On Talk Radio: One Curmudgeon's Take
1. Some, like Savage and Levin, are incessant and intemperate name-callers. This includes ridiculing people's looks. Savage referred to Ann Coulter as a "transvestite-looking hag" today amidst his rant against her comments that everyone should convert to Christianity. Coulter is not one of my favorite commentators, and I've criticized her lack of modesty on this blog; but ridiculing her as Savage did is simply mean-spirited and pointless. It spreads needless poison through the air. Proverbs repeatedly warns of the dangers of misplaced anger.
2. Prager and Medved seem to be the most fair-minded, knowledgeable, and reasonable most of the time. They rely less on histrionics and more on facts and logic. They are typically fair to those who disagree with them. Nor do they absolutely demonize those whom they disagree with.
3. Even though it is "talk" radio, it is always punctuated by frequent and long commercial breaks, thus not allowing a good head of intellectual steam to get built up. This medium is no substitute for the classroom, the personal discussion, or the reading of books and articles. Talk show hosts have a tendency to be glib and flippant. Hewitt is often annoying on this front, despite his knowledge of politics and law. Although an evangelical, Hewitt seldom seems to integrate a biblical worldview overtly into his program. In fact, none of the talk show hosts engage on this level, despite their forays into religion. Denis Miller is the most glib and talks with a perpetual sneer in this voice. I seldom listen to him for this reason.
4. Talk radio provides a window into perspectives typically ignored by the mainstream media. Savage, despite his frequent bombast and narcissism, often gives angles on issues not found elsewhere. Medved has a good grasp of history, and brings this to bear on issues. He sometimes presents programs made up entirely of his narration of historical events.
5. Ingraham and Reagan strike me as the least insightful of the lot. Ingram relies on special effects--sound slices--that are bothersome. Reagan is not very articulate, to my mind. But I have appreciated his featuring of David Horowitz many times on his program. The latter is on a crusade to bring a more balanced view of politics and culture to the university. See his new book, Indoctrination on this.
6. Callers to these programs can be obsequious and embarrassing in many ways. Many are painfully inarticulate. So few people today seem to work at speaking well. They litter their speech with stutter words--such as like, I mean, ya know, awesome, I have to tell ya, etc., ad nauseum--and have small vocabularies. Hosts often just cut off callers in mid-sentence, especially Savage and Levin. There is little give and take, typically. Rational dialogue is rare in our culture. There was much more of it in The Book of Acts.