The History of Talk Radio

It was back in the 1930’s that we first heard something new on the radio, the idea of listeners being able to interact with the disc jockey.  The first DJ to use this format was John J Anthony from WMRJ based in Long Island New York.  This was the first time that listeners could call into the show and discuss their problems or their political views live on the air.  That’s when radio stations discovered the potential that this format had with listener interaction and it was a sure fire way to increase their audience.

The History of Talk Radio

How does talk radio work?

Talk radio is just like any other format it function on an advertising business model and local and national companies pay the station money to have their advertisements broadcast during popular programs.  Every radio station charges a fee for advertising but the actual dollar amount will depend on the ratings of the station and the number of listeners to a particular program.

When did it take hold?

While talk radio may have gotten its start in the 30’s it wasn’t until the 60’s at KCLA in Los Angeles where a DJ from ABC named Joe Pyne really cemented talk radio on the airwaves.  Pyne was a character that was known to be confrontational and fro the time very controversial and it was his job to evoke an emotional response from the listeners at the time.  He had a pretty broad platform and he retained creative control of the show and it turned into a smash hit.  He would often tell guests to “go gargle with razor blades” particularly those that did not agree with his point of view.  Here is a look at some early talk radio pioneers.

The Audience

Talk radio audiences are far different from people who listen to music based radio.  Talk radio itself has evolved over the years.  Talk radio hosts have become political voices, where the personality of the radio host has a platform to voice their personal opinions on political issues facing us today.  Since WWII talk radio has provided a political forum to discuss current issues.  It’s not just used for political discussions some other extremely popular shows include sports radio and talk concerning what is happening in professional sports.

Since the development of the internet many talk radio stations have moved from traditional broadcasting to an internet broadcast.  Talk radio was streamed over the internet as early as 1993.  The internet has become a powerful tool for talk radio and it is also more cost effective than traditional broadcast, it also allows for the average person to create their own talk radio show without becoming part of a bigger radio network.