Comment from Peter Saxon.
Around the world, in countries where authoritarian governments brook no dissent, radio presenters and journalists are being murdered for the “crime” of telling the truth.
Meanwhile, in the “land of the free,” where radio presenters can say virtually anything they please with impunity, they’re dying of the recently discovered “karma” variant of Covid-19.
The latest radio casualty is Dick Farrel who was a vociferous critic of Dr Anthony Fauci while urging his listeners not to get vaccinated. He had described the U.S. Chief Medical Officer as a “power-tripping, lying freak” who conspired with “power trip lib loons.” That was before Farrel, himself, contracted the virus and, from his death bed, reportedly texted a close friend, pleading with him to get the vaccine. “This virus is no joke,” he said. “I wish I had gotten [the vaccine]!” Ferrel died on August 4th aged 65.
As I write this, another anti-vax talk host is reported to have contracted Covid in the U.S. He is WNDB Daytona Beach presenter Marc Bernier (left) who went to the doctor on Friday and was hospitalised on Saturday. As a fellow human being, I wish him a speedy recovery – but with the proviso that he becomes a strong advocate for vaccination so that others, his fans, might live. Otherwise, I won’t mourn for him if Covid’s “karma” variant prevails.
How many more have to die of this self-inflicted lunacy before the last of the surviving Covid deniers wake up to the fact that this disease is a real and present danger to humankind? It’s out to get them, and every one of their hapless listeners that believe their lies. Covid has no respect for political allegiances or lofty notions of “freedom to choose.” Covid won’t be sucked in by your bullshit. It only responds to a vaccine and barriers that prevent it from spreading from person to person.
Okay, I get it. I’ve been in the radio/media business for almost 50 years and I understand that commercial radio, TV and press, are businesses. To succeed, they must find themselves a niche, in any given market, that is poorly served by their competitors – one that they can super-serve and call their own.
For music stations, having done the research, it’s an informed, dispassionate. choice that stations make to implement a particular format whether it’s Classic Rock, CHR or Easy Listening.
If it’s Talk, then it’s most likely a choice between progressive and conservative… left or right. The middle, or centrist, is considered unviable because listeners seemingly just can’t get fired up about being in the middle. Sadly, due to our innate tribalism, we’re not really interested in listening to both sides of an argument. We’d rather have our own pre-defined biases confirmed. And that applies equally to those on the left and the right – which is why, throughout history, centrists have rarely held power. And why, in my opinion, partisan politics is, right now, democracy’s greatest threat.
Having said that, in a democracy, conservative voices should be allowed platforms to air their points of view in equal measure to progressives. And, importantly, as in any contest in a perfect world, be subject to the same set of rules.
Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world, and, as a broadcast professional, I accept that certain segments of the media will lean heavily to the left or to the right in order to cater to a defined audience. What I can’t understand, or condone, is why some presenters can’t separate open informed debate from misinformation that could endanger people’s lives, including their own.
Apart from the fact that it’s so boringly predictable, I don’t have a problem with the presenters on, say, Sky News sticking it up the ABC, Labor and the amorphous Left at every opportunity. It’s just a programming tactic to amplify their audience’s pent up grievances in the hope of turning them into P1 fans. It’s their schtick. Good luck to them.
But surely someone at Sky has the wit to understand, while all that may be good and fun, actively undermining what is essentially a war effort against a deadly virus could cost lives.
Perhaps the folk at Sky have missed the memo but many of News Ltd’s outlets, including The Daily Telegraph, have recently become vaccine advocates. Perhaps Sky will soon follow suit – the sooner the better.
Meanwhile some of Australian radio’s biggest stars have been urging their listeners to get the jab. More on that later.