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The left has long looked with envy and bitterness at the powerful network of right-wing radio hosts who hold so much sway over American politics. Starting with Rush Limbaugh in the late 1980s, influential personalities have projected their grievances and biases onto millions of listeners, who have rewarded these hosts with wealth and incredible influence in Republican politics. Efforts to deliberately build an alternative network of left-wing radio shows have all ended in the same way: with failure, none more spectacular than the 2010 implosion of Air America.
Suddenly, though, Limbaugh has company.
Election - Subscribership - Series - Podcasts - Pod
Since the election, subscribership to a series of left-leaning podcasts has exploded. The most prominent is Pod Save America, the brainchild of former Obama administration speechwriters Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett, as well as former Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. Episodes draw anywhere from 800,000 to 1.4 million listeners. Those numbers rival major cable programs, and in some cases eclipse household name shows like Morning Joe and Anderson Cooper 360.
The Pod Save empire also includes programs like Pod Save the World and Pod Save the People, all of which have strong numbers. Vox's podcasts, including The Weeds and The Ezra Klein Show, are also extremely popular — and not just with political junkies, but with many people who until recently did not follow politics very closely. Look at charts of America's top podcasts, and there's nary a conservative show to be found. That makes podcasting the first medium in which the left is structurally dominant since the FCC overturned the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, which stopped forcing broadcast outlets to provide time for counterargument.
Radio - Success - Republicans - Speaking - Cities
Right-wing radio's success was partly geographic. Republicans, who, very broadly speaking, tend to live outside of major cities and prefer the car-centric lifestyle of ranch houses, strip malls, and sprawl, spend more time driving to work than...
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