Thursday, June 5, 2008

Is This What Talk Radio is For?

There is a blog I read almost daily. The blog is written by an employee of a well respected teacher and talk show host.

I genuinely enjoy the blog and the writer. Let me explain why I enjoy his blog so much and later why I wrote this in mine.

He has to read books faster than Evelyn Wood ever could as he writes about just finished books frequently. I have read or thumbed through some of his selections and have never been disappointed. He makes great choices and while typically focusing on motivation and business themes, he sometimes strays into other interesting areas. He's a great resource.

My guess is he's about a generation younger than me in age. He's a Christian and seems to be a great representative for Christ. There are far too few people who can do that these days.

While I've never read the book, I've seen reviews on one called Lord, Save Me From Your Followers. He doesn't appear to fall under that heading. Believe me, I've often felt the urge to duck the Lord's ambassadors. Not because I don't want to hear the Good News. I do cause I've got tons of questions. But I don't need it crammed down my throat or beaten into me. I need and want exposure and education.

The blog writer seems level headed and seems to want to expose rather than impose his faith to others. That is so cool.

He sometimes writes of his family and of family events with that certain flair that lets you know that they are a very important part of his life. There are far too few family men in our society today and seeing a great representative always gives me pleasure.

Now to part two of this post. As I mentioned, he works for a popular teacher and talk show host.

I have to admit there are times I wince when I've heard what I thought was the host "laying into people" for the sake of doing it and the joy of having done it. I blew it off many times as being overly picky in my listening.

Now, I have no problem in being straight forward, if it is done in a respectful manner. And no, it's doesn't have to be wimpy and with no passion. A good firm talk when someone's done or said something stupid is not out of line. Again, let it be straightforward.

And I've often wondered if those in the organization, from the host to those internally, seemed to get a special joy when someone got "layed into" on the air. If there was a circle the wagons mentality.

That question may have been answered when I read the blog the other day. The blog noted in part "Plus it's always pretty fun to listen to (the host) lay into people who are...well..."not the sharpest tool in the shed."


The comment sort of confirmed my theory. There is a certain joy they are getting when the boss lays into someone on the air. Not just a straight forward "host to listener" lesson to be learned, but a voice raised, name calling tirade which are sometimes part of the show.

And clearly they must believe that a large portion of their audience they would say......"not the sharpest tool(s) in the shed" as there are many who have received the wrath of the host.

I don't know. Maybe that comment in that post was an over exuberant comment. If not, then all I can say is it's sad.

And I will be the first to admit I have also heard some of the most touching moments of talk radio on that same show. But for every touching moment, there's an offsetting name calling tirade that sort of negates the touching moment.

As anyone who has browsed the pages of this blog know, I had a love for radio and some of the people who graced the airwaves. But as time has passed by, radio now seems more and more geared toward appealing to our most basic of instincts.

And no, this isn't the only show that does the same or a theme and variation of the same. General Sherman could have used a lesson or two in how to effectively scorch the earth from some of these folks. Savannah would not have been spared.

What is it in our society that gives not only this group, but our society in general, the joy and glee of hearing someone have their clock verbally cleaned by an on air host? Why do we enjoy listening to the host "lay into people"? Is this some sort of guilty pleasure.

For radio in general and talk radio specifically, to be successful does it have to resort to appealing to our most basic instincts? Have we devolved to that level? Has our culture mandated that we must have a certain level incivility in order to thrive?

And while we must enjoy hearing someone else get their hair verbally blow dried, would we enjoy just it as much if it were us being the recipient of that treatment? If we in our innocence had posed the dull knife question to this host or scores of others?

Frankly while I don't know the specifically host personally, my educated guess would be he wouldn't tolerate that kind of treatment or response if he were the recipient of it. Even if he somehow posed a question with the intelligence of a knife that couldn't cut butter. No, not a chance.

Remember, we've all done stupid. And we will do stupid in the future. We're human. We are all ignorant in some area of life.

This isn't a rant on the host or the blogger, but rather food for thought. You see, there is so much about this group that deserves to be admired.

Yet why do they have to stoop to admitting "it's always pretty fun to listen to (the host) lay into people who are...well..."not the sharpest tool in the shed"?


Ben said...

I can't speak for radio hosts, but I think you raise a great question about our response to calls like you mentioned. In fact, I was reading about another situation on another blog that reminded me of this problem. Essentially it's asking the question, "why do we laugh at the expense of others?" Wow. What a question? It's one I need to ponder more and deal with personally. I've never really given it much thought. When I watch America's Funniest Home Videos and people get hurt, my knee jerk reaction is to just laugh. Occasionally, I feel empathy.

Thanks for the raising the awareness. I'm sure the guy who writes the blog you mentioned is honored and appreciative for the kind words. ;)

Chris and Diana Johnston. said...

Ben: I tried to approach this in a fair and even handed manner.

Since this has been viewed by your office, it's my hope that maybe this blog entry created some positive introspection and maybe was the talk of the office for the right reasons. And that is not viewed as "not one of the sharpest tools in the shed" or as this host is prone to say done by a "twit".