Jim Walsh's Big Hairy Weblog Thingy

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Get Outta Here, Ya LIBERAL!

Recently while shopping around my wares (i.e. audition tape and resume) I got the following response from a well known program director of a talk station in the midwest (no need to name names - you know who you are) :

I like your work. I think you're good. I also think you're waaaaaay too liberal for this red meat conservative radio station.

Rock stations play rock. Country stations play country. The station of Rush, Hannity and Savage does conservative talk.

Funny...I thought the station of Rush, etc. was supposed to entertain people...

Frankly, I'd have felt better about it if he had just said he thought I was a sucky host (God knows he wouldn't be the first to think so). I wouldn't agree, but I could at least respect his opinion.

A few points here. The tape I sent him was cherry-picked from a handful of shows I did while working at an AM talker in Bismarck, North Dakota (as well as some fill-in at a similar station in Madison, Wisconsin). Among the topics:

How folks are dealing with the spike in gas prices...

The hassles of getting in and out of Canada (in our part of the country there is considerable traffic over the border)...

The outrage (which I shared) over a student who killed a teenager while driving drunk and got off with a slap on the wrist...

How to talk your way out of a traffic ticket...

Plenty of calls, some lively conversation, a lot of fun.

What, exactly, is "liberal" about any of that? (If anything, I came off very conservative-sounding on the drunk driver issue.)

Fact is, I'm not a liberal. More to the point, I don't do political talk. I don't use the GOP party platform as a substitute for showprep. Apparently this PD (assuming he actually listened to my stuff) is so hung up on political pigeonholing that he defines anyone who doesn't ape Rush, Hannity, etc. as a "liberal."

This in a nutshell is why so much of "talk" radio has become a joke: the hosts all sound alike, espousing the same cookie-cutter opinions and pandering to the same hard-core political wonks, certifiable paranoiacs and ninety year-old geezers in their underwear. The reason, though, has nothing to do with political ideology. It has everything to do with the lack of courage and imagination of the programmers and the suits who pull the strings (with some notable exceptions). It's a lot easier to imitate what has worked before (read: Rush) than to try something different and/or new. The result is the godawful blandness and predictability of most talk radio.

Sour grapes you say? Perhaps, but look: our friend in the midwest is entitled to hire anyone he wants. I will simply point out that his station has been downtrending big-time in the last couple years, most recently dropping (in one book) from an 8.8 share to a 6.3...

Babe-in-the-woods that I am, I specifically sent him my material with the idea that he might be open to trying something a little different. Silly me.

Rock stations play rock. Country stations play country. The station of Rush, Hannity and Savage plummets like a stone. In the real world, when something stops working you try something else; not in the fantasy land of squawk-radio programming.

Oh well...I guess I'm just too "liberal" to get it...

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