Over the last few weeks I have been running a little campaign to get on the radio. I was asking people on Facebook or the Huffington Post to make a call or send an email to the Operation Manager of the local Right Wing Talk Station, Andy Bloom.
To those of you who did (I know there were a lot of you) - thank you, thank you, thank you, I really appreciate it! We will never know the final numbers, but I think they were effective. The campaign did what it needed it to do. I am on the radar screen.
The calls resulted in a call-back interview with the guy in charge last Friday Night.
Let me say it was a very cordial call with the man who allows Rush Limbaugh to speak in the Philadelphia Market. Andy and I don't agree on much, but we could be civil while speaking. In his position, he gets a lot of calls telling him the way things should be, he started out saying that he was pretty impervious to a campaign like the one waged. I basically said that it is radio, and sometimes stunts like this need to get run.
We talked about discourse and how coarse it is. His take on all the civility is to say we have had incivility in the past and it is really ok. He cited incidents during the founding of the country where duels are fought and sessions in Congress were interrupted by hot-poker jousting and canings. We talked about how the Jefferson/Adams Presidential Elections were very nasty.
I brought up how Philly City Council regularly had fist fights back in the 70's. We differ on whether this is a good thing.
We then talked about how his station was contributing to the nasty discourse. Earlier in the week we had a big snowstorm. The new morning host thought it would be a good idea to talk about how people put out chairs for dug out parking spots. He actually was soliciting calls with "have you had any fights over this". He got a few people calling but, one woman said she flattened the tires of someone who parked in a spot. The host was giddy. I called up in the next hour when the host started going after the President's call for civility as if it is some kind of joke.
I got on the air and called the guy out on it. I was civil, but firm. I did not call this guy any names. In return, I was accused of being the smartest guy in the room and somehow crazy. You know you score the direct hit when the host gets two or three people on after you to call you crazy too. I am hoping Andy makes the exchange available publically, as it can make both of our cases.
At that point we talked about how the station would actually be losing money by turning people away. People who are not foaming at the mouth right wingers are no longer welcome in their regular programming with the exception of Michael Smerconish. He tried to make the point that WPHT is a Right Wing Station and somehow for every one of me - non-Right Winger, he had 3 rabid Right Wingers. I am not buying.
We got to the part of 'where do we go from here'. Basically, Andy said you can't start directly on a major market station. (I kinda expected that response.) His take was I needed some seasoning in the minor leagues before he'd take a further look at me. That is a reasonable response. So, I am going to be putting some feelers out to see if I can get a smaller gig on a station around here with an internet feed.
It was about a 20 minute call. It was very nice that Andy took the time. It was also very nice that you took the time to get me the interview.
I am enclosing my thank you note to Andy to you too.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to me last night. I will begin seeking an outlet to squawk on locally. I was wondering if Internet radio is also an option for you to look at in conjunction with standard radio?
Every time I have an exchange like the one we had last night, I process a bit afterwords. It was hard to tell the parts of our conversation that were testing my handling of a caller as opposed to listening and assessing your point of view. I realized afterwords you may think I agree with all your points by my silence. You are pretty forceful, and yelling at each other on the phone would be counter-productive; especially, if I am asking to work for you.
As far as your examples of ratcheted up rhetoric, your congressional examples and the Burr/Hamilton duel may not be apples and oranges as much as Granny Smiths and MacIntoshes. In each of those cases those involved knew the other person. It was not a random attack. Using hot pokers, pistols at dawn, or canes in the Senate are all up close and personal culminations of two people going at it for an extended period.
Giffords was unprovoked by her. By all accounts this woman is a conciliator. She openly worked with everybody to the point where she was being vilified politically by both extremes. She didn't know it was coming or to be on the look-out for a particular person as the shooter.
I think the media was a tipping point. There are quotes from folks here with guns in their hands crediting Beck (http://mediamatters.org/research/201010110002). You can discount pieces like this from source, but the general public can discount RW Talk Radio from source just as easily.
Talk Radio involvement of the Giffords case, while passionate, can't yield a right or wrong because we are dealing with subjective material. It is perfect for talk radio. Having talk radio acknowledge there is a viewpoint with respect to its responsibility would gain it credibility in the eyes of the larger public. In other words, full-defense all-the-time cycles back into the conflictonator. There is nothing wrong with some Judo here.
You have your opinion and I have mine. I won't attack you personally for yours. It is almost like religion, you cannot say yours is right or mine is wrong. I have arrived at both my religion and opinions via my own path. We both have access to the same set of facts. We can process differently, that is the energy that makes the engine go.
As far as challenging the facts. If I were on the air and you used the "Obama has broken every one of his promises" attack, I would have a produced piece of audio queued up and ready to go in 10 item (or a smaller number) segments of promises Obama has kept (the pieces are titled "The Next 10"). It would be read in a softer female voice. If after the first Next 10 the caller came back with a "but but but he's a socialist", I could play a different Next 10. Any of those Next 10 items becomes bait for callers to join the conversation.
On Healthcare Reform - you stated that nothing from the GOP got into the bills. I have a hard time reconciling that with this Slate article: http://www.slate.com/id/2223023/. It has a link to an Excel spreadsheet of what was offered and by whom and what happened to the amendment. I am sure I can drill down for more detail into the congressional record for this stuff. It becomes fuel for another set of "Next 10" type of production pieces.
I will be honest in not knowing what to expect from an extended conversation with you and was happily surprised by the end. Hope you had a great Friday night.
Again, thanks, I appreciated it !!!