Appreciation for a lunaticWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”
— Jonathan Swift
Based on Swift’s theory, Denny Schaffer is Toledo’s Albert Einstein.
For 13 years — long enough for a person to enter kindergarten and exit high school — Schaffer has riled radio listeners and city leaders with the subtlety of a chain saw-wielding wolverine on crack.
He is Toledo’s conscience, its Jiminy Cricket, if Jiminy were a cigar-smoking, salt-and-pepper-haired hellraiser wearing shorts and ensconsed in a broadcast studio.
Obnoxious? Yes, but forgivably so. Schaffer’s approach to talk radio echoes John Lennon’s approach to art; if it fails to elicit a response, it is not worth doing. You can debate his approach, and his latter-day indulgence in all things Jesus, but one point is beyond argument: Schaffer cares about the city and its people.
We do not live in Cambridge, Mass. We live in Toledo. Schaffer’s blue-collar, blustery personality has connected him to a large group of people who work hard, do their share, yet watch with confusion as the people they trust to lead Toledo fail to make progress, year after year.
His audience is frustrated, and Schaffer has captured that emotion and parlayed it into a three-hour place for Toleodans to vent.
Schaffer succeeds because he reflects Toledo in all of its Midwest glory, its unique dichotomy of Jeep plant workers and Museum of Art aficionados.
How many other people in the city have achieved the ultimate sign of status, being known by one name? Carty. Packo’s. Hens. Denny. His long feud with The Blade made Schaffer a local folk hero; the immovable object met the unstoppable force, and if the battle produced no real winner, Schaffer’s legacy was enhanced just because he stayed in Toledo.
Schaffer’s exit forever changes the media and pop-culture landscape in Toledo.
His inevitable exit to a larger market leaves a vacuum that cannot be filled.
You can tell how important Schaffer is to Toledo by observing the caliber of cheering, happy, relived folks in the confederacy of dunces who will celebrate his exit.