The city of Los Angeles in the 70s was a hub for action. The entertainment industry exploded with exciting new stars like Jack Nicholson, Bo Derek and Meryl Streep. Movies like “Chinatown,” “Ten,” and “Grease” populated movie theaters, and “Star Wars” became a sensation.
On scattered highways in Los Angeles, drivers tuned in to a fairly new phenomenon, “talk radio” with an entertaining twist. KABC, a radio station in Los Angeles, offered talk show host Michael Jackson, who popularized talk radio as more than just news. Jackson christened an era with a new kind of radio program … a combination of news, political talk and celebrity interviews. It brought a little Hollywood into your car while traveling along highways during rush hour. Michael Jackson interviewed everyone from presidents to actors. I worked with Michael Jackson in the 90s when I worked at KABC, and found him to be the perfect gentleman. I loved sitting in the KABC studio watching Michael interview Charlton Heston and George Carlin. He was not controversial and made the guests feel comfortable. I was lucky enough to meet my childhood brains, Charlton Heston, a gracious guest.
Over time, sports shows, cooking shows, restaurant and movie reviews, high tech consulting and psychologist shows became popular trends for radio listeners.
Dr. Toni Grant, famous radio psychologist, also had a popular show on KABC790 Talk Radio in Los Angeles during that time. Listeners called in with issues about their children, spouses or friends. Imagine having your problems solved within minutes by a perfect stranger … over the radio. The country shifted towards getting information faster and results faster.
In the 1980s, with the removal of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine, conversation turned to politics. The fairness doctrine was originally intended to ensure that there was diversity of programming, not as a censorship. For example, if there were three radio stations in a city or area, no industry, such as music, religion, or news, could dominate.
Rush Limbaugh started an entertaining radio show phenomenon that gave rise to talk about politics and current events at the national, state and local levels. It was not journalism, but rather entertaining opinions about today’s news and current events. And America loved it … well some of America loved it. Others hated it. This was probably the first time that listeners reacted negatively to radio broadcasts. Some say that an outgrowth of the hippies and the radical movements of the 60s brought a negative reaction to the conservative radio, which they identified as establishment. Others see conservative talk radio as an opportunity for the liberal press and liberal television media, which they perceive as only one side of an issue.
Nevertheless, Rush Limbaugh developed a winning show format. Others followed Rush Limbaugh’s winning style and format and repeated in a new era of talk radio and a formidable opportunity for the mainstream media. Hosts Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Mike Gallagher, Laura Ingraham and Dennis Prager are just a few.