Radio Host Ben Ferguson Needs Remedial Class in Reading

I think radio is what McLuhan called a "hot" medium.


In some ways, Ben Ferguson has won the day. I am writing this post about him, and his listeners are blowing up my phone at work, many of them calling just to swear at me. Here’s what has happened:

For our Best Suburbs issue, I spent an afternoon in Rockwall to write a ditty about that fine burg. Two things struck me: first, the contrast between the gaudy, struggling Harbor development on the lake and the charm and bustle of the historic downtown; and, second, James Russell. Russell has cut hair in his tiny Hair Cut Place for a long time. Congressman Ralph Hall has been a customer for 20 years (which means he started going to Russell when he was 70). Before I drove back to Dallas, on a whim, I stopped in to get my head shaved by Russell — who shared his political views with me willingly and colorfully. From the story I wrote:

“I’ve been cutting Ralph Hall’s hair for 20 years, his kinfolk’s even longer,” he says, pointing to a framed picture of the congressman. “He’s a gentleman. That guy who beat him? He’s an asshole. All these assholes have moved in here. I had a better clientele 20 years ago, no assholes.”

Russell doesn’t say this with anger. He sounds more bemused. By the way, he thinks the chief of police is also an asshole.

The haircut was a good one and cost $10. The diatribe was even better, and it came free of charge.

So this morning I got an email from Ben Ferguson inviting me onto his show, which airs on WBAP. “Wanted to get you on my show to talk about the asshole problem in Rockwall,” Ferguson wrote. I told him I didn’t have much more to say. I went to Rockwall and got my hair cut. I suggested Ferguson try to book Russell, who I think would make a great guest (except for the fact that he doesn’t have a phone in his barbershop).

About two hours ago, the tweets started. Then the phone calls — to me, to Cristina, to our sales staff. Like I said, some folks were just calling to cuss and blow off talk-show generated steam. One woman accused me of being an “Obama lover.” I talked to a guy from Waco, though, who hung up with a much different notion of what has happened here after I explained to him that I thought Ferguson was twisting my words to gin up anger on the air, that all I did was quote a barber I found in Rockwall who feels a loyalty to Ralph Hall, that I had no dog in the hunt, and that I wasn’t trying to say anything negative about the Tea Party or the Rockwall chief of police. “Oh,” the caller from Waco said. “Thanks for explaining that.”

Ferguson seems to be enjoying the controversy and has said the invitation still stands to come on his show and explain myself. I’ve given him material to twist for one morning. I’m not inclined to give him more.


  • Michael Hassett


  • Eric Celeste
    • Tim Rogers

      [in three-point stance, not being drawn offside]

  • Clay Hopkins

    OK, so if this “Little Ditty” was so innocent, how come I can’t find it on this website…seems to me that if it was so innocent you would gladly post a link to the article. I usually do not take much stock in the “Shock Jocks” diatribe, but since I can not find anything to substantiate your claim. I so want to give you the benefit of the doubt, however searching for the piece “You” penned about Rockwall, I can not find. Can you re-Post it?

    • Tim Rogers

      The word “ditty” is hyperlinked to the story. Click away.

  • Eric Celeste

    Yeah, “You” would say that!

  • Sassy one

    People are crazy…and to the barber’s point …they have proven themselves to be assholes.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    A likely story…. that hyperlink could point to anything. Who knows?

  • Mavdog

    I avoid talk radio, have zero interest in listening to Ferguson, but I think it would be a gas to listen to Russell speak his mind for some lighthearted humor and colorful anecdotes. Surely won’t get that from Ferguson I’m sure.
    The fact Russell doesn’t have a phone in his barbershop is in itself amazing. A step back in time, eh?
    I’ll volunteer to go to Rockwall (what in the heck am I saying???) and use my cell to give Russell the opportunity to inform people why he sees it as it is. let me know if I’m needed…

    • Tim Rogers

      You are a true American and a patriot. [sound of eagle cry]

  • Gotcha

    Maybe it’s pointing to a story on antiques or flea markets?

  • mike

    Heard the broadcast by Ben the Bloviator and read the article. Folks should really feel sorry for Irving, not Rockwall. We have a mayor, school board majority, and possibly in November a real Tea Party representative in Austin. What’s a rational citizen to do who doesn’t drink tea?

  • Dan Koller

    Why doesn’t do a broadcast from James Russell’s shop? Based on the picture posted here, he could use a good haircut.

  • JoJo

    Judging from the photo, Ben’s hair would certainly benefit from a visit to Ralph.

  • Dcik Davis

    So Tim it was a pretty big part of the narrative to point out that Hall lost to a , dare I say it, Tea Partier. Thank God it wasn’t a leper who is infecting the community. Gosh I thought Hall lost because just maybe the demographics in Rockwall skew a bit younger than to relate to a 90 year old congressman.
    Thanks to you and Mr. Russell, for setting us all straight. I’m sure Mr. Russell is proud you made his thoughts about the assholes among him known to all.

  • Dcik Davis

    Tim it was a major part of the narrative to point that Hall lost to, dare I say it, a Tea Partier. Thank God, it could have been a leper infecting the community. Gosh I thought Hall lost because the people of Rockwall might skew a little younger than to relate to a 90 year old congressman. Silly me. Thanks to you and Mr. Russell we now know differently. I am sure Mr. Russell is very pleased that you made the community aware of all the assholes he has to live among.

  • Charm Offensive

    Man–if I had hair, I’d want to get it cut by James Russell.

  • BGP

    So today I find out that D magazine did a hatchet job on Rockwall. The editor tries to deflect any criticism about the article. Saying that is nothing more than reporting, Really? Why does he write about Highland Park and skip all the way down to Rockwall, to lend his opinions. (The rest are referenced from Wikipedia.) I for one will not advertise in this publication when they have no respect for the Realtors in that area, just because the D Magazine editor does not like conservatives.

  • RAB

    Obama lover!

  • Bippy Izod

    Why are people upset with Jane Russell. She has pretty legs.

  • BudKennedy

    Thanks for the latest from the Never-Wrestle-With-A-Pig Dept.

  • Hills

    Seems like Rockwall is missing the point- that we were listed high in top suburbs – so seems like regardless, we should thank D for the possible economic impact this might have when people consider moving here. Hey, but let’s get all hot and heavy on what one barber said!

    • Tim Rogers

      Cheers to you, Hills.

  • LauraTxn

    This article is clearly a slam on Rockwall and its “Tea Partiers.” If not, why quote only the barber? Why not at least try for a little balance? If Mr. Rogers didn’t heartily concur with the barber’s assessment, why give him so much space? Furthermore, anybody notice that only the Republican Party is changing, getting younger and scrappier through the efforts of people like the “Tea Partiers”? The Democrats just stay the same and effectively stop all challenges to their status quo.

  • Caroline Pringle

    Tim Rogers is obviously a left wing lunatic who cannot separate his personal politics for the greater good of a community to write an objective piece. His “little ditty” rant about Rockwall just illuminates why he’s really unfit to write for D magazine. Keep blowing up his phone and I hope the realtors that advertise on D magazine realize what a low life unprofessional writer they have representing articles right beside your advertising.

    • Brett Moore

      You must be new to the dance. If D Magazine’s advertisers haven’t been driven away by Tim and his “left wing lunacy” by now, I doubt his Rockwall piece is going to do it.

    • RAB

      Cristina, is that you?

  • RMB

    Perhaps D magazine needs a new Editor at Large!

  • Clay Hopkins

    Thanks, used to different looking links…just read it and it matches what Ben F. read. I must say it is pretty much like he described it. It is not a very flattering write up. and as for the last part from the clip joint owner, I just think I would have tempered it a bit more., however I understand the idea of keeping it that way. I think I would have kept it a tad on the non-political side and just used Mr. Russell’s words. I try to be open to all mindsets and not force others to accept mine when speaking to mixed peoples, do not get me wrong I am politically minded and I do not call them “Tea Partiers”, I prefer conservatives. Yes I number myself as one. So in closing I tend to agree with Ben F. and I am not too happy with the tone of the write up, felt more like you were not too happy with Rockwall at all.

  • ronnt

    Sounds like the guy writing the story didn’t really frame it in a way that would not seem insulting to the community and the residents, Could have been done better, Even when I read this, it seems the writer had a partiality to the Liberal diatribe. It is what it is.

  • Jeff

    “The impressive Harbor Rockwall”…,”but the Harbor’s landscaping withers in the sun, a fountain sits in disrepair, and empty storefronts with leasing signs in their windows outnumber occupied spaces. The place can feel like a Walking Dead set.” Contrary much? You trash Rockwall while trying to say something complimentary to cover your tracks…”More cheer can be found a few miles north… where the city is fixing up its historic courthouse square.” You’re an asshole, and please don’t ever come to Rockwall again! We like our town clean, and don’t need your trash anywhere around.

  • kimbrolio

    Ben Ferguson’s hair is what happens when an SEC frat boy makes love to Justin Beiber.

  • bossy

    listening to Ben Ferguson he should remind people we do not throw stone we do not judge so we will not be judged