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Posts Tagged ‘Talk Radio’

The Right-Wing Talk-Radio Flameout

The Daily Beast – by John Avlon

May 12, 2011 | 10:38pm

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.

MORE HERE

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The president wrapped up his address Tuesday night by asking Americans to pray for the victims — both human and environmental — of the BP oil spill. I thought it was a strange way to end his first Oval Office address during a national emergency insofar as praying makes the situation appear too big for conventional solutions. As though all that remains between us and a sea of oil is the Hail Mary.

This morning it occurred to me that this was the only thing he could really ask Americans to do.

Why? Simply stated, it doesn’t require any effort to silently invoke spirituality while stopped at a traffic signal or while chewing a gluttonous mouthful of Double Down. Actually, I take back that second part. I can’t imagine doing anything other than suffering a massive infarction while eating a Double Down.

Instead of prayer, the president could have asked us all to make sacrifices towards the goal of weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Maybe he should have asked for sacrifice. It probably wouldn’t have hurt. But it would have been mostly ignored.

Americans simply don’t do “national sacrifice” anymore. During World War II, Americans were asked to ration everything from sugar to oil to cheese — even shoes. Those days are long gone. Today, we’re asked to go to Disneyland or the beach. Or we’re asked to pray. (It’s difficult to imagine the modern right-wing, for example, accepting the rationing of anything at the behest of the current president when most of them refuse to fill out a U.S. Census form. More on that presently.)

The BP oil spill has been a daily reminder of our toxic relationship with decomposed dinosaurs. On just about every blog and every cable news show, we’ve watched in shock-horror as 75,000,000 gallons of oil spew from the top of the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer. We see it. We cringe. Some of us shout, “Why, oh, why?!” Others curse Tony Hayward and BP. Maybe some of us curse President Obama or former President Bush. A clear majority of Americans are pissed off, and they’re taking it out on everyone except themselves: the ones actually buying the oil.

Once we’re exhausted with blaming and yelling, we climb into our oversized cars, crank up the air conditioner, drive to Burger King and order a ammonia-washed beef sandwich the size of a baby — while mindlessly idling at the drive-thru.

As the president pointed out last night, scientists, experts and politicians alike have been urging us to make the transition to clean energy and away from fossil fuels. In the last ten years alone, we’ve endured the largest terrorist attack on our soil and subsequently fought two wars, all prompted by American intrusions into the Middle East to satisfy our collective petro fix.

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During yesterday’s Glenn Beck radio show, Beck delivered a 10-minute monologue in which he hit all of his phony-baloney touchstones — some of them, as I’ve been writing for the last several weeks, are dangerous and some are simply ridiculous. But primarily, Beck was in full televangelist mode about God and something about a “plan” and, in the process, he dovetailed into a little McCarthyism and, as usual, a little historical revisionism. He even shrunk into a defensive bit refuting the accusations that he’s a faker who’s conning his audience.

Now, before you listen to this epic clip courtesy of Media Matters, I should warn you to turn down your speakers, because the over-the-top levels of audio compression and EQ on Beck’s voice (say nothing of the half-dozen or so Beck sound-alikes who also occupy his studio) will absolutely blow out your speakers.

Most radio stations employ some sort of digital processing to make the host or disc jockey sound more resonant, but I’ve never heard a talk show with this much compression. Clearly, the BOOM! is there to enhance Beck’s voice in a way that augments his level of psychological persuasion — the deeper, diaphragm-vibrating low end increases the physical connection between Beck and his audience. A more subconscious aspect of his scam.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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The overarching theme of this monologue is that God is speaking directly to Glenn Beck and giving him the plan. It’s classic televangelism, which is commonly seen as nothing more than an exploitation of religious naiveté with the goal of making the televangelist rich. Listen to me. I have the answers. Because God is speaking to me. So give generously if you want to hear what God’s plan is.

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“This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that The War of The Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre’s own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo! …So goodbye everybody, and remember please, for the next day or so, the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, that was no Martian… it’s Halloween.”

Orson Welles, one of Glenn Beck’s broadcasting heroes. In fact, the name of Beck’s production company, Mercury Radio Arts (officially known as Glenn Beck, Inc.), is based on Welles’ CBS radio show — the radio show that famously aired one of broadcasting’s most legendary hoaxes: The War of the Worlds.

Unlike the various Glenn Beck shows and publications, the Mercury performance of the H.G. Welles classic featured a disclaimer at the end (quoted above), formally noting the fictitious nature of the broadcast. Imagine if, unlike Beck, Welles had never broadcast a monologue postscript revealing that what had unfolded on the radio was purely theater. It’s not a stretch to suggest that the ensuing hysteria during and after the show would’ve been far greater.

Every day, for four hours a day, Glenn Beck is playing out a Welles fantasy — leaping out from behind an array of Carrot Top-meets-Gallagher props and gizmos while shouting BOO! at his audience without taking the slightest responsibility for the ensuing hysteria. In Beck’s case, the “boo!” comes in the form of Joe McCarthy style red-baiting and Lee Atwater style race-baiting — insisting with wildly incomprehensible chalkboard scribblings that Marxists and communists are lurking under our beds waiting to steal our money. Money that’s better served feeding Glenn Beck’s empire of fraud. I mean, just look! Those random words on the chalkboard spelled out the acronym “OLIGARHY!” Run for your lives, and all that. It’s an OLIGARHY!

No disclaimers letting the audience off the hook like Beck’s hero, the vastly more responsible performer Welles did. Beck, like several other Fox News Channel actors in Roger Ailes’ ratings-at-all-costs strategy, presents his show as an honest assessment of the truth without any sort of in-show sign that it’s almost entirely farcical.

One of the most common e-mail responses I’ve received from Beck supporters so far has been, simply: “Prove it.” Suffice to say, I never would have started down this road without some sort of confirmation that my theory about Beck was on the right track. So prior to typing a single word, I spoke with some sources close to and within Fox News Channel and they confirmed exactly what I suspected: Glenn Beck is “a bullshit artist.” A faker. A phony.

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Republican Caller Tells Limbaugh: “You’re A Brainwashed Nazi” (AUDIO)

Huffington Post- Jason Linkins

April 7, 2009 at 05:21 PM

Media Monitor Cathy Talbot tipped us off to an on-air smackdown that transpired today between Rush Limbaugh and one of his callers, who criticized the talk radio host for hurting the Republican party’s fortunes and supporting the practice of torture. The caller, Charles, identified himself as a Republican and a veteran, who “really didn’t want to see Obama get in office.” From there, he let loose, especially on the torture issue, telling Limbaugh, “We’re not supposed to be torturing these people. This is not Nazi Germany, Red China, or North Korea.” He then added, “I hate to say it…but I think you’re a brainwashed Nazi.”

This did not go over well, at all! Limbaugh shot back with a brainwashing accusation of his own, and blamed Charles and people like him for Obama winning the election. “I didn’t vote for him,” Charles protested, “I voted for McCain. I voted Republican.” No matter. Rush signed off by saying, “Charles, Barack Obama is president of the United States today because of stupid, ignorant people who think like you do. You pose — you and your ignorance are the most expensive commodity this country has.”

Media Matters has the audio, so, judge for yourself:

LISTEN AND TRANSCRIPT HERE

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The Grandfather of Hate Radio

A lot has been said lately about the state of talkradio – the overwhelming presence of hate, lies, threats and hysteria. Everyone thinks its a phenomenon of the past twenty years. Sadly, no.

Hate radio has its roots back to the beginnings of radio. Although not the only one who used the airwaves to preach hate, fear and prejudice, Father Charles Coughlin was probably the most famous practitioner of extreme right wing sentiment. At his peak, his one hour “sermons” had an audience of several million and were a Sunday night staple on CBS Radio at first, and later NBC before his decline and eventual demise.

Coughlin established the template for what is the basis of Hate radio today. Although to be fair, Coughlin was articulate and had style – something todays practitioners have no clue how to use.

The excerpt here is from a broadcast of July 30, 1939 in a talk called “The Christian Front versus the Popular Front”.

“In the meantime, if you care to carry on, you have the discomfort of knowing of your past failures. In the meantime if you do not emulate the traditions of your European comrades, who ran like rats for safety, leaving behind their disillusioned followers to bear the brunt of defeat, you will be responsible for building up such a defense mechanism as this world never witnessed. A defense mechanism which will either isolate you or obliterate you if you persist in pursuing your attacks against religion and constitutional Americanism.”

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