I was asked recently, “Why did you leave radio broadcasting?”
The reason I left my job as a news reporter for WIVK in 1994 was because I was disappointed in the industry. I still am. I once viewed broadcasting as a way to improve peoples’ lives through the dissemination of information. I always felt that if we debated ideas and solutions to problems, we could come up with constructive solutions.
But what has evolved in broadcasting — especially radio broadcasting — is what I call “propaganda” radio. “Me too” radio. If you can stomach it, listen to some of the current radio talk programs. You have an announcer talking about an issue. The talking head is usually opposed to something”
- “I am against taxes.”
- “I am against the Affordable Care Act.”
- “I am against foreign aid.”
- “I am against gay and lesbian rights.”
- “I am against the closing of military bases to save money.”
And the “against” list goes on and on.
Have you noticed, all the callers who get on the programs have basically the same response. “Me, too. I am against raising taxes!” “Me, too. I am against closing military bases!” “Me, too.” A dissenting opinion is never aired. It’s amazing — everybody who calls in happens to be in perfect agreement with the talking head.
Now if you believe that, there is some very fertile farmland in Death Valley. I got sick and tired of seeing calls “screened” for broadcast. What does “screening” mean? Somebody answers the caller and demands to know what he or she is going to say. If it supports the talking head’s position, there is a good chance you will be heard over the air. If not, you will get disconnected.
It goes like this:
Screener: Hello, welcome to the show. What do you want to say today?
Caller: I agree with everything he/she is saying. And I just want to let him/her know it!
Screener: Hold on a moment, and you’ll be on the air.
But what if the caller says something like this? That announcer is full of it. They are misrepresenting the truth. He is or she …[click] Hello, hello? That guy hung up on me! [No airtime for you]
This is screening. Now you may get smart and tell the person screening the call that you agree with the announcer. But when you get on the air, it will quickly be clear you do not agree with him or her. No problem, most programs are delayed 7 to 14 seconds. Meaning that from the time your call is aired, it will be 7 to 14 seconds before anyone will hear you on the radio. If you disagree with the announcer, all he or she has to do is push a button, and your call will be disconnected. The program continues and nobody heard you or even knew you were there.
This was a trick used years ago to prevent someone from cursing or using foul language over the air. The announcer would press the “dump caller” button and the person was instantly disconnected. But now this trick is used to limit or eliminate debate. It provides safety for announcers. He or she does not have to defend his/her position. They can not be questioned. They ramble on in the knowledge that they can say anything they desire without having their feet put to the fire or their positions examined on the air. It’s “Me, too” or “You are so right about that.”
Does anyone, besides me, think it’s strange that these shows have 100 percent of their callers agreeing with the announcers? I thought there were only two things that are absolute: death and taxes. No one questions why there is no dissenting opinions. Instead it’s the lead chimpanzee leading the other chimps.
“I’m against education!”
“People who are educated are nothing but elitist and liberals. They don’t know anything!”
“You have hit the nail on the head. I agree 100 percent!”
A politician once said, “The devil is in the details.” It’s difficult to defend specific acts. “Cuts in one area may hurt me; I won’t support those.” However, if you cut in areas that affect others, they won’t support them.
It’s easier to make general assertions and avoid debate. Then you look like a genius. When you have honest debate and discuss problems and solutions openly, then you risk the possibility that your ideas may be shot full of holes. People may figure out that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
So, what drove me away from radio broadcasting? I left after 18 years because journalism had evolved into propaganda radio. It’s good for the stations. They make lots of money promoting this garbage. But the airwaves belong to the people, and the people are being cheated. One day they will wake up and say, “Enough is enough.”
You can email your comments to email@example.com. Bernard is serving 46 months at the Atlanta Federal Prison Camp for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. You may mail comments to:
FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D
P.O. Box 150160
Atlanta, GA 30315