I’ve had a surprisingly large amount of interest in my previous post “The fading of Bloomberg Radio.” Some comes from fans of Ken Prewitt, wondering where he might be and if he’s well. Some is from others who have detected the same decline in substance at Bloomberg Radio that I have.
So I decided to write about a BR program I was listening to in my car last week. It was the middle of the day, and the topic was immigration.
The guest–over the phone–came from the Cato Institute. As one might expect from an organization founded by the Koch family, he had a strong libertarian, conservative bent.
He started off with a number of anodyne statements about illegal immigration, like that:
–the overwhelming majority of farm workers are illegal immigrants,
–a tightening of border controls has resulted in a shortage of farm laborers that, in some cases, is causing farmers not to plant as much as they might like. They know they won’t be able to find workers to harvest the crops
–most jobs illegal immigrants take–farm work in particular–are ones American citizens don’t want. They’re seasonal, and they’re hard physical labor.
At this point, the host groaned her disbelief and asked about the effect of the minimum wage on American interest in farm jobs.
The guest replied that the minimum wage is not an issue here, that, for example, some apple pickers in Oregon earn $28 an hour. (The average for farm workers, according to the Wall Street Journal, is around $10.50/hour. The guest didn’t say this; the host apparently had done no preparation for her work that day.)
The guest then said that the government was the main factor in Americans’ aversion to farm work. To someone collecting unemployment insurance, he continued, relocating to take a farm job made no economic sense. A little polemical, maybe, but a subject for discussion if one thought the opposite.
Not for our host, however. She became audibly angry …and then HUNG UP on the guest!
I have to admit that this isn’t the first time I’ve heard behavior like this. Sometimes, on a long drive I’ll choose WFAN over Bloomberg. I listen typically when Mike Francesa (formerly part of the “Mike and the Mad Dog” duo–but the MD went to satellite radio) is on the air. It’s a staple of this broadcast form for the host to disconnect a rambling or ill-informed caller. In fact, some of these shows are simulcast on TV, so you can actually see the host turning to switchboard and pressing the “off” button. He continues to talk, however, as if the caller is still on the line–but awed into silence by the host’s discourse.
The twist, in my Bloomberg case, is that the guest was the coherent, polite and well-informed one–yet all that got him was a dial tone when the host showed herself to be the unarmed opponent in a duel of wits.
A new low, in my Bloomberg Radio experience.