By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Lydon on the move?

When UMass Lowell announced last October that it would stop funding Christopher Lydon’s public radio program, “Open Source,” you had to wonder what the long-term effect would be. Though UMass wasn’t Lydon’s sole source of support, all indications were that the university was his major backer.

Still, “Open Source” kept chugging along, and nearly two months ago the program received a $250,000 MacArthur grant for its Internet component.

But now the Globe reports that Lydon is talking with Bloomberg Radio about a New York-based commercial show. Nothing on the “Open Source” Web site, but this bears watching.

Update: Mary McGrath, Lydon’s longtime producer, says not to worry. (Thanks to this alert but pseudonymous Media Nation reader.)

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  1. Man who's an ROS fan

    I am not privy to Chris’s inner thoughts, but I find it hard to believe that Chris would willingly jump to commercial radio. I remember when he filled in for Michael Savage on WTKK for two weeks in 2002 or so, and it was blatantly obvious that he wasn’t comfortable in the commercial format; he was still the Chris we all knew and loved, but he sounded very “constrained”, for lack of a better way to phrase it.Unless, of course, the Public Radio Talent Quest is really a back-door audition process to find a new host for Radio Open Source. 🙂

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Man: Lydon was filling in for Jay Severin, not Michael Savage … a Freudian slip, perhaps?

  3. Man who's an ROS fan

    More like a faulty memory…and I can’t stand WTKK so I forgot about Severin. Thanks for the correction, though. :-)My point stands, though. Chris has been non-commercial for about 30 years between Open Source, The Connection and the WGBH 10 o’clock news. It’s a rude awakening how “commercial” commercial broadcasting is when you’re used to non-comm gentility.Maybe if he’s got fiscal realities to deal with, but I just don’t see it being something he’d plunge into willingly.

  4. Peter Porcupine

    Chris is non-commercial because he isn’t worth ten cents.He’s a TERRIBLE host – interrupts callers more than Tom Finneran, who is at least interesting and a newbie. Think to yourself – how often has a caller’s point been hijacked in mid-sentance to fluff out one of Lydon’t own ramblings, and nevermind what that caller actually wanted to say.The only good news is MAYBE he will finally go away. The bad news is, he’ll be back, as who else would have him?

  5. Anonymous

    I never agree with Peter, but he is dead-on in his comments about Lydon. The man’s ego gets in the way of his topics. I grant that Lydon has always stood apart in his willingness to tackle weighty, even intellectual topics. For that, he is to be commended. The trouble is that I have, and have always had, great difficulty in lasting through his entire program. His constant interjections, many of which seem intended to do nothing more than demonstrate his knowledge of a topic (often an esoteric, tangential topic) are maddening. The entire show; from Lydon, to his callers, to the discussions on his web site, reeks of self-importance. I am NOT anti-intellectual. Indeed, I am saddened by the extent to which intellect is undervalued in our society, but I fear that Chris does more to fuel anti-intellectualism than he does to meet the needs of listeners who crave substance.

  6. Anonymous

    So, does this mean he will be picking Mr. Bloomberg’s cotton? 😉

  7. Steve

    I disagree w/ Peter and anon. I enjoy Lydon’s podcasts. I find them far more stimulating than any talk radio around today.I guess that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla. De gustibus non est disputandum.

  8. Steve

    Hey, and check out Imus’s replacement next Monday – Wednesday.Stephanie Miller. I think I’ll like her better before 9 AM than after. I’d rather Rachel Maddow, but there’s little chance of that.

  9. Anonymous

    Lydon will never make it on commercial radio. He’s very good but I think he was made for Public Radio.Rick

  10. Harry

    I also found his insatiable love for his own voice intolerable. I have not “bought his product” by listening in many years.The irony of a program named “Open Source” joining Bloomberg would be sweet, though. It would be like Richard Stallman taking a job at Microsoft.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    People either seem to love Lydon or loathe him. I love him. Yes, he talks too much, as do 99 percent of radio hosts out there, including Tom Ashbrook, whom I also love. The quality of what Lydon says, though, puts him in the top 2 or 3 percent.

  12. Peter Porcupine

    Steve – I’ve never heard Lydon’s podcasts, but that could be his niche. There wouldn’t be any pesky caller to interrupt his train of thought.I have no objections to voice editorialists per se (I’ve done a few on NPR myself). I DO object to editorialists masquerading as hosts of a discussion.

  13. Dan Kennedy

    PP: I’ve you’ve never heard one of Lydon’s podcasts, perhaps you ought to withhold comment until you do. They’re simply MP3s of his shows, complete with callers.

  14. man who's an ros fan

    Yeah, Lydon’s ego is huge…that’s a requirement of being a talkshow host! So yes, he’s a “polarizing” figure in that either you love him or hate him. I happen to like Chris, even though I rarely listen since I’m usually on the subway then (and I don’t have an iPod).Regardless, Mary McGrath, Senior Producer of ROS, has issued a statement saying neither Chris nor Open Source are going anywhere.

  15. Peter Porcupine

    Dan – if the podcasts are merely rebroadcasts of the shows, I find myself relieved of the responsibility to purchase an iPod.Thank you!

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