Increasing taxes on the rich is class warfare.
Only the private sector can create jobs, not government.
Washington, D.C., just spends and spends.
The Tea Party has gotten under the skin of liberals.
The mainstream media is biased.
Rush Limbaugh? Sean Hannity? Hawaii’s own Rick Hamada, perhaps?
No, those conservative views actually come from Michael W. Perry, one-half of KSSK Radio’s “Perry & Price” and one of the state’s biggest media personalities.
Perry’s views are broadcast on the “Perry & Price” show, which reaches about 160,000 people in the islands each weekday.
Perry and partner Larry Price famously introduce themselves as “Perry on the left, Price on the right,” referring to how they are seated in the studio.
But Perry is also very much on the right — the political right.
KSSK does not post its shows to its website. So Civil Beat recorded Perry’s comments from Monday, Aug. 1, through Friday, Aug. 5.
It was an historic week dominated by the partisan battle over lifting the federal debt ceiling, and Perry seemed sure to have some thoughts on the matter.
Perry’s comments started early Monday:
Here’s the good news: No. 1, no tax increase in there. That was dead on arrival about 10 days ago. The class warfare stuff didn’t work, and no tax increases in a down economy. That’s good. No. 2, Washington, D.C., is actually talking about cutting budgets. Six months ago this was unthinkable!
The bad news, according to Perry, is that the cuts included military spending, and Perry — a Navy veteran — reminded listeners that the military is Hawaii’s second-largest economic driver.
He was also critical of Congress for doing nothing about curbing the rising costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — “which they are absolutely physically unable to do, evidently. And that’s the big numbers. It’s like the elephant in the room, the 800-pound gorilla.”
Perry also castigated the idea of a “blue ribbon” congressional super-committee to come up with further cuts, called President Barack Obama irrelevant and ridiculed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for saying Congress had raised the debt ceiling 70 times since the 1960s. (Perry played a soundbite of Reid stumbling over his words.)
“He’s right, and that’s a problem,” said Perry of Reid, before making his main point: “What is happening for the first time history — there were conditions on Washington, D.C., and they’re talking about cutting.”
Perry agrees with many on the left and right that how Congress arrived at the debt-ceiling compromise was “ugly.” But he was also delighted with the turn of events — the fact that D.C. actually agreed to reduce spending — and he repeated the point many times throughout the week.
By Friday, Perry had honed the view: “The mainstream media did a great job of making you hate Congress. But Congress actually did the right thing. For once, they we’re looking out for you.”
“Perry & Price” airs Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and is simulcast on 92.3 FM and 590 AM. News updates air at 5:30, 7 and 9 a.m., while financial news runs around 5:40 and 8:40 a.m.
The duo also broadcasts from Jimmy Buffet’s Restaurant and Bar at the Beachcomber in Waikiki Saturday mornings, but it’s before a live audience and includes no news or politics.
Perry’s comments, which last several minutes, immediately follow each weekday news segment, without introduction. Price offers very little comment during the show, though Perry tells Civil Beat he used to say more.
“Most of his politics goes into his (MidWeek) column,” said Perry, who described Price’s politics as “all over the place” with an emphasis on labor issues. Price — a former student athlete, Army veteran, journalist and University of Hawaii head football coach and current business professor at Chaminade University — is an established personality in his own right.
Perry’s conservatism is widely known, and he tells Civil Beat he’s been providing right-leaning comment on the news since “Perry & Price” began 28 years ago.
After being stationed with the Navy in Guam, Perry moved to Hawaii where he worked as a rock DJ. Local businessman Cec Heftel, who would later serve as a Democratic congressman, hired Perry to work at what was then called KGMB radio.
Perry, who turns 64 Friday, worked with radio personality Aku — aka J. Akuhead Pupule — whose real name was Hal Lewis. Lewis died in 1983, and “Perry & Price” have been a team ever since.
Perry’s comments are the only thing political on KSSK, a Clear Channel Communications company with an adult contemporary music format.
KSSK is different from other stations. Because of its studios, transmitters and backup generators, it is the primary designated Emergency Alert System station in Hawaii.
When a tsunami, earthquake or power outage strikes, it is KSSK — and Perry and Price, who invariably man the microphones during such times — where listeners turn. Many Hawaii residents grew up listening to Perry and Price or watching Perry’s former TV show, “The Hawaiian Moving Company.”
Perry believes that his conservative voice is needed in what he describes as a “monolithic” media establishment (although he acknowledges talk radio hosts like Hamada).
“I don’t think there is any possibility on people missing out on the liberal version of the news,” he said. “I make no bones about that — I’m a conservative — and what I try to do is, if there is one side of story, then I am going to give the other side.”
Perry continued: “We are not ranting — we go beyond that,” he said, calling the show a news aggregator. “We are contrarian, the other side. We are the fairness doctrine for Hawaii.”
Perry cites conservative commentator George Will and the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (a Democrat who also worked for Republican presidents) as inspirational role models.
“I always thought they were two remarkable people who both had the best for the country in mind,” he said.
When asked, Perry said he not have a radio role model. But the vocal stylings of his on-air comments are similar to talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Medved.
Perry employs pregnant pauses and sarcasm when emphasizing points (e.g., “‘Let’s soak the most fortunate among us’ … that didn’t work”), lowers the tone of his voice when he wants to mock someone or something (like that “blue ribbon” committee) and guffaws when he thinks something or someone is ridiculous (Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner not knowing whether the debt limit battle “will harm our credit rating”).
He also uses recorded sounds that recall entertainers of an earlier day — a rimshot after a joke (e.g., Jay Leno said the president “has changed his campaign slogan from ‘Yes we can’ to ‘Yes we caved'”) or a melodramatic organ after a wry observation (Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania said of the Tea Party, “This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money”).
And, Perry gives the ocasional chuckle when expressing agreement (e.g., “Letterman says the Tea Party is having second thoughts. Apparently everything they want is not enough”).
When really excited, Perry raises his voice: “Washington, D.C., is actually talking about cutting budgets. Six months ago this was unthinkable! They’re talking about cutting budgets!”
Finally, Perry repeats his talking points several times each show with only minor variation.
From Aug. 1-5, Perry had a lot to say on a lot of other topics, too, all of them stemming from current events.
For example, he riffed on a new development in the case of legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper, the shootings in Norway and strip bars in Las Vegas.
But Perry seems most interested in all things political, and his views extend beyond the Washington Beltway.
Twice he fixated on China.
He suggested that more Chinese come visit Hawaii, because, “We’re the closest part to the country that you’ve bought. … Come on, kick the tires, check it out. We’ll take you to the new Club Hubba Hubba. It’s in Chinatown.” (Perry played the sound of a gong.)
Perry also noted that a Chinese company is making “the highest-quality fake IDs ever,” and that the IDs were being used by illegal immigrants and people committing credit fraud.
“Bartenders, police officers, they can’t tell the difference. The holograms are exact copies, the bar codes are flawless. So, it’s gotten to that point. Are the Chinese really our friends? I mean, think about this. …”
Perry also had this to say about another “event” in the news:
[Pat Buchanan told] Al Sharpton, now, you put your boy in the ring against mine — he was referring to Barack Obama, and Sharpton went, “Did you say my boy?” Now, we use that term all the time. Right? It’s kind of a boxing term. It’s your boy against my boy. Right? It’s not like “Boy,” like back in the Jim Crow era or something like that. But Pat Buchanan says, “No, I didn’t mean that. It wasn’t a slur. That’s just how you talk.” Boy, have we become a sensitive country. …
Perry invariably refers to the nation’s capital as “Washington, D.C.,” and not just “Washington.”
Raised in Washington and Arlington, Va., he feels he knows the area and the people intimately.
“I was as inside the Beltway as you can be, for Heaven’s sake, and it’s a place where it’s very insular, very much of an echo chamber,” he said. “My friends were sons of congressmen, labor leaders, stuff like that, and when you grow up in this you just know this stuff.”
Perry’s early professional experience included working for a defense supply branch in the Pentagon and in the office of public affairs for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare under John Gardner, an appointee of President Johnson.
Washington is a favorite Perry target. Here’s an audio clip, also from Aug. 4:
Perry loves to skewer the powers that be — especially liberal powers. Consider this excerpt from Aug. 4:
And you can really tell that the Tea Party has gotten under the skin of liberals. In the last few days, the vice president of the United States called them terrorists. Famous columnist for The New York Times called them a maniac gang with big knives held high. Major newspaper in the Southwest ran a cartoon with Obama ordering Navy SEALs to kill Tea Party congressmen. MSNBC had a psychologist who says the Tea Party folks are displaying traits of addicts. This is the stuff we can talk about. The looney left wing websites have even more. See, the Tea Party, evidently, is the subject of all this derision because the radical idea that maybe, just maybe, the United States of America being broke and in debt more than we’ve ever been should spend less money.
The Spring 2011 Arbitron survey showed that Perry and Price remain the top-rated morning hosts among all listeners and adults 25- to 54-years-old, crushing the nearest competitor by a 2-1 margin.
Has Perry received complaints? Plenty.
“They usually call me an idiot,” he said. “They think I give totally uninformed rants with Republican talking points.”
But Perry says his views have not led businesses to cancel voice-over or TV advertising contracts.
He also has supporters: “Tons do agree with me. More than anything else, they say, ‘Thank heaven you are on the air, we get the other side.'”
Perry continued: “You have no idea what it is like to be the only conservative voice in the bluest state of America, OK? It’s a lonely job, and I have lost a lot of friends.”