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Talk Radio Moderates Lose A Legendary Voice

by Steve Young


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Talk Radio: The Lords Of Loud

Mark down October 15th in your "things to listen to" calender. It's the final show of longtime talk Los Angeles (KABC 790AM...www.kabc.com) radio host, Ken Minyard, and when those four hours are over, so might be whatever is left of civility on talk radio. It's also a tragically sad day for listeners on the right as they'll have absolutely no one on the air to call and disagree with.

If you're not in the Los Angeles area, you've probably never heard of Minyard, but years ago there was a Ken Minyard in every city with a radio tower in America. He is an example of what radioland was before talk radio became Talk Radio.

For thirty-five years on the air in Southern California. Minyard has hosted a number of shows since his debut at KABC in 1969, mixing morning wake-up humor with the serious issues of the day. Ending his daily shows with the pledge, "Egbok" (acronym for "Everything's Going To Be Alright"), lately Minyard has given more voice to his liberal leanings, but is still one of those few talents who can express a point of view without demeaning divergent ideologies or agitated callers.

Minyard claims he's leaving because he's lost the fire that fuels his 2AM wake-up and couple hour drive through darkness to the studio. Though that might be true,╩that fire was doused by an incessant industry trampling of╩respectful dialogue. Debate has now been replaced syndicatedly by all-knowing screamers, interrupters, bashers and other assassins of what talk used to be.

Minyard is what the industry calls "old school." Last of a breed. That means he does archaic things like letting his callers finish their sentences...seriously. When Minyard started, hosts would want to hear what you think. ╩Now they only want to tell you what╩you should think.

Today's Lords of Loud revel in the self-admiring boast that they bring on guests who do not agree with them, and that is quite admirable. That is, until the guests attempt to express their differing views. That's when their volume gets cut back, and they get shouted down by the host. It's quite brilliant, really. When you are the only voice heard, the only information expressed without intrusion, without prissy harrumphs, without your volume being turned down or muted altogether, you pretty much can be right.

Talk radio fanatics and program directors will tell you that the old guys were dull; that today's talkers give the fans what they want: a quick and visceral response personalized with one-sided analysis that supports their righteous indignation and, along with it, a wondrous confirmation of the fervent followers. It's a template and a formula that works; arguments that give fifty percent of the information may not give all the data but will make you right one hundred percent of the time. Who wouldn't want that affirmation?

While every other host insinuates that they are keepers of the truth who must battle every day to paint those who disagree as devils to be crushed, Minyard's "Egbok" might come across a╩corny. With the hosts all about the AM dial broadcasting the oncoming hell from anyone who doesn't walk lock step with them, sometimes "corny" is a nice break. Too bad so many in the country miss out on that corn. It just might make the rest of their day a bit more palatable.

This isn't to say that Minyard doesn't have opinions. I've heard him lean left, I've heard him right, and I've heard him lean down the middle (if that's a possible way to lean). Many times his take has surprised me.

The Lords of Loud are nothing but predictable. Surprise or predictable? Which of those do you find boring?

I'm afraid that as Ken Minyard goes the way of the other radio dinosaurs, trapped in the tar pits of 21st century broadcasting rhetoric, that much of our common decency goes with him. There's a bunch of talk show hosts out there who decry our cultural demise. I'm afraid losing Minyard's four accessible and engaging hours a day, finally gives me something I can agree with them on.

There's a few days left until Minyard moves on to the legends' wing of the Museum of Television & Radio. Invest in a couple hours into listening to what used to be and, unfortunately, what may never be again.

Things may sound dim, but for at least for a few more days...EGBOK.



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Albion Monitor September 30, 2004 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)

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