BEST NEW TALK SHOW HOST - 2002
Ian Punnett is a kinder, gentler, more intelligent version of Dr. Laura Schlessinger. In January the Atlanta transplant took over the 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. time slot on KSTP-AM (1500) from the browbeating advice guru--and for that alone he deserves our heartfelt thanks. Punnett's show largely concentrates on current events, like the Enron debacle or our governor's military-record shenanigans, though from a moral standpoint. Hence Enron becomes not a political scandal but an examination of the personal ethics of document shredding. The host is at his best when he has a guest to joust with, quizzing him or her on the topic at hand. When Punnett is left on his own, the show sometimes flails, with caller after caller offering inane comments that add little to the discussion. A March show examining the guilty verdict of child-killer Andrea Yates degenerated into a telephone lynch mob, with listeners advocating not only for Yates's death, but also for the heads of her lawyer, her husband, and anybody else who might have ever expressed an inkling of sympathy for the deranged woman. To Punnett's credit, he shunned the blood sport, gently mocking his audience with chants of "Death, Death, Death." The philosophical stance is reflective of his background as a seminary student. (He's also a former rock 'n' roll jock, a breed not known for its surfeit of profundity.) Punnett's diverse experience allows him to navigate intelligently between pop culture, theology, and current events with ease.