Spring Is Good, And Other Controversial Opinions
March 23, 2012
The little corner of the world in which I live has plenty of issues. There's the neverending battle between environmentalists and developers over what open space we have left. There's the impact of the state's budget woes on local services. There are school issues, traffic issues, major infrastructure issues. There are politicians being politicians. There's plenty going on. And this week, the weekly paper that serves the area devoted its hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners editorial voice to the one topic paramount on readers' minds right now:
Yes, our paper's editorial board (actually, just an editor; There isn't much of a staff anymore) has taken the controversial position that Spring is good. It's nice. It's a chance for renewal and stress reduction. The paper is squarely, resolutely in favor of Spring. If you disagree, there's always the opportunity to send a sternly-worded Letter to the Editor.
I wonder, in this post-whatever-we're-going-to-call-the-Limbaugh-flap era, if that's where we're going in talk radio. I don't think there's anything wrong with having more shows demonstrating more civility -- I'm not sure that's the way to go, frankly, but the more the merrier -- but I'm sensing that a lot of people are walking on eggshells. I've seen consultants and some programming people declare the death of contentious, bombastic, opinionated talk radio in favor of some new era of more reasoned discourse. I'm not arguing here that we should have nothing but UNreasonable discourse, but I fear that we're going to breed an aversion to talking about anything controversial because it might lead to someone blurting something someone finds offensive, which might lead to boycotts and panic. Again. That's not to defend anything anyone said, but it's to say that calling for talk radio to be kinder and gentler across the board is a mistake. In an era when you can find ever-edgier commentary on the Internet and on television, trying to put restraints on talk radio seems like an idea doomed from the start.
That's how you get a newspaper taking a position on Spring. Not a single advertiser or special interest or human being is going to oppose Spring. But the flip side is that not a single person will care about that editorial, or that paper, and perhaps that's why the paper has become so thin and irrelevant that it's unclear how or why it's still in existence. If talk radio becomes afraid to address controversial issues in a fearless manner, at the risk of the occasional whatever-we're-going-to-call-the-Limbaugh-flap, we'll join that paper in the recycle bin.
Whether you're courting controversy or keeping it civil, Talk Topics, the show prep column at All Access News-Talk-Sports, has hundreds of topic ideas and news stories and kicker items available for free by clicking here, and all the topics are also linked on Twitter at @talktopics. And you'll also find the radio industry's first-best-most complete coverage at Net News, with the top stories tweeted at @allaccess.
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I'm grateful to those of you who have donated to my annual walk to raise money for the fight against women's cancer at the Revlon Run/Ralk for Women here in L.A. on May 12th -- thank you notes are coming, as soon as I get a moment. FOr the rest of you, here's another plea for you to go to do.eifoundation.org/goto/pmsimon2012 and give what you can. Thank you!