Today between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. I am not to be disturbed.
I will be sitting down during that time to tune in to the final broadcast of The Randi Rhodes Show.
I know, I know; let the snarky comments commence. Randi who? I thought she already quit. She’s still on the air? I thought he was dead. That kind of thing. Feh.
Since her Air America Radio debut, I have been an avid Rhodes listener. During the illegal, immoral incursion into a sovereign nation that was Iraq, Rhodes’ broadcast was indispensable. No broadcaster at the time was able to lay out the facts regarding Iraq in such a comprehensive, irrefutable manner. Rarely did a Randi Rhodes listener come away from her show without original insights regarding the news of the day. Her show was sublime, and I am really going to miss her.
Randi has stated that her departure is her own choice, and to a large extent I think it’s true. I suppose she’ll want to spend more time with The Howard and more time visiting her beloved Costa Rica, perhaps one day to even succeed at banishing the Brooklyn out of her Spanish. Her take was that she can move on to other ways to try to effect a difference. I hope that’s true, and I hope she does.
I think what she’s not saying is that the show no longer pays her. Her renewal earlier this year still seemed tenuous. XM-Sirius dropped her, and she’s sloughed off affiliates. Her only reliable outlet of late was the Internet network IHeart Radio, which does not offer advertising, only horrible music, during the breaks. Her salient observation regarding this is that these days, even talk radio is horribly polarized, and it’s not good for radio. Once upon a time, liberal and conservative talkers could coexist on the same station. No more. Now, it’s not enough to be able to draw an audience; now, you have to fit the format. This development may not be difficult for the cable news stations. For radio, it’s death.
It’s a shame. Of all the available media, radio is the most vital element to a national infrastructure. Think about it. The hurricane hits and your power is out. You can’t watch your television, you can’t surf the Internet, and your newspaper is not as up-to-the-minute as you require right now. But you do have that little transistor radio in that little junk drawer. And, if you’re lucky, someone will be broadcasting information you might find helpful.
This is not hypothetical for me, as I was in Raleigh for Hurricane Fran. My power was out for a week. Where do you think I turned to for my news and entertainment that week?
This is a country that is standing idly by during a severe commoditization of its vital national infrastructure. Bridges and roads are left to rot and fall down, the power grid is iffy, and, as reported last night on TRMS, our transportation industry has for decades been just dandy with sending out railroad cars that have a habit of exploding spontaneously. But media, too, is part of that infrastructure. It’s not just a business to be snapped up by the next media mogul. It is Revere’s midnight ride, and its strongest link, the radio, has been marginalized, to the point where after today, I will be denied hearing one of its best.
12 segments to beer. And that’s it.