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Lucy Perkins 

How I Became a Talk Radio Junkie

This is a sad story that begins at about 6:30am each weekday morning. Six thirty is about the time that I'm hauling my butt to work every morning. Six thirty is also the time when I become very focused on psyching myself up for the day ahead or, if that seems too overwhelming, at least keeping myself awake until I can get that initial caffeine fix.

One of the ways I try to brighten up my morning is by listening to music. "Try" is the operative word here because, as anyone who has attempted to find music on the radio during the morning drive knows, actual music is scarce while the morning radio shows are on the air. Although I've tried singing to myself in lieu of radio music, I am not blessed with the ability to remember any more than miscellaneous words from the chorus of any given song. Therefore, even popular and uncomplicated tunes such as "Black Hole Sun" become "Black Hole Sun. . .come. . .won't you come. . ." repeated over and over again in my limited rendition. The only songs that aren't from a musical that I know all of the words to are "The Star-Spangled Banner" and my high school's alma mater, which I remember because it can be set to the tune of "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Neither of these musical numbers keeps me awake for more than half a minute. Thus, many moons ago it became apparent that I would be forced to turn to the spoken word for my morning drive accompaniment.

Nothing but disappointment and disillusionment lay that way. I tried to stick with The End, what with me being in their target audience and all. But once they knocked off the at least semi-literate John Hancock in favor of Bob and Tom, two of the biggest idiots to ever put mouth to microphone, I had to abandon that station on the morning drive. On the few mornings when I, for whatever reason, end up listening to a few minutes of Bob and Tom's show, I can actually feel my brain cells committing suicide. I'm convinced that show literally makes you dumber.

Unfortunately, what I soon discovered was that nearly every station in Charlotte had its own version of Bob and Tom. True, some of the morning pairs are more rooted in the tradition of bathroom humor than others, and there is some variation in the utter stupidity of the hosts (though not much). It's so bad, I can hardly even tell one dumbass duo from the next when I flip between stations. I'm sure that there are tried and true methods for distinguishing the comedy stylings of John Boy from the Eggman's antics, but to be honest I haven't been able to stick with any particular show long enough to learn such methods. Why the radio stations opt for the kind of drivel these men spout over music is beyond me.

What it comes down to is that the morning radio personality situation in Charlotte is dire. There is nothing but testosterone out there, and even then none of the good kind of testosterone that makes men attractive, like Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies, only the kind that makes men seem like crude ogres, like Homer Simpson. The lone bastion of estrogen is Sheri Lynch, of Bob and Sheri fame. I tried really hard to listen to that show because I wanted to support the leading voice for women in morning radio, but I couldn't get past Bob. I also have to give Ace and T.J. a little slack because at least they're nice, even though scintillating morningtime conversationalists they're not.

What's a girl to do? I had to listen to something, I had only men to choose from and I'm a relatively intelligent, thinking person (which is not up for discussion, you wise guys). I ended up with talk radio. WBT, Charlotte's talk radio station, isn't exactly head and shoulders above other area radio stations in diversity, but at least it provides thorough news coverage of Charlotte every morning. I do sometimes flip over to National Public Radio as well; actually, NPR started this whole downhill slide since I've always enjoyed Talk of the Nation in the afternoons. As far as news goes, I've discovered that you can almost get an objective view of the news if you sort of squeeze WBT and NPR's coverage together in your mind. Almost.

So at that point, my decision to turn to talk radio was merely a lesser-of-13-or-14-evils sort of decision. The afternoon drive home program was what cemented the deal. Because my station was already tuned to WBT for the morning program, each afternoon when I cranked up, I heard a few minutes of the afternoon program, hosted by Richard Spires and Brad Krantz. At first, I thought the program was lame. But as I continued to listen, I became addicted. No matter what the issue, I was anxious to hear the often-opposing views of Spires and Krantz, with the hysterically funny redneck-like views of the local callers being an added bonus. And now that I've been listening to their show for some time, I really do have to say that the boys, despite their maleness, are two of the more genuine radio personalities I've ever simultaneously loved and hated. Krantz is an old-fashioned liberal who actually has a philosophy, and Spires, contrary to popular belief, isn't a party line Republican but a Libertarian (although he loses his edge when it comes to religious freedom).

Anyway, I fear that I've now become the type of nerd who will be unable to extricate herself from the bonds of talk radio now that I've become addicted. And for this sad situation I have no one to blame but Charlotte radio stations, most of whom have nothing better to offer us than double servings of boring white guys. How many white, male listeners can there possibly be in the Charlotte market? Maybe the radio stations should start brainstorming something for the rest of us. *

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