I discovered talk radio at age 21 back in 1980. I was a gopher for a movie company in Los Angeles and spent hours driving around Hollywood in my 1972 Plymouth Duster, delivering scripts, contracts, and lunches.
At 21 years old, I normally listened to pop music in my car on my cassette player. Yet with all the hours I spent driving I began to look for something else to listen to. The two radio shows that first caught my attention were the morning talk show on KABC, hosted by Michael Jackson (not the singer Michael Jackson, but the left leaning Brit).
Following three hours of his talk show were 3 hours with Dr. Toni Grant. She was a talk show psychologist who took calls from listeners and would offer advice on relationships and life in general. I was captivated by the interaction and the give and take of ideas, suggestions, and a variety of opinions. The Dr. Toni Grant show was non political, but she was similar to Dr. Laura, who gained bigger stardom by preaching “tough love” for kids, and “compassion” for your spouse.
The Michael Jackson show was unabashedly liberal, yet at that stage of my life, I didn’t think twice about it. I was living in Hollywood, the world of the left, and I was as ingrained in that group-think mentality as were 90 percent of my friends and co-workers. It was only the close-minded, war mongering bullies who were conservative.
Six years passed and I devoured hundreds of hours of talk show entertainment from Michael Jackson and Toni Grant. In 1986, also on KABC, a new radio host began his own talk show. He was a conservative and occasionally he and Michael Jackson would have minor sparring sessions on the air about political topics. This conservative was Dennis Prager. I of course aligned myself with Michael Jackson, and thought of Dennis Prager as an arrogant, heartless, right wing radical. But Dennis Prager was so eloquent and so mild mannered. He was captivating and I began to listen to his show in the evening, following Michael Jackson and Toni Grant during the day. I was a true talk-show junkie.
The years passed, and I became a regular and passionate listener to Dennis Prager. When I began listening to his show in 1986, I probably agreed with him only 10-20 percent of the time. Something happened to ONE OF US, because by the time 2001 rolled around, I was agreeing with him closer to 70-80 percent of the time. Along with having children, marrying a religious Mexican woman and reading more history, I began to understand more of what the Prager point of view meant, and HEAVEN FORBID, saw myself leaning to the “right” of the political spectrum!
Over time I’ve also enjoyed listening to the Ronn Owens KGO morning talk show in San Francisco, and he considers himself a centrist who leans left. I’ve also taken to listening to Larry Elder from KABC in Los Angeles, and the comedian/actor Dennis Miller show.
The term “talk radio” has come to generally mean “conservative”, and if you’re on the far left, talk radio is perceived as evil propaganda. I won’t go to bat for Russ Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, because quite frankly their bombastic-attacking-argumentative style is not for me. (Although Larry Elder can be that way, yet does it with a great deal of humor). I challenge any centrist or liberal to listen to Dennis Prager for a week. His shows are insightful, engaging, educational and entertaining. I can’t say all on the left will be swayed like I was, but it’s inconceivable you would NOT walk away with a respect for him, and a more sympathetic understating of conservative thought.