Tuning Out

This has been a bad year for Connecticut’s local media. Newspapers laid off reporters, two have threatened to shut down completely, the state’s flagship paper has been dramatically downsized, and now this. My favorite radio show is going off the air.

I often listened to Colin McEnroe’s show on my way home from work during the early years of this decade. It became something of a lifeline during the run-up to the Iraq War, when my own opposition to the invasion was called “naive” by my co-workers. However, I really started tuning in religiously during the Rowland scandal. He and his partner Bruce Stevens (who was let go in 2006–another dumb personnel decision by WTIC) never let the story die, and never let the governor off the hook. I’ve tried to listen whenever I could ever since.

Colin’s show was always interesting. It didn’t matter whether I agreed with him all the time or not, he always had something to say that was worth thinking about. As the new media-focused blog The Laurel notes:

Whether or not you love or hate his politics, he’s brilliant, informed and intellectually curious. And unlike most broadcasters, he’s not afraid to criticize those in power.

His show was about much more than just politics. It was about culture, movies, the internet, and both the insanity and elegance of the world. I’d often learn something when I tuned in, or I’d hear about something I’d never heard of before. When he talked about the day’s events, Colin McEnroe’s analysis often cut right to the heart of things.

Colin, perhaps more than any other media personality in Connecticut, also understands what the revolution in new, online media means. He was an early supporter of blogs, and often plugged this site and others on the air. I follow his own blog at the Courant regularly.

It matters to Connecticut to have a local call-in radio show, hosted by someone like Colin McEnroe. Whatever other arguments can be made against the cancellation of his show, like the fact that the afternoon lineup will be much more boring (Rush followed by three hours of people reading the news? Really?) and the sudden lack of any sort of ideological balance at the station, the loss of his voice from the airwaves is really a loss for the culture of Greater Hartford, and for Connecticut’s public discourse in general.

I know he’ll land on his feet somewhere else. I hope it happens sooner rather than later, and that it’s in Connecticut.

…I’ve had the pleasure of being on his show several times. Each time, it was all I could do not to gush about how I was a longtime listener, loved the show, etc. It was incredibly cool, I told my friends, to be able to go on my favorite radio show and talk to the host about politics. Thanks for that opportunity, Colin. I’ll never forget it.

And thanks for doing such an awesome show for so long. I’m going to miss it.

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4 responses to “Tuning Out

  1. You said it, what a bad year. The scary thing is it’s a sign of something much worse and much larger. The fact that younger generations just ain’t that interested anymore. In anything. Perez Hilton + The Daily Show isn’t a substitute for newspapers, radio, local/national news stories, etc..

    Some optimistic liberal might argue with me that Obama’s win and the turnout in general showed amazing trends regarding the youth being more enagaged, etc…..Problem is, those comments usually come from people over the age of forty or young people who spend their weekend nights writing on blogs. The collapse of hard news is a direct result of the younger generations stabbing us in the back with their willful ignorance because no one has taken a second to explain to them that a well informed public is necessary for the nation’s survival.

    As for Colin, his show in my mind was honestly one of, if not my favorite program on any medium. Mostly for it’s unpredictable and extremely wide range of strange and interesting topics. It was quintessential quirky Connecticut. It will be missed. We not only lose Colin, but Locutious, Puppet Lady, Ron from Canton (when he’s not stalking Buddy), etc… it was a cast of characters. Oh…Mary from New Hartford. We’ll miss you.

    As an aside, not sure if many of you were in 2001, but the week of 9/11 would have been awfully different had he not been on the air for me personally it was nice to hear him that week.

  2. I shouldn’t be so hard on the youth considering I am one. WTIC did a disservice to young people by removing that show.

    Honestly, out of their entire line up, which show had the largest 18-35 audience or potential to bring in the larger younger demographic?

    I know a lot of peers who couldn’t take talk radio for a second, but once they heard Colin they usually became listeners,…and for that matter, better conversationalists.

  3. I know he’ll land on his feet somewhere else. I hope it happens sooner rather than later, and that it’s in Connecticut.

    Actually – a show with both he and Tom Scott; both bright civil guys; would probably be fascinating.

    His interview a few weeks ago with the researcher that had spent decades following some brain injury victim was pretty interesting.

    In fact most of his stuff when he stayed away from politics at any rate, was not bad at all.

    Politically he was a grating as Limbaugh – not paid as well, but as grating.

  4. Great Move !??!? Let’s see – in a lefty State that overwhelmingly voted for Obama, has called Liberman on the carpet and State politics dominated by Dem’s – I know let’s move the station further to the Right. Hello???
    I’m gone as a listner. I won’t even allow myself to dial in the sports shows (including the Red Sox). Good luck to Colin.

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