Liberal gabber and former “Crossfire” co-host Bill Press just doesn’t get it about talk radio – like way too many other lefties. To Press, it’s a “conspiracy” that liberal talk radio doesn’t really succeed all that much:
Station owners complain they can't get good ratings or make any money with progressive talk, but that's nonsense. In Minnesota, independent owner Janet Robert has operated KTNF (950 AM) profitably for five years. In Madison, Wis., WXXM, 92.1 FM, just scored its highest ratings ever. And KPOJ in Portland, Ore., soared with progressive talk from No. 23 in market ratings to No. 1. Nationwide, progressive talkers Randi Rhodes, Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller have proven that, given a level playing field, they can more than hold their own in ratings — and make money for their stations.
As Mark Hemingway notes, is it really a surprise that lib talk radio is successful in those markets – some of the most “progressive” in the country? And precisely what wasn’t “level” in the markets that Air America floundered in?
Press is another lefty that just doesn’t get it about liberal talk radio (sort of like Randy Nelson!). It doesn’t succeed as a whole because most folks already view the mainstream press as left-leaning, and much of the popular culture (ie Hollywood and music) too. Talk radio is the bastion which conservatives dominate, largely out of necessity. But that has been changing over the years, as Fox News has now come to dominate cable news and the proliferation of Internet news sites.
Another reason lefty talk radio has been a bust is because, unlike [most] conservative talk radio, it is usually totally devoid of humor, takes itself way too seriously, and is downright vicious. If anyone actually takes the time to listen to, say, Rush Limbaugh, the “king” of conservative talk radio, you’ll notice 1) he doesn’t take himself all that seriously, 2) he (and his bits) are actually pretty funny*, and 3) you won’t hear from him (towards Barack Obama and liberals) the outright hateful epithets that the Left continually tossed towards George Bush and conservatives. Rush can get, and has gotten, close to the line, sure, but I’ve never heard him wish death upon anyone, or call Democrats Nazis or Hitleresque ... unlike lib talk show hosts. (By the way, I personally recommend Limbaugh’s show pretty much only for the entertainment value. I wouldn’t recommend listening to him for policy ideas, though admittedly I do agree with some of what he says.)
Granted, keep in mind I am speaking generally about the industry as a whole. There are certainly exceptions to what I stated above.
*(One of the funnier moments I always recall from Limbaugh’s show was during the middle of a serious discussion of some policy matter, he played some soundbites from various politicians. One of them was from Rep. Tom Lantos, now deceased, who had a rather thick Eastern European accent. Rush suddenly began yelling to his producer to “stop the tape!” and to rewind it so he could hear Lantos again. In the middle of what was a lengthy policy soliloquy, Rush asked, “Is it me or does Tom Lantos sound exactly like a James Bond villain?” Any James Bond fan worth his/her salt had to be laughing, because Lantos did indeed sound precisely like your stereotypical Bond baddie!)