Sep 152006

Here in the Tampa Bay area, there is a serious lack of decent radio to listen to. I don’t happen to have the benefit of owning a sattelite radio receiver, so I’m stuck with whatever comes across the standard FM or AM dials. There are two Community stations that I enjoy, but unfortunately both of them have a great deal of programming that I just don’t care for. WUSF 89.7 touts itself as being an NPR station, but the bulk of their programming is actually classical music. WMNF 88.5 also has some NPR programming, as well as a large variety of local shows, but most of the stuff that I want to listen to comes on late at night. During the day it’s generally seems to be…well…granola eating hippie shit.

No offense to any granola eating hippies that might be on my friends list, but I don’t have a large threshold for the likes of Peter, Paul and Mary or The Grateful Dead.

I’m also a big fan of talk radio, largely because it’s not the same canned music being played over and over. Corporate Radio really is just a big ball of suck, especially here, with a few programming exceptions that are never on when I’m in my car (Sunday School on 97x, for example). When I’m in the car, I either want to hear good music that isn’t the same ten songs played over and over, or I want to listen to something that is going to keep me engaged. Talk radio fills the latter category nicely.

Unfortunately, the only talk radio here in the Tampa Bay area is a conservative quagmire that includes (but is not limited to) Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Todd Schnitt, Mark Levin, and (soon) Sean Hannity. This is just the lineup on ONE of the AM talk radio stations. There is another one here that includes the likes of Neal Boortz, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity (for now), and another local blowhard named Mark Larsen. I suppose the “saving grace” of that station, to my ears, would be Alan Colmes – but they put him on from midnight to 3AM. Again, not so much in line with my driving schedule at the moment (and when I’m on my way home from The Castle I’m not in a mood to listen to political talk).

The upshot of all this is that I subject myself to a whole bunch of absolutely ludicrous bullshit. I’ve always believed that you should “know your enemy,” especially in the political sense, so educating myself in what the other side of the philosophical coin is thinking has always been a priority for me. I cannot fathom, however, how these hosts – and the people who believe the way that they do – have gotten so utterly and completely disconnected from reality.

Let’s take, for example, the War on Terror.

Our President has no combat military experience. His Vice President has no military experience. The Secretary of Defense served in the United States Navy from 1954 to 1957 as a pilot and flight instructor. The Secretary of State has no military experience. And yet these people, somehow, are held to be authorities on how to fight a war – ignoring the advice of people actually IN the military, a former four star general and a man who actully WAS a prisoners of war (among others). What’s worse, when these dissenters actually voice their opinions it is said that they have a secret agenda. An agenda that actually includes HELPING the enemy.

Yes, if you criticize the administration you actually WANT the terrorists to win.

Rush Limbaugh doesn’t have the first clue how to fight a war, unless it’s a war for ratings. Glenn Beck? Todd Schnitt? Sean Hannity? Entertainers. People who have basically been involved in broadcasting in one way or other their entire adult lives. And yet, they tout themselves as experts on this subject because they have “done the research.” Bah. They aren’t experts any more than I am. The only difference between them and me is that I don’t have a microphone or advertisers, so I’ve got no motivation to keep my “listeners” happy.

Which is all it is.

That’s the sad part. These people are filling a whole bunch of people’s heads spin and they are only doing it to make a paycheck. If they believe the bile they spew it’s only because they’ve said it so many times they have convninced themselves. See, I used to know a guy by the name of Jay Marvin. At the time we met, he was a talk show host on 970WFLA back before they totally jumped over to the conservative side. I was in the studio with him once while he was on the air, and he was spouting off some crap that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he did not believe.

When he went off the air I called him on it. He looked at me with a kind of condescending, “oh you naive kid” glance, and said “Critus, there is schtick and there is reality. Schtick is what pays my bills.”

It’s all schtick. It’s all designed to sell advertising and make money. Sure, it’s hurting the country and helping to fuel the fires of partisanship but who cares? It’s all about the bottom line, right?

It just makes me kind of sick to my stomach, you know? Not the hosts themselves – I know they are full of shit. But the people who call them. The folks who actually believe this shit. Who throw out terms like “raghead” or have an absolute conniption over the fact that, god forbid, a Muslim might be elected to Congress in November (never mind the fact that there are well over 1 million Americans who identify themselves as Muslims)

I dunno. I had more I wanted to say about this, but just writing about it makes me sad, so I’m gonna go do something important like work.

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