A friend of mine and of the station shared a recent non-Arbitron research finding that three central coast talk radio stations have distinct listener bases with little crossover. Apparently, the audiences of KNRY 1240 AM, KSCO 1080 AM, and KUSP 88.9 FM – an NPR affiliate – do not overlap. Whether KRXA shares listeners with any of these stations was not addressed. At first, I was somewhat surprised by the findings but upon reflection they make a lot of sense. First of all, KNRY has very few listeners – probably averaging a few hundred at most – at any given time. Then too, it is likely that those few listeners are almost all on the Monterey Peninsula. KSCO’s audience is much bigger of course but is centered in Santa Cruz where KNRY doesn’t come in real strong. Also, KSCO’s die-hards are largely far-right dittoheads who can’t be bothered with the facts. By contrast, KUSP’s listeners are mostly Santa Cruz 60′s liberals and wannabe 60′s liberals who instinctively despise the Zwerlings, are suspicious of AM radio, and who, less understandably, prefer their political talk devoid of humor, personality, or modulation.
While my friend did not mention KRXA’s audience, I do know that we share some listeners with KSCO, although I have no idea how many. A number of the KRXA faithful keep me posted on the Zwerlings’ antics. I have also heard KRXA callers on KSCO on occasion. The overlap results I think because both stations have at least one good local host – Rosemary does a decent job in the morning – and relatively strong signals. Also, KSCO’s audience-grabber Limbaugh can be entertaining (in a sick way) as are (I hope) our hosts (but not in a sick way).
Another similarity both by my friend and I have observed is that despite their political differences, many KSCO and KRXA listeners seem to share an “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality. And, frankly, I think both groups are right to have this worldview.
Let’s start with the average right-wing extremist who listens to Rush with absolute faith in every venomous word that drips from his lips. To believe Rush, he must wipe compassion and empathy from his hard drive and reject huge swaths of science and even the evidence of his own eyes and ears. If an individual or news organization describes any of the massive suffering caused by conservatives and their policies or even pays lip service to basic facts, that entity becomes immediately suspect to the doctrinaire conservative. Basic human decency and reality quickly and easily decimate every claim that Rush makes and more generally his perverted ideology. But, if you love Rush and if your entire worldview is based on his, how are you likely to respond to anybody who pokes holes in it?
Now let’s move to the average KRXA listener. Over the past 30 years, she (or he) has watched with ever-increasing despair: 1) the growing gulf between rich and poor, 2) the onrushing ecological disasters that now beset us and without immediate corrective action threaten extinction to 2/3rds of extant species, 3) our killing sprees on foreign shores, 4) unpunished torturers in our midst, 5) 20+ percent of American children living in poverty, 6) Tens of millions of good middle-class American jobs transported to the far east, and 7) on and on and on. At the same time, this liberal observes the mainstream news media trying to distract us and the conservative media demonizing those who try to improve the current unacceptable situation. How is this thinking caring fully human individual likely to respond to anybody who refuses to condemn conservatives, i.e., those who 1) are (a) directly responsible for and (b) profiting from this tragic situation and 2) refuse even to acknowledge real solutions?
The answer to the question: How does each group of listeners respond to those who don’t share their views? Each looks at the other derisively, with dismay, and ultimately frustration and anger.