The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

16 February 2005

Why Blogging Will Be Bigger Than Talk Radio

I've been writing about the quick success bloggers have experienced and the potential pitfalls ahead as the other side fights back.

Ultimately, however, this will be but a nasty, short-term bump in the road for a medium with an astounding amount of promise and potential.

In fact, I see blogging as potentially having far more impact on society than talk radio ever has, or will. Having been in both worlds my perspective is a bit unique.

What's the difference? Bloggers work as team, while talk show hosts generally work at odds with one another. Partly it's a result of available space: talk show slots are few and far between and there's always someone trying to take your job away from you.

This leads to paranoia and a sense that somebody's going to eat your lunch if you're not careful. It doesn't lend itself to teamwork. Playing the game this way unfortunately seems to be mandatory for survival.

On the other hand there's always room for another blogger. It's a supportive, fresh and energetic community of team players. I'm amazed at the warm reception I've received from others so far and have been very happy to reciprocate.

Beyond that, there's an ongoing effort to add bits and pieces of information to what others have begun. In this sense the collective offers the whole story in addition to necessary checks and balances.

Also key is the fact that while the blogosphere grows sharply, talk radio is scaling back, quickly. The amount of time each day devoted to local programming has shrunk to little or none of the broadcast schedule. It represents a huge drop from ten years ago.

When I started in talk radio in 1993, even smaller cities had local hosts, sometimes several on a station. Now syndication is taking over even in New York City.

These national shows are distributed at no cost to stations. They deprive local communities of chances to take on city hall, county and state government.

Only a handful of the syndicated shows are really airworthy, the rest are mostly garbage. You get what you pay for! Local shows, by the way, have more revenue potential but at the cost of a salary.

In the meantime, bloggers fill the gap where talk radio left off. Sound Politics is the best example today of what can be accomplished at the local level. Despite a regional focus it is one of the world's largest blog sites. What a feat!

The sky's the limit from here on this exceptionally promising medium.


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