Fact Checking the Blathering Babblers

OK, I admit it: No matter how ill-informed the host, ignorant the callers, or ridiculous the conversation, I’m a talk radio junkie. Don’t blame me, it started when I was a kid listening to Bob Grant and Long John Nebel on WMCA in New York.

Around here, the pickins’ are slim. WGY gave up on local content, so that leaves Talk 1300 — and aside from Fred Dicker’s show, that station is getting increasingly infuriating.

Dan Lynch — who left recently — may not have been the most exciting guy in the world, but at least he backed up his opinions with facts. Maybe that’s why he’s gone. Now he’s been replaced by Kelly Stevens, who was once part of the hugely successful Chuck and Kelly morning show on B-95.

Yesterday she was defending the closing of Thacher Park, saying she thought that nobody went there any more. As evidence, she talked about news reports “and blogs” said that attendance at the park was sparse on Sunday. She was dismissive when a caller asked her to provide some data to support her claims that Thacher Park is a white elephant.

I was curious about that so I looked around. The only news reports I found that made reference to Sunday’s park attendance were on Fox 23, which characterized attendance as looking like “the last day of Summer,” and the in the Times Union, which said:

It was packed Sunday, with cars parked all over the lawn, as people scrambled to get in a last hike or view the newly green valley that stretches to the Berkshire foothills.

How typical of the mainstream media! Everyone knows that they lie about park attendance.

As for blogs, doing a Google Blog search, I couldn’t find a single entry that said anything about slim crowds at Thacher Park.

So maybe there is some anecdotal evidence that nobody goes to Thacher Park. It’s just hard to find. What’s not hard to find is an oft-cited stat that claims NY State park attendance was 56 million last year, up 2 million visits from 2008.

Now for today’s media literacy lesson: talk radio is not news, it’s entertainment. ¬†And the more you hear something repeated the more true it sounds.

UPDATE: The TU reports that Al Roney is being considered for the afternoon show to replace Dan Lynch. That would be a huge improvement. At least we wouldn’t be smirking about closing the parks.

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