Conservative Talk Radio Show Hosts: A Review
The nature of my work, not to mention living in Southern California, has me in my car and on the road a lot. As a result I end up listening to most of the best-known talk radio hosts during any given week. Over time I've developed a feel for each of them; here is my admittedly subjective and very biased talk radio review. I'll address the shows in the order they are broadcast here in Los Angeles.
Bill Bennett's Morning In America. This one comes on very early, ending at 6:00 a.m. here, but when I am out for an early run or heading to an early meeting or airplane I listen with pleasure. Bennett is a gentle, thoughtful host, no matter whether his callers are brilliant analysts, "wing nuts" from either side of the spectrum, or are simply not very well-informed. A great program with insightful, leading commentary on the great issues of our time; I wish I could listen more.
Laura Ingraham. I listen to Laura almost every day, since she's on when I am either running in the morning or driving to work. I wish I could be completely positive but I cannot. I love her tough, positive attitude and am especially taken with her courage in her battle against cancer. As Laura herself would say, however, there's a "But Monkey" here: Laura wears on me. She just a little hard-edged. Rather than the gentle persuasion of a Bill Bennett, she's more of a jackhammer. She is contemptuous of, and unnecessarily rude to, callers with whom she disagrees. Her delivery is angry much of the time. She usually seems unwilling to consider points of view opposed to hers, or even slightly at odds with hers. Maybe I simply listen to her too much and need to take her in smaller doses.
Despite all that, I do listen to Laura every day, so there's something to her slogan about being a "healthy radio addiction." (I do switch to other stations several times during each Laura show, usually when she goes off on a rant about one of her pet subjects. She's especially tiresome on illegal immigration. Guess what? She's ferociously opposed to it!)
Dennis Prager. A fine and unusual show. There is no ranting here and Dennis is a gentleman to all. I enjoy the moral content of his show. Now and then Dennis's self-assured and carefully considered views come across as a little egotistical, sanctimonius, or both; and I don't think Dennis believes the State of Israel can do anything wrong. When Dennis gets to be too much, I switch to Rush Limbaugh. Rush is an institution, of course, and often has interesting things to say, but he's half entertainer and half commentator. The jaunty cigar-smoker schtick wears thin very quickly. Even so, because of who and what he has become, his views on politics are important and almost always interesting. I still need to take Rush in regulated doses!
Michael Medved. I'll usually flip back and forth between Medved and Sean Hannity, who are on at the same time here. Medved's world view is great, he can be profound, and I love his family-oriented values. I understand he is an Orthodox Jew, which makes me feel all the more affection for him and his religious commitment; he and I share a lot of common ground. I do occasionally tire of Medved's constant ringing defenses of Israel. (The fact is, I am a huge supporter of Israel; I simply tire of hearing about the unqualified perfection of Israel's position on every imaginable issue.) Medved's movie reviews are almost always spot-on as well.
Hannity often has great interviews and can be entertaining. There's not much depth to his show, however. We'll just leave it at that.
Hugh Hewitt. Simply the best. Smart, witty, patient, kind, energetic. A fine example of center-right thinking and a real leader in that movement. An exemplary and unabashed Christian as well. More focused on ideas and getting them implemented than on pure entertainment, which seems to be the focus of some other talk radio hosts. I could go on and on about my blogfather Hugh. I simply love his show and would listen to all three hours if I could, but I'm usually working when he's on.
Oh, man! Do I sound like a fan, or what? I guess I'd better add some balance. Let's see, once Hugh got carried away joking with Duane his producer about softball. And once or twice he has sounded a bit partisan. Such tiny peccadillos aside, I wish we had more like Hugh Hewitt.
Michael Savage. I can barely stand to listen to him. Now and then, when in the right mood, I can take him in tiny doses. It's just too much yelling, bombast, anger, venom, contempt, and ridicule for me. Savage gives conservatives a bad name. Frankly, I'd rather listen to NPR.
Northern Alliance Radio Network, accessible through Power Line. This one perhaps should not count because it is a Saturday afternoon show only, but if you happen to be on-line at that time, it is a fine place to hear witty, intelligent, and informative commentary.
Okay, those are my reviews. What do you think?