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Talk Radio

6 Ratings: 3.0
A radio format containing discussion about topical issues.

Talk radio is a radio format containing discussion about topical issues. Most shows are regularly hosted by a single individual, and often feature interviews with a number of different guests. Talk radio typically includes an element of listener participation, … see full wiki

1 review about Talk Radio

Essential to the future of our republic.

  • Feb 9, 2011
  • by
Talk radio is under attack once again. Within hours of the attack on Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) by a crazed gunman conservative talk show hosts were being blamed by the Democrats in Congress and pundits in the mainstream media for fanning the flames of hatred and creating a vitriolic environment in our nation. Of course as it turns out the alleged shooter Jared Loughner was pretty much apolitical. But make no mistake about it. Liberals in this country led by FCC "Diversity Czar" Mark Lloyd and others in Washington would like to silence talk radio as we know it and replace it with watered-down gobbledygook. Reinstatement of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" would only serve to stifle dissent and suppress a lively discussion of the important issues of the day.

I became a fan of talk radio back in 1965 when the format was in its infancy. I was just 14 years old. Even at that tender age I found the discussion of important state and local issues to be pretty interesting. The local hosts would dabble in world and national issues from time to time but most of the conversation was about what was going on locally. Trust me this was pretty tame stuff compared to what you hear on the radio today. But what really got me hooked on the talk format was a man by the name of Jerry Williams who was one of the true pioneers of the talk radio business. In the late 1960's and early 1970's "The Jerry Williams Show" could be heard from 8:00 P.M. to midnight on WBZ AM in Boston. This station boasted a booming 50000 watt clear channel signal that could be heard in 38 states at night. As such, this was one of the very first "national" radio talk shows. In those days Jerry Williams was an unabashed liberal who was adamant in his opposition to the war in Vietnam.  Mr. Williams was an influential voice of dissent whose name would eventually appear on President Richard M. Nixon's famed "Enemies List" .  To his dying day Jerry was very proud of that distinction!  There is absolutely no doubt that Jerry Williams and several other influential talk hosts around the nation were instrumental in helping to bring the war in Vietnam to an end. Liberals listen up….that is the power of talk radio!

These days talk radio is more popular than ever. National talk shows began in earnest with the appearance of Rush Limbaugh back in 1988. People in the radio industry will tell you that Rush single-handedly saved AM radio with his energetic and highly entertaining brand of talk radio. In the ensuing years more and more national talk shows have been launched and conservatives clearly dominate the ratings.  Liberal attempts to compete have failed miserably. The "progressive" talk radio network Air America is the most recent example. It was only on the air for about six years before going belly up in 2010 in a sea of red ink. The fact is nobody listened. The failure of Air America saddened me because I firmly believe that like anyone else liberals need a place to express their ideas and opinions. The more the merrier I say and frankly l believe many of the liberal arguments simply fall apart under informed discussion and careful scrutiny. Yet the simple fact of the matter is that with the emergence of cable news and the internet there are plenty of venues for people of all political stripes to express their views. I must tell you what concerns me even more these days is the fact that once proud newspapers have been decimated by cutbacks in staff and resources in recent years. They are a shell of their former selves. Veteran reporters and columnists have been let go and local news bureaus have been trimmed or even eliminated in many cities. Investigative reporting has also been cut back substantially. Thus it has been left to talk radio to attempt to fill the huge void left by newspapers.  A good local talk show will serve to keep citizens informed as to just what is going on in their community.  I believe that in the years ahead these local talk shows will play an increasingly important role in keeping the public informed as to what is happening at the State House and in City Hall.  Imagine what would happen If local radio talk shows disappeared from the scene. State and local governments would simply run amuck. The obvious advantage of the talk radio format is that it affords listeners an opportunity to delve deeply into an issue and consider the ramifications of adopting policy A or failing to consider option B. It can also be a place where state and local officials appear from time-to-time to explain their positions on the issues while at the same time discovering what is on the mind of their constituents. This is precisely why I try to listen to a mix of national and local talk shows to keep myself as informed as possible.

Some people have issues with certain radio talk shows while others simply do not care for the format.  That is certainly their prerogative.  But if you come across a host or program you find offensive simply turn the dial. When certain high ranking government officials talk about watering down talk shows with bad public policy ideas such as the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" I cringe. The last time I looked this was still America and as far as I am concerned freedom of speech is not a negotiable issue. Radio talk shows have been on the air for more than a half century now and in my view they have served us very well. I suspect this format will continue to be with us for a very long time to come. I contend that these programs are an essential part of a vibrant democracy. So whatever your political persuasion I suggest you listen to some talk radio for at least a few hours each week. Chances are you will learn something new and discover that there are other people out there who feel the same way you do about what is going on. At the very least you may come to understand why those who disagree with you think the way they do. Highly recommended!
Essential to the future of our republic. Essential to the future of our republic.

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February 10, 2011
Great review, Paul! I always love reading your stories :) I've never really thought much about the politics and effects of talk radio before, so this is really interesting and thought-provoking. Have you seen @'s review of NPR Morning Edition?  I think you might find that interesting.  Thanks for sharing!
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