chapter  7
6 Pages

Talking Over America’s Electronic Backyard Fence

WithDiane Rehm

In offering a forum for ideas and the exchange of viewpoints, talk radio contributes to a growing understanding of the complex issues confronting the society. It is, perhaps, the epitome of participatory democracy in the electronic age. Sometimes listeners' thoughts and reactions are more on target than those of political leaders and journalists, who are learning to listen to the voices over the electronic backyard fence. That program prompted scores of calls from men and women who had always accepted the bonding theory. Given the opportunity to hear a different view and to question Professor Eyer's conclusions, listeners expressed a collective sense of revelation and relief to hear another side. Where Americans from Long Island, NY, to Billings, Mont., to San Diego, Calif., once exchanged views and formed opinions by talking with neighbors over backyard fences and when they met on the street, today, talk shows fill that function.