Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Introducing the newest APF Pundit - Andrew Wilkow
Deconstructing punditry using a pro-wrestling analogy, part of what I do on this blog is identify archetypes. To be a successful talker, passion for a cause is a prerequisite as well as an engaging persona that commands attention. Conservative Radio Talker Andrew Wilkow has all these qualities, but he also doesn’t fit the usual molds.
I first heard Andrew filling in for Mark Levin. I was immediately drawn to his championing of conservative principles from a youth perspective, coupling information with logic and philosophy. The hook that drew me in was his glowing praise for Metal band ‘Avenged Sevenfold’ and his suggestion that conservatives begin to explore art as an avenue for furthering and promoting conservative thought.
With hip shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report providing a gateway for younger audiences to be engaged in political discussion I pictured Andrew as the conservative antidote. This was confirmed the more I listened to him, but not in the way I originally thought.
At 35, Andrew is one of the youngest radio talkers you’ll find of any stripe. Although you’ll hear him in a tone that reflects a connection with the youth, you won’t hear him dumbing things down or patronizing his audience. Andrew isn’t interested in competing for the youth by being cool at the expense of rational thought and mature discussion, “That type of sarcasm as a stand in for intellectual thought and good debating is gonna run its course eventually.”
Andrew spends a majority of his show explaining and rationalizing liberal thinking. The non-commercial format of his show on Sirius Satellite Radio works to Andrew’s advantage as it allows him to expand on his ideas providing a fuller more pure experience, “My program is designed to not be condescending, not be esoteric…I can take an argument, I can break it down, build a new foundation then build a house on top of it, dust my hands and say See that’s how it works”
Andrew Wilkow is also known for being co-founder of ConservativePunk.com. He formed it with his now-producer Nick Rizzuto. Nick had sent an email after hearing Andrew talk about how “the politics began to take over the music”. A friendship was formed and after some “beers and burgers cooked up Conservative Punk”, Andrew continues “within a day or two of launching we had 1000 members and the BBC flew a crew out from the UK to interview us.” Many would know Conservative Punk as the counterweight to Punkvoter.com - a high profile campaign organized by ‘Fat Mike’ of legendary punk band NOFX. An initiative which enlisted fellow punkers, mainstream rock acts like Green Day and Foo Fighters and their fans to oust George W Bush in the 2004 presidential elections.
Punk is often regarded as being anti-establishment, likewise Punk is also synonymous with being contrarian, asking questions and fighting against groupthink, something the South Park guys have made a living off. Conservative Punk isn’t an exercise at just being contrarian, Andrew is quick to remind that “Johnny Ramone was a Reagan Republican” though ultimately it’s a moot point “I go to a music event to listen to music, I don’t really care about the opinions held by the band one way or another… nobody owns the music”
Don't expect to find Andrew making his name from dissing fellow talkers. There is a graciousness and respect for his competition, be it left or right because he knows “the road to talk radio is really, really hard”. You could sum up Andrew’s career as the collision of passion, hard work and opportunity. His first major break came from a “risktaker” that saw talent and found him “compelling”. A young woman heard Andrew as a Rock DJ and recommended it to her father. That man happened to be Phil Boyce, the Program Director who revitalized NewsTalkRadio WABC (AM) in New York City and the man responsible for giving Sean Hannity and Mark Levin their big breaks. Andrew began his talk career as a trial fill-in for Mark Levin, eventually inheriting the weekend timeslot as Mark moved up. Andrew was later enlisted by Sirius Satellite Radio, adding him to their conservative roster on the ‘Sirius Patriot’ channel. The young woman who first took notice of Andrew would later become his wife.
Mark enjoys a camaraderie with Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. Andrew is one of the privileged few “Mark allows to fill in for him” and one of the few people Hannity allows to broadcast from his ‘Freedom Concert. It’s no surprise that Sirius have programmed Andrew with his colleagues, kicking off a formidable 8 hour bloc from noon which continues with Hannity then Levin.
With the support of influential friends and a cutting edge media in Sirius Satellite Radio, you can expect big things from Andrew Wilkow. Quoting from his website, “Now is the time for the new school of conservative voices with a whole new style and passion – moving to SIRIUS lets me take that style and passion nationwide."
Listen to Andrew by signing up to Sirius Satellite Radio
Go to Andrew’s official page on the Sirius site
Go to Andrew Wilkow’s myspace page
Go to ConservativePunk.com