Atlantic’s profile on radio personality John Ziegler shows us a man who is not your typical shock jock. The story kept harping on Ziegler’s lack of persona, that he is just himself on the air. This is what gets him into trouble, but it makes for a very low rate of b.s. While Barry Champlain’s on-air persona was portrayed as much more hateful than his off-air self, Ziegler’s no-frills shtick seems way more heartfelt.
“I’m not really all that talented. I’ve got passion, and I work really hard.”
The second section created an illustration of an at-home test for talk radio ability. It was so truthful that it almost gave me butterflies in my stomach.
You’re trying to communicate in real time with someone you cannot see or hear responses from; and though you’re communicating in speech, your remarks cannot have any of the fragmentary, repetitive, garbled qualities of real interhuman speech…You’re also, of course, denied the physical inflections that are so much a part of spoken English.”
It’s tough for a lot of people, including myself, to speak in front of a small class let alone an invisible audience of thousands. What the preceding quote described is the flow that talk show hosts have no choice but to master each and every time the red light goes on. To tackle such a feat for hours on end is a physical and mental strength. Do I consider talk show hosts journalists? Yes. To relay information, fact or fiction, in a preset tone, be it professional or comedic, is very journalistic. In an era where defining journalism is more out of our reach, it’s easy to look at all of the media people who relay information and to say, yes this is journalism.
To shift gears away from Ziegler to the business of talk radio, the Fairness Doctrine is something that would never have been passed during the Bush administration. In being one the last pieces of legislation accounting radio as a tool for public interest, it’s a shame to see the law fade away in light of radio’s business boom. I personally feel that the 1996 Telecommunications act distastefully allowed for big businesses like Clear Channel to march right in and kill much of the public interest that was left in radio.