Obama’s Talk Radio Allies

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Over the next four months, I have a feeling that I will keep returning to the theme of radio in politics. Demonstrably an amazing medium for reaching across socio-economic boundaries, essential for campaigning, radio will be playing a major part in this year’s presidential race. As you might imagine, Talk Radio will be something we come back to frequently in that time.

Now the first thing most people think of when Talk Radio comes up is Rush Limbaugh. Today, we will looking at the other side of the coin. You see, there is a burgeoning scene growing on the left:Black Talk Radio, and from the look of things Sen. Obama has a massive amount of support there.

Via Jim Rutenberg at The New York Times:

Since Mr. Limbaugh first flexed his tonsils two decades ago, Democrats have publicly worried about their lack of an answer to him and his imitators, who have proven so adept at motivating conservative Republicans to go to the polls, especially for President Bush.

Now it is Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, who has a harmonious chorus of broadcast supporters addressing a vital part of his coalition, feeding and reflecting the excitement blacks have for his candidacy in general. Mr. Obama is getting support from white liberal talk radio hosts as well, but the backing he is getting from black radio hosts could be especially helpful to his campaign’s efforts to increase black turnout and raise historically low voter registration enough to change the math of presidential elections in battlegrounds and traditionally Republican states like this one.

“Urban stations can be in ’08 what Rush Limbaugh delivered for conservatives a generation ago,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has a two-year-old radio program that is now syndicated on stations throughout the country, including in states like Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina. “If you look at the political map of where our shows are, it matches the gap of unregistered voters.”

“The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” “The Michael Baisden Show,” and rising star of Black Talk Radio, Warren Ballentine, have all had Sen. Obama as a guest on their shows. According to their own reporting the three shows reach roughly twenty million people, and that’s not even counting the reach of other shows in this demographic.

With massively popular hosts like Mr. Ballantine pushing voter registration amongst African Americans we could well see a solid impact on the number of voters stepping into the booths this election season. As they bring their pro-Obama message to the airwaves, I feel safe in predicting that no matter which way the election goes, we will see examples of their impact at the polls come November, and perhaps in other ways as well.

Radio remains a potent medium, especially for promotion of political agendas. This will be well worth listening to no matter the outcome.

Photo courtesy of Tony the Misfit, used under its Creative Commons license

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