Why Talk Radio Is So Angry

New Majority has looked into why talk radio is getting even angrier and found it is because of pressures from a declining audience with talk radio having lost 30 to 40 percent of its ad revenue over the last two years:

In this environment, radio hosts believe that anger is their only path to survival.  “If you’re not the most extreme person on the radio or making the most outrageous headlines,” says Fybush, “there is going to be some portion of the base that is going to ignore you and move onto someone who is more extreme.”

One of the most civil voices in talk radio, Michael Medved, explains the economic pressure upon the industry. He told NewMajority: “In this [economic] environment, you have something of a push to be outrageous, to be on the fringe, because what you’re desperately competing for is… P-1 listeners [those who tune in most frequently]. The percentage of people on the fringe who are P-1s is quite high,” he explained. As a result, talk radio hosts are feeling more pressure than usual to yell harder, scream louder, and insult further. Talk shows “are fighting for an ever- smaller pie, [which means that] you’ve got to be even louder about it because you’re trying to get the attention of an ever-smaller niche,” said Medved.

That goes along with the comments I’ve had here from time to time on talk radio suggesting that most of them are just putting on acts for the ratings and they don’t really believe the nonsense they say on the air.


  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    “That goes along with the comments I’ve had here from time to time on talk radio suggesting that most of them are just putting on acts for the ratings and they don’t really believe the nonsense they say on the air.”
    I do think there is an important line to be drawn, however, between generating more anger and histrionics and being more outrageous to make one’s point and saying things one doesn’t believe on the air. I can believe that single payer health care is desperately necessary but then say ‘Congress, for failing to consider single payer health care completely and fairly, is possibly guilty of genocide.’ The degree to which I overact may be insincere, but it is still motivated by sincere belief.
    Do I think that Rush Limbaugh ‘believes’ many of the things he says on the air, as far as the completely stupid crap goes? No. However, I think he is sincerely angry and sincerely deeply reactionary and that he is willing to overact for the audience because his core beliefs support his ability to justify his act as hyperbole to make his point.
    However, it really is important to understand how much GOP punditry (on talk radio and off) is driven as much by the prejudices of its audience as it is by the beliefs of the pundits. As John McCain’s primary campaigns proved, a Republican cannot criticize the religious right or advocate pragmatic policies on immigration, health care reform, or abortion and win the support of the party’s base. It’s equally certain that to keep Fox News viewers from watching Lou Dobbs instead, Beck and Hannity have to be crazier than Dobbs.

  2. 2
    Eclectic Radical says:

    However, just because I can’t help it, I think most of the people writing for the American Spectator really are that stupid.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    I think conservative writers are to some degree influenced by group think (as are liberal writers) and there might be some push toward ideological purity, but they don’t have the same pressures as talk radio of being totally off the wall.

  4. 4
    opit says:

    This is an old ‘controversy’. An appartchik for media control recanted years ago; GHeorge Orwell. His name is still a legend for ‘conspiracy theory’ : lovely misnomer for an obvious and well reported situation. People have a hard time believing that disinformation is the norm.( Can’t watch Faux! )
    AlterNet has a piece outlining his report: How Shock Jocks inspire hatred and anger.
    http://opitslinkfest.blogspot.com/2009/07/perception-alteration.html is my ongoing collection. You’ll note that Daily Kos, Needlenose,Pandagon and AlterNet are only a few of the places reporting such!

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