SEATTLE, Washington - One of the few constants in my life for the last 9 years has been listening to the Sunday night radio show of Matt Drudge. I was surprised when, two hours ago, Drudge announced that he was leaving the radio show. Apparently this story had leaked a few weeks ago but Drudge has not mentioned it on-air until the very end.
I'm listening right now. He has made some references to listening to talk radio in his childhood, and the fact that he still falls asleep to the radio every night; these stories are reminding me of my own experience with radio. I'm just like Matt Drudge, except the part about making a million bucks a year from a web site.
Some of my earliest memories of radio are from nights when I stayed at my grandparents' house. I would be assigned to sleep on a couch; after my grandfather woke up (at like 4:30am, what was he thinking?) I would move to his bedroom. He slept with the radio on, I believe it was the crackling signal of a Philadelphia news station. This got me into the habit; by 1980 I was sleeping with the radio set to Larry King's pioneering overnight radio show.
When I was a teenager, I listened to music like everyone else, but I also spent many weeknights listening to Bruce Williams's advice show on Talknet. In 1992, I worked the overnight shift in a restaurant on the Boardwalk, and while most restaurants played Top 40 radio, my customers had to listen to Larry King doing his thing.
In 1998, a bit before the internet was being widely used for audio, I purchased a radio from C. Crane that could record four hours of programming, so I could record Art Bell's overnight show and listen to it at work.
I don't remember if I was reading the Drudge Report before the Lewinsky thing broke. Maybe, maybe not. I do remember sitting with one of my professors in a pizza parlor in January 1998 as the media were picking up the story; the professor noted that Clinton "would be out of office in a week."
The Drudge Report has been my homepage ever since, and I've also been a regular listener to the radio show. When the show first appeared, I was amazed at how Drudge performed a relatively polished show right out of the box. He was devoted to the show; I don't recall him missing a single broadcast until 2005 when some bad weather knocked out power in Miami. New Year's Eve, Christmas Eve, whatever, nothing stopped him from showing up for his shift. In the past two years I have noticed guest hosts appearing more and more frequently.
Drudge is being coy about his reasons for leaving (almost as coy as he is about his sexuality); he claims he will be doing fill-in duty on other shows as the opportunities arise. He has a unique voice, and a unique mix of material on his show. But, I won't get too stressed; over the years, I've started and stopped listening to many shows, and you always think a show is essential to your life but you don't miss it when you stop. I had no idea how I would live without Don Imus when I left New Jersey in 1996, but within a week I simply found other things.
Some guy from Cincinnati is taking over the show, but I won't be listening. So I say goodbye to the show that was, as Drudge said, "the last word in weekend talk, eat your heart out Wolf Blitzer."