Talk Radio’s America

“Be Bold America!”  Sunday, February 16, 2020 at 5:00pm

“The rise of conservative talk radio has changed American politics and American life, and Brian Rosenwald tells a careful and comprehensive story of its rise and its mushrooming influence. From Rush Limbaugh’s humble beginnings to the election of Donald Trump, Talk Radio’s America shows through careful research and subtle argument how talk radio moved well beyond entertainment and grievance to change the role and make up of mainstream media, the kinds of stories Americans consume in the pliable nature of truth. A superb guide to one of the most potent forces in modern political history.” – John Dickerson, 60 Minutes correspondent

While talk radio largely benefits Republicans, the medium has constrained elected Republican leaders and hindered their ability to build a big tent party by enacting an agenda with broad appeal. Brian Rosenwald’s book, Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States, argues that hosts have emerged over the last 25 years as republican party leaders. They preform many traditional leadership functions, including fundraising and motivating listeners to vote, and they also use their unique platforms to aid Republicans in spreading a message and combatting crisis. Unsurprisingly, over time hosts have become increasingly hostile towards moderate Republicans and, especially in the last decade, conservatives inclined to compromise. Because of these hosts’ ability to affect primary elections, talk radio has contributed to the increasing conservatism of the Republican Party, and to political polarization and gridlock. Brian Rosenwald’s book also explores the consequences of the Democrat’s struggles with talk radio and facing an electorate the majority of which only receives a conservative message.

Interview Guest:

Brian Rosenwald is scholar in residence at the Partnership for Effective Public Administration and Leadership Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and Editor-in-Chief of Made a History, a Washington Post history section. His new book, Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States is available now. Rosenwald’s work and expertise have been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications, and he is a frequent guest on radio and television, including on NPR and CNN. For more information, see BrianRosenwald.com, or follow Brian on Twitter: @brianros1.