The Right-Wing Talk-Radio Flameout
The Daily Beast – by John Avlon
Ratings for Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and other hyperpartisans are declining as listeners seek honest talk from hosts like Michael Smerconish over angry rants. A more civil conversation will add value to our political debate, writes John Avlon.
There’s new evidence to suggest a demand for something different than hyper-partisanship in the world of talk radio and political media.
It’s not just the sunset of the Glenn Beck Show on Fox or the dispatch of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC to CurrentTV. It’s the shuttering of a pioneering conservative radio station and data showing the demographic decline of Rush Limbaugh.
In contrast, growing numbers of listeners are tuning in to independent voices who can be honest brokers in debates and don’t just angrily parrot talking points.
In February, I wrote a column asking whether right wing talk radio was dying and ruffled some feathers in that flock. A more accurate means of measuring listeners showed that conservative talkers’ ratings had either declined or flatlined in the heat of the 2010 election, while the world-journalism focus of the John Batchelor Show had seen a decided ratings climb. Now, a look at radical centrist Michael Smerconish’s national ratings growth since the start of the year provides more evidence of this emerging market.
First, here’s a snapshot that puts the shift in perspective: Just days after the 2010 election, the nation’s first all-conservative talk radio station, KVI in Seattle, switched back to a classic-rock format after 17 years. Its innovation had become media saturation—and music became an appealing alternative to the drone of a dozen Rush Limbaugh imitators.