Today it is the overbearing host who is the focus of the show, spewing and fulminating over one or another flaw in our otherwise perfect society at great length. Most shows open with 15 to 20 minutes of monologue decrying the failure of the government in general and the president in particular to solve some pending catastrophe in the first year of his administration. Coming out of the commercial break the host again reiterates his talking point ad nauseum, and, perhaps, takes a call before the bottom of the hour newsbreak. This caller, carefully selected by the screener, will spend the first minute telling the host how he agrees with all his views, and then he may, with luck get in two sentences on the topic before being cut off to allow a pithy reply before taking a 10-minute recess. After returning once more to rage extensively against today’s enemies, perhaps two more callers will get on the air, neither of which will get more than a couple of sentences in before being interrupted and pettifogged into the hosts pet talking points.
Like bear baiting in medieval England and cock fighting, “Talk Radio” has become gruesome entertainment for the moron masses, and in doing so has lost its legitimacy as a community service for the people. What was originally a venue for neighbors to share their views and expertise on a variety of matters, from local issues to world affairs has morphed into an exhibition of bad manners and temper tantrums designed to denigrate political opponents and the educated elitists who secretly run the world.
The dominance of radical right wing programming across the country is a purposeful tactic by the fascist fringe who bought up stations and then subscribed to their own syndicated demagogues, sponsored by their cohort of far right fellow travelers from the ranks of the plutocracy. In most of the “red state” cities there are no programs offered to the left of Sean Hannity, and many cable services are also owned and operated by the same communications conglomerates, offering only Fox and such channels without any balancing programming from PBS or MSNBC.
The outlook for talk radio is increasingly dire. The economics of live hosts versus satellite syndicated national shows will shortly drive even the most powerful stations to lay off most of their local talkers. Radio ad sales are way off with the economic slump, and the bean counters will cut deep into the talent budgets in all markets.
In its day talk was a real tool for community progress and political power.
These days it’s all polemic and propaganda, with no higher purpose than blood sport debate.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views. He can be reached at email@example.com.