Once upon a time Talk Radio seemed to matter in Kansas City…
Notice I said, seemed to matter. By the 1990s most music listeners had migrated to FM or prerecorded music – CDs, even cassettes still. Pretty arcane sounding, huh? Let’s go back a little further.
In the late 1980s a local blowhard emeritus named Rush Limbaugh was making his mark via a nationally-syndicated, politcally-driven talk radio show. Unfortunately, Limbaugh’s success set talk radioon a course of one-dimensional, right wing rant radio that continues to this day.
But in those early, heady days of talk radio there was a ton of variety here in the Cowtown.
There was medical advice from Dr. Dean Edell, practical advice from Bruce Williams, computer tips from Kim Komando, boring banter from President Reagan’s son Michael and syndicated sports talk galore late at night. Sally Jesse Raphael still had a bit of cred and Dr. Laura exploded on the scene.
Locally we had was shrink talk from Marshall Saper. UFO, critter catching and geezer about town talk from Mike Murphy. Right wing smack talk from Jerry Fogel & Mike Shanin. Squire publisher Tom Leathers batted to all fields about what was going on in KC replacing exiled local institution, the convivial Ray Dunaway.
A revolving door of sports talkers came and went.
But in recent years local talk radio has stagnated into the predictable.
Most of the national heavy hitters on here are right wing hit men (and women). Their few local counterparts following closely in their ultra conservative footsteps. But those right wing rants have grown both predictable and tiring.
Missing in action these days are the more convivial voices of reason that used to provide a podium for local people of note and visiting national names to kick around the news of the day.
Is there no appetite for that today or are talk radio program directiors just playing it safe with conservative talkers?
One only need look at the ratings on local talk stations KMBZ and KCMO AM to bear witness to the decline. Listeners are getting tired of the same-old, same-old. How about something a little outside of the box?
All that said, stand by for Talkers Magazine’s 2011 Heavy Hundred & Heaviest Hundred of All Time. You won’t find many locals on it.