NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

February 2, 2013

Remembering the heyday of local talk radio

For more than 30 years, talk radio has been the best friend of center-right activists, here in Massachusetts, across the nation. While nationally, the syndicated hosts still have influence, our local version is almost dead. I mourn; I don’t know what to do without it.

When I moved here in the ‘70s, my Massachusetts-native husband suggested I listen to Avi Nelson on WHDH to get the lay of the political land. Avi at the time was helping to fight court-ordered busing in Boston. And now, he is one of the two great Boston-radio talk hosts still on the air.

I hope some North Shore readers remember talk host Irv Kaiser; his Lynn studio was on my way to my new job at Citizens for Limited Taxation, so it was a good place to start my “career” as a talk show guest. Years later, he invited me on his new show at Salem’s WESX, as did Al Needham.

My second 1979 CLT assignment was the David Brudnoy Show. He had filled in when Avi ran for office, and eventually they were both fixtures on Boston-based radio. By then, I was CLT’s executive director and doing regular stints with them, as well as with Pat Whitley and Gene Burns. I even filled in for Avi once, quickly realized I preferred being a guest with nothing to do but focus on my issue — which at that time was the initiative petition Proposition 21/2.

While we also had support for our property tax limit from many newspaper editorial boards, I don’t think we could have won this intensely fought battle without talk radio, which encouraged people to help collect signatures on the petition and become activists during the ballot campaign.

Over the years, I drove to the Moe Lausier and Henry Varreiro shows in Fall River/New Bedford, to Paul Sullivan in Lowell, regularly went to Worcester and as far as Springfield and Holyoke. Doing talk radio was a vital part of my job.

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