The Nation's Pulse

Marvin’s Marvelous Moonbat Hour

Left-wing talk radio at its finest, if you ignore the callers.

By 7.31.07

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I call it an hour because "Your Opinion, Please" airs for a half hour per night on Thursday and Friday from 6:30 to 7:00 PM on Yellowstone Public Radio (YPR-KEMC) in Billings, Montana. It is hosted by Marvin Granger, along with his younger co-host Ken Siebert.

Marvin has worked in radio for four decades, getting his start as a young man in the Midwest. Anyone with a career that long usually has something to answer for, and in Marvin's case it's that in the mid-1960s he gave Garrison Keillor his first job in radio. (He was general manager at the University of Minnesota campus station at the time.) So, we have Marvin to thank in part for giving America its latest living poor man's Mark Twain (Kurt Vonnegut, RIP) and a noted scourge of Republicans and Jesse Ventura.

Marvin Granger has been the avuncular-baritone voice of YPR for 22 years, working at different times as general manager and program director. He officially "retired" in 2006, but is so much a workaholic that he still labors part time. He hosts a Sunday morning classical music program, still does morning news and weather reports, various infomercials mostly of cultural import, and "Your Opinion, Please." Recently, Marvin was named one of five recipients of the 2007 Montana Governor's Humanities Award.

I know Marvin. We once participated in a seminar in Bozeman and he gave me a 150 mile lift to Billings when it was over. Anybody who knows him knows that he is one of the most civilized people you'll ever meet. His long radio career has honed mellow conversational skills that compliment his erudition (in the car the conversation ranged from current events to the novels of Graham Greene and other "leap of faith" writers). Marvin combines polymathic enthusiasms (books, music, etc.) with a willingness to talk to anybody, which probably explains his involvement with what I call "Moonbat" radio, an argument in itself for the final demise of the "Fairness Doctrine."

Yellowstone Public Radio carries such NPR fare as "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" and other programming -- both nationally syndicated and local -- that can be described as of the left. (Let's not mince words, anybody who thinks NPR news programming doesn't feature a liberal bias needs to pull the hookah hose out of their mouth.) YPR covers the largest geographical area (about two thirds of Montana, plus the northern half of Wyoming) of any public radio station in America. It has "translators" in most of the larger towns in this area, and other than Missoula (which has its own public radio station: Montana Public Radio -- KUFM -- and may be the real Moonbat capital of Montana by virtue of the fact that it's the home of the University of Montana) covers most of Moonbat, Montana, that is, say, Helena, Bozeman, Livingston, Big Timber, and Red Lodge.

These are pretty places with stunning mountain views, sparkling trout streams, and custom-built log trophy mansions favored by Hollywood celebrities, and media elitists like Ted Turner, Tom Brokaw, and the wonderful Reid Collins. Bozeman, home of Montana State University is -- like Missoula -- a college town; Livingston has part-time resident movie stars fly fishing in the Yellowstone River; recreationally oriented Red Lodge has a large ski area visible from town; and Helena -- the state capital -- has the entrenched Democrat bureaucracy of Governor Brian Schweitzer's administration. Beyond the province of Moonbat and all those translators (admittedly, they are also present in non-Moonbat towns like Cut Bank and Miles City) is the rest of Montana and Wyoming, where folks still try to make a living on the farm or ranch, or work at (and shop at) Wal-Mart in town. Billings itself is full of such people, and despite being Montana's largest city, it has mostly avoided Moonbat-syndrome. It's a city near both mountains and plains, and suffering an identity crisis. Then there's Butte: Montana's blue collar Brooklyn in the heart of Moonbat country, and having none of it.

Anyway, on Thursday and Friday evenings the phone lines coming into "Your Opinion, Please" are crowded with Moonbats. It seems that a lot of folks in Moonbatland spend much time sitting on the spacious decks of those trophy homes or up to their wader-waists wetting their dry flies in the Yellowstone, as they contemplate the dark night of fascism currently descending on America.

Recently, an entire program was devoted to this last subject (the host sets no topic agenda, but most programs seem to turn into a one topic evening), as the utterly polite Marvin listened to the concerns of a half dozen callers who variously reported that the Bush-Cheney junta was about to enslave us all. During this program I also learned that there was such a thing as "Corporate Fascism" (the image that kept popping into my mind was of Benito Mussolini in an Armani suit), where everybody from Halliburton to News Corp. to Wal-Mart has us marked for serfdom. And, of course, Bush-Cheney must be impeached and tried for war crimes, that's certainly a no-brainer in Moonbatville. One caller enlightened listeners by telling of a bumpersticker he'd recently seen; it said: "Practice Compassionate Impeachment" (what would glib liberals do without irony?). Though one level-headed guy called in and pointed out that if America is indeed a fascist state, then all these folks wouldn't be permitted to call in to talk shows on the public airways and freely express their opinions, whether thoughtful or loony.

So, despite "progressive" shibboleths to the contrary, talk radio is alive and well on the Left. It is found in odd slots in your local public radio schedule. I would think that the "Your Opinion, Please" formula is present in multiple radio markets, especially in the blue states. If I can listen to it in Cody, Wyoming, I'm sure something comparable is available in Berkeley, California, Cambridge, Massachusetts and College Park, Maryland. So much for the Fairness Doctrine.

As for Marvin Granger and Ken Siebert, they soldier on. And thank God for that.

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About the Author

Bill Croke, formerly of Cody, Wyoming, is a writer in Salmon, Idaho.