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December 6, 2022 36 min
In the 1970s, talk radio was hitting its stride, with hosts and listeners from all political persuasions. But the radio dial was about to change forever. Community needs assessments, requirements to offer public service programs and multiple perspectives, and limits on how many stations a single company could own were all eradicated. Technological and legal changes would consolidate the radio industry exponentially, allowing conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh to take over the airwaves. In this episode, we look at radio’s last four decades to understand how we got to where we are today, and how conservative talk radio came to dominate a medium that once thrived on varied viewpoints.


The Divided Dial is hosted by journalist and Fulbright Fellow Katie Thornton. Her written articles and audio stories have appeared in The Atlantic, 99% Invisible, The Washington Post, BBC, NPR, WNYC, Minnesota Public Radio, The Guardian, Bloomberg’s CityLab, National Geographic, and others. She is a lifelong radio nerd who got her start in media as a teenager, volunteering and working behind the scenes at radio stations for many years. You can follow her work on Instagram or on her website.
The Divided Dial was edited by On the Media's executive producer, Katya Rogers. With production support from Max Balton and fact-checking by Tom Colligan, Sona Avakian, and Graham Hacia. Music and sound design by Jared Paul. Jennifer Munson is our technical director. Art by Michael Brennan
With support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
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