Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Doing it backwards 

Byron York reports in National Review Online that the people who are trying to put together a liberal talk-radio network are making some changes to make their future programming more appealing. First, they're going to focus on being more entertaining than preachy, with Comedy Central's The Daily Show as a model. They'll also call themselves "centrist" because if they say it enough times people will believe them. So who are the centrist talk show hosts with whom they're negotiating? Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo.

No matter how brilliant their plan might be, it's the wrong way to put together liberal radio programming that will draw large audiences, because they're doing it backwards. Their plan in outline is to get, in that order, a) money, b) hosts, and c) audience. That's the wrong way to do things. Contrast that with conservative radio. There was no multi-millionaire who put it all together by hiring well known conservatives for big money. Instead, it was built from the ground up. Rush Limbaugh, for example, started his career spinning records at some 5-watt radio station his father worked in. Other stations picked up his show because it drew large audiences in his own market, not because a conservative company pay the stations to. The right way to do it would be to find popular local hosts who are liberal but still manage to get a lot of moderates and conservatives to listen. But what they're doing now seem to be like a football team building by signing away all the players from the Super Bowl team instead of developing it own players.
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