Friday, February 17, 2012

Talk Radio Documentary Gets Noticed by Talkers Magazine

We’ve blogged a few times about Brien Farley’s documentary “Liberty or Lies” which examined the Milwaukee conservative talk radio scene.

Now the magazine Talkers has noticed the production, and is featuring it on its front page (the link is to a page that should remain up indefinitely).
Conservative Talk Radio Documentary Getting Attention (and Ratings!) on Public TV in Milwaukee.

Former talk radio producer and talk show host Brien Farley’s new documentary film “Liberty or Lies?” examines the popularity of conservative talk radio in the Milwaukee market. The film was initially a graduate level independent study that took off and eventually found a home on Milwaukee Public Television where a two-hour version of the film premiered on January 30 from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm and aired again on February 4. Interestingly, Farley’s work on the film began just before Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Republican state officials faced recall elections in 2011 that put the state in the center of the national discourse about public policy relative to public workers’ labor rights. Farley’s film covers talk radio in the market from the perspectives of its biggest local stars, its biggest media critics and many perspectives in between. He tells TALKERS that local response to the film has been excellent noting that public television audience research firm TRAC Media Services reported the film garnered a 1.6 share for the January 30 airing. Farley is an admitted fan of the format and says he believes the Milwaukee news/talk stations serve the market well. “I think the Milwaukee market is a fantastic example of the vibrancy and power of news/talk radio when done right. The programmers at WISN and WTMJ are very tuned into their audiences and responsive to what the people want…which is the real power of the news/talk format. They’ve also corralled some excellent homegrown talent which means a lot to local listeners.” The question, “Why is conservative talk radio successful?” is an ongoing curiosity among many mainstream journalists. In fact it’s a question TALKERS editors are asked almost daily by journalists working in the consumer media. Farley says he believes his film, in many ways, shows Milwaukee to be a microcosm of news/talk’s success on the national level. “AM radio is perhaps the lowest rung of the broadcast venues and yet the impact of the genre is huge! In Wisconsin, this was manifest in the November 2010 election results in which we saw the most comprehensive turnover in power – from Democrat to Republican – of any state in the country. This would not have happened without Milwaukee’s conservative talk radio. And now with the attempted recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker, conservatives, right-leaning independents and converted Democrats are flocking to talk hosts like Jay Weber and Vicki McKenna of WISN and Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner of WTMJ to hear the latest and find out what they can do to join the fight. Like it or not, Wisconsin is becoming a very different place because of conservative talk radio. I believe the same can be said of our nation thanks to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin et al.” Read more about Farley’s film and watch it here.
Interestingly, nobody in the Marquette Communications school would agree to supervise this project as a graduate student academic course. So Farley had to come to us in Political Science (he actually needed no supervision, being a seasoned communications professional). Are the faculty in Communications thinking that they goofed? Or do they just wish that conservative talk radio would disappear?

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