Peter Brimelow Remembers Talk Show Host Bob Grant

Bob Grant, the conservative radio host who died on New Year's Eve, is being honored by New York's WABC this weekend:

CUMULUS Talk WABC-A/NEW YORK will air a special this weekend about the late BOB GRANT (NET NEWS 1/2), who hosted at the station in 1984-96 and 2009-13.  The show, honoring the NEW YORK talk radio icon, will air SATURDAY (1/11) at 5p (ET) and SUNDAY (1/12) at 4p (ET), and will also be available for downloading at the station's website.

WABC To Air Special Honoring Bob Grant, allaccess.com, January 10, 2014

Grant was one of the first talk show hosts to call when I published my infamous National Review cover story Time To Rethink Immigration in 1992, and I really believe the tone of delighted excitement in his voice—Grant had been a lonely immigration patriot pioneer—contributed to my conclusion that it was safe for a professional journalist with a family to support to risk a book on the topic. (A mistake, as it turned out with the help of a little treachery from Bill Buckley).

When Alien Nation was published in 1995, Grant devoted a whole show to it, bringing me into his studio as a guest. "It's an advertisement," my Random House publicist marvelled, no doubt mindful of Grant's fearsome reputation.

But I was puzzled by Grant's off-air behavior. It's normal for talk show hosts to chat with their guests during commercial breaks, especially if they are in beleaguered agreement on a taboo issue like immigration. But Grant simply got up and left without a word, returning only as the show resumed. In fact, I don't think he addressed one word to me off-air. Nor did he look me in the eye, his own being glassy and unfocused.

At the time, I wondered if Grant was drinking. But I see that AP reports that the obituary prepared by Grant's New Jersey funeral home

says Mr. Grant “was a proud friend of Bill W. for 44 years” — a reference to William Wilson, a founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Probably it's just more evidence of the terrible, if generally unrecognized, toll that talk radio takes on its hosts.

Grant's subsequent slow eclipse was a symbol and a symptom of talk radio's decline. I was lucky to see him at his peak, and so was America.