How wingnut radio really works

The company responsible for syndicating big conservative radio names like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity has been using paid actors to call in to their radio shows. According to a recent report in Tablet Magazine, Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, hired actors to call in as guests.

— David Edwards, The Raw Story, March 7

Driving to New England in the late 1990s, I switched the radio to AM and heard a talk show host calling on Bill Clinton to resign for having had sex in the White House with someone other than his wife. The radio host brayed and thundered, but he sounded smoothly theatrical, like a cross between Robert Preston in The Music Man and the cartoon star Foghorn Leghorn. (“I don’t, I say, I don’t think this boy’s got all his marbles…”) He was reveling in his bravado. He was Rush Limbaugh…

Good job nailing down the story about paid actors, guys, but it should surprise no one that Limbaugh and the dimmer bulbs, Beck and Hannity, might use callers who’ve been vetted and rehearsed before they appear on-air, or that the Clear Channel network lurks behind the scenes to make this happen. Right-wing talk radio is, after all, as much about theater as politics. These people make up facts to fit the stories they want to tell.

Limbaugh is cynical and mean-spirited, but he’s first of all a showman. Everything he does — the pauses, verbal tics, cruel jokes, rants, indignant asides and so on — is carefully considered. The goal is to keep the ratings high. I’d be astounded if he ever let anything unscripted happen on-air.

I’m wondering about callers to the local wingnut shows in Philadelphia, as opposed to the syndicated shows… Nah, nobody would pay those morons.

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