Monday, December 22, 2008

Radio Channels the Nut Jobs ... Still

Brian Stelter, writing in today's NYTimes, notes that talk radio hosts--almost exclusively conservatives--are gearing up to clobber Barack Obama every time he opens his mouth, much as they did in establishing the genre at the beginning of the Clinton Administration.

That's scary on the surface, but some ominious economic numbers (other than Rush Limbaugh's new $400 million contract; that's him in the photo, spending some of the loot) loom on the horizon: network radio spending was down 3.5 percent in the first three quarters of 2007 and there has been "a downward trajectory for years." That's the Internet Effect, or the iPod Effect, or the Blackberry Effect, or something along those lines, one would suppose.

Says TV-turned-radio talker Joe Scarborough (a former congressman), “We have been in an era where you’ve had Rush Limbaugh, followed by a lot of conservative talk show hosts that lacked his talent and sense of humor. They decided that if they just read Republican talking points, they’d get a big audience. I think that world is coming to an end. You’re going to have to be entertaining like Limbaugh, but also allow people of all political stripes on the show.” Another talker worried that talk radio is appealing more to a niche audience (that would be the Hate Demographic) than to the Republican base. (Note: One would need to define "talent" and "sense of humor" as relates to Mr. Limbaugh. He's rich; he ain't funny.)

Still, the numbers tell the story: There are 2,064 talk radio stations in the country (of a total 10,000 commercial, 2,500 non-commercial) and there were 1,500 10 years ago. Forty have been added in the last year. That doesn't look like much of a downturn.

It's difficult at this point to determine what effect these bozos will have on a new administration that enters office facing disaster upon disaster amid the plunder and utter incompetence of the Bushies, who were enthusiastically supported by talk radio. I don't expect to hear Limbaugh taking credit for the mess, but we'll hear him howl and whine about the effort to turn around the ship of state, whose rudder seems to have sunk somewhere off the coast of Mauritania.

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