I don't know why I do it. It happens whenever I'm riding in my car and NPR is playing classical music instead of news, the local college radio station is playing their wierdest mix of monotonous, noisy, cat-wailing and white noise, and the corporate music station...well, the Clear Channels of the world continuously suck without fail. I've given up on them almost entirely. When I can't find anything else worth listening to on the radio, which is most of the time, I can usually count on A.M. talk radio to keep my interest. I should go ahead and listen to the classical music, but if I'm trying not to fall asleep at the wheel classical isn't my best option. Talk radio is sometime about all I can handle. Plus, I think there is a tiny streak of masacism in me somewhere that allows me to actually enjoy the Rushes and Hannitys of the world. Luckily for me, Jim Rome takes care of my lunch hour so I'm much less likely to turn it to the Limbaugh Liberal Bashing Hour. If you've never heard Jim Rome, he's a lot like political radio talk show host except his subject is sports, so if you're getting offended you are taking subject way to seriously. Plus, he make remarks like like this: "Want a Sling-Box (a prize he gives away to callers who make comments that he agrees with)? I'm giving Sling-Boxes away left and right, today. I'm easy, today. Today, I'm the Paris Hilton of Sling-Boxes!" That one made me laugh for a long time.
But, other times there is no respite of quality journalism, as heard on NPR, or humorous and inconsequential off-colored humor, as heard from Rome. Sometimes the only non-musical radio I can get is the ultra-conservative mudslingers that pepper the A.M. dial. Houston doesn't have the luxery of having Air America, and so I find myself yelling at the radio words that are typically reserved for 90 year old geriatrics stopped on the entrance ramp of the freeway.
So, why do I do it? Why do I listen to people with whom I know that I'm going to disagree? Nay, not just disagree, but vehemently refute, 100%? Why put myself through that. I think that there are a number of reasons. It starts with the realization that I don't think I would listen to Air America as much even if it were available. Furthermore, I think that it also goes along with why liberal talk radio doesn't do as well as conservative talk radio.
Okay, I'm about to make a blanket generalization that is only based in honest observation and how I personally feel and by ideological trends. I think, therefore that it is a generalization, but a fair one.
Conservatives want to hear people telling them that they are right while liberals like to be challenged and confrontational. Thus, conservative talk radio is listened to by both liberals and conservatives alike, because it gives everyone their "fix."
Here is how I came about this: First of all, Liberal talk radio isn't nearly as popular. NPR is what conservatives consider "liberal" which really isn't at all, as far as what is covered. Sure, it's supported by public funds in some part, which is considered a "liberal" ideal, and even if there were some liberal slant (which if that is true, carries a quite logical explanation)there is no one on NPR talking how the conservatives are ruining America, like you will hear on conservative talk shows. There is no corolation between the two since they are completely different forms of radio.
Liberals get bored hearing people who are just saying things that they agree with. I can only speak from speculation and how I personally feel, but if I'm talking to someone and there is no disagreement the conversation isn't going to last very long. If you are agreeing about a shared complaint, then all you are doing is complaining about something and reinforcing the same viewpoint. No one's is seeing things from the other side of things, which I believe is really important.
Another reason for my belief is that, as Michael Savage/Sean Hannity/etc. say, "Liberals blame America first." As a liberal I totally agree with that. Of course, to me it make total sense to blame America first, because that is the responsible thing. We try to teach our students to worry about themselves before placing the blame somewhere else. In the same way I think that it's important to look inward before bombing another country. This is why I am much more likely to see what the U.S. has done to fuel anti-Americanism than just cast off those attitudes as jealousy, or hating freedom. That way too easy and isn't going to solve any problems. I think that it is liberals' willingness and desire to look inward that decreases our desire to listen to a talking head just spouting off ideas with which we already agree. That's why our most popular liberal spokespeople are actors and comedians. If you're going to talk to us about stuff we already believe, you'd better entertain us in the process or we're going to get bored and go yell at our radio.
Maybe I'm speaking more from the point of view of a ADD kid than a liberal, but that's just an observation I had last night as I was listening to Michael "Makes Rush Limbaugh Seem Like Al Franken" Savage.