Thursday, August 31, 2006

Radio daze

I've finally taken a listen to Air America, that liberal talk radio network. What I heard was about what I expected, content-wise, but I was stunned at how entertaining it was. Oh, not in the way the hosts intend, certainly. Being fairly conservative myself, I expected to be angered by what was being said. Instead it gave me belly-laughs like I haven't had in a long while. The stuff I heard there was so far out in left field it defies description -- I mean, real tinfoil hat type of conspiracy stuff and paranoia (references to the "Bush crime family" were common!). It was seriously funnier than many stand-up comedy routines I've seen. We're talking people with absolutely no grip on reality.

As an aside, I hope someday to meet someone paranoid enough to really wear a foil hat. When they tell me it blocks the CIA's mind-control beams or whatever, I want to whisper to them conspiratorially, "That's just what they want you to think!"

Anyway, back to Air America. Content aside, I was really stunned at the production values, or more correctly, the lack of them. The audio quality was poor, and the station promos they run sound like the worst student-produced stuff from my old college radio station -- and that was from twenty years ago, using 1950's era equipment! One more thing that struck me was that fully 75% of AA's commercial time was filled with PSA's (public service announcements; that is, unpaid filler -- they're having trouble selling ads). The whole enterprise gives the impression of a sinking ship, even if I hadn't already known of their financial struggles.

Thinking of my college radio days brings back some fond memories. I did an early morning show for one year at KWBU, "The Voice of Baylor University," during my senior year just for the fun of it. I can do a cheesy radio announcer voice if I need to, but I'm not cut out for any real job in radio -- I have no natural talent for ad-libbing. Unlike, say, my on-air cohost for one semester Kim Cook, who truly was a professional, in the undisputable sense that several real commercial radio stations had actually paid him to deejay for them (even though his career took him in a very different direction). Still, doing the show was a blast.

Our show on KWBU did have one thing in common with Air America -- very few listeners. It was embarrassing to announce a giveaway to the third caller, and then have the same single individual on the line three times in a row. (That at least was better than no one calling in, which did happen occasionally!)

But hey, some things never change, I guess -- in a sense this blog is like that morning show. I put my words out there, often without knowing whether anyone is reading them. (Blogging is often just a high-tech version of talking to oneself!) The main difference between this blog and my radio show is that now I don't have to bicycle myself to the studio before dawn.

The main difference between this blog and Air America is that I don't wear a tinfoil hat.

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