Saturday, April 30, 2005

Talk radio promotes liberal angst

In his April 27 Journal-World column entitled “Talk radio promotes anger,” KU Law School professor Mike Hoeflich writes about his recent encounter with talk radio.

Hoeflich concludes that the talk radio he has heard is “dangerous,” and that talk show hosts are “very angry people who seem to use their shows as a form of public therapy.” (Translation: “These hosts are conservatives—they must be crazy.”)

Hoeflich goes on to write that the hosts frequently make false or misleading statements. “I have just been shocked by the number of times I have heard talk show hosts make incorrect statements of fact,” Hoeflich writes. “Sometimes I think that they simply make things up as they go along. I suppose that the explanation for this may well be that no one can know everything and since people often telephone with obscure questions, one cannot expect the host's show to know all the answers. But must they give incorrect answers?”

Oddly, nowhere in his 600-word column does Hoeflich cite an example of a false or misleading statement. One would expect an attorney to provide evidence to back up a charge.

Hoeflich then takes a stab at determining the make up of the talk radio audience. “My sense is that the listeners tend to be people in cars and trucks, elderly folks sitting at home, and those who, for one reason or another, have little better to do,” he writes.

This may come as a surprise to Hoeflich, but there are many people who are capable of listening to talk radio at the same time they are doing other things. In fact, many of those people in cars and trucks are actually driving while listening. As far as being elderly (ageism, anyone?), a Talkers Magazine survey in 2004 found that just 7 percent of the talk radio audience is 65 or older. Eighty-four percent of the audience is between 25 and 64, i.e., the years during which most people are in the workforce. Seventy-two percent voted in the 2000 election, 70 percent have at least some college, and 68 percent have annual household incomes over $50,000. It appears as if the talk radio audience includes many in the productive middle class, not folks with nothing better to do.

Hoeflich concludes his column as such: “Isn't it time to get rid of the ‘shock jocks,’ the angry, bitter, outrageous talk show hosts, and the ignorant masters of nothing and begin to offer radio programs that entertain and educate rather than reinforce prejudice, intolerance, and hatred? I hope so.”

If it is “dangerous,” liberals naturally want to get rid of it. Handguns kill people, get rid of them. Alar poisons children, get rid of it. Abortion kills babies, get … well, there are exceptions.

After reading Hoeflich’s columns for several years, I believe his 600-word column could have been reduced to three sentences: “I recently discovered talk radio. It is overwhelmingly conservative. Therefore, we need to get rid of it.”

I suppose I should cut Hoeflich a little slack. The day after his column appeared in the Journal-World, the New York Post reported that the Secret Service was investigating the all liberal Air America for “shooting” President Bush on-air. Of course, I don’t believe you can pick up Air America on an AM radio in Lawrence, Kansas. In any case, I doubt Hoeflich heard anything as “dangerous” as that from conservative talk show hosts. And if we’re going to get rid of “outrageous” talk radio hosts, perhaps those who advocate the assassination of a president should be gotten rid of first. However, it’s my sense that Hoeflich will give Air America a pass.