Monday, August 25, 2008

Print was Talk Radio's midwife

I was at the birth of talk radio, which wouldn't have been born if print had done its job. I read reports on a Pew Research Center study that found that 39 percent of regular Fox News Channel viewers said they were Republicans with 33 percent saying they're Democrats. The AP story quoted "Fox Attacks" filmmaker Robert Greenwald as saying "without liberals and progressives to yell at, without liberal positions to make fun of, Fox doesn't exist." A shame we are all yelling at each other, but Greenwald should look at history to find out how we ended up with so many forked tongues. I suggest he read the 1970s Daniel Yankelovich poll that found trust in media had dropped. "A two-third majority felt that what they think 'really doesn't count,'" Yankelovich concluded. Talk radio simply noted the need and filled it. A whole segment of society, mainly what came to be called "the angry, white male," was disenfranchised from print.
There wasn't much written about the early days of talk radio. One of the few to study that time was Murray Levin who taped 700 hours of talk radio shows between 1977 and 1982 for his book 'Talk Radio and the American Dream." He discovered that callers felt cut off from the political mainstream. There is a lot of talk now about returning radio to the days of the Fairness Doctrine. No one faces the fact that there would be no talk radio - or Maddow, O'Reilly and all - if the doctrine had been practiced by newspapers.

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