Photo credit: Institute for Local Self Reliance
For as long as I’ve had a driver’s license, I’ve been a radio-in-the-car guy. I will admit that my listening habits have changed a lot. Most radio stations don’t play music I like (especially now that I’m temporarily out of Nashville), so I’m more likely to have Apple Music plugged in. Otherwise, it’s news news news. And I have been hearing some remarkable stuff on my 24/7 go-to-station in Philly, KYW: all news, all the time, with traffic and weather on the twos—you give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world .
Let me back up for a moment. I’ve grown less and less interested in much of what public radio has to offer these days. “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” remain fine broadcasts, as do the regular news updates, but I simply cannot abide “1A,” “Here and Now,” “The Takeaway,” and all those other opinion shows—which always seem to have the same mealy-mouthed, tote-bagger slant.
KYW, on the other hand, is a CBS affiliate, just like New York AM giants 880 WCBS and 1010 WINS, WBZ in Boston, and WWJ in Detroit, among others. This is meat and potatoes news, no [explicit] opinionating, low-information news. In other words, Kent Brockman news.
That’s not to say that KYW doesn’t have an opinion—it’s just that you have to be able to hear the dogwhistle, as it were. A friend refers to them as “the fascist golfer station,” and indeed they are very very very pro-business. They keep tabs on the markets almost as much as they keep tabs on the weather.
But their audience isn’t just old, rich, white businessmen who don’t like paying taxes or meeting environmental standards. It’s 1.5 million people going to work in the morning who don’t start the day listening to some rightwing nutjob go off on a rant OR the eggheads at NPR talking about whatever it is they talk about over there.
That’s actually what makes a station like KYW so insidious—it quietly pushes the listener in a certain political direction without obviously saying so. But that’s also why the past few days have been so interesting: KYW has been utterly savaging Donald Trump, and with the barest of veils.
Yesterday, their “Reporters’ Roundup” segment focused almost exclusively on Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that Americans trust governors and mayors more the the administration “which can’t even agree on basic facts.” That’s pretty much a verbatim quite. They were openly aghast at the suggestion that Americans inject themselves with disinfectant or put UV lights up our asses. And so on, for about 7 minutes into a show that’s only a half hour, including commercials.
This… this isn’t normally the kind of thing KYW does. At the very least, they would “both sides” the issue. In fact, while writing this I had to stop and make dinner—so I put on the radio, and they were STILL bashing him, noting that Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Birx was openly wincing while Trump spoke, and openly calling out the president for lying. It’s like hearing Fred Rogers casually drop f-bombs as the trolley heads off the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
I’m generally careful not to get over my skis, but it strikes me as important that Trump seems to have lost the most basic corporate news in a major market, in a state he has to win, and where he is underwater.