Huffpost Politics

Right-Wing Talk Radio Host: We're Killing The GOP

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Right-wing talk radio host Michael Medved says right-wing talk radio is killing the Republican party:

The multibillion-dollar talk radio industry faces existential challenges and dramatic opportunities in the upcoming Age of Obama. Depending on responses from leading conservative talkers, this rude, raucous indispensable medium will either rise to new heights of mainstream influence, profit and credibility, or else collapse as a declining vehicle for an increasingly angry and alienated fringe.

For more than a decade, I've hosted a nationally syndicated political talk show. Like all radio veterans, I cherish the notion that the last time a young Democrat took over the White House with gauzy visions of change, it produced a "Golden Age" for right-wing talk.

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Today's titans of talk naturally dream of repeating this revival, but even if Obamatrons offer targets for ridicule every bit as juicy as Clintonistas, it won't be easy to recapture the potent magic of the 1990s. Most obviously, the rapid development of cable TV and the Internet has given the public innumerable new options for debate and information. During Clinton's era, conservative talk radio offered the inevitable destination for political junkies who cared deeply about the fate of the new administration. Today, many leading TV comics and commentators lean unabashedly to the left, while progressive websites rival popular right-wing sources online.

This fragmentation of the mass audience has led many talk shows to cultivate a niche audience rather than the Republican mainstream. In the aftermath of stinging GOP defeat in November, radio crackles with blame-game arguments intended to divide "real conservatives" from unworthy moderate imposters -- as if the GOP could become the first party in history to expand an already shrunken base by purging its membership.

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Increasingly, interests of commercial talk radio in a fractured market diverge from the needs of a viable national movement. A radio show (locally or nationally) that draws just 5% of the available audience can achieve notable success in ratings and revenue, but a conservatism that connects with only a disgruntled, paranoid 5% of the public will wither and die.

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