cover image Inside Talk Radio: America's Voice or Just Hot Air?

Inside Talk Radio: America's Voice or Just Hot Air?

Peter Laufer. Carol Publishing Corporation, $19.95 (270pp) ISBN 978-1-55972-278-0

``Talk radio is pornographic,'' charges talk show host and radio programmer Laufer as he takes us on a trip through the wacky--and frightening--right-wing world of talk radio. Laufer calls to our attention a Times Mirror survey concluding that only 6% of the American population has managed to spend any time talking on the air, yet the political power of talk radio is taken very seriously by politicians and the media alike. He gives us a rogues' gallery of talk-show-host celebs: Denver's Alan Berg, who was murdered; shock-jock Howard Stern; Barbara Carlson, who tattooed her Minneapolis call letters, KSTP, on her buttocks; Pat Buchanan, who has been labeled an anti-Semite by fellow conservative William F. Buckley; and the big daddy of them all, Rush Limbaugh, whose ``ditto-heads'' have politicians across America quaking. Laufer examines hosts and their dissemination of information, which at times is blatantly false; questions whether the hosts are news commentators or merely entertainers; and looks into the effects of the 1987 elimination of the Fairness Doctrine and at the myth of the liberal media. He quotes one general manager as professing, ``We don't give a shit about Bosnia...We want to hear more about Lorena Bobbitt.'' After reading Laufer's inside account of the industry, readers will wonder: If secondary stupidity is catching, is America in for an epidemic? Photos. (May)