Earlier this year, Pete Spriggs, program director for AM 750 and 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB, gave a young, promising conservative talk show host Andy Dean a two-hour slot on Sundays to work on his craft.
Spriggs said he figured in a year or two, Dean would build enough experience to get a weekday gig somewhere.
It happened a lot faster than that. Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates shows such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, scooped Dean up last month and gave him an afternoon syndicated slot which debuted August 8 on 35 stations nationwide. The show is called “America Now” and you can listen to his show on his website www.americanowradio.com.
Spriggs didn’t have much in the way of openings on the weekdays but is placing him at 1 to 4 a.m. locally starting tonight.
Dean, Spriggs said, has this “Muhammad Ali” act where he dubs himself the “king of new content.” “Half think he’s pompous,” Spriggs said. “Others think it’s a joke. He’s terrific at debating callers. He’s a raw piece of clay. I always told him he’s a pitcher who could throw 105 miles per hour. Let me teach him a change-up and a breaking ball.”
Dean, a Harvard graduate, made an impression on the second season of NBC’s “The Apprentice” in 2004 as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 23 year old, the youngest “Apprentice” contestant to date. He finished fifth but convinced Donald Trump to hire him anyway.
To prove to Trump he was worthy, he worked 95-hour weeks his first year doing project manager work. “Not glamorous,” Dean said. After two years, Trump promoted Dean to work with his TV media business, which included “The Apprentice” and the “Miss Universe” pageant.
But a political junkie, Dean wanted to do talk radio. “As much as I liked the media business, I was missing out on politics,” he said.
He had no ties in radio except for his “Apprentice” buddy Wes Moss, an Atlanta-based financial advisor and weekend host on WSB. “I begged him to get me in the door,” he said. Moss introduced Dean to Spriggs. Spriggs gave Dean opportunities to fill in on weekends. Dean was so intent to work in radio, he’d fly to Atlanta on weekends from Los Angeles just for the chance to be on the air.
Eventually, Spriggs let him fill in for Herman Cain and Neal Boortz on weekdays. Then earlier this year, Spriggs gave Dean a weekly Sunday show at 1 p.m. Dean then did fill-in work for Premiere syndicated host Jason Lewis on July 7. Lewis, Dean said, “was old and boring.” And it quickly became apparent to Dean this was a tryout.
Dean impressed Premiere and a month later, he had Lewis’ job.
Dean broke the news to Trump he was leaving his organization. Trump was supportive. When he told Spriggs about leaving his Sunday WSB show, Spriggs was actually upset. “He yelled a bit,” Dean said. “He took it a little hard.”
Spriggs said he felt like a “spurned lover.” But he got over it and found a home for Dean on WSB.
“Pete gave me a shot,” Dean said. “He coached me. I’m everything because of him. As much as I joke around as king of new content and all that bravado, I am sincere in my gratefulness to Pete.”
Dean said he enjoys putting on air people who oppose his views as long as they can provide some level of intelligence to their arguments. “I don’t want my program to be a bunch of preachers to the choir,” Dean said. “I love the combat. I love people who disagree with me and have a point of view. I want to advance the argument.”
By 6 p.m. EST, when his show starts, Dean said “people have been exposed to the news. I’m not adding value unless I take argument from a new angle.” He wants not only conservatives but independents and liberals to listen. “I want to convince liberals to come back to planet earth,” he said. “I want them to learn something.”
Asked if a liberal has ever taught him something, he blanked. “That’s a tough one, a brainbuster!” he said. “I’m sure there are some things. I wish I could think of something!”
Dean said he tries to bring elements of two talk-show titans: Bill O’Reilly on Fox News and Howard Stern, currently on Sirius/XM. “I do have conservative leanings,” he said, “But I try to think for myself. I read all I can.” He also enjoys Stern. “One moment he’s larger than life. The next, he’s talking about his troubles with his therapist.”
“You have to let people know who you are,” he added. “Otherwise, the program will sound like any other.”
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog