Glenn Beck on Tuesday played audio from Alec Baldwin’s brief foray into talk radio, mocking the actor for reading from the “Scientology manual” on-air when nobody called in.
But Beck admitted that talk radio is extraordinarily difficult, and he once did something similar.
“I want to make Alec Baldwin feel a little better about his stumbling. When I was on WABC — and Stu, you were with me,” Beck began, indicating his co-host. “We had planned, like, two hours or three hours. And Stu will tell you, we prepped for every single word.”
Beck said he walked into work, “ready to go” after extensive prepping, and signed off at the end of the hour: “All right, see you next time. WABC New York.”
“I’m unplugging my headphones and the producer says in my ear, ‘Whoa whoa, you got another hour!’” Beck continued. “And Stu was in the studio with me and I said, ‘I don’t have anything else to talk about. I’m not prepared to talk about anything!’ And so we did the worst thing you could ever do.”
Beck decided his only way out was to “ride phone calls” for the remainder of his time on air, so he made a number of controversial statements about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, whose relationship was being discussed at the time, and asked callers to comment.
“So I said something like, ‘In those days, having sex with a slave is like having sex with a chair. He owned it. What difference?” Beck said. “Because the big wrong is slavery. You already bought into that, so what difference does it make? You’re already in hell.’”
Beck said he was “grasping at straws,” but when the callers started lining up he thought he dodged a bullet.
“I put my finger on the phone, and I’m about to say, ‘WABC, go ahead,’ and all the lines drop,” Beck said. “Every one of them. Phone screen completely blank.”
Beck said all the phones had crashed, so he had an “Alec Baldwin moment.”
“I’m like, ‘Back in a minute!’ Literally a minute because we don’t have any spots, so I’ll be back in literally a minute,” Beck said. “We come back. No phones. The whole hour, no phones.”
Beck said he was reading a book at the time, and he saw it on his desk. He adopted a somber, philosophical tone and told the audience he wanted to share what he was reading.
“I literally opened it up to the dog-eared page. There was nothing highlighted. There was nothing written — it was just where I was reading,” Beck said, both laughing and cringing at the memory. “There was nothing in there, but I tried to make it sound like there was something important in this book. And if you can’t tie it together, you’re just too dumb to get it.”
By the end of the hour, Beck said he was “dying.” That’s when he learned his lesson, that “you better be prepared for absolutely anything” in radio.
“Whatever happens, you have to be prepared to talk about [it], and sound intelligent,” Beck remarked. “You better be really well-read and be able to to hold a conversation. When I first started doing talk radio, I couldn’t.”
“Which reminds me,” Beck concluded with a smile, “I was reading this book when I came in…”
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