When Limbaugh Got the Bum’s Rush
In 1992, I had serious problems with my back and spent three weeks in bed before surgery. Our bedroom had no TV and holding books and magazines was painful.
My mental salvation was radio. My favorite program was Rush Limbaugh. Here's how Jesse Walker described Rush Limbaugh:
"Part vaudeville showman and part ward leader, Limbaugh straddles the line between politics and popular culture. He is the most notable example of a political species that emerged only recently: a person whose power derives not from his constituents but from his fans."
Listening to Limbaugh every day, I got to know—and savor—his style. I seldom agreed with him, but he was glib and articulate with exquisite timing, often using long pauses for dramatic effect.
The Compression Game
When Peggy and I moved to Philly I used to listen to talk radio in the car. My favorite station was all-talk WWDB with its collection of folksy characters. Among them, Dr. Laura and Rush Limbaugh.
At some point, Limbaugh started sounding peculiar. He spoke quickly—babbling on and on with no drama, no long pauses.
Quite simply, Limbaugh's timing went to hell in a handbasket.
Something was seriously wrong.
Then a story broke that WWDB was in financial trouble and had started using new fangled audio compression technology.
In essence, a computer program was altering content—digitally speeding up talk slightly and eliminating pauses—in order to free up airtime for more commercials.
Feeling betrayed, used, and pissed-off I wrote Rush a long unhappy letter and never heard back. But shortly thereafter, Limbaugh changed stations and WWDB went silent, putting its roster of hosts and interviewers out of work.
Fast forward to a Wall Street Journal story on Feb. 18, 2015 by Joe Flint:
SPED UP TO SQUEEZE IN MORE ADS
Munchkin voices get higher in 'Wizard of Oz'; worries grow about commercial clutter
"When Stephen Cox was watching "The Wizard of Oz" on TBS last November, something didn't sound quite right to him about the Munchkins, who are near and dear to his heart.