whom John McIntire said, "Casey is so boring that watching paint dry is orgasmic in comparision."

In any event McIntire anticipates the second Bush administration scandal that's surely to arrive soon. Whether it's Rove or Iraq or something completely different, it's sure to be great fun!

There was something I DIDN'T know about McIntire. Here's the news coverage of the story. recently Al Franken was given a "Freedom of Speech" award at a talkers convention in NYC. There was a miscommunication as to how long Franken was supposed to speak and he went over the time alloted. So the mostly right-wing audience started to grumble and there were calls for Franken to end his speech.

Then someone in the crowd yelled out, "What is this, the Freedom of Speech Award or the Shut-the-Fuck-Up Award?”

That person was none other than Pixburgh's own John McIntire. Read his take on it here. I interrupted the interview to shake his hand for that.

All in all a good 45 minutes for me.

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