Pearl River In the coming days I’ll be driving from Louisiana through Mississippi, then Alabama and Georgia before I get to Atlanta. Once there, I’ll do my work, and then roll through Georgia, northern Alabama, a touch of Tennessee, and then a big chunk of eastern Arkansas until I get past Forrest City and pick up KABF, our 100,000-watt station broadcasting from Little Rock. Once NPR starts repeating all of the news, there’s some country some places that isn’t just Daisy Dukes and pickup trucks, a bit of hip hop around Montgomery, and some alternative rock and a bit of pretty good pop near Birmingham, but in a lot of spaces on the dial it’s a choice between church and talk, or both of them all mixed up together.
For the talkers, over a long stretch, it was Trump-time all the time, but that moment has largely passed, even for them. It might be boiling beneath the surface, but it’s so last year. These days, it’s masks, mandates, and vaxxers that get the big whooping rants with a heavy dose of Biden sucks in different variations on multiple themes. I doubt if the money is that good for most of the jock mouths, and the work is not as easy as non-listeners in the big cities might think.
Many of them depend on their co-hosts of course, but they also depend on their regular callers. Sure, there’s the occasional trucker passing by or someone motivated by a particular grievance or issue, but it’s hard to miss the familiarity many of the hosts have with the callers. Many are on a first-name basis. They often know the towns, the family, and the whatnot of these so-called random callers. I get it. I listen to some of the call-in shows on our stations from time to time. Different issues might catch some different folks in the net, but every show has their half-dozen or more “regulars,” and they depend on them.
I heard about some people with an interesting idea. They wanted to encourage other voices, progressive voices, to call in to some of these shows to make sure that listeners heard some different viewpoints. Talking to some of the activists a couple of weeks ago, the project was still in an embryonic stage where they were working out the details of who, what, where, and when. They were still sorting out whether they would encourage people to call shows in their local area on local issues, or whether they would target talkers where there was a particular political issue or politician that they were interested in moving nationally. They were still working out whether they would go public or be undercover. They weren’t sure if they wanted more callers or only a well-trained cadre able to be mobilized on certain issues. There were more questions than answers, but they were committed and on their way.
Who knows what will become of their project? Regardless of what they are able to put together, it’s still a good idea. This is something that in fact many of you can – and should – do at home. It’s as easy as turning on the radio, AM, as well as FM, from time to time, and picking up the phone, and letting your point of view fly into the mix. What’s the worse that can happen? For the hosts and producers, controversy is their lifeblood. For you, words will never hurt you, and, you might just plant some seeds in different soil and get some folks thinking when they hear your side of the issues.