The demographic drawn to talk radio is somewhat pedestrian. Quality interviews and diverse opinions are often not their cups of tea. Many want entertainment that reassures them they have a purpose and importance. As a result, programming like the Joey Reynolds show is displaced by alien abduction intercessor George Noory.
If you have never enjoyed hearing Joey Reynolds conduct an interview or gotten to know the cast of regular characters and features on his show, you have missed a bet. You might have because he filled the overnight slot on stations whose audiences have shifted during the past decade; they may not be your stations. The archives of his shows on his former flagship, WOR in New York, offer proof of his wide ranging ability to elicit the best from any subject. From Leslie Uggams to Curtis Sliwa, from the Gay Hour to the Jewish Hour to music variety hours, the discussion was engaging and informative. But none of that is what appeals to and sustains the most lucrative radio demographic.
Reynolds is far from a slick self-promoter. His website looks like it is maintained in his producer’s mother’s basement. It is kitschy just like his programs are campy. There has been an attempt to sell the show on another station in New York and even possibly television. It hasn’t happened yet. The demand for intellectual discourse is on the wane.
Take nothing away from the talent of George Noory who actually can conduct as insightful an interview as any. Once in a while, though as you might guess a long while, he has a guest author or researcher with a serious mien whose facts happen to appeal to his audience. Plowing that field rarely turns up a diamond he can shine while Reynolds can polish up a lump of coal. But this is a demographic that perks up to the dog whistles and responds to the advertising that pays the bills; that is what the business of radio is about. It happens also to be the audience that stays tuned for the big three and smaller seven or so entertainers who know how to stoke emotions with “conservative” blather (the daytime substitute for extra-terrestrial trivia) between their sponsors’ calls to buy gold or non-hybrid seeds stored above the Arctic Circle or emergency food packs in case they miss the rapture escalator.
This is also the demographic that may represent a substitute for the minority Karl Rove wanted to capture for the GOP. A substantial minority, this, with a transient identity though, but enough size and economic punch and staying power to fully turn this fall’s elections if Democrats don’t come out to vote. Take the cancellation of Joey Reynolds as an indication of a forming tidal surge if not tsunami.