Rush vs. NPR: Rational Discussion Can Exist on the Radio

Posted on March 9, 2012


It's not really the end of the world.

Earlier this week, talking about the ongoing Rush Limbaugh saga I wrote that outrageous comments drive ratings. Whether you love it or not talent with a flair for being outrageous get results. They stand out from the crowd and tend to develop very loyal followings which are two keys to ratings success.

On the other hand there is talk radio programming out there that isn’t all out being completely outrageous and gets big ratings; it’s called NPR.

I’m feeling lazy so I’m not going to look up the numbers but Public radio listening has been growing significantly over the last bunch of years.

So it is possible to get ratings with even-tempered discourse. I’m not saying public radio isn’t partisan, the political lean is apparent even if NPR denies it. I’m saying the difference is the presentation. When it comes to NPR:

  • No one is being called a slut or asked to post sex tapes on the internet for the tax payers to see.
  • No one is comparing republican leaders to Hitler.
  • No one is suggesting digging a bunker to hide in because the end of the world is nigh.

So it can be done. You can have successful radio without resorting to what used to be called the “shock-jock” mentality.

The question is when will it find a way to take root on commercial radio. Personally, I’m hoping for sooner than later.