The Peddlering Of Beck

  • November 8, 2023

It’s too bad there’s not more talk on “conservative” radio.

Instead, there’s endless – that’s how it comes across – peddlering; i.e., 15 minutes straight of “plugs” interrupted by 10 minutes of talk. Some of this is understandable in that plugs pay the bills. But there comes a point when the plugs so dominate the talk that it becomes increasingly difficult to listen.

Often, it is quite literally impossible – because the plugs take so much time that by the time you get to where you were headed (most people listen to talk radio in their cars, while driving someplace) there’s no more time to listen because you’re already there. I’ve had whole trips from my house to downtown – a trip of some 30 miles – go by with almost nothing but plugs emanating from the speakers, punctuated by teasers about what you’ll hear if you stay tuned through all the plugs.

I turn it all off – because it’s a big turn-off, especially because the plugs are no longer even slightly clever and are often plugs for an agenda rather than some product or service I don’t need or want.

Bad enough.

Worse – or rather, incomprehensible – is when the plugs are read by the host, thereby turning him from a host into a peddler.

Glenn Beck is especially guilty of this serial peddlering but it’s become standard operating procedure on “conservative” talk radio. Hannity does it and so do other “conservative” millionaire radio hosts who do not need to do it. These hosts aren’t poor and more to the point, they have the resources (and the following) to not have to do it (and refuse to do it).

Beck, for instance, could say: Look, I’m a radio host. I’m not a peddler. Ads are fine, but let someone else read them. Let the company that wants to peddle whatever it is they’re selling hire a guy to read the script but leave me out of it. Beck could definitely do this as he runs his own show. Regardless, h’es famous and has a big following. That is enough to draw advertisers to his show, if he needs the advertising dollars to underwrite his show. But he personally peddles – as Hannity does, as Clay and Travis do, as Wilkow does – which none of them have to and yet they do anyhow.

Rogan doesn’t – proving it’s not necessary to do it, if you have an audience. Indeed, part of the reason Rogan’s audience is so huge is almost certainly because he’s not constantly trying to sell you things because he’s paid to try to sell you things. And he’s still a millionaire.

But he’s not as relentlessly mercenary as the “conservatives” on talk radio and for that reason comes off as far more honest and real and so more appealing.

Beck and Hannity comes across as peddlers – because they are.

And because they do not need to be.

And yet, they are.

It says a lot about “conservative” talk radio. More finely, it says a lot about what “conservative” talk radio is really about, which is the making of money. Not that there is the slightest thing wrong with making money. But we are not talking about electricians or doctors or anyone else who offers a service (or a product) for sale. Beck and the others are supposedly in the business of conveying ideas. There is selling involved in this, but not of the mercenary variety. The “sale” hinges to a great extent upon whether the person listening or reading believes the speaker or writer is an honest broker of ideas and being an incessant peddler undermines that.

To understand the distinction, let’s go back to the pre-Internet newspaper days. In those days, advertising was strictly separate from editorializing. As you were reading an op-ed in say the Wall Street Journal, you did not abruptly find yourself reading a plug for Rough Green dog treats. Ads were kept physically separate from the copy – and any op-ed writer or reporter who included a plug in his copy would not be writing much copy after that.

These are deadly serious times. Such times are not the time to peddler dog treats, timeshare relief or help with your IRS problems. People who convey ideas have to make a living, of course. But they do not have to be multi-millionaires to do it. That is their choice, of course – and they have every right to make it.

My point – if Beck and the rest are reading this – is that incessant personal peddlering undermines the standing of the person attempting (ostensibly) to convey ideas contrary to the ones that have been eating away at the foundations of this country like a horde of termites for lo the last 50 years, at least.

I understand needing to pay the bills. I do not understand why it is necessary to incessantly, personally peddle at least half as much as you talk.

Cue the uh-oh-ah-uh bumpers Beck always plays in between his peddling.

. . .

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