Talk radio is breaking out all over. Listeners feedback their views more on talk radio programs than they can on all the television stations and newspapers combined. However, there is a pronounced tilt toward right wing talk show hosts that is getting worse.
Who is the counterpoint to Rush Limbaugh — the cowardly mouth of the airwaves who seals off effective opposing opinions on his radio show, not to mention his 30 minute television monologue? Who is the progressive alternative to Paul Harvey, who serves up corporatist pitches in a non-talk show format? Both on many local stations and in national syndication, if you’re right wing, you’re on. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate convict, has a daily syndicated show. Pat Buchanan, the conservative commentator is on daily for three hours.
It is not difficult to know why this is so. Radio station owners feed off advertisements. Right wino hosts like to attack government — except that is government welfare programs for corporations. Liberal or progressive hosts are inclined to go after company abuse of consumers, workers and the environment. Advertisers don’t like such verbal salvos.
But the owners of the stations shouldn’t have the only “say” here. What about the owners of the public airwaves — the listeners? Why not express your preferences to the stations in your community?
I have a candidate for a syndicated radio program. His name is Jim Hightower — the funniest, wittiest, commonsensical radio commentator since Will Rogers, the sprightly sage of Oklahoma. Hightower is a Texan — with a twang and a refined sense of where injustice lies. Already, he delivers regular two-minute opinions on 60 radio stations that include 6 of the top 10 urban markets.
I want to hear Hightower on his own nationally syndicated three hour talk show. He’ll light up the switchboards, listen to all kinds of views without fear or favor and make Limbaugh’s mind look like a wind tunnel by comparison.
You see, Hightower is an accomplished journalist, former editor of the Texas Observer, and a former elected, Texas Secretary of Agriculture. A great voter getter, he hoofed all over Texas helping real people, giving farmers a voice and demonstrating that you can represent farmers and consumers at the same time.
On my desk are a few of his recent radio commentary transcripts. Hightower is not a Johnny One Note. He covers subjects ranging from the toxic chemical used by dry cleaning establishments to the Pentagon’s “Black Budget” to the latest corporate outrages to the current manuevers by the health care industry to the foibles of Congressional politicians.
He tries to give his listeners telephone numbers to contact if they are moved by his disclosures, or want more information, such as the National Breast Cancer Coalition (202-296-7477). He provides the sources for his factual assertions at the end of the page for stations who wish to check out his facts. But there are no footnotes for his folksy humor.
Two samples of his mirth: on an auto executive: “There’s a guy whose tongue is working overtime, but whose mind is on vacation.”
On Senator Phil Gramm’s proposed health plan: “it’s so ugly it would rot a cantaloupe at 30 paces.”
These quips are just spices sprinkled over the facts and sound judgments that Hightower brings to these two minute opinions.
If you want this Texan on your local radio station, call it up and tell them they can get copies of the Hightower transcripts to read for themselves by calling 512-477-5588 in Austin, Texas. They’re printed on recycled paper.