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Why Isn’t There More Progressive Talk Radio?


It’s not about having a voice, it’s about being heard.

As anyone familiar with the dynamics of radio (not to mention the history of progressive radio network Air America) knows, there is a strong symbiosis between the slant of political talk and the available audience for political talk. Both lean older, whiter, and conservative.

And it’s not just radio. After all, cable TV has a progressive alternative to conservative talk, yet MSNBC routinely gets pummeled in the ratings by Fox News.

It’s not about having a voice, it’s about being heard.It's not about having a voice, it's about being heard. Click To Tweet

And how are you heard? Well, first you need a sizable enough audience that wants to hear the message you’re conveying. and then you need that audience to want that message in the form you’re dishing it out.

While there are plenty of folks out there interested in progressive messages, there are not so many who want to hear those progressive messages on your local radio station. Why? Because the political talk radio audience is older, whiter, and conservative. This is not because the radio platforms don’t exist, it’s because the desire to hear that content on those radio platforms by a sizable audience doesn’t exist.

Milwaukee activists should skip the acquisition of a local radio station and instead focus their efforts on grassroots campaigns through all the social media platforms where that audience invests the bulk of their political attention.

Sometimes, for those with a cause, owning a radio platform is the broadcasting equivalent of a vanity license plate. It sends a message to the world even if the world doesn’t really care.

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