In 8th grade, I was an odd kid from Chester, PA. I listened to news (KYW) and talk radio (WCAU) as much as country music (WEEZ) and rock (WFIL and WIBG).
I could come home from school and see shows like Mike Douglas (underrated and deserving of Rock and Roll HOF status for the acts he exposed the country to) or Merv Griffin and see them interact with comedians that would still be great today.
Seeing Mort Sahl deconstruct a newspaper or George Carlin bend our language is equal to seeing Tom Dempsey kick a 50-yard field goal or shortstop Larry Bowa get in an argument (still my favorite Phillie).
As I got older, I realized that the country could be swayed by the funny. Saturday Night Live's devastation of Gerald Ford, an All-American gridiron center at Michigan, did more to change the 1976 election than anything else. If Johnny Carson felt you were not right for the country -- you were a dead man walking.
But, there is something about talk radio that piqued my curiosity. To be able to absorb and process a point coming over a telephone cold and to react to it was as cool as seeing Flyers goalies Bernie Parent or Doug Favell stick their glove up and snag a puck from the blue line.
Listening to old school local guys Bernie Herman or Irv Homer, you could see they understood the power they held. They looked at their microphones as a privilege. They took responsibility for their actions.
I have been interested in politics and media for decades. In high school and college I was bitten by the radio bug. I experimented with on-air comedy and stand-up comedy alone and with partners. A music professor at Temple U talked about art as having something to say. It made me realized that at age 20 I did not have enough to say to be worthwhile.
I am 50 now and have been trying to get back into radio. 30 years of fermentation can brew some interesting flavors.
The landscape is different. It is filled with hate and vinegar. Anyone with a microphone can say anything to disparage everyone.
There WERE limits. A couple of years ago Don Imus was bounced from the airwaves for saying stupid stuff. It was the right thing to do. Likewise, Bill Maher was chased to HBO when he was irresponsible with a microphone.
But no more limits now. I don't like bullies and that is what the media has become. Rush Limbaugh's ability to stay on the air is exhibit A. Please don't tell me this is a free speech issue. First -- he has said more than any of us will say in a lifetime. Second, if you want term limits for politicians -- why not for the over-bloviators? He has had his turn. Third, he has been irresponsible with that golden microphone.
AM Radio -- the free radio you don't have to pay for as you drive your pickup to the local hardware to get some supplies -- is the ultimate domain of the right wing. I still live outside Philly. The media is set up right now for right wing radio -- even though this region has been trending Democratic for about 2 decades.
If you look at the media set-up here you can find all sorts of right wing programming -- but nothing on the left. Micheal Smerconish -- the ONLY non-right wing talker -- is decidedly moderate in temperament and politics. He is wildly successful.
But in Philly, nothing other than Smerconish lives one inch to the left of the rabid and frothing. In fact, 2 sports talk radio stations each simulcast on both AM and FM -- 4 duplicated frequencies dedicated to sports!
That is what sends me up the wall. I am standing on the sidelines and cannot get into this game. I think I got the chops -- but can't get to the plate. I guess being a raging moderate doesn't sell.
The demographics are there on election days and as people change their suburban voter registrations from red to white to blue. The people are there to support it. It needs to be developed.
There is a ton of cash out there in the free market.
If only 5% of the people agree with Limbaugh -- that means 95% don't. Why are we not being served?