Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Open letter to talk radio.

Dear talk radio,

Today, as I was driving downtown, I tuned into you, as I often do. All the day long, when I'm in the car, listening to NPR wall-to-wall, because sometimes I like to hear news stories before I read about them on Facebook, as educated people are wont to want to do.

And, talk radio, I am grateful for the up-to-the-minute-ness of you, the way you let me hear a conversation between a usually-urbane and relatively sophisticated host and a guest of interest. I generally feel edified by these conversations. Today, in fact, your guest was talking away about old school computers and how new school computers basically have the same memory architecture and are, therefore, just about the most inefficient machines there are. What a provocative observation! As I pulled up to the stop light, I sat up a little, the better to pay attention.

But at that moment, talk radio, I--we all, in fact--experienced anew the fly in the ointment, the flaw in your design: it will never just be a gripping dialogue between the sophisticated and the interesting. No, no: just as the urbane and the fascinating really get going, really kick the conversation into high gear, the host utters these words: "Let's hear what our callers have to say."

Today, the first caller began by talking about the first computer she ever saw, back in the olden days of yore, when there were vacuum tubes and what not, and so she turned to her friend and said, "Well I never!" and that's when I turned off the radio. Because, talk radio, I just can't stand the voices of America when they want to weigh in like this, all waiting on the line for their chance to chat away to millions. I want to feel good about the voices of America, but it's tricky, talk radio: when they want to expostulate and anecdote-ate, when they never have a question but always have a story, that's when I just want to turn the voices of America off.

Talk radio, I can't exactly blame you. I know the callers just want to be a part of the conversation. But can't they just talk back to the radio, like a normal person?




  1. You have put your finger on it! I'd never articulated it this way, but you're sooooo right.

    You know what would be even worse than random Americans calling in? Answer: Chris Matthews calling in. Dude NEVER stops talking. He asks his guests interesting questions, but before they have a chance to answer, he jumps in with both feet and stomps all over it.

    I'm down on MSNBC these days. Not that anybody asked.

  2. I feel you. Its the people. Sometimes I think they design these programs to incite the dumbest amongst us to call in. You might be comforted to know that the people of the UK are just the same.

  3. Isn't that indeed what blogs and Facebook are for? Talk amongst yourselves, people.



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