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Talk Radio Impacts Elections at Light Speed
Nuance in every election season has its hazards.
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 by John Longenecker

John LongeneckerAmerica found a new resource when the
decades-old all-talk format made the move to hosting guest experts.

Audiences responded by tuning in for education and participation, utilizing talk radio as a more reliable resource. Listeners are listening and they are hearing. I call the societal education value of talk radio the light speed comparing of notes. It succeeds rather well because it is fast, responsive, and almost entirely unfiltered.

What makes the all-talk format reliable is the challenge to the guest live and how the guest expert must respond live. The guest needs to think on his/her feet without the protections inherent in being in the classroom or the lab. The idea of hearing it from the author becomes a two-edged sword. In this regard, nuance has always been more in tone, pause, thoughtfulness, objectivity and more. You can hear it all on the air as it becomes the body language of talk radio.
In a specialized media training advice on what makes a good guest in every election season -- and perhaps even worldwide -- we, as consultants and as consumers in one, may expect to see guest media training on the subject of nuance of a different type: the composition of a response.
I'm not a fan of the new nuance. As a denizen of talk radio as a guest expert and listener, I do not recommend nuance as a style of educating listeners. Nuance, to my way of thinking, has always been the sincerity of the on-air persona of the guest. Today, nuance is actually issue-spotting or making issue as opposed to legitimate clarification on a fine point. The name itself is a nuance of re-branding the practice of spin, re-characterizing an issue by showing an exception or a unnoticed benefit; the spin is betrayed when the nuance is irrelevant and gets in a lick, instead of performing the public service to the audience.
I bring this up because every guest is expected to have all the answers and to be objective on something such as the Vote. This means finer points, yes, but when those points are made, every single one needs to be a distinction with a difference; without this value, the nuance sounds more like a hostility than welcome objectivity.
This hazard for a guest is increasing. Audiences are better at their critical thinking, a little more battle-hardened now from being lied to, mocked behind closed doors, called stupid, vexed, and generally having a sense of being double-crossed.

Apologies for calling people stupid and coming clean about revealing privy attitudes that they really believe that people are stupid aren't enough anymore. They are most unwelcome and eschewed as illegitimate debate, and this is at it should be. Conservative, liberal or in between, any guest who wants to defend their thesis, therefore, needs a tone of helpfulness instead of giving listeners the distinct feeling of superiority.
Calling spin nuance is to put lipstick on every pig in the stye. If the lack of civility doesn't change, one may at first appear to win any argument and then lose the election.
In this country, each side has views of genuine merit, but the new nuance can make a fatal mistake in forgetting one reality of life, public relations life: no matter what the merit of your nuance, the electorate will ignore it if they dislike and distrust you. It's even more assured if the guest ever reveals by nuance how they dislike the electorate.

John Longenecker is an established author and contributor, and has been
a frequent talk radio guest expert on hundreds of stations large and small.
He now coaches contributors to be their best on-air persona as a
guest expert. His website is

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