Let me start by just saying that I miss the old Glenn Beck. No, not Glenn Beck the firebrand, or Glenn Beck the Christmas Sweater guy, or even Glenn Beck the Time magazine cover boy giving the raspberry to his detractors on the left. The Glenn Beck I actually miss was the one I used to hear on 970 WFLA in my home market of Tampa Bay, where he started the talk radio phase of his career doing afternoons after Rush Limbaugh.
I can remember listening to that very first show, not quite knowing what to make of it (and to be fair, from the sound of things, neither did he)–but as time passed, and Glenn got an idea of what he wanted to do, things took off and the show became required listening in my home town. His “Schlub Club” bits were hilarious, especially when members of the “Frizzbeterian Church” called in to stir the pot for those who weren’t in on the joke, and his alter-ego Flap Jackson could have given Tony Clifton a run for the money. Those were good times.
I also followed Beck after he went into national syndication, feeling a bit of pride that my home market had launched the Next Big Thing in talk radio (kind of the same way we’d launched Hooters–though I doubt Glenn could have pulled off those tight orange hot pants). And man, how things grew over time. Not content with staying on the radio, Glenn followed in the entrepreneurial footsteps of his hero Walt Disney and expanded his show into a full-on multimedia enterprise, risking big (and sometimes losing big) along the way. He courted controversy, laughed off outrage and became a real powerhouse in the conservative world.
As anybody who has listened to him lately knows, however, Glenn has changed as of late.