Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Right Wing Programming Stifles Shreveport Airwaves

A new study is out from the Center for American Progress called “The Structural Imbalance Of Political Talk Radio.” It’s a quantitative analysis of conservative and progressive viewpoints on political talk radio programming in the United States.

report cover

And it’s bleak if you are a progressive.

First, though, here’s some background form the report:

“Despite the dramatic expansion of viewing and listening options for consumers today, traditional radio remains one of the most widely used media formats in America. Arbitron, the national radio ratings company, reports that more than 90 percent of Americans ages 12 or older listen to radio each week, ‘a higher penetration than television, magazines, newspapers, or the Internet....’ Among radio formats, the combined news/talk format (which includes news/talk/information and talk/personality) leads all others in terms of the total number of stations per format and trails only country music in terms of national audience share. Through more than 1,700 stations across the nation, the combined news/talk format is estimated to reach more than 50 million listeners each week.”

That’s the raw size of the issue, and then there’s these frightening conclusions:

  • Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.
  • Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk -- 10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.
  • A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago.

As with everything else, Shreveport is worse. The study references KEEL and KRMD. It found that KEEL airs 11 hours of conservative talk radio every day with 0 hours of “progressive” programming. KRMD airs 7 hours of conservative programming balanced by 0 progressive hours. So, all told, Shreveport talk radio listeners get 18 hours of conservative opinions per day balanced by nothing.

It seems to me that this is a chance for public radio to bridge the gap locally. Both Red River Radio and KSCL could easily provide such progressive programming as Democracy Now!, Counterspin, or selections from Air America hosts. As well, the Public Radio Exchange is a treasure trove of progressive content.

Balancing the ubiquitous and often violent, hate-filled conservative diatribe served daily here with progressive viewpoints would be a great public service. And isn’t that what all radio, but especially public radio, should be about?

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