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.