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Does Talk Radio Move Political Agendas and Help Win Elections?

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Pros

  1. As an example, Rush Limbaugh is often credited with helping shape opinion which ushered in the Republican-controlled Congress during the 1994 election cycle.
  2. Some believe that Air America Radio, founded in March, 2004, was created, in part, to help defeat Republican President George W. Bush in the November, 2004 elections.
  3. For what it's worth, at "Yahoo! Answers" when the question was raised about how Talk Radio affects politics, the answer voted on by the majority of visitors as being correct was, "...it is a propaganda channel for the Republican, Democrat and Independent parties, and was an effective factor in the election and re-election of George W. Bush."
  4. Radio can wield influence over listeners. The nature of the medium elevates the status of anyone on it, thus enabling them to better convince others of the correctness of their opinions.

Cons

  1. With the advent and growth of new media like the Internet and Satellite Radio, Talk Radio (at least on AM and FM) has been or can be diluted. Even if Talk Radio is dominated by conservatives, there are enough free speech outlets to counter any effect it may have. As an example, look how much attention and sway liberal bloggers have attracted and wielded on the Internet.
  2. Talk Radio's power is constantly kept in check by Americans who are more distracted than ever from traditional audio media. They simply have more choices for information including: AM, FM, HD Radio, Satellite, Internet, Cell Phone, Podcasts, portable music players, etc.
  3. Despite the founding of progressive network Air America Radio in time for the 2004 Presidential cycle, George W. Bush (Republican) still won re-election. Comedian Al Franken, who did the flagship show on Air America Radio for almost two years, initially told the New York Times, "I'm doing this because I want to use my energies to get Bush unelected. I'd be happy if the election of a Democrat ended the show." Neither Franken individually nor Air America Radio collectively exerted such power over the electorate.

Where It Stands

The basic question which drives this issue can be distilled down to one deciding factor:

Do people with similar political viewpoints naturally gravitate to Talk Radio hosts and programs which they already feel comfortable with...

Or...

Are Talk Radio hosts so convincing, they have the ability to solidify or even "convert" listeners to their way of thinking.

In the end, it's a "chicken - egg" situation. Which comes first?

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