It’s refreshing to hear a local talk show host honor the tradition of talk radio and respect expectations of the listening audience.

I used to read that media blogger, a guy who destroyed his big chance of growing an audience by belittling readers, telling them if you don’t like it don’t read it.  Intelligent people understand that aggressive approach usually comes from a weak-thinker who cannot defend or follow-up a thought process with an exchange of ideas that might not conform to his or her own beliefs.  Preventing feedback, good or bad, cannot expand a thought or philosophy previously unexplored.

Talk radio is all about hearing and learning about the unexplored.  That’s the essence of talk radio, different voices sharing and communicating various viewpoints.  Audience members make up their own minds on what to think about any given topic.  I don’t understand this trend of spoon-feeding information to an audience and the reliance on one host to portion information, topic after topic after topic, that fits into the agenda of one person alone.  It’s routine to include a phone guest on the show to support what the host wants to hear.  There is no sharing of information with others who can debate or debunk it.

There are no surprise callers who might enlighten or disrupt a show.  That element of talk radio is gone.  Sure, so-called experts claim no one wants to hear callers stumble over words and waste air time with hellos and tired arguments and wacko theories.  Even some listeners say that.  So the answer is to cut off all feedback because some people might say things we’ve all heard before?

Instead, we hear, over and over again, the stories and theories and outlook of a single host.  That’s better than possibly hearing a few of the same type of calls every so often?

Sometimes it’s not just one host with the same stories and theories and outlook.  There are two hosts who mimic daily topics as if they’ve orchestrated their shows to push their political agendas.

Of course, I’m referring to Limbaugh and Hannity.  They might as well combine as one-act and take their show on the road.

Limbaugh always talks about how great he is and that he is thinking for everyone, then boasts he has half his brain tied behind his back just to make it fair.  Really, Rush?  He’s telling his audience they’re listening to someone with half a brain.  And, it seems, the half left intact is absorbed in searching around online media for any mention of him.  There are media reports that never mention his name but he inserts himself in there, claiming they are reacting to something he’d said on a past show.  It doesn’t matter that other voices in various media had been saying similar things and coming to the same conclusion before Rush’s show had even aired.  But, hey, why let little things like that get in the way of the ego?

It’s obvious the Limbaugh-Hannity show are trying their ‘darndest’ to derail the Hillary train coming down the political tracks.  Earlier in the year, they both wrote her off as a failed candidate, that she won’t make it to the primaries.  They called her old, insincere, boring, not Bill, without accomplishment, and any number of things to denigrate her potential presidential run.  Now that she’s announced her candidacy they refer to her as the head of a so-called crime family who’ve been transacting money-hungry deals that are on the very edge of legal.  They even bring up the hike in speaking fees for Bill Clinton when Hillary was Secretary of State.   They make Bill Clinton sound like some opportunist who is sponging off of Hillary’s notoriety.  Yeah, that Bill Clinton.  The former President of the United States.

There’s no mention of any number of political figures who command higher speaking fees after being elected to any office.

Then, there’s Hannity.  I do like listening to Hannity.  He has aired in-depth interviews that last longer than a sound bite.  He seems to allow dissenting opinions on content he has no control over, much of it foreign policy or flash news items.  But, he does not allow callers to disagree with him.  He yells over the caller if he doesn’t like what he hears, then says it’s my show and I can do what I want.  On Friday, he had one of those callers.  Hannity was going after him, ready to cut him off in mid-sentence, but the caller told him to let him speak and went on to tell him what he thought of the way Hannity handles calls that don’t fit his agenda and how that stifles freedom of thought, the same freedom of thought Hannity claims to promote.  Well, Hannity actually shut his mouth and let the caller speak uninterrupted.  That truth thing gets them every time.  Good for Hannity to recognize it.

And that brings me back to Good for You, Spencer Hughes.

I’ve read about Spencer in the past, not so good things, when I used to read that media blogger.  We’ve all heard bad hosts before.  In fact, Talk 910 shamelessly promotes that sham of a show in the early afternoon with two guys pretending to be radio hosts.  And, of course, there’s Gil’s wife who makes all sane people reach for the Off button.

So, when Spencer showed up on Talk 910, I had no idea who he was.  He must have been on that Cumulus station I haven’t listened to since December 2011.   I first heard him filling in for Ed Baxter when Ed still had a show.  Hughes wasn’t bad as a fill-in, but he was all over the place in his thought process and talked too much in that ridiculous voice to himself.

Limbaugh does something similar, he talks in a baby voice.  It’s annoying and it really does make him sound like he has half a brain.

Anyway, Spencer Hughes returned to Talk 910 after Ed officially resigned from his 10:00am slot.  But, Hughes was different this time around.  He had more focus on specific topics and left that rambling voice out of the conversation.  He encouraged the audience to call and gave out the number frequently.  The direction of his show slowly began to form into a thoughtful, caller-based one that allowed anyone with an opinion the opportunity to voice it.

Good for you, Spencer Hughes.

Then, one day, he explained his love of talk radio and how it started for him at an early age and I knew this was one host I wanted to hear on the radio.  A host who has a passion for talk and who understands how new generations have embraced the talk tradition after hearing it on the radios of their elders.  That’s how Spencer was exposed to it.

I have fond memories of my grandmother at her kitchen table, drinking coffee, and listening to a talk station on the radio.   We’d share laughs about some of the calls.  We’d learn truths from others.  It was a shared experience, my grandmother in her kitchen, the caller on the radio, the host responding, and all of the listening audience forming their own opinions about what they were hearing.

I search for that kind of radio on the air.  It’s difficult to find now, some say it’s soon to be lost to all generations.  So, when someone like Spencer shows up on the air, we should support him.  I know I’m not the only one listening and enjoying his show.  When he doesn’t have many calls coming in, he will ask the audience to let him know they’re out there.  And, they are.  Email and texts pour in from people who can’t call in but want to reassure him they are there.

I am there, too, except when that yelling lady car commercial comes on.  Then, Spencer, I have to turn off your show.

I wonder if that guy who comes on next, one of the two terrible hosts that follow your show, the one who is a program manager or something, if he slots those spots into your show to sabotage your success, trying to make people tune you out with those ads of torture.  He doesn’t have to add them to his own show – listening to it is torture enough.   I hope that’s not what’s happening, but I do wonder sometimes…

Maybe we should start calling the station, or texting, or adding Facebook comments, and interrupt in the same way that commercial interrupts our day.  I always say STFU before I turn it off, and not in letters, either.  Maybe we need to bring some attention to the interruption and let stations know we are turning it off without listening to that ad one minute longer.  Any ideas?

 

Note: Am I the only one getting an error message on The Talk Pod site?

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