The Abdul in the Morning show (5-9 a.m.) hit Indianapolis airwaves on 1430 AM earlier this month, offering Indianapolis an alternative to WIBC’s long-dominant conservative talk lineup.
NUVO sat in during Abdul’s second broadcast that included phone calls from Gov. Joe Kernan and congressional candidate Andrew Horning. During commercial breaks, Abdul was kind enough to answer a few quick questions.
NUVO: Your politics seem a little hard to pigeonhole. How would you describe yourself politically?
Abdul: I call myself a “consistent conservative.” On all matters fiscal, when it comes to dollars and cents, I’m a very fiscal conservative. I want the government out of my pocketbook. They take too much of my money. I figure if I can find six jobs what the hell’s everybody else’s problem?
Now, when it comes to social issues like gay marriage and abortion to me it’s inconsistent to say you want less government except when it comes to very private, personal matters. Less government means just that — less government! Stay out of people’s bedrooms. Stay out of people’s private lives!
Now, if your private behavior is brought outside and it’s costing me money, that’s a different story. If you want to fry your brain with drugs in the privacy of your own home I could care less. But you’ve got to stay there, and you better not neglect your kids to the point that the state has to come in and take care of them. Because now you’re costing us all money.
NUVO: You sound like more of a libertarian than a conservative.
Abdul: Libertarians are just Republicans that are afraid of commitment. They’re like bisexuals. They can’t commit. I say pick a team. Pick a team. I guess my personal politics are Republican with a small “r.” More in the Nixon or Nelson Rockefeller school than the zealot right-wing Tom Delay nut job Republicans. They scare the hell out of me.
NUVO: You lived in Indiana from 1990 to 1993. How do you feel about returning to an area that’s a hot bed for “Tom Delay nut job” Republicans?
Abdul: Yeah, the Indiana Republicans are more conservative. Indiana Democrats would be suburban Republicans in Illinois. However, what I found interesting here is that the Mitch Daniels campaign has been able to reach out to the black community and the gay community in ways that I didn’t think was possible 10 or 13 years ago. It just goes to show you how divided the country has become and how every vote counts now.
Politics is about addition, not subtraction. I don’t understand why [the Republican Party] does things to alienate segments of the population that nine out of 10 times wouldn’t mind voting for you. I was joking with some of my gay friends and I told them, “With all the money that gays and lesbians have most of them would probably be Republicans if half the Republicans weren’t trying to beat them up all the time.”
NUVO: You had some pretty high-profile calls today, like Kernan and Horning. That has to be pretty exciting for your second day on the air.
Abdul: Man, I was on the air in Illinois for a year and I couldn’t get the governor on to save my life. I’m here two days and Gov. Kernan gets booked in for a phone interview. I’m going to love Indianapolis.
NUVO: I imagine you are up on the state of current Indianapolis talk radio. What are you guys doing that’s different?
Abdul: One thing we’ll definitely do is make radio that is fun to listen to but also thought-provoking at the same time. It’s my hope that people will listen because they want to, not because they think we’re what they’re supposed to be listening to. I think if the people listened to us for a week compared with the folks down the dial they would hear a clear, distinct difference. We will challenge the establishment and ask the tough questions, but we’re always fair, and never make personal attacks or cheap shots.
NUVO: What special edge do you bring, personally?
Abdul: I do my homework. If you’re a politician, I’m the guy you want to talk to because I’ve covered government as a reporter and worked as spokesperson for an elected official. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and understand how this business works. Also having a master’s in public affairs and a law degree don’t hurt much either.
NUVO: How does being black factor into it?
Abdul: I think having a talk show host in town who’s black and doesn’t tow the party line by not yelling racism every five seconds also helps. At least it shows we may all look alike, but we don’t think alike.
NUVO: During the rise of talk radio’s popularity as a format these past 12 years, the country has become more polarized than ever before. Do you think that talk radio is the cause of the split, or a reflection of it?
Abdul: I think talk radio is merely a reflection of society. I’ve never believed in the “liberal media” theory. The media is anti-establishment. And think about it, talk radio really grew during the Clinton years because conservatives needed a place to relieve their stress. If liberals got their act together, they could do the same for W.
NUVO: Why hasn’t the left been able to succeed in this format?
Abdul: A lot of liberals are afraid to tell people they’re wrong because it might hurt their feelings. The best liberals are the ones who’ll stand up and fight for what they believe. They also have to understand that entertainment walks hand in hand with information. One gets your attention, the other keeps it. For example, while someone telling me to save the rain forest is good, a naked woman giving me a lap dance with “Save the Rain Forest” tattooed on her breasts drives the point home much better.
NUVO: What do you say to some of your detractors that say, “Oh, he’s not a true conservative,” because of your stance on social issues?
Abdul: It shows my detractors have no clue, otherwise they would get it. What does conservative mean? I say less government means just that, less government. It is the height of hypocrisy for people to think less government in business is great, but more government in your personal life is OK. Like I said, if I don’t want the government in my dad’s business, why in the name of God would I want it in my girlfriend’s uterus? My detractors would fall under the category of “cafeteria conservatives.” They pick and choose the conservative values they agree with.