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Book Review: 'Inside Talk Radio: America's Voice or Just Hot Air?'

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The answer (as you might have already guessed) is ”hot air” — which also helps inflate an editorial’s worth of insight into this 270-page book. Laufer finds that some hosts are, as President Clinton recently put it, ”purveyors of hatred.” But the author takes on Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, and their ilk with the firepower of a peashooter. The revelations are less than astonishing (Did you know that talk-show hosts are mainly concerned about ratings? Gasp!). Long quotations from radio dialogue, complaint letters, and other writers’ interviews make the targets more entertaining than their critic, who comes off like a minister providing titillating details of the dirty jokes he’s condemning. Laufer concludes with the characteristically namby-pamby exhortation to ”turn down [not off] your radio!” — then he paradoxically provides an appendix titled ”How to Get Yourself on the Radio.” If Laufer were on the air, you’d turn to another station. C