Manage episode 302317496 series 2659035
Right-wing radio has served as a megaphone for populist outrage in America.
Talk-show hosts like Alex Jones and the late Rush Limbaugh have railed against cultural elites, promoted baseless claims of election fraud, stoked a backlash against immigrants, and questioned the effectiveness of masks and vaccinations amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
How and to what extent do these charismatic radio personalities influence public opinion? In the American Economic Review, author Tianyi Wang goes back to the 1930s to help answer this question by examining the impact of the religious firebrand Father Charles Coughlin.
Known as the “Father of Hate Radio,” Father Coughlin had a devoted following of tens of millions of listeners across the United States, who tuned in to hear him thunder against the evils of Communism, Wall Street bankers, and America’s involvement in World War II. Wang found that Coughlin’s program resonated profoundly with listeners, persuading more than a quarter of them to vote against Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election.
Wang spoke with Chris Fleisher about Coughlin’s history as a populist media figure during the Great Depression, his influence over US public opinion, and the insights for today’s fragmented media.
*Theme music in the podcast is from Podington Bear and the Father Charles Coughlin clip is from OldTimeRadioDownloads.com.