Neil Rogers, RIP


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Neil Rogers was a very popular talk show host based in South Florida, who was not well known outside the area. His career went from the early 70’s through the late 2000’s. He started out doing “serious” talk, then progressed (and/or devolved) into a “shock jock” comic. I only knew of him in his later incarnation.

I first heard of him through a friend that I’d debated religion with. Despite trouncing him intellectually on the subject, he still was a believer. I went off to FSU for a semester, came back maybe 3 months later for a break, and he’d been converted. What had changed his mind? He’d started listening to Neil Rogers. Ok, I ought to check this guy out, so I listen to a show or two, and was awfully disappointed. He would bash religion, but there was hardly any intellectual content to it. He would mock, usually in a very lowbrow way, but didn’t offer arguments. Callers would start up with the usual clichés, and he would interject: Crap, Fairy Tales, Old Wives Tales, Silly Old Men in Dresses, etc. all interspersed with obnoxious sound effects. He had a running gag to the effect that he was God, that is, Neil God, and had sound drops of various people saying this (including Larry King). This had convinced my intellectually recalcitrant friend? So I’d wasted all my best rhetorical jiu-jitsu on him, when an interjected fart noise would have sufficed? From this experience I think I first witnessed the truth in HL Mencken’s line: “One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent.” It’s not a universal dictum, but very often it’s applicable, like it or not.

Eventually I came to like his show, and typically listened to him at lunch time. His politics were very leftist, I recall him referring to Gore Vidal as his intellectual idol. A funny story with an embedded lesson concerns his support, or rather lack of support, for Al Gore in 2000. Throughout the primary he was strongly against Gore, and supported Bradley. Then at election time his attitude was: don’t bother to vote. He wouldn’t back off his harsh mockery of Gore, though if you pressed him he did dislike Bush more. Now, recall that the election was decided in Florida, with a margin of a few hundred votes. If Neil had behaved differently, would it have turned out differently? Just try calling his show and suggesting that, your comment wouldn’t even make it on the air. He was often puffed up as a Peikoff, I dare say. He was the top rated talk radio voice at the time, of course he cost Gore votes. The lesson? I’ll leave it to the reader, I think there’s more than one, but recognizing the fact that sometimes you can make a difference, and you may not know that this is the time that really counts for you to be doing your part in support of your values, that’s the main one. Or at least not working against them. As the vote counting debacle unfolded, he morphed into quite the Gore supporter. Hypocrite. Entertaining, but such a hypocrite.

Concerning Ayn Rand, periodically someone would call in recommending her, or asking what he thought of her, or saying that he would agree with her. He expressed intense dislike, but there was never any content to it beyond that. Someone has a YouTube channel with episodes from his short-lived TV show, and the main thing also on the channel? Ayn Rand on Donahue and with Mike Wallace.

Moving on, his show deteriorated markedly in the mid 2000’s, for an odd reason. Janet Jackson’s breast baring Super Bowl performance became the causus belli, inexplicably, for the feds to start cracking down on risqué talk radio. Neil wouldn’t use the George Carlin “words you can’t say”, but everything else was fair game. After a fining or two, he was no longer allowed to use many of his sound effects, comedy bits, or express himself as before. I don’t even remember when I gave up on him, but his contract was bought out in mid 2009 and he retired. Reportedly he was pulling in in excess of $1M per year in his good years, so I doubt he was stuck living on Social Security.

Anyway, he croaked last week at 68, he had diabetes among a whole host of other ailments. Here’s a link to his site, there’s a lot of funny bits you can hunt through. There’s another thread where the “Neil God!” sounds might come in handy.

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