Talk radio update

I tried to catch Aaron Flint and instead got a long, long stretch of total silence, which really happens a lot on that station. For a minute or two, as I contemplated how superior the silence was to typical talk radio fare, I couldn’t help but wonder if the whole thing was just a cheap ratings ploy.

But there is something substantively different between silence when the radio is on and silence when it is off. When the radio is off, silence is contemplative, peaceful, serene. When the radio is on, silence is anticipatory, unsettling, almost creepy.

Eventually, I found the silence even harder to take than Dennis Miller’s replay of an old interview with climate change denier Lord Monckton, who also tossed in a little birtherism just for the sake of intellectual satisfaction.

Huckabee, Limbaugh and Hannity were all over the Mitt Romney speech to the NAACP. Limbaugh, who pretty much seems to make a living these days by spending his program defending whatever nonsense he said the day before, spent most of his show defending the nonsense he said the day before.

All three had one decent point to make: This was a no-win situation for Romney. If he doesn’t speak to the NAACP, he’s a coward. If he panders to the NAACP, he’s a typical politician. If he sticks to his guns and gets booed by the NAACP, then the news is all about the booing.

It’s a fair argument, and it would be more convincing if Romney hadn’t appeared to have made the booing part of his campaign strategy. It would be more convincing still if Romney hadn’t undercut it the very same day in our very own Montana.

The larger issue in my mind was why all these high-powered talkers aimed so much fire at this one inconsequential story. Was it just the talking point of the day? Probably.

Michael Smerconish was hard to listen to because he spent most of his show on the Penn State scandal. I don’t fault him for this; it is an important story, and he is a Philadelphia guy, so it’s right in his wheelhouse. But it is such an appalling, soul-draining slice of American life that I really find it hard to listen to. So mostly I didn’t.

Single thing on Yellowstone Public Radio that was better than all of talk radio put together on Thursday: Warren Olney’s discussion on “To the Point” of the miserable jobs situation. It was all thoughtful and excellent, but I was especially struck by the news that one consequence of the recession is that many companies, even large ones, have essentially dismantled their human resource departments. This has multiple unfortunate effects, apparently, especially for job applicants whose resumes don’t follow a predictable, safe path. Resume screening computers just can’t find those kinds of people, no matter how capable they may be.


2 thoughts on “Talk radio update

  1. Automation–I hate it! That must be why you got the silence. Stations except for those with live disk jockeys depend on computers and machines instead of people to get all their programs and commercials in place. A “hard break” means the commercial is going to play at a specified minute and second, whether or not it interrupts the flow of a program.

    One machine malfunction, or incorrect programming of a computer, and it all shuts down. Obviously, no one at the local station in Billings was paying any attention to what was, or wasn’t, on the air. As a listener, I always think, “If they aren’t instantly aware that something has gone wrong, they obviously don’t care to listen to their own station. So why should I?”

    In my early radio days (mid-1960s), “dead air,” even a second or two of it, was a cardinal sin. Now it happens way too often, and for extended periods of time. When it comes to my former line of work, I’m a Luddite.

    Don’t even get me started on the management mindset that selling the commercials is the important part, and what’s actually on the air is a relatively trivial concern. I fought that one, unsuccessfully, for several decades. I suppose the newspaper equivalent is having the “news hole” shrink if you sell enough ads.

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