Today was the final show for Roger Hedgecock and Dennis Miller. In response to one of the “we’ll miss you Roger” callers, Roger was brutally honest about why he grew to hate his job.
Back in the day, syndicated talk hosts did their shows from a radio station – Rush Limbaugh had a studio at WABC, Neal Boortz did his show from WSB in Atlanta, Joy Browne did her show from WOR near broadway.
Then technology “improved” – while ISDN was around since the 1990s to permit remote broadcasts with broadcast quality, the availability of reliable broadband internet access with low latency and “improved” software to do things like remotely answer phone lines meant it became practical (and encouraged) to build a soundproof studio in your home and stop going into the station.
Don Wade and Roma could do the show about Chicago from Florida, Lee Rogers could do his San Francisco show from Arizona, Howie Carr can struggle through the Boston snow drifts from his second home in Florida. Everything becomes as fake as the WKRP traffic helicopter. Who cares about taxes in California when you moved to another state with no income tax? You no longer have skin in the game.
When Rush lived in Manhattan and went to Penn Station each day, he had contact with people. He experienced life. In the studio, he saw people in the hallways – much of the staff didn’t agree with him, and he would get in discussions about his opinions face to face. After the show was over, the program director or station manager might talk to him about the show.
The frustration that erupted from Roger is this feeling he had of getting no feedback at all that anyone was listening or cared. He is sitting in a room by himself, wearing headphones and talking into a microphone – with a voice in his ear from some other part of the country of an anonymouse person he likely has never met who is handling the technical details.
Rush and Glenn Beck have the budgets to have built their own studios, not inside their homes. At least there is real time in person reaction. Three hours of non-stop monologue is not entertaining.
With Michael Medved unlikely to return, the list of hosts is getting very short. I have no real idea what will be left of talk radio in a month.
Jim Quinn starts his new Internet Radio show Wednesday with the show being carried on WYSL 100 miles from his home in Pittsburgh. He better not need positive feedback.