Survival of the John Birchest: The Economic Pressures on Shout Radio to Push Ever Further to the Far Right

At conservative David Frum’s New Majority website is a fascinating article on what’s driving American “shout radio” to, well, shout even louder than usual:

[I]n an interview with a talk radio trade publication, Talkers Magazine, late last year, Talk Radio Networks CEO Mark Masters said: “2008 will be known as the year that weak syndicated programs began dying off in droves,” adding that “it has only just begun.” In this environment, radio hosts believe that anger is their only path to survival.  “If you’re not the most extreme person on the radio or making the most outrageous headlines,” says Fybush, “there is going to be some portion of the base that is going to ignore you and move onto someone who is more extreme.” One of the most civil voices in talk radio, Michael Medved, explains the economic pressure upon the industry. He told NewMajority: “In this [economic] environment, you have something of a push to be outrageous, to be on the fringe, because what you’re desperately competing for is… P-1 listeners [those who tune in most frequently]. The percentage of people on the fringe who are P-1s is quite high,” he explained. As a result, talk radio hosts are feeling more pressure than usual to yell harder, scream louder, and insult further. Talk shows “are fighting for an ever- smaller pie, [which means that] you’ve got to be even louder about it because you’re trying to get the attention of an ever-smaller niche,” said Medved.

Extremism and paranoia are breeding, aren’t they?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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