June 28, 2020
Tomorrow a new Murdoch broadcast outlet will bid to make its voice heard. How will it fare amid the cacophony of phone-ins and belligerent presenters on our airwaves?
Talking the talk: how speech radio brings culture wars to the airwaves
Halfway through tearing up a copy of the Guardian on air for the fourth time in recent weeks, talkRadio presenter Mike Graham looked at the camera in his radio studio and addressed his audience. Struggling to rip the surprisingly sturdy newspaper to bits after working himself into a fury over an article, the 59-year-old self-styled anti-woke talkshow host declared, “Once again the Guardian is an absolute and utter disgrace to this country!” He then chucked the remains of the newspaper directly at the camera. Ten minutes later a clip of the incident was uploaded to Twitter, where it was viewed hundreds of thousands of times, attracting hundreds of approving comments mocking liberal “snowflakes” – another triumph in a media environment built on gaining attention at all costs.
If there is a place where mainstream media outlets bump into the frontline of Britain’s online culture wars, then commercial speech radio might be it. The sector is booming thanks to changes in listening ­habits driven by online listening and smart speakers, social media-driven debates, and a growing desire for US-style punchy political commentary after the Brexit referendum. In the process it’s starting to chip away at the BBC’s overwhelming dominance of current affairs discussion.
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