Is It Time To Bring Back Real “TalkRadio”?

Remember when the listener had an opportunity to voice his or her opinion on the radio talk show? There was either a specific subject to be debated, or it was “Open Line,” which meant the listener could speak about whatever was on his or her mind.

Joe Pyne had one of the popular national talk shows, taking listener calls after ranting about a topic. KGO San Francisco is another station that many west coast listeners were familiar with. Locally, KTW featured several talk shows, KIRO had Public Pulse, KING-AM had Irving Clark Jr.

Talk radio is now a 3-hour rant session for the hosts, take it or leave it. There is no interaction, except text messages which are sometimes read on-air. The spontaneity is gone.

The original form of talk radio might be politically incorrect. The average Joe is not PC and doesn’t hold back when vexxed. People tend to be more rude and easily ticked off. They misbehave in public, losing their tempers over everything from airline flight delays to a mistake in their McDonald’s drive-thru order. It is such a spectacle that videos of their antics abound on YouTube.

Poor customer service, it’s everywhere. Let’s bitch about that for three hours on a talk show. That is a great way to vent and share. Call-in with your stories. You could run with that topic for a whole week. The harried listener who tackles the issues of everyday life, has only social media to turn to. Life can be so frustrating that it is almost comical.

There is no end to hot topics, with so much wrong with our nation. Political chat can get heated. Stations would need a seven-second delay and someone to field the calls for the host.

Listener interaction might give listeners a reason to tune in and help struggling talk radio stations play the ratings game. Though it might be cost prohibitive in the eyes of corporate bean counters, it would be entertaining. Maybe more so than the 3-hour grandstanding by some of the hosts on the radio each day.

Author: Jason Remington

Creator, Admin, & Editor of PugetSound.Media, former broadcaster at KAMT/Tacoma, KRPM FM/Tacoma, KJUN/Puyallup, KASY/Auburn, KTAC AM/Tacoma, KBRD FM/Tacoma, KMTT FM/Tacoma, and KOOL FM/Phoenix. - Jason Remington Airchecks

10 thoughts on “Is It Time To Bring Back Real “TalkRadio”?

  1. Yes, call in talk shows have disappeared. It may have something to do with station liability. Do you remember when Ron and Don was call in?
    Sports Radio 950 KJR used to be all call in. So was most of KIRO. It was barely noticed when call-in shows were phased out, but I think most of it happened at once.
    I remember Tom Leykus, who used to blow up listeners who he thought were way off track (ie disagreed with him). Pretty soon, callers wanted to be blown up and the catch phrase “blow me up, Tom” was created.
    I commented on a facebook post that Leykus was on, with a differing opinion, he responded. I knew that he would kill me if I continued the debate, so I just said,” blow me up, Kingdome style” and sure enough, he posted a video of the Kingdome getting imploded.

    1. Yes, Leykis had heavy phone traffic, Ron & Don less so. Ron & Don got preachy and the call-ins were stopped, the new format took hold. There would be some liability, although with the way tv has gone, I would not be surprised if restrictions on language were done away with. The FCC has loosened its grip on much of the old rulings.

  2. I recall someone saying that the poorer sound quality of cell phone connections versus landlines has had a lot to do with the change. The callers are a tune-out factor, especially on FM.

    That said, I think talk shows are much more interesting with callers. Listen to some of the few surviving talk airchecks from the ’60s and ’70s… the callers and the intelligent guests (what happened to them, too?) are what made the format compelling. It was thought-provoking without being pedantic.

    1. Also a Bruce Williams fan. Talknet had potential, now there are podcasts with larger reach. Chatcasts on the Internet will develope over time.

  3. Up here the talk shows are on KGMI. The local ones still depend on local calls as does Hugh Hewitt nationally and Lars Larson regionally. Pretty much all the old classic format…host agreeing with or chastising callers.

  4. I loved hosting a caller-driven show on KTNT/KPMA back in the 1980s. It really did take the pulse of Tacoma every day. And there were the regulars that developed a following: the lady who wrote and read her remarks in the form of a poem, and the “get off my lawn” guy who was mad about something different every day. I remember the day people were upset about a poorly conducted election–the County Auditor drove to the station and burst into the control room, demanding airtime to defend himself, which I gladly gave him. He didn’t help his case when he declared, “Look, you can’t expect me to obey all the laws!”

    1. KTNT had talk programs in various forms over the years, Dick Weeks’ program etc. I think AL Cummings took phone calls on-air while there. It was a shame that the owners of KPMA couldn’t keep the station on the air.

    2. On a related note….I was on a jury involving said County Auditor, her Deputy, and a few others back in the 90’s. They were a less than forthcoming lot. lol

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