Latest on Christopher Lydon's lockout from The Connection
February 28, 2001 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Latest on Christopher Lydon's lockout from The Connection Not being a Bostonian, I was late to the news that the host of the only call-in show I think is listenable has been locked out by WBUR in a dispute over money. I don't know who's got the best case: but I know that his is one of the few radio talk shows -- and the only call-in show -- I care to listen to anymore. Sensibility and intelligence very uncharacteristic of a major media outlet. And there'll be one less reason to listen to my NPR station any more if he's gone.
posted by BT (15 comments total)
I never liked Christopher Lydon's on-air presence: not his manner, nor his methods. It's always been a sure way for me to turn the radio off.

First, there's the way he interrupts the flow of conversation, even talkng over his guests in mid-sentence to say, "This is the Connection." Bad radio. Get a studio clock, people, so everyone's warned. Or else bumper music so the guests can hear that they need to finish up the thought.

Second, his research has always seemed seriously lacking to me. He'll have brilliant or interesting guests but bring little himself to the party: the guests would be better off talking uninterrupted for an hour instead of having Lydon say *anything.*

Third, there's any underlying current of unassailable ego that rubs me the wrong way. I can't pin it down any more than to say there's always a "of course I know this already" subtext in his voice. That's probably not fair to say, but that's how I feel.

I should add that I worked for a few years in radio a number of years ago, both non-commercial and news/talk. Not that qualifies me for anything, but, in the interest of relevant disclosure...

posted by Mo Nickels at 11:59 AM on February 28, 2001

We used to get the Diane Rehm show here, but it was pulled in favor of The Connection when she started having voice problems. There was quite an outcry at first, but it subsided pretty quickly. I usually find The Connection interesting, though I can see Mo's side as well. My only complaint is that Chris occasionally lets things get out of hand, where Diane had a deft touch as a moderator. The great thing now is that I don't have to choose, since I can catch both online.
posted by gimli at 1:14 PM on February 28, 2001

his research has always seemed seriously lacking to me. He'll have brilliant or interesting guests but bring little himself to the party: the guests would be better off talking uninterrupted for an hour instead of having Lydon say *anything.*

I have to strenuously disagree with this comment. I've listened to The Connection almost every day for 5 years and I've always found the research to be exceptional.

Bill McKibben on Lydon:

"The Connection" is the best call-in radio show that anyone's ever done; Lydon is America's best interviewer; and the hours between 10 a.m. and noon feel lonely as hell without him.
posted by MarkAnd at 1:25 PM on February 28, 2001

Sorry, MarkAnd, but I'm with Mo -- Lydon has this self-satisfied air about him, but often times he seems to know very little about whatever his guest is there to discuss. I get the feeling he wings it a lot and relies on his general knowledge and/or the callers to keep the conversation going.

Having said that, I don't know that WBUR will find anyone better, because the show does need someone with an eclectic sensibility and some degree of hauteur to pull it off.
posted by briank at 1:37 PM on February 28, 2001

I have to weigh in on Lydon's side. As far as I'm concerned, there are no two better hours on radio. I've always found Lydon incredibly even-handed--much more so than I would be. I've never had an issue with his research, and poor research is a huge pet peeve of mine. He's more intelligent and insightful than anyone else I've ever heard. Does he have an ego? Apparently, but it's never gotten in his way (on the air, at least).

Come back, Chris, come back!
posted by jpoulos at 1:50 PM on February 28, 2001

I agree with some of the above, too. I think Lydon is overly impressed with himself and the way he interrupts guests is obnoxious, but I don't think the show is poorly researched. I'm almost impressed with his knowledge of the subject (maybe that says more about me, but let's not get into that). I often turn the radio off after the show and say to myself, "It's amazing that one man can sound so knowledgable about so many things."
posted by MarkAnd at 1:51 PM on February 28, 2001

Please disregard the fact that I spelled knowledgeable wrong. The horror.
posted by MarkAnd at 1:52 PM on February 28, 2001

If I hadn't already stopped sending money to WBUR over NPR's stupid stand against low power radio, this would have done it for me.

Sure, sometimes Lydon likes to hear what he's got say on the subject (any subject), but there is no one radio like him, not even Terry Gross, who can interest me in things I didn't know I was interested in.

After all, no one tunes in to WBUR to hear what Jane Cristo has to say.

posted by idiolect at 2:29 PM on February 28, 2001

Best call-in show? For my money, it was Talk of the Nation during Ray Suarez' watch. Always incredibly well-prepared and insightful. I can barely listen to the show now.
posted by gimli at 4:54 PM on February 28, 2001

Yeah, whatever happened to Ray Suarez anyway? I've never listened to the Connection because I work in basement, and the host has always sounded insufferably nerdy and smug in the promo spots. But $300,000! Cha-ching!
posted by mecran01 at 6:31 AM on March 1, 2001

Suarez works on the PBS show The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
posted by gimli at 6:50 AM on March 1, 2001

Salon ran a piece on this as well, and the letters to the editor on the topic are worth reading. My favorite reader quote is probably, "pretty much any smug bastard could host that show, and it's not like it's difficult to find smug bastards in public radio." Ow.
posted by kindall at 1:30 AM on March 3, 2001

Not that anybody will see this on an ancient post like this, but Lydon has started doing weekly webcasts of a new show he calls "The Conversation Continues...", supported by underwriters and PayPal donations. Think he's pulling in $300,000?
posted by PlasticBoy at 6:52 AM on May 30, 2001

Thanks for the info, & I applaud you for posting to this old thread. I really thought Lydon might have worked things out with "The Connection" by now. It's highly unlikely now, I suppose, given his history.
posted by gimli at 7:41 PM on May 31, 2001

I agree. This is worth of a front page post, if you ask me.
posted by jpoulos at 2:40 PM on June 1, 2001

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