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“The Truth About Talk Radio”

Thursday, January 24, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Dean Barnett has a fine, extremely accurate assessment of the medium’s importance.

I’d simply add that talk radio matters primarily because it brings information to the attention of the audience, information presented with good humor and great timing. Rush has the largest sustained audience in America because he is an extraordinary craftsman when it comes to broadcasting, and he brings value to the listener. He earns his audience every day. This drives the left crazy, because none of them can figure out how to do this.

To a lesser extent and to smaller but still significant audiences, Hannity, Inrgaham, Prager, Bennett, Medved, Levin, Boortz, Parshall, O’Reilly, Miller and me plus scores of single market hosts of great ability like my colleagues Frank Pastore in LA, Sandy Rios in Chicago, or Scott Wilder in Dallas are all serving their audiences with news and information, some opinion and some entertainment.

Take yesterday’s program.

Here’s the transcript of my interview with Max Boot, just back from Iraq. A ten-minute set of questionsabout what he saw and did there. Did you see or hear anything comparable yesterday?

Here’s the transcript of my interview with Christopher Hitchens about the Clinton’s determined battle to regain the White House, which includes a long audio pull of the former president lecturing a CNN reporter on campaign coverage.

And here’sthe transcript of eight minutes with Karl Rove on the Ron Paul supporters, the possibility of a Bloomberg candidacy, and the GOP and Latino-Americans.

By the way, quite unexpectedly, we ended up listening to and discussing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with David Allen White.

We also had about thirty callers from around the country on various subjects, a conversation about chemo with my friend Tim, and the latest polls and news from the campaign trail as well as an update on the market turbulence.

The point is that “talk radio” is a format within which the shows are as widely varied as any set of shows on the major networks on any given night and far far more informative than the nightly news or most cable programs. Listeners tune them in for information and entertainment, not for marching orders. The influence they have, which is considerable, depends about the ability to persuade not cajole, and the critics of the form are more frustrated by its successes than by its failures.

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