Kevin Ross: Talk Radio’s Segregated Airwaves

Dallas South is excited to welcome current blogger and former municipal judge Kevin Ross in for a guest blogging spot this week. The noted Republican hosts The Kevin Ross Show, a conservative political show on Blog Talk Radio and blogs at Three Brothers and a Sister.

I met Kevin at last year’s Blogging While Brown Conference, and while our political views often differ we’ve developed a pretty good working relationship. Kevin and I have appeared on NPR’s News and Notes together three times, including the day that it was announced that the show was canceled.

Many thanks to Boss Ross for sharing his opinion on African-Americans in radio with us this week. This is part one of a five-part, week-long series where Kevin details the plight of talk radio in Los Angeles which mirrors the reality all over the nation.

By Kevin Ross

On KRLA AM 870, a Salem Network talk station broadcasting from Glendale, the day kicks off with Bill Bennett, followed by Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and Dennis Miller. Kevin James, perhaps best known for the intellectual beat down from host Chris Matthews when he appeared on MSNBC’s “Hardball”, rounds out the evening.

Bill Bennett

Aside from the fact that each of these individuals is unabashedly conservative, they also have something else in common. All of them are men. White men!

Switch over to Southern California’s number one talk station, powerhouse KFI AM 640, and the Monday through Friday line-up is slightly more balanced. George Noury begins at midnight. Next up is Bill Handel’s morning drive, the political musings of Rush Limbaugh, followed by in-your-face, no-nonsense advice from Dr. Laura Schlesinger. John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou pick up the torch during afternoon drive before former MTV personality Kennedy and Brian Suits close it out.

Although all the personalities are Caucasian, two women – Dr. Laura and Kennedy – are prominently featured on the roster.

But travel across town to rival KABC AM 790 and it’s back to business as usual. The L.A. station that invented the all-talk radio format almost fifty years ago now has a white male weekday lead host in every one of its time slots. Up until last year, The Citadel owned outlet was home to nationally syndicated host Larry Elder.

Larry Elder

Known as the “Sage of South Central”, Elder’s conservative Libertarian opinions were espoused three and sometimes four hours a day on the station for 15 years. In fact KABC, which also owned KMPC AM 710 The Zone before it became Radio Disney and later ESPN, had at one point six black talk show hosts on two stations as part of its line-up in the late 90’s.

Elder was among them. He was not only the most successful, but also the most controversial for what many believed were “anti-black” views.

Today, only civil rights attorney Leo Terrell is on the air. His show relegated to Sunday afternoons.

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