Move over right wing radio
May 20, 2003 12:50 AM   Subscribe

Move Over, Right Wing Radio - the Liberals Are Coming. "The handwriting is on the wall for right-wing talk radio: To build profits, programmers must reach beyond diehard Republicans to unserved listeners."
posted by thedailygrowl (39 comments total)

 
Two wrongs, while not making a right, make for entertainment, at the very least.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:12 AM on May 20, 2003


It isn't even the politics of "Squawk Radio" that annoy me ... it's the unrelenting drone of simplistic bile I need to escape. Limbaugh can't go 5 minutes without sputtering some nonsense about Clinton, Hannity & O'Reilly can't win a simple exchange without shouting down a guest and surreptitiously cutting their mic, Savage & Gallagher are frantic to stand out from the other "Wannabaughs" so they optimize their shtick for maximum audacity (I can't bring myself to think they actually believe their own hysterics), Ingram is jealous of Ann Coulter (for some unfathomable reason). Even the local doofus disk jockies feel compelled to get into the act; regurgitating some soporific Rush soundbite and trying to pass it off as informed discussion.

At first, it was kinda fun playing "Spot the Logical Fallacy" or "Let's See How They Rationalize the Latest GOP Gaffe" ... but it goes on and on and on and on and on. Locally, there is *NO* alternative (save a few minutes of NPR in the morning and maybe "Bob & Tom"), so don't even try to ascribe it to ratings. By ClearChannel fiat, there is no choice 90% of the time.

I hope the liberal alternative makes it this far (I'm in 1950 Nebraska), but doubt it will make it through. Frankly, I'd be just as happy for a less contentious show of any stripe -- hell, replay those Larry King interviews from the 80's.
posted by RavinDave at 1:44 AM on May 20, 2003


Thanks for the link to Commondreams (your fifth!).
posted by phatboy at 1:47 AM on May 20, 2003


It's getting pretty late for me, but Harry Shearer seems to be the Liberal Limbaugh to me.

Maybe the others are more intellectual, or controversial. I just know that I've been listening to this guy for a long time now and he tells the truth without coming off as a conspiracy nut. Or... nearly as insulting as Rush Limbaugh did.
posted by son_of_minya at 1:50 AM on May 20, 2003


I'd be more impressed if the linked article itself wasn't so clearly slanted. It would be great if there was some balance on the air, but that article seems to be mostly wishing-will-make-it-so rhetoric.

Metafilter should simply ban all political FPP's...
posted by Spacelegoman at 2:42 AM on May 20, 2003


Ho hum....how many times have we heard this before? It may be true that the potential for growth in a saturated conservative talk radio market is limited, but liberals will be unable to duplicate the conservatives' success in this regard. I suspect most people listen to conservative talk radio and other conservative sources such as Fox News Channel because (in addition to the entertainment value) it is an alternative to what they perceive as a left-wing bias in the traditional mass media. Liberals will continue to flock to the traditional sources for such information, such as the three major networks, PBS, NPR, and the New York Times, as well as less traditional sources such as Oprah, the View and the Today Show.


There may be a small market consisting of disaffected liberals who believe that the media is dominated by conservatives, but I don't see liberal talk radio succeeding until those other traditionals sources cause the same degree of outrage among liberals that conservatives have felt for years.

Have a nice day, everyone.
posted by Durwood at 2:58 AM on May 20, 2003


It would be great if there was some balance on the air

Isn't that what people are asking for when it comes to radio? I'm confused about your request ...

I suspect most people listen to conservative talk radio and other conservative sources such as Fox News Channel because (in addition to the entertainment value) it is an alternative to what they perceive as a left-wing bias in the traditional mass media.

That's right, given legally-approved lies, why would the masses have it any other way?
posted by magullo at 4:18 AM on May 20, 2003


There is no left-wing equivalent to right-wing radio, and if they develop one I don't want to hear it. The right wing has always had the best name-calling, the best attack slogans, the easiest grandstanding and they always will.

Harry Shearer is very good, but can you imagine him trying to fill hours and hours of radio space with "SEE THIS IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF FASCIST BOZOS AT WORK." He'd get bored and go do something subtle instead.

What's best about liberalism is by definition too subtle for the talk-radio crowd. There is an un-subtle version of liberalism, but it's very narrow and very tiresome and it doesn't sound like it has the force of God + Country + Establishment behind it, so it's scary.

Give lefties enough time and airspace and they'll either turn Harper's-gray or they'll turn into the Firesign Theatre. Not exactly the stuff of nightmares for Karl Rove.
posted by argybarg at 5:19 AM on May 20, 2003


Liberals will continue to flock to the traditional sources for such information, such as the three major networks, PBS, NPR [...]

You're not listening, are you? Obviously you didn't read the article. NPR does not equate to equal competition for hundreds of 'All Right, All the Time' stations across the country. Jeeze, there are two in my market alone (ClearChannel and Infinity owned), not counting the music stations that run right-wing political shows in the wee hours.

Next time I hear that claim I'm personally going to travel across the country just to vomit into the offender's lap.
posted by Cerebus at 5:51 AM on May 20, 2003


Metafilter should simply ban all political FPP's...

Yeah, that'll happen.
posted by bshort at 5:58 AM on May 20, 2003


I've just recently started listening to liberal Mike Malloy after this Salon piece, and while I don't agree with everything he says, I'm loving his show. It's nice to hear someone pickup on the stories that the major media completely ignores (especially the left-leaning ones). Free MP3 archives of his show
posted by gramcracker at 6:12 AM on May 20, 2003


[Begin stereotype]

Liberals don't care enough to make liberal talk radio succeed. Liberals would rather listen to music or sports or news or funny drive time shows on the radio or books-on-tape because we just can't get ourselves to foam at the mouth about this president's sexual peccadilloes or this senator's verbal gaffe. Conservatives are always so angry, so they can support 10, 12, or 15 shows covering all the time slots, telling them over and over what they exactly want to hear. I think if conservatives would just masturbate a little bit more, it might help them to relax. Liberals as a group are much more well rounded than conservatives and this is reflected not only in the popular radio shows but in the best-seller book lists. Something like three books all came out about the same exact topic (liberal bias in the press) using many of the same examples (Coulter's book, Savage's book, and the Bernie something or other from Time) and all three were huge sellers. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that many individuals bought all three of the books.

[End stereotype]
posted by vito90 at 6:39 AM on May 20, 2003


What's best about liberalism is by definition too subtle for the talk-radio crowd. There is an un-subtle version of liberalism, but it's very narrow and very tiresome and it doesn't sound like it has the force of God + Country + Establishment behind it, so it's scary.

Wrong. Actually this attitude is why the US left post-Clinton has been so moribund. Screw taste and style and subtlety, for cryin' out loud and do what you have to do* to get into office and actually get things done. Go on the attack, wrap ourselves in the flag, whatever. Or are would we rather keep losing tastefully and enjoy our feelings our self-righteous indignation while the problems we worry about go merrily on? If that means we create a left-wing Limbaugh, I say so be it. Did'nt anyone read Bug Jack Barron? It's an eerie predictor of the punditocracy, but going with the tenor of the time(it was written in 1969) the powerful talk show cynic was a leftist.

It's not neccessarily the best of all possible political worlds, but it's a by-product of mass media and free spech. If you wanna be a fish, jump in and swim. Just being pragmatic.

*Within reason. I don't mean election fraud or gerrymandering and shit like that
posted by jonmc at 6:40 AM on May 20, 2003


You're not listening, are you? Obviously you didn't read the article. NPR does not equate to equal competition for hundreds of 'All Right, All the Time' stations across the country. Jeeze, there are two in my market alone (ClearChannel and Infinity owned), not counting the music stations that run right-wing political shows in the wee hours. Next time I hear that claim I'm personally going to travel across the country just to vomit into the offender's lap.

Well, come on over, Ill get a bucket and the Pepto Bismol ready. My point is that one or two conservative radio stations in a market provide an alternative to the dozens of other sources of information that deliver liberal-biased commentary disguised as objective news. If any of the big media companies think that they can make money scheduling liberal talk radio programs, I am sure that they would do so.

By the way, with respect to the NPR, can anyone name the conservative equivalents at NPR to Daniel Schorr, Linda Wertheimer, Nina Totenberg, Tavis Smiley or Terry Gross?
posted by Durwood at 6:48 AM on May 20, 2003


By the way, with respect to the NPR, can anyone name the conservative equivalents at NPR to Daniel Schorr, Linda Wertheimer, Nina Totenberg, Tavis Smiley or Terry Gross?

Daniel Schorr, Linda Wertheimer, Nina Totenberg, Tavis Smiley and Terry Gross.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:01 AM on May 20, 2003


Durwood, I'll give you Tavis Smiley. But look me in the eyes (or do the online equivalent) and tell me that Linda Wertheimer spends all of her time vilifying and ridiculing conservatives the same way Rush and Savage do.

Honestly, the open, brazen, livid contempt that right-wing radio peddles has no equivalent on the left.
posted by argybarg at 7:20 AM on May 20, 2003


That's right, given legally-approved lies, why would the masses have it any other way?

Why can't liberals do talk-radio again? Oh yeah, they can't dissemble or twist the facts like conservatives can. Of course. I mean, why tell the truth if the truth dosen't support your ideology?
posted by Snyder at 7:29 AM on May 20, 2003


Honestly, the open, brazen, livid contempt that right-wing radio peddles has no equivalent on the left

Sure it does. It's called the internet. I mean, for a bunch of folks telling us how subtle and refined the opinions of left-wingers are, you kids aren't coming across as very subtle or refined. Both sides sling all the hate they can at one another. One simply does it by calling the other "commie fags" and the other side responds by calling them "vitriolic racist idiots".
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 7:31 AM on May 20, 2003


And jonmc, you do make a good point. But I think there's a happy medium -- not just that, but a necessary medium. Yes, I agree that the Left needs to lose its repressed good taste, but just copying Ann Coulter with a few keywords changes would produce a very different effect -- it would sound very off.

I'm absolutely furious with the Democrats for their feckless approach to politics -- they seem to ask the Republicans for permission to criticize them ("Um, do you think you could fax over that list of acceptable topics by Wednesday, please?"). Yes, the Dems have to act as if it's within their rights to set an agenda, to control the talking points.

But the bully-boy tactics belong to the right, for better or worse. I don't mean that morally; it's an inborn temperamental difference. Conservatives by definition favor the expression of power by authorities, and they enjoy the unchanging, so they have no problem hearing the same attacks on the same groups for hours a day.

If the liberal ideal is open-mindedness and defense of the wronged, then any narrow, continuous attack on one group is by definition anti-liberal.

I loathe this administration with a passion, but I rarely want to listen to five minutes in a row of anyone talking about how much they loathe this administration or conservatives in general. If we agree, then let's move on and go somewhere interesting.

I'd rather hear someone embody the opposite of conservatism -- with wicked humor, or surrealism, or a little sideways thought -- than hear some prat go on in a monotone for hours about how bad conservatism is.
posted by argybarg at 7:34 AM on May 20, 2003


One simply does it by calling the other "commie fags" and the other side responds by calling them "vitriolic racist idiots".

Point to the 400 lb gorilla again and you're outta here, mister.
posted by UncleFes at 7:38 AM on May 20, 2003


Libertarian talk show host Neal Boortz (listen) thinks that the liberals will neutralize talk radio through regulation.
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:15 AM on May 20, 2003


Oh man, don't tell me liberals can't mix it up. If Al Franken can write a book with the title Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot then there's gotta be scads of lefty pundits that can do progressive talk radio that's just as inflammatory as anything the conservatives can dish up. Last time I heard, Al Franken himself was in talks to do a show on some new liberal talk radio network, I think he would be brilliant. I personally would love to hear a show by Janeane Garofalo, as well - I think she's got exactly the right mix of smarts and wicked sarcasm to pull off a show like that.
posted by RylandDotNet at 8:15 AM on May 20, 2003


Both sides sling all the hate they can at one another.

National radio audience versus dial-up AOL connection. Somehow I doubt these are equivalent "sides".
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:15 AM on May 20, 2003


argybag: If the liberal ideal is open-mindedness and defense of the wronged, then any narrow, continuous attack on one group is by definition anti-liberal.

I think this is the heart of the matter. It's a fundamental difference between left and right mindset.

We lefties do not believe there is absolute truth: each person is entitled to their opinion; we just need to work through it. This leads to polite debate, etc. Doesn't make for compelling media in our sensationalist media.

The righties, on the other hand, have no problem with believing one viewpoint is right, one is wrong, and going on endlessly and ferociously about it. They're right, after all.
posted by tippiedog at 8:21 AM on May 20, 2003


Durwood, I'll give you Tavis Smiley. But look me in the eyes (or do the online equivalent) and tell me that Linda Wertheimer spends all of her time vilifying and ridiculing conservatives the same way Rush and Savage do. Honestly, the open, brazen, livid contempt that right-wing radio peddles has no equivalent on the left.

Of course Linda does not spend all of her time vilifying conservatives, and I did not mean to suggest as much. That being said, however, the NPR crowd -- all very qualified and competent journalists -- are unable to select stories, write and edit copy, and interview guests without letting their liberal bias affect the finished product. I can tell you that much of the so called "ranting and raving" that goes on during the Rush and Sean Hanity shows is about the liberal-biased reporting at places like NPR.

If the big media outlets played things straight, I suspect that conservative talk radio (and all those conservative books that sell so well) would not be so successful. Maybe liberal talk radio would succeed if most or all news outlets in the United States were like Fox News.
posted by Durwood at 8:21 AM on May 20, 2003


Word up jonmc. The American left needs cojones more than moral superiority at this point. I say bring back the muthafuckin' ruthlessness.

OK, breaking the law isn't cool, but there was a time in American history when the progressive left met with real successes, and it was always because solidarity was a core value. It is possible that postmodernism/relativism and so on have simply stripped away the appeal anything singular, or maybe we are just a bunch of wimps.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:23 AM on May 20, 2003


I'm absolutely furious with the Democrats for their feckless approach to politics -- they seem to ask the Republicans for permission to criticize them ("Um, do you think you could fax over that list of acceptable topics by Wednesday, please?"). Yes, the Dems have to act as if it's within their rights to set an agenda, to control the talking points.

A-fucking-men. It's not a matter of changing policy really just a matter of getting it across more effectively. Just grow some balls, dems, and fight fire with fire and you might expand beyond the NPR demographic to what used to be your real constituency, remember? Hard to believe this is the party of Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy.

The left used to have some great crazy spokesmen. Paul Krassner and Abbie Hoffman make Rush Limbaugh and O' Rielly seem like Terry Gross.

On Preview:

I personally would love to hear a show by Janeane Garofalo, as well

Any show involving Janeane would have to involve seeing her...mmm hubbahubba..

sorry, male moment
posted by jonmc at 8:24 AM on May 20, 2003


Oh man, don't tell me liberals can't mix it up.

I'd guess the problem is that the liberals who can mix it up are more dedicated to mixing it up than being liberals.

I can't see left-wingers getting into rant radio. Maybe for thirty minutes at a time if the guy was really good but drag it longer than that and you have lefty support group 98.7 FM. You could probably get some good mileage out of a satirical news channel - the amount of comedic scenarios possible with homeland security alone are endless if you can ditch the piety and go for some good solid black humor - but then that would be a much bigger production than a righty rant show and its appeal may be harder to sustain.

But word to jonmc and pals.
posted by furiousthought at 8:34 AM on May 20, 2003


and, bonus for jonmc, Janeane played Abbie Hoffman's wife in Steal This Movie (also featuring Donal Logue!)
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:36 AM on May 20, 2003


My point is that one or two conservative radio stations in a market provide an alternative to the dozens of other sources of information that deliver liberal-biased commentary disguised as objective news.

As a liberal who can't find a single outspoken progressive on the radio or the local newspapers in North Florida outside of put-me-to-sleep NPR, I love complaints of pervasive liberal bias.

If there are "dozens of other sources" providing liberal tainted commentary, surely you can name at least 10 of them in any market in the U.S.
posted by rcade at 9:06 AM on May 20, 2003


Daniel Schorr, Linda Wertheimer, Nina Totenberg, Tavis Smiley and Terry Gross.

ursus_comiter, that comeback was right up there with "cameras."

Say, how's your radio voice?
posted by soyjoy at 9:26 AM on May 20, 2003


ursus_comiter, that comeback was right up there with "cameras."

Please with the context. Cameras?
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:03 AM on May 20, 2003


Sorry, thought it was part of the MeFi canon now (it was before my time too):
We have cameras.
posted by soyjoy at 10:28 AM on May 20, 2003


OK. Had found it on google, actually, but wasn't sure if that was it. Now that I've had lunch my reading comprehension level is back up to the level where I get the quip.
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:39 AM on May 20, 2003


Sorry, but while you were at lunch, we went ahead and hired quonsar instead. Snooze, you lose...
posted by soyjoy at 11:03 AM on May 20, 2003


... dozens of other sources of information that deliver liberal-biased commentary disguised as objective news.

How's the weather on Fantasy Island this week?
posted by Cerebus at 12:14 PM on May 20, 2003


You could probably get some good mileage out of a satirical news channel - the amount of comedic scenarios possible with homeland security alone are endless if you can ditch the piety and go for some good solid black humor - but then that would be a much bigger production than a righty rant show and its appeal may be harder to sustain.

The Daily Show is a step in the right direction - approaching the cringeworthy prescience of The Onion. Sometimes they hit it when no one else does. Too bad it's just comedy. Or...is it?

On a tangent, does anyone know how the terms "Left" and "Right" came about? Why is Rush "right" and not "left" (or "above," or more accurately, "behind")? Just curious.
posted by gottabefunky at 1:45 PM on May 20, 2003


Just something to think about in terms of progressive ranting - go purchase some Jello Biafra CD and see that it is possible to rant and rave for hours with an anti-conservative agenda. It's great to listen to (if you're that way inclined), but the problem is that Jello has a tendancy to slide into paranoid conspiracy theories and urban myths. I guess right-wing talk radio is little different - look at their obsession with "liberal bias" in the news. Just because it's not reported the way they want to hear it, doesn't mean it's some communist conspiracy. Maybe the difference is that soft progressive feel a little uncomfortable with the peddling of conspiracies, while conservatives relish them in a desire to prop-up their world view. Kind of what tippiedog said, I guess.

By the way, gottabefunky, my understanding was that it's based on the Westminster parliamentary system - those in the favour of the monarch tended to sit on the right of the house, while the opposition sat opposite on the left. The generally conservative nature of those in power under the monarch made "right" synonymous with "conservative".
posted by Jimbob at 6:02 PM on May 20, 2003


The Right and Left nomenclature was originally taken from the French parliament's post-Revolution seating arrangments, I believe. Wallow in the irony.
posted by GrahamVM at 8:49 AM on May 21, 2003


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