After publishing my latest tongue-in-cheek rant about attitudes toward communication media through the years, it occurred to me that I had left one out. Correction: I wasn’t the one doing the ranting; I was reporting on other people’s rants. I covered books, telephones, movies, television, comic books, cell phones, and computers. The general public has complained about all of the above at one time or another as being harbingers of doom as far as our kids’ IQs are concerned. But had I missed something?
Later, I was worried that I had left out radio. But of all the comments I received about the article, no one called me on it. Then after a moment’s reflection, I realized why. Radio is benign.
Vociferous wailings about the other media rotting our children’s gray matter abound, but how much have you heard about radio? Sure, when rock and roll made its debut in the early 50s, many parents complained that it was the Devil’s music, among other negative qualities. But radio was just the conduit, and nobody seemed ready to shoot that messenger. If you’re in a restaurant and the soup you ordered tastes like the contents of the grease trap, you don’t blame the bowl.
TV and movies were inseparably identified with their content, but radio got a pass. Because at the same time your Philco was polluting the airwaves with ear splitting rock ‘n roll, it was also bringing you wholesome big-band music along with such all-American fare as Arthur Godfrey and Art Linkletter. It’s an attitudinal impossibility to be angry at the box that brings you both “Jailhouse Rock” and “Kids Say The Darndest Things.”
Radio has its issues, but most people will tell you it’s in pretty good shape. Except for AM talk radio. But that’s another rant.