The Fred Thompson Era’s First Shot

ABC Radio’s anointed successor to veteran commentator Paul Harvey had his first on-air fill-in for Harvey on Saturday. We missed it, but got a chance to hear actor/former Senator Fred Thompson’s first ABC broadcast online this afternoon via…it was the Saturday “noon visit”, which will be archived the rest of the week.

We normally don’t unload on someone who’s doing his first show, but…wow. It’s so bad, you have to hear it. THIS is who is going to replace a radio icon? This is the man who will become a skilled, polished communicator’s successor? It is not quite “David Lee Roth taking over for Howard Stern” bad, but…you have to hear it.

Thompson’s attempt to do the 15 minute Harvey broadcast sounds very poorly edited, with stories patched together easily identified by very loud level shifts when Thompson talks way too loud into the microphone.

It’s not that Thompson can’t read broadcast copy. He can. He’s read the written word for ages, as an actor and doing voice overs. But…he sounds like he’s, well, reading broadcast copy.

And perhaps that’s not fair to anyone taking over, even temporarily, for Mr. Harvey…to compare him to the man’s smooth, easy style that doesn’t at all sound like he’s reading off of a piece of paper. And Thompson may well find his voice and ease at doing a 15 minute radio news segment.

For now, he sounds to us like an odd combination of Wilford Brimley and Tom Bodett. We keep expecting him to tout the virtues of whole grain cereal.

But, we said it before, and we’ll say it again. When Paul Harvey hangs up his headphones, and is stops doing his radio broadcasts for good, ABC Radio (soon to be Citadel) should not replace him at all. We suspect when Paul Harvey News becomes Fred Thompson News, a whole boatload of affiliates will drop the show…at very least, they’ll drop the 15 minute noon segments.

Of course, ABC/Citadel will not listen to this advice, hoping to be able to continue to mine the Harvey Gold with a new host in the new millenium. But it just sounds like a poor substitute, to us…

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