Sunday, August 9, 2009

Talk radio's double-edged sword

I have reached one unavoidable conclusion: I am sick and tired of talk radio.

In many ways, I feel quite conflicted about this because talk radio embodies many characteristics that make this country great.

It is a public forum where people can come together to discuss important issues whether they be in news, sports, or current events.

It gives average people the opportunity to let their voices be heard. In this age where most people feel their opinions are not taken seriously, talk radio lets people give their two-cents worth.

In some ways, it is an antidote for a lot of the complacency that we see in our country. Let's face it; there are many important issues that most people just do not care about.

Issues ranging from politics to religion draw yawns from most people.

However, talk radio at least gets discussion flowing regarding these issues. If nothing else, this discussion raises awareness.

Despite the positive aspects of talk radio there are other characteristics that are not so good. In fact, many of the medium's positive aspects have an equal and opposite negative characteristic.

While talk radio does provide an open forum for views, it is often a little too unfiltered. Put simply, there are a lot of folks who call these radio shows who do not know what they are talking about.

In the years I have listened to talk radio, I have heard some real whoppers. For example, there is a fairly large segment of people who still do not believe that men have actually walked on the moon.

They feel it was an elaborate hoax by the government to trick the Russians and taxpayers.

Also, I have found that conspiracy buffs and talk radio audiences are often comrades in arms. This is because conspiracy fits nicely within the talk radio culture.

Recently, I was suffering a sleepless night so I decided to turn on the radio to hear a little talk.

What I heard was a perfectly rational man giving a detailed analysis of why he believes Abraham Lincoln was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy of wealthy European Jewish bankers.

He said John Wilkes Booth was simply the trigger man, but the Jews were the driving force behind the killing.

That's right folks; Lincoln was not killed by a bitter confederate loyalist. It was all the Jews fault.

Hey, I can't make this stuff up. Some of this stuff is better than vaudeville and is certainly more interesting than a lot of radio entertainment these days.

And this does not only apply to folks who call these shows. Many times, talk radio hosts are as goofy as some of the callers.

For every good radio broadcaster that provides thought-provoking talk, there seems to be another who is a blowhard who is obviously pandering for ratings.

What it all comes down to is that if we are going to have free speech in our country, we all have to be willing to compromise a little.

If we are going to discuss topics in the marketplace of ideas, we have to allow folks to speak who drive us a little crazy from time to time.

After all, if we are a country that is strong enough to let nuts take the microphone, then I believe that says a lot about our country.

However, it does wear on me every now and then.

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