A few years ago I started doing radio as well. So now when I listen it’s not only for the information they’re giving; it’s also to get ideas for stories (usually by noticing what gender angles or women’s voices are left out of the other shows), and to learn to do it better from people who have more experience and professional training.
But somewhere along the line, I stopped enjoying it so much. Of course, I still sometimes hear things that inspire, enliven, uplift or enlighten me, but more often, I turn it off feeling more despondent than I did when I turned it on.
What changed, the radio or me?
photo by 4rilla
No one said anything about what those of us who want to see a different strategy can or should do to bring it about. Democracy Now! interviewed Terry O’Neill of the National Organization for Women, who spearheaded a campaign to get Congress to protect the needs of women, but they didn’t interview her until after the deal had been approved in Congress. I interviewed her the week before, when at least people could sign the online petition, but I don’t have the listenership that DN! has. I don’t say that it would have made a difference if another few thousand people had signed a petition, but at least it would have given people some way to participate.
Along about Thursday, a phrase flashed into my mind. News Fatigue. I’m not sure where I first heard of it, but I sure know I’ve got it. At a party the other night, I mentioned this to a number of friends and acquaintances, and nearly everyone said, “Oh, yes, I don’t listen to any of those shows any more.” A couple people mentioned things they’re listening to instead. Then Sunday evening, I happened to catch part of New America Now: Voices from the New Majority (Fridays at noon and Sundays at 3 pm on KALW 91.7 FM San Francisco). They were talking about redistricting, and the part that I heard went into depth about how prisons are used to give disproportionate influence to some very small districts. It was fascinating. I’d never heard that, it made total sense and it explained some things I had never understood. I was so interested, I sat in my car for fifteen minutes after I got where I was going.
So here are six shows I’m going to listen to instead of the daily news-oriented shows, and if you have News Fatigue, you might want to try them too:
1. Fresh Air (KALW 9-10 am, repeated 6-7 pm; KQED 1-2 pm or 7-8 pm; podcast available): Terry Gross asks great questions and has interesting people on. It’s usually upbeat without being fluffy. Her guest on Monday was Charles C. Mann, author of 1493, which documents how Columbus changed the world by introducing Europe and the Americas to each other’s crops, animals and diseases. She's more progressive on most issues than you might think.
2. Your Call (KALW 10-11 am, repeated at 8-9 pm; available for download): Maybe it’s because it’s a call-in show, but they almost always have a more grassroots angle on whatever issues they’re covering. They bring in a lot of local folks you hardly ever hear elsewhere. (One week, their Friday media roundtable even included a guy from Socialist Worker!) A recent show I heard was “How Are Magazines Surviving” with editors and publishers of Bitch, Utne Reader and The Sun.
3. Are We Alone? Really cool science show on KALW (Tuesdays at 1:00 pm), also available for podcast or download. The last show, “Written in Code” explores “ENCORE Genes – what are they good for? Absolutely… something. But not everything. Your “genius” genes need to be turned on – and your environment determines that. Find out how to unleash your inner-Einstein, and what scientists learned from studying the famous physicist’s brain.”
4. This American Life (KALW Sundays 1:00 pm, KQED Saturday noon and 10:00 pm or by podcast): With rare exceptions, it’s interesting, funny and unexpected. The last one I heard (I podcast it, but I often forget to download the podcasts and they’re only available for two weeks) was called “When Patents Attack!” and was about patent trolls. Don’t know what that is? You want to find out!