All Politics Is/Are/Should Be Local
October 5, 2012
The sample ballot showed up in the mail yesterday. I dutifully checked where my polling place will be, then paged through the booklet, and after the momentary amusement of seeing Roseanne Barr's name listed at the top of the presidential choices, I was reminded about something that's true in most of the U.S. right now:
The least important page in the booklet is the presidential race.
Oh, that doesn't mean the presidency is unimportant. It means that it's the one race in the booklet in which my vote is, for all practical purposes, irrelevant. My state, California, is not up for grabs. That race was over decades ago. There are pages and pages of referenda and other races that are still in play, but the "big one," the presidential race, is happening in those far-off lands called "swing states" and "battleground states," not here. We're not seeing any Obama or Romney commercials here. They're not wasting money trying to affect a race that's a foregone conclusion.
And this is where local talk radio should be indispensable. There are many other things that aren't foregone conclusions in that sample ballot booklet. We have eleven statewide ballot measures, some of which will significantly raise taxes. There are three county measures, There's a county D.A. race. The post-debate talk radio frenzy over the presidential election has been amusing, but that's all happening someplace foreign like Nevada or Ohio or Florida. OUR commercial breaks, on radio or TV, are filled with political ads for or against the ballot measures, and they raise issues that can and should be making for great talk radio, from blatantly misleading voters about what the referenda actually do to who's financing the measures. In L.A., at least, one station's local shows HAVE been hammering on those things. The ratings and revenue are stellar.
Why isn't that the norm everywhere?
Maybe because it's easier to just talk about Obama and Romney. Maybe because local issues don't seem as exciting or fun or sexy. Maybe because nobody's talking about Proposition 30 on Twitter and Facebook. Maybe because hosts aspire to syndication, where local and state issues are verboten. Maybe because there aren't many -- or any -- local shows left in some markets. But for an industry which, at its trade shows, touts the importance of localism, there's less attention to local issues -- whether election-related or just what's happening in your area -- than there really should be. If you're a local host in a non-battleground state and you're spending all of your time on the same presidential political issues the syndicated shows are covering, or if you ARE in a battleground state and you aren't bringing the national election down to what it means for your local issues and concerns, you're missing a bet. After all, if the Washington crowd still subscribes to Tip O'Neill's dictum that "all politics is local," maybe you should, too.
Even though the hundreds of items at Talk Topics at All Access News-Talk-Sports are from all over the world, you should be able to take them and give 'em a local spin if you want. And you should want. And follow Talk Topics on Twitter at @talktopics for maximum ease of use. Oh, and don't miss "10 Questions With..." Cindy Dole, who's transformed her career from news anchoring and reporting to hosting the now-syndicated home improvement show "Home Wizards." Read the interview and find out how she did it.
Follow me on Twitter, too: @pmsimon. I'm on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pmsimon as well. And I also serve as Editor-in-Chief of Nerdist.com, where you'll find fun stuff about pop culture; watch the Nerdist Channel at YouTube, too.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to investigate the critical local issue of why I can't find any Now and Laters in the candy section of the stores around here. We're almost at Halloween and I'm falling behind in my annual ritual of Eating All The Halloween Candy Before Halloween. Time's a-wastin'.