Glenn Beck

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Conservative commentator Glenn Beck appears on the cover of his 2003 book, The Real America: Messages from the Heart and Heartland

Glenn Beck (born 1964) is a popular conservative American talk-radio host. His show is available on over 180 radio stations, including XM Satellite Radio, in almost every American state, as well as in Vancouver, British Columbia and Puerto Rico. He is regularly heard by eight million listeners.

Beck made his radio debut at the age of 13 in Seattle, Washington, near where he was raised (Sumner, Washington). Beck had won an hour of radio time in a contest, but Beck quickly drew the favor of his new colleagues and was granted a part-time job as a disc jockey. He hosted Christian radio on Saturday, rock on Sunday and country on weeknights, but lost the job when he failed to complete a shift due to a migraine headache.

His childhood would not be all hopes and dreams, however. In the same year he "debuted" on radio, his mother, an alcoholic, drowned herself in a bay near Tacoma. More family tragedy followed shortly thereafter as one of his brothers-in-law committed suicide in Wyoming, and another had a fatal heart attack.

Beck experienced success in radio during his 20s and flew through the ranks of local radio. Despite this new financial security, however, he became an alcoholic and a drug user, even describing himself as "a despicable human being." The addictions culminated in a period of intense unhappiness and the disintegration of his first marriage, which had produced two children.

With the help of family and Alcoholics Anonymous, Beck eventually sorted things out. He sobered up, converted to Mormonism and remarried (his second wife is Tania). Beck cites his 15-year-old daughter, Mary (named after Beck's mother), as one of the reasons he was able to pull together. Mary was born with cerebral palsy which had led doctors to predict she would never walk or feed herself. She has since been able to do both.

Beck has since enjoyed a quick rise from local radio to the national spotlight. The Glenn Beck Program began in 2000, airing on WFLA-AM in Tampa, Florida, and quickly gained popularity in its afternoon slot. In January 2002, syndicator Premiere Radio Networks launched the show on 47 stations. The show was then moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is currently available on over 180 stations internationally.

On his show, Beck addresses many topical issues, mostly from a conservative viewpoint (he describes himself as a Mormon with libertarian leanings and a strong sense of family values). His opinions on specific issues include being: pro-life, for the war in Iraq, against political correctness, highly critical of Hollywood, against homosexually-themed television programming (including Will and Grace), against euthanasia, against anti-smoking regulation, pro-business, against raising the minimum wage (June 8, 2005 broadcast), and staunchly conservative, but not Republican (although he supports George W. Bush on most issues). Beck is also notable for being very tall, standing at six feet, four inches, and being rather plump.

Beck ran a series of rallies called Glenn Beck's Rally for America during 2003 in support of the troops fighting in Iraq. He ran a rally at Marshall University over the Memorial Day weekend, which was attended by 25,000 people. Other rally venues included San Antonio, Cleveland, Atlanta, Valley Forge, and Tampa.

Beck is often compared to talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage (justly or otherwise). His show includes large quantities of humor and sarcasm. Glenn claims to hate politics, and a new version of his show features "half the politics, and twice the comedy." His producer Steve "Stu" Burguiere, also the Head Writer, makes Glenn's show contain more humor than other talk-radio programs.

Beck can be controversial. In a May 2005 comedy bit involving what people would do for 50 million dollars, he asked the question, "Would you kill someone for that." He continued by sarcastically joking about killing film maker Michael Moore. Beck said he was "thinking about killing [filmmaker] Michael Moore" and pondered whether "I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it," before concluding: "No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out -- is this wrong?" (Glenn Beck Program May 17, 2005 broadcast) There was no intent to threaten Moore's life, however there was a palpable reaction in the press and left-wing websites that maintained that Moore's life was truly in danger and fed their theories that conservatives are unhinged. The bit provides an example of Beck's sarcastic humor, although some do not find joking about murdering someone to be funny.

He is the author of The Real America: Messages from the Heart and Heartland (ISBN 0743486331).

Fans of the Glenn Beck Program have been dubbed "Sick Freaks," as a homage to controversial broadcaster Bob Grant, who was often very aggressive on the air, much more than even Michael Savage. Beck also uses Grant's infamous line "Get off my phone!" when he dumps an unreasonable caller. Beck fans have shortened it to "GOMP" and many enjoy when he "GOMPs" a caller.

He admires Oprah Winfrey, but disagrees with her on several areas, including her view that marriage is an "outdated" institution.

The Glenn Beck Program's motto is The Fusion of Entertainment and Enlightenment. Beck recently started a magazine whose name is a play on this motto. He is the editor of Fusion, a comedy publication. A recurring item in Fusion is the future obituary of famous people. Fans who went to the 2005 Glenn Beck: On Ice tour received the premiere issue.

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