Talk radio is right and right at the ear of politics

Talk radio is a 24-hour-a-day marketplace of ideas – all you need is your mind and a radio.

Talk radio. The phrase itself seems to instantly polarize people. You have your “Ditto Heads” on the right, and on the left you have you National Public Radio types, who don’t have a cool name, mainly because NPR is slightly more entertaining than cricket chirping.

When you think of talk radio, what do you think?

Let’s refine the question, what do you think of conservative talk radio? Hateful, hate-filled, fascist, racist, homophobic? How about vile or disgusting? I’ve heard right-wing radio talk show hosts described as “Nazis,” “brown shirts” and “McCarthyites.”

As someone who has hosted a talk show and has been an avid listener of talk radio since I was a child, I find these assertions that people in talk radio are the embodiment of ignorance and evil simply wrong.

What I believe is that talk radio accomplishes exactly what liberals actually want, discussion that is a mix of policy and philosophy. They are just angry and spiteful because they are bad at it.

For a long time, conservatives have been better at putting their beliefs into comprehensible segments. Liberals get on many of these shows, and they really do get embarrassed. They make common philosophical mistakes too, mostly ad hominem; oftentimes, they’ll beg the question or make other errors.

It is my belief that talk radio is one of the reasons that conservatives are taking hold of the political discussions in the United States.

Conservatives listen to talk radio, they respond and get better at argumentation. There’s a 24-hour network of Socratics working, taking your calls, and all you need is a phone and a radio.

Talk radio accomplishes what I was looking for in my younger years. When I was in high school, I would spend hours at the local Perkins.

My clique of friends, at the time, were your typical mixture of politicos and “Star Trek” geeks.

During those endless hours at Perkins, we would sit and talk about stuff; everything from the question of God to gender differences.

Sometimes, we kept to a relatively strict style of Socratic argument, sometimes we just did free-for-alls. It was great. Now, that is available whenever the spirit moves me.

And if you think your options on radio are just right-wing extremists, such as Michael Savage, you’re wrong. One of the best guys in radio today is Dennis Prager.

Prager talks about the topics that interest him, despite the fact that his favorite topics are not normally considered entertaining.

He spends at least an hour a week talking about happiness. He also talks at length about the question of God; he is a large proponent of ethical monotheism. He has a very atypical talk show that focuses a lot on philosophy.

But Prager is not alone in not being “normal.” Tommy Mischke is as far from normal as you can get. The man once went on the air and didn’t say a word. Everything from music to health is discussed, and sometimes it seems the man goes out of his mind. He rarely talks straight politics.

This seems quite incredible for KSTP, the radio station that hosts Mischke, as KSTP has a reputation from being very right wing. Even the City Pages considers Mischke as one of the best AM personalities, as he has won that award six of the last seven years.

If UFOs, ghosts and conspiracies are your thing, KSTP also hosts “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory. The show, aired overnight on KSTP, is entertaining if nothing else.

It’s difficult to pin down the show, as one night you’ll have guys such as Richard Hoagland, who believes there are monuments on the moon. Other nights you’ll get guys such as Michael Shermer, skeptic and atheist.

Simply, if you haven’t given talk radio a try, listen, you just might learn something.

Marty Andrade welcomes comments at [email protected]