The state of talk radio is thriving in spite of striving to define or redefine itself. So what is talk radio? Talk shows (hosts) that are broadcast on radio stations? Or, rather, a hybrid that includes all forms and platforms of broadcast and digital: radio stations, internet, streaming, mobile apps, podcasting and social media? Must a talk show involve an actual listening audience that includes callers? Talk radio today seems to involve almost everybody. It is like reality TV.. fame for the inane or the insane. Talk radio rallies some of the same ilk.. simply mouth-off about anything and stream it or podcast it and you are a self-proclaimed talk host. Reality radio.. everyone has a rant.. it seems like everyone is doing it. It has morphed into a ubiquitous platform for all comers. This role requires seemingly no resume of valued experience or performance evaluations; no standards, skills, talents or qualifications necessary.. simply a desire to just talk. Why do most “talkers”, even posers, call themselves talk radio hosts? Many of them have never been hired to talk professionally, let alone ever visited a talk radio station. Some hosts in the new media seem to suffer delusional visions of their shows reach and impact, while others are more realistic. Some of these shows do produce quality content. What merits one to claim the title or position of talk radio host? Everyone is entitled to talk. Yet, is more unfiltered talk generated by the masses better for the broadcast medium? Should there be a distinction between the “hobbyist” and the professional? How about the brokered bonanza (pay to play) shows? What is real talk radio?
Everyone talks thereby transmitting messages, thus, we are all media vessels conveying communications. Many talkers are mere repeaters mimicking one another. We do vary in our reach and our social circles or spheres of influence. To some degree nearly all of us are networking through social media. The act of socializing seems sufficient in this new paradigm of the new media.
So is talk radio evolving or devolving? Is it on a sustainable path of evolvement or eventual and inevitable extinction? Time will tell.
–Tom Donahue, PD for Talk Stream Live