The beauty of Sirius is that you always have something new to choose from. This week I listened to Leftwing Talk during the commute on Thursday and Friday. Both the morning host and the evening host were giddy over Glenn Beck leaving Fox News. Although he'll still be there for 9 more months and the breakup seemed about as consensual as they come, the afternoon host was framing it as a firing. He cited that Beck has lost more than a million viewers since last year. He didn't spend much time telling the listener that Beck's ratings in the wasteland 5pm time slot beat the MSNBC prime time ratings. Being a new to the channel I don't know if it's common, but on this particular afternoon the callers were predominantly conservatives calling to argue with the host.
Beck use to do this schtick on Mondays during football season where he would call a convenience story in each of the towns participating in Monday Night Football and ask them trivia questions as a sort of mini contest. It was Howard Stern inspired and funny if a little mean-spirited in some cases. Along the way, Beck has begun to see himself as a leader of a movement. The real story of Beck's leaving is that Fox doesn't think Beck's transformation from jokester to prophet of doom works with their brand and they are willing to lose the lucrative ratings bonanza at 5pm. That's not a story you want to tell when you see no difference between Beck and the Fox News division.
A more recent veiled criticism of Fox News and popular talk radio has been that people are finding news and opinion sources they agree with and burrowing in. The theory goes that it's causing more division in our society because people aren't hearing anything but their prejudices. So life was better when people were only hearing Walter Cronkite's prejudices?
I have listened to a lot of different right wing hosts and they aren't all built the same. Here are my rankings.
1) Rush - nobody gets to the heart of an issue more quickly
2) Dennis Miller - He's such a funny cool cat that his take is always his own
3) Mark Levin - He gets too animated at times, but he's probably the smartest conservative on the radio.
4) Laura Ingraham - Tougher and more determined than most male hosts. I enjoy the factor more when she subs for O'Reilly.
5) Neal Boortz - The best take on taxes although I think his Fair Tax proposal is a pipe dream in our political culture.