When I spoke recently about "intelligent radio", naturally, many of you immediately assumed that I was referring to so-called, "progressive radio." I was not.
I regard intelligent radio as a show consisting of entertaining guests, opinion-heavy discourse, dialogue between the host and a caller or assistant. what a concept. If that show happens to take place on a conservative outlet, fine. Although I don't hear a lot of that on the likes of the Levin show, the Hannity show, or Beck, Mr. Carnival act. Savage is an exception because as I've noted in the past, his program is often devoid of a lot of politics --Savage uses politics as a backdrop to his own particular way of life. He's a lone wolf by a lot of his peers who can't figure him out and largely try to ignore him. I mean, calling Levin, "Groucho Marx", and referring to Sean Hannity as "Harvey Wallbanger"is priceless. It's also entertaining. It may not be intelligent, but that depends on your definition.
Air America Radio was an unmitigated disaster because holier-than-thou, righteous political hosts forgot that self-important leftist rants didn't especially make for entertaining nor popular radio no matter how worthy the cause. It's not the cause nor the host but the content and flow--that's entertainment, be it intelligent, disoriented or discombobulated. Take note, Mike Malloy.
I'm a walking contradiction. I think Howard Stern is still hysterical and funnier than ever. But Stern gets away with it because he sounds genuine and has earned the right to establish his brand. Rush Limbaugh is one pompous ass but as a broadcaster he still manages to command a show partly due to his ability to hold an audience. You'll notice Limbaugh doesn't use sound drops--it's still mostly monologue and even if you despise his rants, he keeps you glued. Hannity and Levin simply rely on old-guard rants that lose their appeal because they're the same old tired shtick.
John Rothmann and Mike Krasny are the epitome of intelligent radio. And yes, much of their content and program tends to tilt toward the left. So what? They're thoughtful, passionate, compelling and that resonates with listeners. Some of it may be a little to dry or erudite; perhaps too uber-NPRish, but it works. Figure it out.
Politics doesn't always dictate the popularity of a particular program. If it's moves the needle and lands an audience then it's a keeper.
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