October 20th, 2014
I spend a great deal of time on the road, camping as I await a visa to Israel as a new resident. That means I listen to a lot of radio as the highway patrol doesn’t like drivers to read the paper while the vehicle is in motion. Neither does my rental car company.
I was raised in New York City listening to ‘All News’ stations and ‘Shock-Jock’ radio during my college years and during those long commutes on jam-packed highways to get to my places of work. My first foray into California, (in 2010), introduced me to alternative forms of news radio in the form of the Rachel Maddow Show. Emotionally charged, her show offered new insights into our complex mixture of issues. I just bought her book, “Drift” and hope to read it soon on a plane to Ben Gurion Airport.
This year, my trip into California led to a prolonged camping experience (a story to be told at a later time). Dancing around the wildfires from the southern to the northern parts of this state, I discovered ‘conservative talk’ radio in the persons of Dennis Miller, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. They offered a greater range of approaches to relevant subjects with the improvisational options I’d admired while enjoying Saturday Night Live, back in the days of my youth. The advantage to be found in the conservative media for a grown-up is their greater intolerance for the frequent paucity of facts available to us when reviewing a story. The liberal media often applies emotion to that limited pile of evidence, revving up their crowd of listeners and relishing the possibilities yet to emerge. In these days of censorship, one group utilizes emotional intelligence until the other offers all of the building blocks needed for analytical thinking.
Talk radio is among the last bastions of an open press. The pressured but free-wheeling stars among them demonstrate how to think fast on your feet – or, in their case, in chairs at the forefront of the storm. Commuters and TV addicts rely upon the more rehearsed forums of CNN and the BBC, along with the regular nightly news broadcasts. Radio shows can offer sound-bytes from many sources without awaiting official interviews or even grab a source for a full hour while taking calls from the public. It is also very interesting to hear sudden ‘dead air’ on these shows or recognize when replays of past broadcasts suddenly appear, leaving you to wonder about the nature of the tech problems arising in their studios.
I was pleased to see CNN listening to radio, despite missing the precise details offered on ‘Savage Nation’ about Ebola and the prospects of transmission throughout the US. Savage is actually an epidemiologist, with a couple of other advanced degrees and thirty books to his credit. He recently questioned national policy vis-à-vis the hazards of travel, to and from the US, by Ebola-exposed individuals. CNN appeared unhappy with his views of the risks of our servicemen shipping out to Africa at the source of contagion. Debate between commentators may swiftly be replacing dialogue between neighbors hanging over their fences and blogs like mine. I rarely get to post these days but am working hard at keeping abreast of the news.
The swiftness with which events are happening today in all corners of the world demands that more attention be paid to radio. It made my solitary foray into the California wilderness this past year, one of enlightenment and intellectual challenge. Perhaps an expanding audience might lead to stronger coverage of breaking news from all media sources. The word ‘audience’ is as much a verb as it is a noun. I heartily endorse your “giving audience’ to the various and sundry talents around you in all forms of media.