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Shocker: Carcieri (hearts) talk radio

Is it really news, as Kathy Gregg reports today, that Governor Carcieri loves talk radio? I suppose so, given how "the memo" encouraged him to go around the ProJo in communicating with the public. The bottom line, as noted in fewer words by Linda Levin and Darrell West, is that while talkers generate political discussion, they don't tend to have a broad impact on elections.

Talk radio is where the voters are,” says Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine. “So right there, by being on talk radio, you get to the part of the population … that is the true electorate.”

With Carcieri barred by term-limits from running for reelection, former GOP chairman Kehew sees another possible impetus: his approval ratings plunged from 59 percent in January to 44 percent in the last Brown University poll in September. “Maybe that’s why he’s going on the radio. He thinks he needs to sharpen that image up.”

Others — including Linda Lotridge Levin, chairwoman of the University of Rhode Island journalism department — question the wisdom of relying too heavily on one medium.

“What he is doing is preaching to the choir. The choir likes him and he doesn’t have to deal with any tough questions. Good public relations? Yes. Good government? Not necessarily,” observes Levin, who has a new book out on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 1940s-era master of radio as a medium to soothe and inform a worried public.

“Talk radio listeners tend to be older and more conservative in their political views,” says Brown University political science Prof. Darrell West, so for Carcieri “talk radio is a good way to rally the base. But the governor cannot reach the full cross-section of voters through radio.”

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