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Will liberal talk really overtake conservative radio?

Conservative Review

Remember Air America? …

This time the Left will really have good talk “radio” … One of the supposed bright lights for the Left during the presidency of George W. Bush was the creation of what was being billed as the rise of liberal talk radio. That outlet was Air America. It didn’t last long because it just wasn’t that good and people didn’t listen. But this time, now that there are podcasts, David Faris, writing at The Week, promises it will be different.

Dubious comparisons … Faris says that conservative talk radio, which he of course calls “right-wing talk,” has an advantage because the listeners often commute in cars and listen during those commutes. That’s his excuse for the noon-3 p.m. E.T. slot Rush Limbaugh has on the East Coast, which translates to being off the air by 5 p.m. for most of the middle of the country. That’s not exactly drive time. Faris also claims that podcasters are “dethroning” Limbaugh and other radio hosts like CR Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin. All because of one podcast called “Pod Save America.”

Listener numbers … Faris claims that Pod Save America gets 800,000 to 1.1 million listeners. He doesn’t say if that is per podcast or monthly. Depending on which measure of podcasts you look at, that particular podcast comes in somewhere in the top 20 of podcasts, which is good. Most conservative talkers have proprietary ways to deliver archived shows that go around the podcast infrastructure, so comparisons are difficult. But let’s look at listener numbers The top five talkers all averaged over 5 million listeners per week in May 2016; all but Dave Ramsey are conservative political shows. Even if this liberal podcast received 1.1 million listeners per podcast, there are only two podcasts a week. Each podcast lasts less than one hour. Rush Limbaugh has 13.25 million cumulative listeners a week.

Faris, who teaches political science at Roosevelt University, didn’t contact any of the conservative talkers he railed against, nor did he offer any listenership numbers to bolster his claims. While The Week is a commentary magazine, one would expect it would actually, you know, make a comparison when making a comparison. Chalk this up to more fake news.

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