Today, not without some trepidation, I am sounding off with very little of the research I usually do when putting on my self-styled cultural-critic hat. As an English major, I don’t have official credentials for this hat; and I haven’t, until this last week, paid much attention to Rush Limbaugh. It took his insults of Sandra Fluke’s testimony to get me fired up enough about his behavior to visit the web site of WEGP Radio which features his broadcasts in our area.
Every day except Sunday for three hours--18 hours a week, 936 hours a year--Rush Limbaugh broadcasts on our local Fox radio station. A college credit course is only 15 hours a semester. You can get official credentials, all the way to the 7-year Ph.D., for many fewer hours than Limbaugh broadcasts in one year. Even if you study the recommended 3 hours for every 1 hour of class time, you still put in only about 2/3 the amount of time for a Ph. D. that Limbaugh is on WEGP in one year. That is a lot of influence on the public. I have a healthy and defensive respect for that kind of influence.
I do pay daily attention to my Facebook account, to PBS, and to local TV news, and I do know from that something about Glenn Beck who is scheduled for 15 hours a week on WEGP. I don’t remember ever hearing about Howie Carr and Dave Ramsey who take up 37 hours a week between them. Though I am an authentic local, I’m really ignorant about this side of local life, so I have plenty of research to do to find out more about these broadcasters and what kind of influence this one radio station has on our small rural communities here.
In the meantime, I have some suspicions. From glancing down a list of Limbaugh’s advertising sponsors, I suspect that very powerful high-profit corporate interests, national and international, have been sponsoring this type of broadcasting all across the nation for a long time; Limbaugh has been on WEGP for 15 years. According to some study I heard about, people who get most of their “news” from Fox are more misinformed than people who don’t listen to any news, must have been a liberal study. I suspect the relationship among these broadcasters, their sponsors, and their misinformed listeners links directly to the economic crash 99% of us are still reeling from. I suspect that our economy, politics, cultural interests, and moral values here and across the nation are shaped by these forces that favor the interests of the super-rich 1% at the expense of the rest of us.
Finally, though this may be merely a cry of hope and faith, I suspect that the outpouring of support for women’s contraceptive access is only one spark that is igniting another flame in the fire of growing opposition to the control of moneyed interests in our lives.