I love talk radio.
It may stem from the years I spent driving with my dad as a child. With dad, there was no tuning in to to the throngs of New York city’s music stations – no chance of hearing ABBA or KC and the Sunshine Band. With dad it was all talk radio.
Some of it was a real snore, especially the shows that gave investment advice. That was when you stared out the window watching the scenery whiz by dreaming of the day the Walkman would be invented. But sometimes the shows were interesting, especially Bob Grant who would yell at callers if he was in the mood to do so. I thought he was horribly mean, but it made for good radio.
When I got a car of my own my love for talk radio grew. Whenever I made trips to the Jersey Shore or down to U of D, I’d turn to talk radio because, quite frankly, it got tiring listening to music. The stations could get very repetative – my brain would need a break from That’s What Friends are For.
Plus you would drive in and out of FM station range, usually during a song you loved. But for some reason AM radio waves travel super far. I live in Virginia, and sometimes on a clear night I can get 1010 WINS from New York City.
On these drives I found and fell in love with advice shows. Sally Jesse Raphael was always a good find – throngs of folks calling in to ask advice on a myriad of topics, some boring some bizarre. And who can forget Dr. Ruth talking about errrrrrections? (roll the “r”!) Now that was entertaining radio!
Years later when I moved to Florida I was desperately looking for a good talk radio advice show. Enter Dr. Laura. At first I was really excited – more troubled folk and expert advice – sign me up! But it didn’t take long for me to realize that Dr. Laura was, to put it mildly, a judgemental bitch.
One of her favorite things to harp on was working mothers, of which I was (and still am) one. In her mind there was no excuse what so ever for working when you had children. I would hear callers attempt to get advice about a problem, but if good old Dr. Laura got wind that you were a working mom you now had a second problem to deal with and rarely got any solutions to your first one.
That was the Dr. Laura game, and I got tired of getting angry and screaming at my dashboard. So I tuned her out. That was 15 years ago. But I have to admit, every now and then I need a Dr. Laura refresher dose.
Talk radio here in Charlottesville is nothing to write home about. Althought it’s a fairly liberal college town, the local radio stations didn’t get that memo. It’s all Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingram and other ultra right-wing brain washing shows. They used to have Clark Howard on, but they got rid of him, and I stopped listening to the radio and moved on to audiobooks.
But lately I haven’t been able to latch onto a book that I really like so I turned to podcasts. Remembering my love of advice, searched for advice podcasts and stumbled across Dr. Laura. Should I or shouldn’t I? What the hell, I thought and downloaded 4 calls just to see if she was still as big of an asshole as I remember her being.
Call 1 – woman just got out of a 3 year abusive relationship and needs advice on how to move on. Right off the bat Dr. Laura digs for items she can use to cause shame – how long after your divorce did you start to date him? How many minor children in the household? You could almost hear the woman trying to answer in a way where Dr. Laura could find little fault in her.
Ha! Fat chance. A little over 1 minute in Dr. Laura called her pathetic – when the woman pressed on seeking help, Dr. Laura says, “Ok, so tell me why you are so stupid and weak.” What a saint.
Call 2 – A nurse calls in saying she is nervous about an upcoming surgery and was concerned about how she would feel becoming the patient. Dr. Laura’s response? “Well this tells me you look down on your patients.”
When the woman began to argue and defend herself, Dr. Laura said “I’m right – don’t you argue with me,” and then continued on to tell the woman that as a nurse she considers herself superior to her patients and gives them substandard care. And then finished the sentence with “Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”
It wasn’t until the woman was in tears that Dr. Laura pulled back and actually made an attempt to help her.
Call 3 – This was a classic Dr. Laura case. A 19 year old girl calls asking advice on ending her 3 year relationship with her boyfriend. Dr. Laura immediately discounts any validity in her relationship because you can’t possibly know what love is at 19. Then she berates the girl for shacking up and “Laying on her back and opening up her legs.”
You could hear the girl trying her best to ignore the snarky quips and attempt to get some advice, but it was tough coming. Eventually it came out that this poor girl was in foster care most of her life after getting away from an abuse mother. Then Dr. Douchebag was a bit more understanding of how she might have made some wrong choices and gave her some advice.
I never got to call 4. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was only 3 phone calls in and I was ready to punch her repeatedly.
But in those three calls I saw a pattern. Dr. Laura’s m.o. is to first shame you into submission if you have done anything that remotely goes against her strict moral code – the way she thinks the earth should turn. Then maybe she’ll help you. That puts her in charge; you’re a loser and you suck and you are to shut up and listen. I’ve seen dogs treated better than these poor souls that were coming to her for help.
She used this tactic in every call – she’s nothing but a big bully who makes a living putting folks who are already miserable in their place, and then rubbing their noses in their dispair for the sheer fun of it.
So I got my booster shot. She’s still a high riding bitch with followers who love abuse. Sigh. There will be no more of her podcasts on my iPod.
Now Clark Howard? That’s another story – he gives advice I can use. And he’s nice as pie to boot.
Footnote: I’m very proud of myself for having the restraint to not use the c word – it would have fit so nicely, too.