Radio Rant

Ah, the good old days

Ah, the good old days

If you’re a long-time southern New England resident, you remember WTIC-AM radio in the heyday of Bob Steele. As a kid, I ate my instant brown sugar-and-maple oatmeal while Bob told his corny jokes, played cornier music, and offered weather from around the world through the tiny speaker of our yellow, plastic Capehart.

Something, unfortunately, has happened to WTIC since the days of Steele. Talk radio, with its cheap shots and inciting rhetoric, now pollutes the morning drive time that Bob once so ably served.

Wait a minute, you current listeners of the station think: Is he bad-mouthing that nice Ray Dunaway, who’s held Bob’s old chair for many a year now?

I am.

Dunaway, like some of the more infuriating radio personalities I endured while listening to WGN in Chicago, wants to come across as all Midwestern homespun and comforting, your chatty-but-basically likable next-door neighbor, or the non-threatening regular (as opposed to the lunatic kind, with the bad teeth and not-quite-definable bad smell) at the corner tavern. But as I’ve listened to Dunaway, first before we left for Chicago and now since our return, I see his libertarian, anti-liberal bent is more noticeable, and annoying. Today it took a turn into extremism, revealed in a throw-away remark.

Dunaway doesn’t like government intervention in just about any area of life. I get that, having never heard him defend  any government program (though I have to admit I haven’t caught every word he’s uttered). So it’s no surprise he opposes the energy bill awaiting debate in the Senate after its passage in the house. But when discussing the bill today, he referred to its two House sponsors, Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, as “evil.”

Um, Ray, where I come from, saying someone is evil is pretty strong stuff. I admit, I knew little about the bill before some quick research today, except its goal is to limit carbon emissions, something this country has not addressed in the face of global warming.

(Of course RD thinks that’s all a big myth anyway. I don’t, but I will at least admit there is genuine disagreement over the role of human activity in fueling rising global temperatures. That’s one difference between us. I have strong beliefs, but I don’t think I see the world through an ideological prism, as some conservatives and libertarians are wont to do.)

The bill is also long and complex and, to some environmentalists’ thinking, has been watered down in the face of corporate opposition. Yet some conservatives and businesses are still not pleased, hence the effort to derail it in the Senate. (Here’s a look at the “grassroots” opposition being stirred by the petroleum lobby. You know, like the unorchestrated protests recently unleashed against health-care reform.)

The bill, according to government researchers, will raise energy costs. Now, if you think global warming is real and a danger, you might say, well, we’ve lived pretty high on the hog laying down our giant carbon footprint these past decades, time to pay the piper. Plus the bill does seek to create clean-energy jobs and promote energy efficiency. If you reject the notion of global warming, or just dislike anything that gets in the way of the unfettered free market, you’re gonna loathe the bill. Being mostly ignorant on the subject, I will weasel out and not take a stand on this particular piece of legislation, though I support its goals (my god, I should run for office).

The face of evil #1

The face of evil #1

But I will say, calling Waxman and Markey evil for trying to address what they think is a problem is, well, a pretty cheap shot. Henry Waxman, representative from California. Some of his signature accomplishments: sponsoring a law to provide nutritional info on food, taking on Big Tobacco, holding the first Congressional hearings on AIDS, exposing Enron’s abuses, investigating the Blackwater goons in Iraq. In general, he was one of the few Democrats willing to challenge the Bush administration in its quest for Imperial Presidency II: Death to the Constitution.

The face of evil #2

The face of evil #2

And Edward Markey, from Massachusetts (hmm, I see a pattern here, both denizens of those dens of liberalism): defender of privacy regarding health and financial records, seeker of info from the FDA on drug research, long-time advocate for the environment.

Clearly, these are two very evil men.

Such nice boys!

Such nice boys!

I wanted to email Dunaway and challenge his stupid choice of adjectives. And I wanted to ask him how he would categorize the contractors who ripped off the government in Iraq, the Bushies who created legal justification for what almost everyone agrees was torture, or the coal industry’s PR firm that forged letters to members of Congress to try top derail the Waxman-Markey bill. Misguided? A little out of line? Naughty?

Boy, it’s kind of amazing how one word by one pretty insignificant radio talk guy can rile me up.

But Dunaway has at his disposal, as the AM talk jocks like to say, a 50,000-watt flamethrower. People who think good ol’ Ray is that nice neighbor take him at face value. They might not see the libertarian agenda he’s pushing, one that basically says, “Hey, let me do what I want, cuz this is the land of the free, damnit.” While ignoring the fact that freedom is not limitless, and we are still members of a society. We are the government, and sometimes we, collectively, decide that through our tool – the government – we need to take steps to protect the community as a whole. I’m real tired of the conservatives who don’t even want to consider that thought.

But most of all, I want to go back to those days of Bob Steele. When I didn’t know what liberal or conservative or ideologue meant. When I listened to the radio to hear we had a snow day or laugh to the silly song about buffaloes on the lawn. When we didn’t call people evil without a really good reason.

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~ by mburgan on August 18, 2009.

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