The title of this blog entry is taken from the RUSH song of the same name. I find it ironic that a Canadian rock band, deftly puts it’s finger on the beauty of the First Amendment rights we enjoy in the USA, although I am sure RUSH was celebrating the beauty of the medium of radio providing free music (almost free), and not just as an outlet for political news and information. I celebrated the 4th of July last summer with some Cuban expatriates (naturalized U.S. citizens), who are more grateful to be in the U.S. than most die-hard Tea Party people I come into contact with (another irony). In light of my uplifting experiences on the 4th, and in light of my concern for the US given the current Congress and President, and the upcoming elections, I have been thinking about the way words move us politically. The editorial bent of the medium we get our political news and information from, in large part determines the kind of news we get, how it will be presented, and what insight we actually gain from said news.
For my part, I get about half of my political news and political opinion from AM talk radio, so that immediately tells you something about my ideology. AM radio is my favorite means of broad communication to the public, in large part because it doesn’t have to rely on beautiful people to deliver the message, like TV does, for example. In removing the visual element, the mind may be less easily distracted, and less likely to miss subtle nuances in meaning and editorial intention. I also prefer local, AM radio, for its campy, local color aspects. In Sacramento, California, a politically liberal city and state, I listen to Armstrong & Getty (http://armstrongandgettyradio.com/) in the morning while I brush my teeth or drive to work. The A&G show accurately reflects the kinds of things I listen to, and again, that tells you something about my ideology, and my sense of humor. AM radio affords me a sense of connectedness in my local community that I would probably otherwise miss, but I also enjoy AM radio because it is less socially inter-connected than Facebook.com, for example, even though people of all stripes call in with better or worse commentary on the issues of the day. AM radio allows me to ‘drop in”, at my convenience, and weigh my own opinions about the issues of the day versus the opinions and rants of hosts and other listeners who happen to call in. I think radio is less sticky than the web, which seemingly demands interactivity at its core. On the web, one can be considered a “lurker” for having a social site account and not posting often, or rarely engaging in debate. I am just that sort of “lurker” on FB, where I am surprised to find people’s most dearly held political beliefs often bubbling up, and inciting more or less debate on their thread. (I do enjoy the fact that FB, YouTube, etc., allows everyone a chance to broadcast themselves and their opinions…very democratic!)
I love AM radio for the fact that it is paid for by hard-working business people in my local community who are advertising. The commercials are surely a pain in the ass, but they coincide with my personal, moral/political code, which is loosely, “pull your own damn weight!” The aforementioned commercials are an indication that someone, somewhere, is doing something to make a living. I love that! Radio experiments with more politically liberal-leaning editorial bent haven’t fared well in the free market economy of radio, most notably, Air America (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/air-america-radio-files-bankruptcy). Just in case you are tempted to rub my nose in NPR (which I often tune in to), they are funded, in part, with tax money taken from the US citizenry. I have a sneaking suspicion that liberally bent AM radio doesn’t play well in the market, as the demographic target that may be drawn to the content of liberal radio, probably isn’t waking early to brush teeth, or hurry off to grind out their daily bread. I imagine that those who are inclined towards broader government and more entitlement programs (even the entitlement programs the AARP might endorse), are sitting at home on their political posteriors, watching Brian Williams from the comfort of a couch! Ouch! (Or if you prefer insert your favorite, left-leaning, network news organization here) (Not too long ago, I gave a withering critique of network news programming while assisting a friend on a post-graduate thesis paper, that critique is reproduced as the first comment under this post for the curious.)
Newspapers, which are generally held to have a more liberal editorial angle, have lost their market to the web, television, and AM radio. Newspapers are mostly dead or dying, and even though I hold words dear, I could care less. The liberal intelligentsia that ran the papers into the ground are effectively pointing out by accident one of the fundamental flaws in liberalism, which is, in my humble opinion, this; “If you can’t sell it, it doesn’t exist!”
The true spirit of AM radio goes something like this, “Welcome to the USA, enjoy our free radio, and our First Amendment while you brush your teeth…then get your ass to work!”
The Bible states a similar truth more elegantly, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
P.S. My sons and I saw RUSH in concert 3X in the last 18 months, which was most definitely not free! Rush opened each show with, “The Spirit of Radio”, and gave us our full $$ worth each time! 😉