Among the many lessons Bob Lassiter taught me was one about the nature of talk radio — a lesson that so many of its own participants seem never to have learned. He was talking one evening about the ardent liberals that identified him as one of their own, but who no longer called his show to tell him so and express their agreement, because he had bitterly disappointed them. He singled out one in particular, a woman from Clearwater named TJ.
"I've had calls from TJ begging and pleading with me," he said. "When I first came back to Tampa I was doing mornings over at WSUN. I mean it was hilarious and yet pathetic at the same time. There was poor old TJ on the phone — I'm over at SUN trying to do a morning show, and she wants me to listen to Rush Limbaugh every day and come in the following day on SUN and point-by-point go over what he said and correct him!"
He paused — Lassiter was a master of pacing. "This is not a battle between the forces of good and evil," he finally said. "It's radio. It's entertainment. Period."
Why are liberals so threatened by conservative talk radio? And vice versa? (Yes, I know that conservatives, especially those on radio, love to make fun of Air America and its ratings and financial troubles... hell, Neal Boortz feels a need to repeat any story, no matter how small, about Air America and its problems. But you know what, folks? They wouldn't make such a big deal about it if they weren't at least a little bit afraid of it.) I posit that it's because they believe the propaganda that both liberal and conservative radio personalities deliver about themselves: that they have the power to make a difference in political elections.
Balderdash. Rush Limbaugh, the all-important King of Talk Radio, the darling of the conservative publicity machine, would be ahead of everybody else on the radio if he'd made an impact of greater than five total votes. Air America Radio, the floundering liberal-talk outpost that conservatives love to trash (see above), had even less of an impact, of course. And guess what? Neither side's radio talking heads even have the potential to deliver any more votes for their candidate of choice.