Monday, January 08, 2007

What is Good Talk Radio?

I stumbled across a blog post the other day that lamented of the loss of two "progressive" radio stations from the Boston market and how "thousands of Progressives in the Boston, Fall River and Providence area are left without an outlet for our political and social thought".

I'm not much of a fan of 'political' radio. I'm capable of coming to my own conclusions without being spoon fed by some loudmouth with a microphone. Rush, Sean, Laura, and Al might be entertaining but I can only tolerate them for a short period of time before I switch the channel. On top of that these types of shows are national and since I agree with Tip O'Neil that all politics is local, I think the best talk radio is too.

This got me 'googling' for 'Fall River Progressive Radio' which led me to the Blue Mass Group website and a piece written by 'radiokeri', WSAR's Keri Rodrigues. Titled, Progressive Radio Alive and Kicking in the SouthCoast, Keri states that her program is "exactly what liberal radio should be in the Commonwealth -- take no prisioners commentary about progressive issues -- high profile interviews with people who have refused to even acknowledge talk radio as a medium before", she goes on to say "It's not just liberal talk -- it's good talk radio".

The issue I have with Keri's show is that too often (in my opinion) she is the 'fighting pitbull Democrat' who instead of stimulating good discussion and debate, shuts down guests and callers who don't share her views. To me she is at her best when the show is less about liberal politics and more about issues in general where she and her callers discuss and debate their views.

So why do I listen? Because very often her show is not just 'good' talk radio, but VERY good talk radio with high profile guests and the ability to focus on both local and national issues and hosted by someone who is passionate for the things she believes in, on the air and in the community. When Keri says "It's not just liberal talk -- it's good talk radio", she also says "which is the difference between success and failure in the business" and I agree. As much as I hate being preached to from the bully pulpit if the show is entertaining, if it's 'good talk radio' I'm willing to listen.


Roger Williams said...

I find the notion that "thousands of Progressives in the Boston, Fall River and Providence area are left without an outlet for our political and social thought" after the financial collapse of progressive talk radio hilarious.

No outlet?New England is awash with "progressive" left media, including dozens and dozens of newspapers, many of them free (the Boston Worcester and Providence Phoenix) that have no equivalent on the political right, to say nothing of the world wide web. New England's major metropolitan newspapers (the New Hampshire Union-Leader is not what I would call "metropolitan") take a decidedly left of center editorial stance, and only a Democrat would argue that their reporting isn't tinted by their politics.

The pint sized Portuguese political pundit may, in fact, succeed where Air America Radio failed because the show is building from the ground up - and isn't part of a larger money hemorrhaging project that's being built from the top down. Time will tell, I suppose. For what it's worth, "progressive" radio sank faster than the Titanic here in Providence.

Keri said...

Lefty ... interesting critique. I'm still trying to figure out what works and what doesn't -- and I appreciate the honest assessment. I'm going to start some weekly segments with the political writer from the Boston Pheonix as well as Kevin Sowyrda -- who was a long time talk host (conservative) on WBZ in Boston. Always open to constructive critiquing -- and appreciate it being sans personal attack. (See above ...)Any other suggestions are welcome!

Roger still doesn't get the difference between PROGRESSIVE radio and Air America ... it's two different things.

Roger Williams said...

Why can't Keri read? Are Fall River schools really that bad?

I know the Keri Rodrigues show isn't affiliated with Air America Radio, and I've never claimed that it was. Moreover, I never claimed that all progressive radio hosts are affiliated with Air America. If she'll read my post (or have someone read it to her - slowly), she'll note I drew a clear and unmistakable line between her show and Air America, linking them only in a self-declared commitment to "progressive" politics. Let's review:

"The pint sized Portuguese political pundit may, in fact, succeed where Air America Radio failed because ..."

Air America failed because it was approached with the same, one-size-fits-all, top heavy approach that, ironically, many liberals want from our government. Progressive talk, like Keri's show, may grow, but will do so organically, like right wing talk radio did.

That is, of course, if progressive talk show hosts ever learn how to read. Quod erat demonstratum.

Papamoka said...

Great post and thanks for the link. Here in Worcester there really isn't a progressive liberal radio program and Boston Progressive Talk Radio was all there was.

If you are interested in great debate on political issues then follow the links to The Gun Toting Liberal. I think you might find it a little more than interesting.

Blog on my friend!


Keri said...

Here's where you're wrong AGAIN Roger ...

You wrote:

"For what it's worth, "progressive" radio sank faster than the Titanic here in Providence."

The "progressive" radio you are talking about was AIR AMERICA RADIO. It's not about the failure of "progressive" radio -- but instead the failure of AIR AMERICA RADIO.

Again, I find it shocking that you continue to argue and discuss things of which you know nothing about. Certainly leaves you wide open ...

Roger Williams said...

Your show, like everything else on WSAR, doesn't really reach Providence very well, darling. Air America Radio was more or less it for progressive radio in Providence.

Just as all progressive radio is not Air America Radio, all Air America Radio is/was progressive. When Air America Radio tanked in Providence, progressive radio tanked in Providence. I don't do the cum hoc ergo propter hoc thing, much less with Portuguese girls from Fall River I barely know.

You'll notice my post left wide open the possibility that progressive radio, built from the ground up (whether here or anywhere else) has a perfectly decent chance of success.

Tell you what, though - if your show's ratings go way up, and WSAR sells more Gold Bond Medicated Powder (or whoever still spends ad money on AM radio), then obviously, the market is there. WSAR may pump up their feeble wattage, or who knows?, the big time may beckon for you, or someone else, where people in Providence or Boston can actually hear you. Dare to dream, and all that jazz.

To prove my point, a schmoe like Ed Schultz has made the jump. How? Going small time, building an audience, and then moving up. Who's got next?

Lefty said...


Roger - I think you make a great point about 'liberal' outlets but I also think you underestimate, for better or worse, the power of talk radio to inform, sway opinion, and unify a view. When you think of 'political talk radio' conservative hosts have dominated.

As far as WSAR's signal not being strong enough for you to hear..well there's hope because from what I understand streaming audio is in the very near future.

BUT..I don't think you'll get much out of it. I've blogged about this a while back but to me what makes WSAR a success is that it focuses on the Fall River area, sure there's some mention of National issues but even then it's local callers who share their views.

That's the great thing, and part of the sway of talk radio, not only do you hear about an issue but you get to hear from others in the area and how they feel about it.

I think Radio is in a transitional period and that eventually satellite radio and internet radio are going to change the face of it. But I think there's always going to be a place on the dial for stations that cover local events.

Roger Williams said...

Well, I hate to let the cat out of the bag, but sources close to both parties are saying that WPRO is willing to trade a recently released Vincent "Buddy" Cianci to WSAR in exchange for Keri Rodrigues and two desserts (to be named later) in August.

Lefty said... are very welcome and thanks in return for the mention on your blog.

I'm curious how did you know that I linked to your story?

Lefty said...

Keri...gee, what can I're welcome for the critique and thank you for mentioning the whole thing on your blog.

I do give you a lot of credit for the passion you show on your program and for how involved you've become in the community and I really do think it's a big part of what makes your show a success.

There is a part of me that envies what you do.

Keri said...

I think alot of people think they envy what I do ... but don't see some of the crappier parts. LOL

If you don't mind, I'm going to put a link up to your blog from mine. You've got some excellent analysis here -- and I'd love to encourage more people in the area to get online and participate in discussion. :)


Lefty said...


Your right, it's easy to envy the 'good' parts because the average person doesn't see the bad parts. However, if you love discussion and debate as much as I do, it's tough not to think the good overshadows the bad.

As for the link, thank you, and I'm flattered. I'm happily including yours on mine.(not that you need it!)