Ron Isaac’s Commentary: Radio Gaggle

Jan 13, 2022 by

In recent weeks I’ve monitored approximately twenty local and national programs that are broadcast over three major commercial “talk radio’ stations.  Their “hosts” have a mantra: the failure of public education, its molly-coddled, selfish teachers, and the unions that stifle the traditional work ethic and foster an unpatriotic ethos.

It is a recurring theme between advertisements for snake oil panaceas and pillow paraphernalia.

These shows are on the air 2 or 3 hours, 5 times a week. Deducting the time consumed by sponsors, traffic and weather reports, banter with call screeners, promotion for the host’s website and podcast, and allowing for their nodding off during callers’ rants, they’re actually working around thirty minutes an hour.

That’s roughly the interval between homeroom class and lunch-break for teachers.  Not bad for moralizers who still bemoan the establishment of a 40 hour workweek for garden-variety Americans.

They begrudge teachers their compensation packages and despise their collective bargaining rights.  But what do these radio airheads “earn” for their 5 hours of weekly toil, for which most of them show scant evidence of preparation before they sound off on every micro and macro item of history, culture and current events?

One of them, according to the Celebrity Net Worth website, makes $45 million annually (That may be low-balling it; perhaps an update is in order.)

This particular commentator affects a nauseating “regular guy’ persona as the embodiment of the American Dream.  He reminisces about his days as a hand-to-mouth laborer, and reminds us how, as part of his audience family, we are all withering under the onslaught of escalating prices for bread and milk.

Even the less prominent talk-show hosts are stupendously rich, thanks to contracts that their agents negotiate for them. It is  free-enterprise at its most enterprising and it works for them, but they condemn every pay settlement that is achieved on behalf of teachers. 

A few days ago I heard another one of these corporate media pundits conclude that the government should keep its hands off education ( and health care) entirely, because neither is its business because they are not explicitly mentioned in the US Constitution.

Yet another “host” lectures ans drones on about how job protections are superfluous for productive employees, but are weapons to protect the indolence of clock-watching  “union types.”  

What about “watching the clock” when teachers work on their own time?  Middle and high school English teachers, for instance, must plan lessons for around 175 students of varying skill levels, grade homework daily, assign compositions weekly, periodic tests and term papers, and huge other chunks of uncompensated time.

And for all their carping about all the days off that teachers get,  “guest hosts” are called in relatively more frequently for pampered microphone jockeys than are substitute teachers for regular teachers worked to the bone.

Teachers are the most common target of vituperative radio personalities. But teachers in the trenches don’t envy them live-streaming from their cushy studios, because they don’t lose sight of their more sublime purpose. 

During the Covid era, these radio talk shows are enjoying big ratings bumps. Listeners should be wary of the uptick in propaganda and intellectually react to it with a vengeance.

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