Thursday, November 25, 2004

Radio Hayek 

Elder and Mitch have responded to Joe Carter's observations about the state of radio. Like Joe, I am a frequent listener to NPR because there isn't that much else. I catch a local guy and about 15 minutes of Laura some mornings on KNSI, but otherwise flip between NPR and the local ESPN Radio affiliate. The Patriot doesn't reach this far northwest; when I leave the station I only get the signal to Monticello.

Joe of course says nice things about NARN, which we appreciate. As Joe and Elder both note, most commercial talk shows have a commitment to staying on top of the news cycle. One of the reasons NARN works is that we really don't have to do that, at least in the latter two hours. The advantage of a once-a-week show is that we in fact can cherry-pick the best stories in a week and drill down to those in a more in-depth way.

Another advantage is the power of distributed blogging. Mitch, Elder, Ed, the Powerliners and I do not read the same things. (Heck, looking at their Ukraine post this morning, the Powerliners don't even read me.) There is a diversity of opinion on the show, though not a forced diversity like Crossfire or Hannity&Colmes. We are not conservative talk radio as much as an audio version of the old Washington Week in Review show on PBS that used to segue after Rukeyser. (Note that I'm not recommending the current offering, oh goodness no!, just reminiscing about the ones I watched twenty-five years ago with my father.) You heard somewhat different opinions from people with a similar Weltanschauung. Which is what NARN is.

But I think the difference between them is how information comes to the show. As Scott and John demonstrated in the Rather Memogate, the beauty of the internet is the ability to collect distributed information. I called their exercise Hayekian, and indeed I think Rather's resignation this week is somewhat a triumph of the Hayekian view over the MSM's desire to centralize information in the hands of its band of reporters. The power to process is much greater. The phone calls we look for are those that add information. A feature I wish we could do more is the Blogger Hour of Power, because I hear more new information in that hour than I do watching any news show on TV. (Even on Fox.) The election night coverage with calls from bloggers in South Dakota and Wisconsin was another example of using the radio like we use the blogosphere. It was local, fresh, and distributed.

I think that's a different model, and I think that works, in a way that Hugh's show works but with a different set of eyes, a set of relative outsiders peering in as opposed to getting Beltway Boys and Smart Guys. The wisdom of Hayek's vision was that there's plenty of useful information locally in places that might otherwise seem mundane. Through blogging, we get more of that.