Monday, April 13, 2009


Paradoxically (or so it seems), I listen to "talk-radio" regularly but not a lot. My commute to work is so brief that it hardly qualifies as a commute: 8 minutes.

To save even more fuel, I drive at the speed-limit, and if I'm absolutely sure no one is behind me, I've been known to drive below the speed-limit, partly because I like to take the idea of "limit" literally. One is limited to 25 miles per hour (for example); one is not obliged to drive that fast. However, whenever there is a car behind me, I don't care to test the extent to which that other driver shares my theory of speed-limits. I assume he or she has places to go quickly, people to see soon, and at least the potential for exhibiting road-rage.

So for a few minutes, I listen to talk-radio: Air America, sports-talk, conservative-talk, pretty much in that order. I don't ever listen to Rush Limbaugh, but I've listened to such lesser conservative lights as Michael Medved and Mark Levin.

Rush, I gather, has something like 20 million listeners--or about 8 per cent of the U.S. population. That's a lot. I don't know how many listeners these other fellows have, but to hang to their audiences, they seem to feel the need to get more outlandish all the time since Obama defeated McCain. Medved referred to Obama's foreign policy as "insane." It may, but how does it differ radically from Bush's (Medved advanced no argument at the time).

True, Obama is behaving more conventionally as a president; for example, he does not give prime ministers uninvited back-rubs in public. Also, he wants to remove a lot of troops from Iraq, but so does the military, which is exhausted. I'm not aware of any massive policy-shifts that might account for a sharp contrast, especially one in which Obama's side of the contrast would be "insane" to Bush's "sane." Oh, well.

Of course, some talk-show hosts on the alleged Left are merely mirror-caricatures of those on the Right. Rachel Maddow, Thom Hartman, and Ed Schultz are exceptions. Their tone is more moderate and thoughtful, and they not only take calls from people who disagree with them (and treat the people respectfully), but they also regularly schedule guests who disagree with them. This practice is refreshing. As far as I know, Rush takes no calls now, certainly takes no opposing calls, and never schedules guests that would disagree with him. At least that's what I've heard about his "format." I could be wrong and often am.

Talk Radio


She "called in" to talk to a talk-show, radio.

A screener screened her call. She held the

phone to her left ear while her call to the

call-in show was held in a queue. Finally she

found herself talking to the talk-show host,

who behaved inhospitably and with hostility,

and who'd abandoned listening long ago in

exchange for talking. She opined briefly,

sensibly, and cordially. He interrupted,

opened the bays of his word-bomber,

and dropped a rant on her for the benefit

of his loyal listeners lying in their bunkered

opinions with flashlights and non-perishable

items. After the unpleasant, anti-conversational

experience talking to a talk-show host, she

tuned to the station no longer.


Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom

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