And the reason why I do this is simple:
Why wouldn't you?
Why wouldn't you want to help out your fellow man or woman? If you have the choice between helping improve the life of a person and not, and there really is no expense or cost to you, then the answer should be obvious - you help that person out.
So you could imagine my frustration when, back several years ago I was trying to "break through" by getting radio show hosts to consider my work. Provide a link. Maybe talk about my very timely and relevant book that year. Anything, an interview, a mention. Just to get my name out there that "one time," that one "lucky break," that would result in a very Vince Flynn like career.
Crickets. Nothing but crickets.
You mail the book to the studio.
Never hear back from them again.
Send a link to a post that explains everything and would advance the conservative cause.
Not a mention.
You break a story, giving them a huge edge over their news desk.
Now, admittedly I am fully aware a lot of this has to do with logistics. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, etc., are all so big, they are bombarded with millions of e-mails they cannot possibly respond to. But that included, there is still a severe lack of effort on their part to search for the "next generation" of conservative talk show hosts, to seek out their successors, to groom, guide, and forge any raw talent in the younger generations. Have you ever seen them have somebody under 50 sub for them? Additionally, there is absolutely this club or "cartel" of media types that they constantly recycle and prop up. I like to call it "The Hannity Cartel."
Michelle Malkin wrote something?
She's on Hannity.
Ann Coulter came out with a new book?
She's on Hannity.
Hugh Hewitt is speaking somewhere?
He's on Hannity.
But if Joe Blow, aspiring public speaker, or Jane Doe, superior-but-unknown author writes a great treatise on economics, even if their work is superior, they will NEVER make it into "The Hannity Cartel."They are not interested in hiring the best or finding the best. They are only interested in protecting their little club. in other words, despite the capitalist political ideology, they really aren't as interested in finding "the best," as much as they are continuing to propagate their little network or club.
But there's a problem.
While it is completely within their rights and their prerogative to advance their little club, they're getting old.
I was talking to the Lovely Leslie at Temple of Mut who has had some indirect, thrice-removed dealings with Dennis Prager. She pointed out that though she loves Dennis Prager (and he is actually my second favorite talk show host), he is so old he no longer can even relate to younger people. I hadn't thought about that because I'm nearly 40 and rather enjoy their older-man talk, but she's right. And not only is she right about Dennis Prager, she's right about pretty much all of the conservative-talk show league. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, Michael Savage, all of them are roughly 60 years old. And because they are so old, just like Harley Davidson, they are slowly moving away from any future and younger generations that would provide a future market for conservative talk radio, presenting the industry with a major demographic and legacy issue.
For example, while Rush occasionally tells stories about his dating in the 70's and his initial run in with
Sadly, and thankfully, however, all of this discussion is moot. And I shall tell you why.
That good ole "interwebz."
Like many other industries, the younger generations, after being forced to go to school for a quarter century just to stand a shot at having a career, have realized how bureaucratic and inefficient various industries have become. And instead of waiting around, "putting in their dues," "getting a masters,"and "hoping for a break," they've instead bypassed the old-boys network and used the internet to start their own industries. Musicians are selling their music directly to their fans. Aspiring radio show hosts are saying, "fuck it, I'm not interning. I'm just going to start my own podcast." Suppliers are setting up their own online shops instead of "starting in the mail room." And more people watch their computer screens than listen to the radio or watch TV. And the radio industry is no different.
Thanks to podcasting a whole new industry has sprung up. It isn't as big as radio, but it's there. The Peter Schiffs, the Adam Carolla's, the Stefan Molyneux's, the Tom Leykis's, the Paul Elam's, the Silvio Canto's, even the *ahem* Aaron Clarey's. This is great because people with talent, people who want to get into the industry, no longer have to wait for permission. They just "do it." And not only do they "just do it," they are going to be much more successful as the time they'd have to spend to "make it" in the archaic radio industry is better spent polishing up their own show or "brand." Ergo, not only is talk radio failing to recruit successors as it protects it's cartel, it's unaware that all the new and future talent is not going to bother with radio. It's all going to be podcasting.
But a "brain drain" from the industry is not what is truly going to spell the demise of conservative talk radio. It will be three qualities and traits of the "podcasting" industry that will spell it's undoing.
First, podcasting is a 100%, pure meritocracy. There is nothing to stop anybody from picking up a microphone, a laptop and start recording. This means the TRULY BEST will rise to the stop as they are unimpeded with HR ditzes, mandatory interning to "put their dues in," and micro-managing program directors that ruin the quality of the podcast. The best will also rise to the top as connections or "networking" or ass-kissing is absolutely unnecessary.
Second, people will help you in the podcasting industry. Glenn Reynolds is a great man because he is that guy who will give you your big break. KOASDA (Kate over at Small Dead Animals) will also send you an amazing amount of traffic if you write well. And Roosh at Return of Kings has opened his site to quality writers aspiring to make a living out of it. In short, NOBODY requires you "jump through a hoop" or "put in your dues." They want to help you because they are selfless, altruistic and good people.
Third, costs. I'll say it again for the cheap seats - radio towers are expensive. So are the large buildings and electrical equipment they're attached to. And so are all those people that are employed in the building. I'd say the average radio station must cost around $5 million to build, and lord knows what operate each year. A podcast costs about $500 in equipment and $100 a month for storage...not to mention its reach is GLOBAL while a radio tower maybe has a range of 100 miles. This is why advertising with Tom Leykis costs a fraction of radio spots, but delivers about 5 times the sales.
In short, yes it would have been nice if America's presumed "cheerleaders of freedom" would have taken somebody under their wings, under their tutelage and groomed successors to continue their fight. It would have been nice if they just would "give a kid a shot." But the truth is they're not. They probably won't. And, ironically, it doesn't matter. Because the time WILL COME that new and infinitely-more-attuned titans will rise in the podcasting industry, replacing and supplanting their aged counterparts in conservative talk radio. And while the Aurini's, Schiff's and Corolla's of the world excel in their new industry, the power will be shut off and the "Golden EIB microphone" will have electricity run through it for the very last time.
Aaron Clarey is a motorcycle-riding, salsa-dancing, fossil hunter who fakes being an economist and author on the side to finance his hobbies. He is the author of "Worthless," "Enjoy the Decline" and most recently "Bachelor Pad Economics." He also hosts "The Clarey Podcast" on a completely unreliable and random schedule.