Inside the Beltway: ‘Appetite’ for anger wanes on talk radio

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The search continues to fill the vast void left in the talk radio airwaves following the death of Rush Limbaugh, who drew a consistent audience of 14 million listeners according to Talkers Magazine.

The process of finding a replacement for the much revered Limbaugh, however, also is providing a potential teachable moment, according to Holland Cooke, a broadcast consultant and a talk radio commentator himself.

“The current group of syndicated hosts now vying for Limbaugh’s traditional 12:00 noon-3:00 p.m. ET timeslot have one sentiment in common,” Mr. Cooke wrote in a column for Talkers Magazine.

These hopeful replacements “seem to presume listeners’ appetite for anger — notwithstanding polling data demonstrating widespread optimism now,” Mr. Cooke said.

“The day-after-day negativity is relentless,” he added.

“I was unsurprised when ‘Fox Across America’ host Jimmy Failla emerged as a listener fave,” Mr. Cooke said, noting that Mr. Failla is heard daily on Fox News Radio, and through audio streams on Fox Nation and other online outlets.

“Unlike other conservative contenders, witty Failla is of good cheer. While others scold, he smiles,” observed Mr. Cooke, who thinks that the talk radio format could be evolving away from outrage over political fare.

He also recalled that the gifted Limbaugh had a wide-ranging broadcast background before he entered the field of talk radio.

“As pandemic-weary listeners exhale during this American comeback, dare we typecast ‘talk radio’ as politics? Rush Limbaugh played it like a Stradivarius; but previously, he played disco music, and Top 40 before that. And he did ‘Monday Night Football.’ Whatever his source material, he held our attention. And if we learned one thing during the shutdown, it is people’s hunger for survival information,” Mr. Cooke noted in his analysis.

LETTERS FROM A DISTANT ERA

An auction house has some unique communications for the right bidder, all penned by a U.S. president.

“Love letters that John F. Kennedy wrote to a Swedish paramour a few years after he married Jacqueline Bouvier are going up for auction,” The Associated Press reported.

“You are wonderful and I miss you,” Kennedy advised Gunilla von Post, an aristocrat he met on the French Riviera.

“Kennedy was a Democratic U.S. senator from Massachusetts at the time, and the handwritten letters were written on Senate letterhead. He signed one simply: ‘Jack,’” the AP said.

The collection of love letters were part of the late von Post’s estate and are available for online bidding along with other Kennedy documents through May 12 at RRAuctionsSales.com. And the price? The auction house estimated that the group of three letters will fetch at least $30,000.

‘TEARING US APART’

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans say social media platforms are tearing us apart.”

So says an NBC News headline, in reviewing its own poll which supports this dire statement.

“Most Americans admit they use social media at least once a day, but they also believe platforms like Facebook and Twitter are doing more to divide the nation than to bring it together,” wrote NBC News senior political analyst Mark Murray — who noted that 66% of U.S. adults say they use social media once a day or more.

“But 64% of Americans think social media platforms do more to divide us, and that includes majorities of Republicans (77%), independents (65%) and Democrats (54%), as well as majorities of whites (70%), Latinos (56%), young adults (61%) and seniors (71%). By contrast, just 27% of all adults believe that those platforms do more to bring us together,” the analyst said.

“Notably, Black respondents are the one demographic split on this question, with 42% saying it’s more divisive, while 40% say it’s more unifying,” Mr. Murray said.

The NBC News poll was conducted April 17-20 and released Sunday.

A COMPLEX CHOICE IN NYC

Citizens of the Big Apple must elect a new mayor. Sixteen Democrats and two Republicans are running in the New York mayoral primaries on June 22, to be followed by the general election on Nov. 2.

“New York City stands at the crossroads. Will we continue to surrender our streets to homelessness, filth, crime and guns, to betray our children’s future, to push away residents, businesses and wealth?” asked a New York Post editorial.

The news organization has endorsed the Democratic president of the Brooklyn Borough for the job.

“The New York Post believes Eric Adams is the candidate with the best chance of solving the issues bedeviling our whole city. His top priority has to be reversing the rocketing rise in crime, from shootings to subway safety,” the Post said of the candidate, who also served six years in the New York state Senate, and 22 years as an officer with the New York City Transit Police and New York City Police Department.

“Adams understands the crisis. He articulates a clear, firm and common-sense route to cleaning up our streets. While Adams has been a fierce critic of the NYPD, he does not believe in defunding the police. Yes, improve police conduct. But we agree when he told us ‘nothing angers me more’ than when the force as a whole — and the symbol of public safety it represents — is allowed to be endlessly trash-talked,” the newspaper said.

It also praised Mr. Adams for his take on “common sense education,” less regulation of small business and less spending — but frowned on the candidate’s potential interest in tax increases. He still gets the Post’s nod, though.

“Adams has a depth of experience that would serve him well in City Hall. We enthusiastically endorse Eric Adams for mayor,” the paper said, concluding with a bit of civility to their endorsement.

Curtis Sliwa, talk radio host and founder of the Guardian Angels, plus businessman Fernando Mateo — an outspoken advocate for taxi drivers and bodega owners — are the two Republicans in the mayoral race.

POLL DU JOUR

36% of U.S. adults plan to travel this summer.

77% of this group will travel within the U.S.

11% will travel outside the U.S.; 10% will travel in “both.”

69% will travel by car; 42% will fly.

15% will go on a cruise ship, 13% will take a train, 10% will take a bus.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted May 1-4.

Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.

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