Monday, November 17, 2003

Toward a new kind of talk radio. Former Narco News Bulletin publisher Al Giordano has an idiosyncratic take on efforts to launch a liberal and/or leftist talk-radio presence. His "Talk Radio Manifesto" is posted at the website Salón Chingón.

No comment today on the details of Giordano's manifesto; that will have to wait until I've digested it a little more thoroughly. But I do have a couple of general comments.

First, I would love to see a left-of-center talk show succeed, and if someone like Al Franken or Michael Moore (or Giordano) were to host such a show, I'd certainly give it a half-hour of my time while driving home. But I'm skeptical.

Like it or not, liberals (as opposed to genuine lefties) already have their own radio network -- National Public Radio. ("Gag me," writes Giordano.) The two drive-time shows, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, have about 15 million to 20 million listeners -- about the same as or a little more than Rush Limbaugh, the noted drug addict who brings his special brand of hypocrisy back to the airwaves today.

No, NPR's offerings are not particularly liberal in content, but I would argue that's not what most liberals are looking for. Rather, NPR's mix of news, commentary, and cultural stories, delivered in that laid-back monotone, appeals to liberal sensibilities (including mine). In other words, the reason that there's never been a liberal Rush is that, if there were, he would fall face-first into his stash of OxyContin.

It's not that liberals aren't looking to have their politics reinforced. Certainly the success of and Howard Dean's website show that. But, mostly, I suspect that talk radio appeals inherently to conservatives and libertarians more than it does to liberals and leftists.

But I hope Giordano -- a former Phoenix political reporter and former talk-show host himself -- can point the way to a new reality.

And here I always thought that stupidity causes racism. The Boston Globe's Gareth Cook reports that it may be just the opposite.

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