Skip to comments.Why liberals aren't in talk radio: Boortz explains leftists can't tolerate listener criticism
Posted on 09/10/2002 5:41:35 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
The latest numbers showing who is listening to what on the radio dial are good news for talk radio. Only talk radio and Spanish language broadcasts are showing any growth in listenership. This doesn't please liberals. When liberals aren't pleased, something must be going right.
So, what is the source of this discontent for the left? Conservatives. There are just too many conservatives on talk radio. Liberals consider conservatives to be evil, and this makes talk radio evil and something deserving of eradication.
There have been multiple news stories and opinion pieces over the past few months trying to explain the conservative slant of talk radio. So far, nobody has it quite right. Talk radio doesn't skew to the conservative side because that's the way the corporate ownership wants it. There's nothing sinister at work here. No conspiracy ... no grand right-wing plan. Conservatives and libertarians dominate because, to put it bluntly, liberals can't survive in the talk-radio wars.
Newspaper columnists and editorial writers, broadcast commentators, writers and radio talk-show hosts generally offer most of the opinions for mass distribution. Among these, talk-show hosts operate on a completely different playing field.
A newspaper columnist or editorial writer publishes their opinion piece and retreats. Ditto for other writers and most broadcast commentators. They put their thoughts and opinions out there for the general public to digest. When the great unwashed figure out that the editorial, column or commentary is intellectually inedible, the author is safely out of reach, insulated from any challenges to the factual or logical base of their stated opinions.
You can send an editor who has written a hideously flawed critique of some conservative cause all the scathing e-mails you want. They don't have to listen or respond. They're up there basking in the congratulatory hugs and kisses of their fellow leftists, while you're down here on solid ground screaming to be heard on a point of logic or fact. You simply aren't worthy of challenging their obviously superior thought processes. They've told you the way things are, and it's simply up to you to accept their wisdom and applaud their insight.
This is why leftist opinion makers generally survive in newspapers, magazines and on network television broadcasts everywhere but in talk radio.
So, just what is so different about talk radio? Simple. Radio talk-show hosts can't hit and run. They can throw their opinions out there, just like writers and commentators do, but they then have to sit right there and deal with the feedback. There's a blinking row of lights there, and every one of those lights is another caller just waiting to nail the talk-show host to the wall for any factual or logical error.
If you're writing a newspaper editorial, it's easy to play the class-warfare game and say that George W. Bush's tax cut overwhelmingly favors the "wealthiest 1 percent of Americans." You pen the line, and then sit back to gauge the effects of your little class-warfare salvo.
But ... if you're a liberal talk-show host, and you use the same line on the air, your best bet would be to refrain from taking telephone calls the rest of the show. Soon a caller will tell you that it's an "income tax" not a "wealth tax" and that the top 1 percent of income earners in any given year may not necessarily be the same folks as America's "wealthiest 1 percent." One of these top 1-percenters may simply be a widow who has sold some of her husband's assets after his death, or you have an elderly couple selling a business prior to retirement. Uh oh you're starting to look pretty bad here.
Take the next call and you're likely to be asked to explain why it is so unfair for the top 1 percent of income earners to reap the benefits of a tax cut considering the fact that they pay over one-third of the income taxes while earning only 17 percent of the income. No fancy answer for that one? Now, you're starting to look just a bit ridiculous.
The leftist editorial writer doesn't have to deal with those impertinent questions. They can just hit the e-mail delete button. The leftist talk-show host can't avoid those questions. Soon, he either has to change his opinion to correlate with the facts, or face a complete loss of credibility. And guess what? When talk-show hosts have no credibility, they soon have no talk shows.
Bottom line: Liberals don't do well at talk radio because theirs is a political philosophy based on emotion and legalized plunder. Take enough listener phone calls, and your credibility is shot along with your ratings. Time to go write a column somewhere.
Those two observations are not a criticism of the general conclusions of the article - with which I am in agreement.
When I came to Atlanta, I was a morning drive talk show host at a "black talk" radio station here. I was also lucky enough to be the Program Director and Station Manager at the same time.
The station was languishing at the bottom of the ratings, and was the place where black folks got to yell at each other and to commiserate about how "the white devils got us down."
When I hit the door, I didn't call myself conservative yet - I was pretty much still in "transition mode" in my way of thinking. But I talked about thinking and doing for yourself as opposed to being wrapped up in any sort of group think.
The one common thread that I noticed - and it got even more vocal as my transition to conservative became complete there - was that if anyone didn't toe the line; didn't follow the unwritten code of the "soul patrol," they were ostracized, derided and worse.
The other hosts (all liberal) didn't have the issues that I had from callers - they parrotted the party line, and in more than one case, they instigated things.
I really sent them into a quandry when I took a lesbian host, Alicia Banks, from an one-hour (some would say obscure, although she had her own core audience) Saturday show - very, radically, no--rabidly left-wing - and put her on during the week in the middle of the day; 1-3 PM.
There were some that couldn't handle the fact that she was a lesbian; while on the other hand, because she said the things that they loved and wanted to hear. She would deride anyone who didn't toe the line. She still falls into that mold today - if you follow the link to her site, put your seat belt on, she's way far afield.
Then to really send things into a tailspin, I put Ken Hamblin's syndicated show on immediately behind her at 3. The "soul patrol" was really in a tizzy.
I was completely unapologetic. I knew who the core audience of the station was, and I wanted to grow it. What better way to do so than to build a huge fire. And you know what? It started working, albeit slowly. I got more than one death threat during that timeframe, and one person actually called the station's switchboard demanding to know what kind of car I drove.
I got a few letters, some demanding to know who and what gave me permission to come into "their" community and make the kinds of changes I was making; one insisted that I had sold my soul and that I was married to a white woman who had put these "turncoat" thoughts into my head (She-who-must-be-obeyed is very much a beautiful black woman - probably more conservative than me in some ways - and she got a huge kick out that letter).
Needless to say, when you put that together with other things that I was doing to the station (mind you without a budget to do it with), I was making people sit up and take notice. In a major coup for Atlanta radio, within a three-week time-frame, I had snagged the exclusive NBA radio affiliation as well as the CNN Radio affiliation for Atlanta.
When the bottom fell out (the station was sold out from underneath me, and everyone was fired), we were tracking to make the first real ratings the station had been able to garner in more than ten years.
Ah, well, I digress. Needless to say, the notion of liberal talk radio will stay dead until and unless they can get over their emotional attachment to not telling the truth, and having their myths shattered by smart callers...
A quartet of articles from today's New York Times on taxes and the wealthy. They provide another reason why this issue can't be effectively discussed on talk radio - it's too complicated.
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