Where Glenn Beck Came From

Talk-show host developed style from 26 years in radio
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2009 6:24 PM CDT
HUNTINGTON, WV - MAY 24: Radio talk show host Glenn Beck gestures to the crowd at the Rally for America event at Marshall University Stadium May 24, 2003 in Huntington, West Virginia. The event, organized...   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – One could be forgiven for thinking that Glenn Beck emerged, fully formed, from some radio talk-show host birthing chamber. But the Beck of today was once a pot-smoking teen from a broken home in Washington who considered suicide, a Salon profile reveals. Beck would later clash with Mormons at an early radio gig in Provo, Utah, deriding his religious co-workers as “freaks.”

Beck has been in radio since he was 19, and his CV reads like a history of radio trends: the rise of AM talk and conservative hosts, the Top 40 “zoo” format. Beck’s own “zoo”-style show on Corpus Christi’s KZFM would inform his later transformation to a talk format based on "confessional, lighthearted, 'independent' conservatism," writes Alexander Zaitchik. "You can see the influence in everything Beck does," says a fellow DJ. "The timing, the voices, the inflections—so much of it is from the old Top 40 morning style."