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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Joe Franklin’s Death Highlights Talk Show Silence


The man who set a Guinness World Record for being the longest-running continuous TV talk-show host, Joe Franklin, died at the age of 88.  When he signed off in 1993, he had aired 28,000 episodes of his New York talk-show over 43 consecutive years of chatter.  Dubbed “The King of Nostalgia,” he interviewed Charlie Chaplin,  Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Woody Allen, and every major personality of his era.

Joe Franklin was old-school even back in the day.  As a kid growing up in New York I had watched him from time to time, but thought he was boring and outdated.  It was just the ignorance of my youth.  If he had his show on television now I probably would appreciate it.

Even in his late years, he didn’t shut up.  He had a radio show on WOR for many years long after signing off of television, and more recently he contributed to the Bloomberg Radio Network.

Talk shows today are at a crossroads.  There are interviews everywhere, from Today to Jimmy Kimmel, but how many pure talk shows are there?  The daytime ones are putrid.  Who is truly discussing and debating real issues?  The View sometimes does.  Ellen occasionally.  It seems the work of informing and engaging people on substantive issues is left to people who poke fun at things and in the process trivialize matters.  Yes, that means Dave Letterman, Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and the late-night entertainers are leading the nation’s dialogue on issues that are  too big to be dismissed by jokes.

It’s hard to launch a talk show that entertains enough so it has viewers and advertisers, but that doesn’t dumb things down too much so a real discussion on major issues can take place.  I yearn for the return of The Phil Donahue Show, Oprah, and their kind.  Now, they sometimes went too far, highlighting nonsense and things that are not so important but just unusual.  Still, I’ll take an episode of people who slept with their daughter’s boyfriend if it means we also talk about poverty, war, racism, women’s pay, the environment, and real stuff.

The cable channels fail to discuss issues unless it’s done in a one-side, preachy way.  Even after watching Fox and CNN for 15 minutes each you aren’t left feeling like you heard from all sides.  For one problem, they don’t confront one another.  The right and left used to interact on TV, debate each other, and even work towards finding common ground.  That just doesn’t take place anymore.

Bill Maher tries, though he beats down Republican guests with a jab of snark and a right-cross of fervent facts.  America needs – and wants – intelligent public debates, discussions, and fact-checked presentations by qualified people.  We want to be informed, engaged, enlightened, and inspired to act.

Goodbye Joe Franklin.  Some of American discourse has died along with you.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015



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