# RadioTALK RADIO AND DEMOCRATIC CONVERSATIONThis Critical Process exercise looks at the role of talk radio in democracy.Pre-Exercise Question: What topics do you normally associate with talkradio?As noted in the Case Study “Host: The Origins of Talk Radio,” on page 177of the text, contributors to the show use the intimacy of radio perhaps betterthan anyone else on the air. For this project, listen for thirty minutes to anhour to two radio talk-show programson National Public Radio and a talk show on commercial radio (such asone hosted by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, or EdSchultz) or a local equivalent.Compare the two talk shows:1. Describe the range of topics and the typical callers/participants on theshows. Also consider the pace of each show, the musical intros and outros,the tone and language style of the host and contributors, and otherelements.2. Analyze the similarities and differences of the shows. How does eachprogram work to engage a listener? Are there patterns here?3. Interpret each show’s ultimate effect. Do the talk shows seem to beopen to a wide range of topics and various points of view? Are the talkshows creating a democratic discussion, an entertaining sideshow, or both?4. Evaluate the role of talk radio in American democracy. Do both showscreate a democratic forum for marginalized people and ideas?5. Engagement. If you were to become involved in talk radio, what formatwould you choose? Consider launching a talk show on your college station.What sort of innovations could you bring to the format?
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