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Caplis and Silverman Get Their New York Times Closeup

In a rare image, Dan Caplis flaps his left wing.
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It's an indication of how focused the rest of the media universe is on Denver these days that no less than the New York Times decided to devote a big chunk of space to a modestly rated local afternoon talk show. "Politically Divided Talk-Radio Team Has Denver Firmly in Its Grip," a dubiously headlined piece penned by Dan Frosch, focuses on KHOW's Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman, who are said to "have all but stopped debating the regular lineup of salacious Colorado stories" in favor of "arguing over the presidential election." Later in the piece, Silverman declares, "The convention has made Denver the political epicenter of the Democratic Party, and we are Denver."

Caplis and Silverman are Denver? I thought that was John Elway's job...

Predictably, the piece is the sort of bland overview that's bound to strike locals as one-dimensional. Granted, Frosch acknowledges that critics such as Colorado Media Matters' Bill Menezes regard the show's alleged balance to tilt distinctly rightward, which it does. Caplis, who has much more radio experience than Silverman, is clearly first among equals, generally setting the agenda and doing the lion's share of talking. Moreover, he's a devotee of the Genghis Khan branch of far-right conservative thought while Silverman is in many respects a centrist who has agreed with his partner on a number of major issues, including their joint jihad against Ward Churchill.

Nevertheless, comments from lawyer David Lane and Metro State prof Norman Provizer praising the pair, not to mention Caplis' dismissal of Colorado Media Matters as "a goofy left-wing hit machine," tend to cast Menezes in the naysayer's role. Meanwhile, a paragraph pointing out that politicos such as Bill Ritter and John Hickenlooper have appeared on the program implies that they rule the media landscape.

A considerable exaggeration? Yep. Caplis and Silverman have established themselves in a slot that hasn't been so stable since Jay Marvin, now at AM 760, leaned over the microphone, and their focus on the likes of Churchill has indeed had a considerable influence on coverage in general. But Caplis' relentless anti-Barack Obama jeremiads, epitomized by an "investigation" of the candidate based almost entirely on negative interpretations of excerpts from Obama's book Dreams of My Father, has turned off as many listeners as it's attracted, and not only for partisan reasons. Thanks to repetition, Caplis' witheringly condescending tone toward Obama has grown predictable, like a once effective routine a standup comic has delivered several hundred times too often.

In that sense, the hosts' grip on Denver -- or at least a significant part of it -- is mighty loose indeed. -- Michael Roberts

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