Neal Boortz gives his six-month notice

After 42 years of poking, scorching and otherwise entertaining the eardrums of metro Atlanta, Neal Boortz is fixin’ to get ready to retire.

The longtime conservative voice of 750AM and 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB on Monday put listeners on notice: A talk show career that stretches back to the days of President Richard Nixon and Gov. Jimmy Carter will end at precisely 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, with either a loud celebration, or a final rant of King Lear proportions.

That’s Inauguration Day, you see.

Neal Boortz, shown here in 2005, is now preparing to give up the microphone. AJC file

Neal Boortz, shown here in 2005, is now preparing to give up the microphone. AJC file

“If it’s Barack Obama, then I’m going to disappear into the mountains and come out after he has destroyed this country. If it’s Mitt Romney, we’ll start drinking as the show begins,” Boortz told listeners.

Herman Cain, the former Republican presidential candidate, will inherit Boortz’ chair, microphone — and a syndicated audience that reaches 6 million listeners weekly over 200 radio stations. Boortz, 67, will continue to check in daily with a brief tirade.

But otherwise, “the Talkmaster” has a bucket list that next year alone will take him as far north as Alaska and as far south as Antarctica. One of the most influential voices of the American right, who has declared public education to be a plague and speaks of Democrats in nothing but withering italics, will hit the road without a thought of any void left behind.

“I’ve always tried to push that thought away. Once you try to give the impression that you’re a political force, then your head starts getting big. All I’ve ever wanted to do is just get ratings,” Boortz said in a telephone interview before his announcement, from his phone in Naples, Fla.

Boortz joined WSB Radio — which shares corporate ties with this newspaper — in 1992. Only afterwards, when President Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky, did the radio talk show host realize the clout that he and his chattering colleagues were building, led by Rush Limbaugh.

Herman Cain, left, and Neal Boortz, after "the Talkmaster" announced his upcoming retirement. Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com

Herman Cain, left, and Neal Boortz, after "the Talkmaster" announced his upcoming retirement. Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com

“Limbaugh did for talk radio what Arnold Palmer did for golf,” Boortz said. “If it wasn’t for Rush Limbaugh I would have quit talk radio a long time ago, and I’d have been practicing law.” (Limbaugh read Boortz into the National Radio Hall of Fame three years ago.)

In the six months you now have to ponder Boortz’ departure, let me suggest some areas of study. First, while detractors of talk radio might paint all the genre’s voices with the same brush, Boortz indeed has brought something different to the table.

He is comfortable with being called an entertainer. And unlike Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, Boortz has never positioned himself as the voice of Republican orthodoxy. No GOP politician has ever called his show to apologize for an incorrect thought, as U.S. Phil Gingrey of Marietta did three years ago, after speaking his mind about Limbaugh.

“In most presidential elections, up until George [W.] Bush’s second term, I voted Libertarian. WSB and Cox Radio didn’t hire me to be a political strategist,” Boortz said. “I’m much more in interested in pushing policies than pledging allegiance to a political party.”

Does Boortz have sharp edges? Oh, yes. There are few places he hasn’t been willing to go. “You’re not going to outright lie about people for the purpose of destroying their reputation. Actually, you usually don’t need to. The truth will suffice,” Boortz said. “I will promote derision about somebody, but not hatred.”

Younger listeners have no way of knowing, but Boortz has actually mellowed over the years. “I was much more doctrinaire conservative in those early days. I was stringently anti-abortion and [for] prayer in schools. The Libertarian outlook basically evolved out of years of conversations with listeners,” he said.

At least by talk radio’s measure, he has become a social liberal. “Gay marriage doesn’t affect me at all,” Boortz said. (He and his wife Donna have been married 39 years.)

Another thing worth considering: Boortz, and thus talk radio, have their roots in the terrarium of Georgia politics. Though born in Pennsylvania and raised in Pensacola, Fla., Boortz’ first job when he came to the big city of Atlanta was as a speechwriter for Gov. Lester Maddox. His boss was Maddox’ chief of staff, a young fellow named Zell Miller.

Something like an itch of those days remains. “Lord, would I like to write speeches for Mitt Romney. That man needs some help,” said Boortz, who had two friends in the GOP presidential contest — not just Cain, who then as now substitutes for him on the program, but Newt Gingrich.

Boortz stayed on as a Maddox staffer until 1970, when he landed his first job in Atlanta’s radio market, on talk-radio pioneer WRNG-AM, after the morning host committed suicide.

“Every once in a while, in the RNG radio days, I would drive to a news stand in Atlanta, and I would buy eight or 10 newspapers from cities across the country. Maybe I’d do that two or three times a month,” said Boortz, who now does his broadcast in front of four computer screens and a pair of TV sets tuned to CNN and Fox.

The WRNG gig led to brief stay WATL-FM, then to a more substantive, nine-year tenure at WGST-AM. Which leads to another thing about Boortz that you’re likely to hear about between now and January.

Boortz would like you to think that he tosses live cats out of airplanes. He does not.

You may think you’re living through the heyday of talk radio. But syndication has homogenized the medium, and — despite the constant shouting — tamed it.

In 1988, during his WGST days, Boortz (now a fixed-wing pilot) was an amateur hot-air balloonist inspired by a magazine article about small animals dropped by parachute.

On the air, he invented the fictional sport of cat-chasing. A feline would be thrown from a plane, quickly pursued by a gaggle of skydivers. “Whoever lands with the cat is a winner,” he said. Ballooning buddies were brought into the studio as phony participants. The sound of a plummeting cat was required.

“We finally just got on a ladder and dropped about five pounds of wet paper towels on a microphone,” Boortz said.

He and his staff promised live coverage of the Georgia finals, which would feature a cat dropped from a Cessna at 12,000 feet over a mythical airfield far from Atlanta. The winner was to proceed to the national championship in New Mexico.

On the day of the broadcast, Boortz said he was stopped by Fulton County Sheriff Richard Lankford, who demanded to know the location of the cat drop. Fellow sheriffs in Georgia’s hinterlands were determined to stop it.

Boortz stayed mum, and only after the broadcast did the talk show host tell listeners that they’d been scammed. “I remember Home Depot had called and cancelled all its advertising,” he said.

Boortz said Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, which owns WGST, has given him permission to replay the vintage hoax sometime between now and Inauguration Day.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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266 comments Add your comment

[...] retiring from his daily show and passing the torch to his friend and colleague, Herman Cain.Neal Boortz gives his six-month noticeAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Neal Boortz To Retire, Herman Cain To Takeover ShowAll Access [...]

Julia

June 4th, 2012
10:50 am

if anyone is destroying the country it is Boortz and his ilk.

hackasw

June 4th, 2012
10:51 am

I guess its time for me to hang it up in Atlanta & ease on down I-75 to Florida too.

the cat

June 4th, 2012
10:55 am

Enter your comments here

Don't Tread

June 4th, 2012
10:56 am

The Herminator coming to talk radio? This should be fun.

the cat

June 4th, 2012
10:56 am

Julie-agreed and he will be replaced by Cain? WSB radio has lost all credibiltiy.

hackasw

June 4th, 2012
10:57 am

No matter who you are, he will eventually piss you off, make you laugh, & think for yourself. Some love to hate him and others hate to love him.

Phil Lunney

June 4th, 2012
10:57 am

Herman Cain? Do you think we are stupid?
A once great radio station descends to become a Tea Party naysayer. Elmo Ellis and Royal T will find a new frequency to listen to in the afterlife. I will find a new frequecy to listen to here on earth.

CobbGOPer

June 4th, 2012
11:00 am

I guess we all knew it was coming, what with the “Year of Talking Dangerously.” Still, weekday mornings won’t ever be the same. I’ve been listening to Boortz for 20 years, since high school, and met him several times. It’ll be like loosing a member of the family – to the lottery ;-) While we keep doing our thing, he’ll be out there doing all the things we want to do.

Go for it, Boortz. You deserve it. And thanks for many long years of fun and education.

[...] GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain. Boortz said during his show Monday his last day will be Jan.Neal Boortz gives his six-month noticeAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Radio Host Neal Boortz To Retire, Will Be Replaced By Herman [...]

Eustis

June 4th, 2012
11:02 am

Boortz is scared that if Romney wins and things don’t get better quick, he’ll being razzed to death by the callers.

KrystalsBalls

June 4th, 2012
11:02 am

BEST NEWS I HAVE HEARD ALL YEAR!!!!

GaBlue

June 4th, 2012
11:03 am

**Yawwwwwwwn!**

Jeff

June 4th, 2012
11:04 am

Inauguration Day is Constitutionally mandated to be Jan 20…. (Amendment XX, Section 1…)

Rafe Hollister

June 4th, 2012
11:10 am

We are going to miss Neal. He always had an interesting take on whatever was happening. Love him or hate him, he was always consistent and reliable, telling the truth, as he knew it to be. As one caller told him, he was floundering after college, couldn’t find a job and was unfocused, when someone told him he needed to begin listening to Neal. He said he thought that was stupid advice, but slowly he began to get motivated, focused, and determined to succeed in life. He quit making excuses for his failure and sought unbridled success. He credited Neal with this turnaround.

BRW

June 4th, 2012
11:15 am

I’ll miss him ……………. like my last ear infection.

the cat

June 4th, 2012
11:17 am

I truly hope there will be an oil derrick right outside his window in Florida.

cofgod

June 4th, 2012
11:19 am

Good riddance, Neil is nothing but a shill for the Repubs. Of course this sets up months of teasing from Neil, just the way he runs the show.

I really miss Royal….

Tommy Maddox

June 4th, 2012
11:24 am

Thanks Neal!

theneal

June 4th, 2012
11:24 am

I love the talkmaster! he will be missed. For all of you dems out there…you suck.

btw, cain is already in talk radio…do your research before you talk.

Weetamoe

June 4th, 2012
11:25 am

That Royal crack is cruel and ignorant, but about what one would expect from this crowd.
Check out the picture of Axelrod on Drudge before it is scrubbed.

Cindy

June 4th, 2012
11:25 am

Neal will be missed. Common sense is so lost in this country and is found in his voice. Those who have issues with him won a point today but hopefully a new voice will rise. Please don’t disappear the US needs your presence. Most do not have your backbone. Sad day but welcome Herman.

Meg

June 4th, 2012
11:25 am

Love you long time, Neal……radio will never be the same……u r the greatestest ever!!

Auntie Christ

June 4th, 2012
11:25 am

“If it’s Barack Obama, then I’m going to disappear into the mountains and come out after he has destroyed this country.”

Great idea boor tz! And take the rest of the right wing t baggers, birthers, and unreconstructed rednecks with you. But do us a favor, don’t come back when the country has been restored to prosperity, as it surely will be without the right’s obstructionism and dedication to failed policies.

Terry Reuter

June 4th, 2012
11:25 am

It is with a profound sadness that I read of his decision to retire. He has been a trusted friend in the morning for years. We do, however, wish him well. Herman, we welcome you into our mornings come January.

Romegaguy

June 4th, 2012
11:28 am

Will Herman harass Belinda?

Ginny B.

June 4th, 2012
11:28 am

Sorry, you are leaving. I have been hearing this in your voice is the past year so I knew it was coming. It is time for you to enjoy the rest of your life it moves so fast. You have been with me by radio since about 1969 from WRNG. My hubby and I had started a new business in the sixties so I followed you from WRNG and then found you on WSB and been a constant listener. Something I do remember was at WRNG when you had a so called “fortune teller” on. She told you that you were going to be “big” one day and be going north maybe to Mass. to do talk shows there. Well a lot of us are glad that was not true.

edgar

June 4th, 2012
11:29 am

Even the false opposition of the “Right” cheerleaders need to hang up their dukes at some point! Why do these “conservative” talk show hosts never talk about the Bilderbergs or how the Left-Right paradigm is used to divide the people, and never question the real power structure. They are all treasonous, and falsely wrap themselves with the American flag. Listen to people like Alex Jones…he speaks the truth.

[...] GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain. Boortz said during his show Monday his last day will be Jan.Neal Boortz gives his six-month noticeAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Herman Cain To Replace Conservative Radio Host Neal BoortzTPMall [...]

The Berzrkr

June 4th, 2012
11:32 am

Gonna miss you Neal! I’m always ready to listen to a man that doesn’t spew radical left wing, PC, liberal propaganda. God bless you and have a happy retirement!

Tom

June 4th, 2012
11:34 am

Sad day to hear Boortz retiring. He is the Talk Master! Reckonthatis.com

guest

June 4th, 2012
11:34 am

my t y t,my t y t !!!!!!!

the cat

June 4th, 2012
11:35 am

One has to feel sorry for Mrs. Boortz. I hope she enjoys spending the money

Pat Magroin

June 4th, 2012
11:35 am

“And unlike Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, Boortz has never positioned himself as the voice of Republican orthodoxy”. I listen to them both daily and I have never heard either on position themselves as such. In fact Sean is a registered Independent. Get your facts straight.

Joe Tess Fish House

June 4th, 2012
11:38 am

The fair tax is just that, FAIR. You get the same percentage from all: rich, poor, middle class, businesses (yes businesses for the items they purchase that are not materials direct to the product, which will be most of what they spend), hookers, drug dealers, illegals, EVERYONE.

Now there is a “prebate” (money up-front) for the tax component of necessities; food, clothing, etc. so the poor will not be “hurt” at all.

It eliminates:

Federal Income Tax and FICA (payroll tax.) COMPLETELY ! ! !

You take home your entire GROSS paycheck. You will have a LOT more money. A LOT ! !

Foreign businesses would flock to the U.S. Our economy would flourish.

(And, no liberals, it does not benefit the rich any more than it benefits you, except for the economy of scale.)

Kevin Stowell

June 4th, 2012
11:38 am

‘Loves me some Boortz.

Rock You Like A HermanCane

June 4th, 2012
11:40 am

Cane won’t last. Much like Erick Erickson, he’s a one trick pony who can’t think on his feet when he’s off message. Boortz had his warts, but WSB is looking at a major dropoff in the entertainment factor.

Georgiabelle

June 4th, 2012
11:40 am

Though I haven’t always agreed with him, Neal has always made me think. Sometimes I get so mad at him I turn the dial to another station and proclaim that I’m never going to listen to him again. Yet I always come back, because he truly is The Talkmaster. Neal has been the catalyst for my gradual evolution from a tuned-out soccer mom to a politically aware and actively involved citizen. I share his view that we owe it to our children and grandchildren to care enough to stick our necks out for what we believe is right, for their future and ours. Thank you, Neal. I hope you have a blast writing your next chapter.

GaBlue

June 4th, 2012
11:41 am

Boortz doesn’t even believe his own nonsense*. However, I think there’s a possibility that Mr. Cain might just be crazy enough to believe HIS. Heh… Good comedy’s a comin’.

*i.e., his rant that we should do away with flashing lights and stop signs on school buses because it would be BETTER FOR THE CHILDREN if they had to learn early on in life to cross a busy street during morning rush hour and not get hit — even though they’re too small for many drivers to see. The SMART kids (future producers) will figure it out, right? The others, well… we don’t really need them in society anyway, do we?

Rock You Like A HermanCane

June 4th, 2012
11:42 am

Six month notice? That means he’ll host another dozes shows or so…

tonyl

June 4th, 2012
11:43 am

Thank you God!!! Good riddance!!! Atlanta is sick of this low life. I do not listen to him anymore now for years. He believes that he is god given gift to the world. He is truly a awful human being. He is twisted.

Cat Hunter

June 4th, 2012
11:44 am

I have been a Boortz listener for many years. The Talkmaster has found the truth, given it to me and has set me free to share it with others. I will miss him, but you could not find a more solid replacement than Herman Cain. He provides a true steady voice of common sense to the world. Thank you Neal for the years of awesome radio!

…..an avid North Carolina listener.

Ken

June 4th, 2012
11:45 am

Yes, Neal is going to pursue his bucket list. I’d like to see the numbers, but I’m pretty sure that Neal’s reign has surpassed ALL attempts at ‘progressive’ radio! He didn’t need to be subsidized. He echoed a lot of thoughts that (and you know I’m right) normal people had. Never heard an effective argument from a lib with Neal…they usually resorted to name calling and shotgun meandering. It was as if Neal poured salt on a slug…I guess he did. Congrats, Neal!

William Green

June 4th, 2012
11:46 am

If you DO NOT like Boortz, then odds are YOU are the problem. Bring it!

Anne Rogers

June 4th, 2012
11:46 am

NO julia it is the Democrat party and their uneducated voters that, since 2007, have been working double time to try to destroy the US constitution and this nation.

Pounce Kitty

June 4th, 2012
11:47 am

Liberal comments here show how frightened they are of the truth. If you think your children are smarter now than they were a generation ago, keep voting for Democrat teachers’ unions. If you like high taxes and outrageous out of control spending, vote Democrat. Neal has tried to help you libs, but you continue to show your ingratitude. Liberalism is a mental disorder, it can’t be reasoned with.

yuzeyurbrane

June 4th, 2012
11:47 am

I saw Neal try to debate a Yale Law School tax professor re Neal’s beloved flat tax and get his clock cleaned. But he didn’t seem to realize it! He and Newt will make a great pair in retirement—what dumb people think smart people sound like.

Mike in Marietta

June 4th, 2012
11:47 am

As a gay resident of Metro Atlanta, I know most of my fellow gays and lesbians have no idea what a supporting voice they are losing in the conservative community. Neal proudly rebuked homophobes and Bible thumpers alike on issues involving gay people, including gay marriage. I, for one, will very much miss hearing Neal on the radio. Looking to the future, because of Herman Cain’s opposition to gay marriage and his support for a federal ban, I will NEVER listen to his show. I refuse to support the career of someone who discriminates against me because I was born gay. There aren’t any other conservative talk show hosts I can stomach so it looks like my days of listening to conservative talk radio over almost over.

MrC

June 4th, 2012
11:48 am

The apoplexy he causes crazed proggies was worth it all. Thanks, Neil!

Dennis

June 4th, 2012
11:49 am

Way to go Neal. You did Atlanta proud, dishing out your diatribes to Idiot liberals. The more that do not like you the better.