It is very easy to mock or demonize contemporary talk radio and its fans. For those of us who do not listen to it, other than for a few laughs from time to time, it is little more than an eccentric oddity. Nonetheless, we should not paint with a broad brush when referring to hosts of a similar political stripe. For instance, agree or disagree with Michael Savage, the issues he raises on his show are far more intellectually challenging than the drivel that passes for content on the EIB Network. Likewise, Michael Medved outshines Mark Levin in terms of format and presentation by light years.
With America’s increasingly polarized political atmosphere, pundits and public officeholders on the left and right alike have attacked partisan talk radio programs. Stating the obvious, such as that listeners only hear a single point of view and are therefore not fully informed about any given subject, a rational mind cannot seriously disagree with this analysis. However, it misses the mark by a country mile.
One man, though, is a bit more accurate in his commentary. Despite agreeing with him on essentially none of the issues, anarcho-socialist philosopher Noam Chomsky really did, in my opinion, get it right when describing the appeal of talk radio. Being interviewed at a forum conducted by the Commonwealth Club of California in 2009, he said the following:
If you listen, the message that comes across is….coherent….it gives answers to people who want….need….and deserve them. (These) are crazy answers, but (listeners) are not hearing any others….
….(Listeners) are people who’ve….done everything right….Christian, God fearing….take care of the families….and for thirty years they’ve been shafted. Somebody’s got to give them an answer; why?
Enter Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, and the like.
Partisan talk radio is not popular due to the convincing charms of any given host. They are incidental figures; the reason for them being hosts in the first place is that an audience readily and reliably presents itself. From this, it can be deduced that the talk radio industry of today is a symptom, rather than cause, of the exponentially larger problem.
As I have said before, and undoubtedly will again, all politics are rooted in economics. Should a close look be taken at the demographics of talk radio listeners, one will notice that they are for the most part lower middle class and below. Geographically, talk radio is most popular in regions with high unemployment, low wages, and even lower rates of post-secondary educational attainment. That the typical talk radio listener is a frustrated middle aged, caucasian, and deeply religious man or woman who spouts off zany sounding diatribes at a moment’s notice should not be sneered at.
These people are feeling the effects of a globalist economy that has left them in a pile of dust bordering on quicksand. They have every right to be less than happy, and anyone who tells them different is simply out of touch. Asking for America’s talk radio crisis to be solved out of nowhere makes about as much sense as asking for a pet unicorn. Until principally blue collar workers can find the sort of employment opportunities that their parents had, count on AM’s profiteers of peril being here to stay.
Without adequate fair trade policies, this is guaranteed to be a very long time.Powered by Sidelines