Sunday, April 8, 2007

Talk Radio Goes Rude, Ratings Soar

Nationally-syndicated radio talker Don Imus is in trouble over nasty, misogynistic racist remarks about African-American college basketball stars.


Will Imus be fired? No way: his show is too valuable to its corporate owners and the advertisers who sell their products there for the program to be killed.

In fact, more people will probably tune in to hear what Imus says next, attracted somewhat the way NASCAR watchers anticipate the next flaming wreck.

Remember the 2004 brouhaha over Mark Belling's on-air slur against Mexican-Americans?

Belling got hit with a week's suspension by WISN-AM's owners, but not immediately. The suspension came down only after Belling didn't apologize quickly and sincerely, giving the story and resulting protests a longer run.

It's all about the money.

Belling ratings have stayed high in the key, revenue-producing age 25-to-54 demographic (he's a real hit with the guys, apparently), even as critics, such as The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tim Cuprisin, have noted the relationship between ratings and Belling's on-air insults.

Said Cuprisin in a 2003 column describing Belling's schtick - - and it seems every bit as true today:

"Rudeness: This has developed over the years, as Mark cranks up the volume on his show to maintain listener interest. Even callers who agree with him often get yelled at for not agreeing in the right way."

So Belling is still at it, being a tasteless, rude radio money-maker, and that's why a recent segment during which, for nearly an hour, he equated a women's right to breast-feed in public with his self-declared right to "take a crap" won't get him fired.

When he's got 25-to-54-year-olds tuning in faithfully, breast-feeding can be equated with defecating and motherhood can take a back seat to making money.

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