Is Talk Radio Killing People?


(By Ed Ryan) The about-face Conservative talker Phil Valentine has made on the COVID-19 vaccine has a lot of our readers questioning the role talk radio has been playing – some say preventing – in rolling the vaccine out.

Valentine had been a vaccine skeptic until July 11th when he tested positive for the virus. He eventually got COVID related pneumonia and became seriously ill. Valentine, through his family, has said he wished he was more of a proponent of the vaccine and he’ll be talking about his situation more when he returns to the airwaves.

Back in June, the NAB launched a national campaign to help stations get the word out about getting vaccinated. NAB CEO Gordon Smith said, “Broadcasters will be on the front lines to promote vaccine awareness and encourage Americans to take this lifesaving step that will protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities.” However, not all broadcasters are on board. Some talk show hosts do not believe the vaccine is safe, calling it an experimental drug and encouraging people to do their own research before getting the vaccine.

Now, with cases and hospitalizations rising, mostly among the unvaccinated, talkers like Phil Valentine are being singled out. Radio Ink reader Rob Timm writes, “Valentine & many other talkers have engaged in *flagrantly* irresponsible broadcasting. When people’s “considered thoughts and beliefs” are shaped by misinformation spread by ratings-seekers for personal gain, the behavior of talk hosts borders on the outright criminal.”

Radio Ink reader Dave Aamodt writes: Those who deny science should in the future bypass medical doctors when they are ill or feel sick. It would be hypocritical to seek care by a medical professional practicing scientist. There’s a reason you don’t hear about small pox and polio in America. Those vaccinations were for the greater good. There’s way too much individualism in America, and that does not serve the greater good. Those who refuse or don’t want the vaccine should stay home period. It’s the least they could do to tamp down the virus.”

IDCA President and former Boston Radio Executive Bob McKay adds, “Valentine’s “passive” questioning of the need for vaccines, discouraged an unknown amount of people to not get the vaccine, no doubt leading to an unknown amount of illnesses and deaths. The problem is that many people like Valentine are in effect politicizing the vaccine. This dangerously undermines the medical scientific community’s urging to get the vaccine. These scientists have clearly stated that vaccinations are the only way out of this global pandemic. That is a fact. And any efforts that question or undermine that medical fact and the vaccines, are reckless and irresponsible, and are leading to needless deaths.”

Is talk radio killing people? What’s your opinion? And of course all of us here at Radio Ink wish Phil Valentine a speedy recovery.

Ed Ryan is the editor of Radio Ink Magazine and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]


  1. I have a question ? Why do old men seem to think they have the right to have an nasty arrogant chip on their shoulder about me wearing a mask at my retail cashier job and demand to know why I am wearing a mask ? Too much Fox news and conservative talk radio perhaps
    …a little advice for you old cranks …grow up already the world isn’t all about you . Do what you need to do for your self but mind your own business when it comes to us grunt workers who work and deal with the general public …I see hundreds of customers a day at my job who are vaccinated and unvaccinated coughing and obviously sick at times ( FYI we have no mask requirement at my store for customers who are vaccinated honor system we don’t check ), customers who have common sense and respect don’t bully / try to peer pressure me about my mask wearing others need to grown out of their middle school mentality . I’m a hard working person not sitting on my bum collectioning handouts from big gov …think about that and stop making my job more difficult
    ..FYI my 92 yr old grandmother is unvaccinated because Tucker from fox has her brainwashed about the vaccine not working and that they are dangerous …so in order to keep her out of covids harms way I HAVE to wear a mask ….because I am responsible for others less healthy than myself . Its the nasty anti mask old folks who are the cause of many currently unemployed workers refusing to return to minimum or below minimum wage restaurant jobs with no health insurance . Its hard enough for us working poor as it is , putting up with this anti mask bullying peer pressure is too much , you all seem to have too much time on your hands …turn off your TV and radio and get lives , try giving of your time for the less fortunate …there are many homebound seniors who need help so start there it would make GOD pleased to see you doing good deeds .Stay out my personal business when I’m working my butt off trying to please , in the end why I wear a mask really is not your business . God knows why and that’s all who needs to know .

    • Furthermore I enjoy working with the public and I like my job but honestly I could do without being the target of someone’s personal political agenda everyday I’m at work regarding the vaccine and masks , so please get off our lowly paid backs ..
      We aren’t collecting a pension, social security or blessed with medicare yet to bail us out if we get sick., most of us make minimum wage with no health insurance and some of my co workers with families have 2 jobs to make ends meet. Medical expenses for covid hospitalization would leave my family bankrupt …I’d like to live to be old enough to retire and enjoy those benefits that many of my senior customers enjoy as of now if get covid and end up in the hospital my spouse and children are up a financial creek with no paddle …FYI I have 10 yrs until I’m retirement age I’m no spring chicken . I’m all about individualism but I also remember that old saying United we stand , divided we fall …as of now I say the news media on both sides is profiting. The saddest thing has been watching the seniors in my family being manipulated , my 75 yr old father is another Tucker and Rush listener who believes everything he hears from those two silver spooned millionares ,after Trump left office my father gave away all his belongings , sold his house he… had financial security he had passive income from an apt rental he had in his house … he wants to move out of the country because Trump is no longer in office and now believes a political liberal apocalypse is coming but he can’t leave because Asia is in lock down …so in about 5 yrs he will end up 80 yrs old broke and in a home …His social security isn’t enough to support himself without that passive income he had all because he became addicted to Fox ,Newsmax , Briebart ECT .He blew it all because he was addicted and fully brainwashed by what he was consuming via conservative media , he refused to hear any reasonable advice , it was as though he became a unreasonable teenager all over again .Too many once reasonable seniors are becoming too impressionable when it comes to the media …its as if they are like impressionable teenagers all over again .Unfortunately I will be the one holding the bag when it comes to my father and grandmother while Tucker ECT will keep live large $$$$$$$

  2. I just want radio to be radio again. Not left, not right. Just interesting call in discussion and chat. I’ve stopped listening to usa & now tune in the BBC. No talk of religion or politics, it just is unpleasant because people fight about it. Bring back real talk/chatty radio.

  3. If someone offered to give me a “conservative” talk station with the requirement that I keep the format, I would turn them down. Your soul is worth more than money. Those who consider themselves Christians who air this evil crap should take a look at themselves in the mirror and repent. Only if your god is solely money do you have any excuse to air the distasteful lies on “talk (hate) radio which these days has little to do with real conservatism or any other valid philosophy. And, yes it is helping to kill radio too in addition to people. Please try to turn your conscience back on.

  4. Not only is talk radio killing people, with political responses to biological problems, it’s killing its TSL.
    People are tired of the never-ending torquing of reality.
    How many old dudes on some anti-Fauci tirade can your audience take, day after live-long day?
    All these aging talkers have one show in them–here’s what I’m outraged about today and you should be too.
    Radio has to stop eating itself.

  5. Yes, the radical, deranged right in all media are, indeed, killing people – by the boatload. There are no explanations or justifications for these behaviors. None.

    Meanwhile and only to muddy the waters a bit more: Of the 100 million gullible, credulous and deluded by some distorted spectre of “freedom-loving” Americans, I wonder how many of them have been suckered into a situation where, as one starry-eyed, blissed-out woman said to a reporter, “I’m not taking the vaccine because I am bathed in the blood of the lamb, so I am protected.”
    Given that about 70% of the population claim an affiliation with some Christian organization or other, it’s not much of a stretch to expect that millions are hedging by betting on the Lord. This hardly bodes well for anybody.

  6. Blaming a host on Talk Radio for COVID deaths, that are highly exaggerated in the first place, is like blaming NPR for Antifa and BLM causing billions in damages and murder spikes in all the leftist cities. Like blaming Howard Stern for women running topless on the local beach. Shameful little sheep!

  7. Advertisers will run from radio as the rhetoric increases and the audience divides. Marketing managers will not risk the reputation of their brands and products with a broadcaster that has a station that airs the politicized opinion of even a single clown acting as a scientist.
    Advertisers will avoid the entire chain – vaccination is a scientific line that has been crossed by personalities, and the cost is not only the death of listeners, who know no better than to trust what they hear, and the cost will be the further demise of radio, as marketers will flee to safe havens where content can be effectively regulated. It’s a shame that Valentine has to experience reality in order to serve the public.
    Radio has failed to serve the public. The next great debate will be over radio hosts that deny the existence of forest fires and tornados.

    • To take this a little further, would you agree that perhaps (political talk) radio in this case may not be serving the public “interest, convenience, and necessity”? Potential revenue and well wishes for fellow broadcaster Phil Valentine notwithstanding, where could that line be drawn when it comes to a station’s license renewal, potential challenge, etc?

      • I believe not only with the vaccines and pooh-poohing any and all COVID mitigation efforts, but a constant drumbeat that the last election was stolen from Our Lord and Savior, God’s Chosen President and World’s Most Perfect Man, the universally worshipped and adored Donald Trump, therefore the current national government is illegitimate and needs to be overthrown. This on the PUBLIC AIRWAVES. Cumulus, iHeart, Salem, independent licensees may think of it as entertainment, but there are plenty of people who will take it as a call to action, as we saw on 1/6. This is a little like if we had 24 hours of 9/11 truther talk after 9/11. I’m not a fan of a Fairness Doctrine, nor have any idea how it would work, but these publicly and privately owned companies may want to police themselves or be policed, especially if political fortunes change further.

    • The mainstream national advertisers bailed a long time ago. Dollars to donuts, small advertisers are more likely to be Trumpy than not. The log always sounds full at my local talker.

  8. Right wing talk radio supports the most ignorant views and bigoted instincts that exist in our society. It has attracted millions of angry, gullible people to it’s army with lies focusing on a population with no powers of discernment. On the bright side, the insurrection it seeded so long ago, proves that radio works. So, corporate media and their advertisers should rejoice until the republic crumbles.

  9. “Too much individualism in America?” You mean too much freedom in America? Only a communist or communist sympathizer would say that. How dare you. If you want to get the vaccine, then get it. If you don’t want to get the vaccine, then don’t. You are free to choose. If you choose to get the vaccine (and it is indeed effective) and you choose to wear a mask (and it is indeed effective) then you should be protected. Right? Those who don’t are free to experience any consiquences you feel they may experience because of their choice. Stop with the propaganda.

    • No you are not free to choose when you put other people lives at risk letting the virus continue to circulate and mutate which in turn gets stronger and negates the huge impact that the vaccines are already providing to the vaccinated. Maybe you could go talk to your primary care physician and get the facts. Better yet stay home until the virus is completely gone because you obviously don’t trust scientists and doctors no matter what. That is not freedom thats just obstinate ignorance.

      • Amelia, I am not putting anyone’s life at risk. I am healthy. Deaths per day are down tremendously compared to the hight of the pandemic. Those are the statistics. Your attempt to shame people into staying at home, not going to work, not participating in society because they share a different view than you is feeble and will not work. Again, you are safe because I am sure you have been vaccinated. I am sure you wear a mask, maybe two. But if you are scared, you feel free to stay at home.

        • To “Freedom Is A Beautiful Thing”…As Amelia pointed out, non-vaccinated people ARE RISKING OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES TOO!! Not just their own. It just takes ONE person with Covid, for Covid to mutate within that person and change to a Covid variant, that can penetrate through the vaccine. So that scenario puts countless vaccined people at risk of dying, also.
          Yeah, you have a “right” to not get vaccined, for sure. But isn’t your “right” to get vaccined… and thereby slow down Covid, and protect yourself AND OTHERS … isn’t that “right” much more important?

          • I heaed all last year that people had an absolute right to spread this virus far and wide and if a bunch of people died, everyone else would be shopping, shopping and no shopping. Essential workers wee just pawns. “I don’t care if you have to pay $100000 bills, I demand to be served curly fries NOW! I did my part, was careful while you were “I have a constitutional right to be infected and spit in the punch bowl” You all said you wanted the economy open. Vaccines did that. Nobody hassled me when I got mine. Now they do. Now it’s still “I have a Constitutional right to inffrect you and I don’t care if mom and dad are on ventilatorsm it’s 40% off at Bass Pro! It;s time for you to stay home, be denied admission, pay higher insurance rated (which we’ll all be doing because “spread it like wildfire MAGA MAGA MAGA. Trump and COVID has brought out the worst, most selfish instincts. Don’t bother playing victim when you’d rather kill me

  10. The whole COVID ordeal from day til present time has turned into one huge political propaganda machine. The vaccine ordeal and the way it has been pushed on people tends to make people sceptic about its effectiveness and safety. I think instead of blaming talk radio, let’s blame the media in general for this mess. Radio, TV, internet and everything that goes with what can be found online is the blame for all of the misinformation. The CDC sure hasn’t helped either. There is still much to learn about this virus. Instead of keeping this going as a political scare machine, let us all in general work on finding out the truth about the virus, what to expect from it down the road, vaccines and their effectiveness and what new developments will come of it as the virus evolves. This playing the blame game on one part of the media sector isn’t going to get the job done if we are really expecting to heal our nation and ultimately the world.

    As long as we have places in this world with less stellar health care, precautions taken socially etc, the virus will always be with us in some form or another. It us time for people to stop the “the sky is falling” crap and get on with the new normal.

    Enough is enough already!

  11. Only an industry that is bleeding cash, watching REAL talent (Under 40) leave for digital platforms would try to divide itself in a global conversation (with less than a hundred interactions) by blaming one opinion for “millions” of death?! I’m a little shocked that no one is blaming the employer, who gave the opportunity to broadcast this perspective? I mean, if you’re really serious about this, writing on a chat board certainly isn’t how you get change, right? What did you do above this? Nothing. Why aren’t you blaming the employer (license holder)? It’s because you’re scared that you might need a job one day, and don’t want to be remembered as “That guy”? It’s a tired act. You guys are more scared of the big corporations that you claim to “despise”, than you are about Covid 19. Zucks, at Facebook, showed tremendous doubt about the vaccine, he didn’t like that it was never done via this model, and speed. Yet, these radio site’s would never open the flood gates against him, mostly because they are the broadcasting King’s now. They have more audience and drive more revenue. So, here we are, trying to eat our own. Keep going Radio…. the race to the bottom.

  12. I recall the day Rush Limbaugh confessed on air that he was done “carrying water” for the Bush administration. It meant that he had spent a good deal of time misleading his listeners because he was trapped by the conservative narrative “crafted” over the years. Valentine and others are fettered to their talking points because to speak honestly would turn their audience against them. It is like they are wearing clown make-up in order to become some sort of entertaining conservative fop. Now imagine a real clown like Emmett Kelly one day removing his make-up and sitting center ring to recite some serious poetry. He would have been booed by angry audience members and pelted off the stage. The same goes for any conservative “reporter,” talk show host or bloviating blogger. They are fixed in place to their narrow minded narratives for better or worse – in this case the latter.

  13. “Granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission to serve the public interest as a public trustee…”. Been a while since those words have really been true.

    • Tell that to the giant corporations who run our major networks and staff newsrooms with biased propagandists who claim to be journalists.

      • Yes anyone not worshipping Donald Trump must be a biased hack. I’ve not heard them telling us that hundreds of thousand election workers stole and landslide election from Saint Donald

        • No Brad, that’s not true. But some actual unbiased reporting would be refreshing. The Washington press corps have an obvious political bias and highly incestuous relationship with the Democratic party. There’s no way you can deny this because it’s true.

          When people are lied to – time after time – they aren’t going to believe you. And there were indeed voter irregularities in the 2020 election. Does that mean the election was stolen? Perhaps. But the media taking the tact of “how dare you ask!” makes people question the results even more.

          • 60 courts plus say it wasn’t. You’re upset because minorities were allowed to vote. No, Trump’s own people including judges he appointed were firm in the election being secure. A handful of votes in Florida in 2000 is one thing. The ridiculous assertion that hundreds of thousands of people in jurisdictions coast to coast perfectly conspired to steal the election from Our Lord and Savior, God’s Chosen President and World’s Most Perfect, the universally worshipped and adored Donald Trump, while leaving Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham in power, making them the worst election riggers ridiculous

  14. Yes…let’s not examine the continually changing message from the CDC and other experts as having anything to do with the reluctance of people to get a vaccine that was rushed to market like this one. And let’s not look at the adverse effects people are suffering from as having anything else to do with it.

    Let’s blame talk radio. That will fix it.

    • Let’s look at the adverse effects being suffered by people who *don’t* get vaccinated. There are too many people in this country who cannot compare the relative risks of path A versus path B and make correct decisions. There are also too many people on the radio, and in other media, who do not know what they are talking about. Science is not a doctrine; it’s a tool whose purpose is to help us discern the nature of things. By its use, we know things now that we didn’t know six months ago. If CDC changes its tune, it is because new facts have come to light. When people spend their lives studying something, they are far more likely to know what they are talking about than some blowhard on the radio.

    • Yes, science-denying talk radio wants to blame the CDC. Let’s hear from every talk radio vaccine denier that actually has a medical degree. It makes me laugh when I hear someone tell me doctors and scientists don’t know anything. So…when you go to the doctor and he gives you a prescription, on your way out the door you throw it on the ground and say, “Ahh, he doesn’t know anything, why should I take this?” No you don’t. Blame the messenger. The people on Conservative talk radio who say anything they think their listeners will or want to believe for the almighty dollar.

  15. In theory, fact-based science is anathema to politics, philosophy, religion, belief systems, etc. However, in our post-truth era, scientists (so called) have fallen victim of the times, frequently filtering scientific evidence through political and philosophical biases, risking the return of true science to the dark age of Galilean pre-enlightenment.
    Coronaviruses, mainly patented substances (Dr. David E. Martin), have given the credibility of science and scientists a mighty wallop. Heretics (detestable skeptics, rogue researchers, physicians, nurses, investigative journalists) who dare defy established doctrine are ostracized by prelates and peers, and vilified by dutiful town criers who censor and mock and dig no deeper than fact-checking sites, all the while worshiping at the alters of “science” and profits. Most “scientists” and politicians today religiously practice group-think, believing only potions and jabs can rid us of pestilence. Damned be the doubters, questioners, innovators! “It’s our way (the cool aide of jabs) or the highway.”
    Thus, the scourge of Covid rages on, maiming and killing millions, as the high priests of “science” snub effective, cheap and safe silver bullets such as ivermectin (proven in 30 peer-reviewed studies, curing Covid and preventing deaths in dozens of countries), or hydroxychloroquine (excluded from hospital protocols, and scoffed at by media, simply because the wrong President used it) …all the while projecting guilt on the non-vaxed for the crimes of insight, common sense, and speaking up. Shameful! Revolting! It’s the biggest story of the year, but most media won’t contaminate themselves for fear of cancellation.

    • Read what the FDA says about using ivermectin for “treating” COVID-19:

      Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug, most commonly used for treating intestinal worms in horses and cattle. In lower doses, formulated for use in humans, it is used for the same purpose. A topical formulation of ivermectin is used for treating rosacea and head lice. It is not FDA approved for COVID-19 and the FDA gives a stern warning against such use.

      Get yourself vaccinated. Or, if you choose not to, stay indoors and wear a mask whenever you venture out in public. The delta variant of COVID-19 is nothing to mess with!

      Don’t believe the quackery being touted on talk radio! COVID is not a political issue. It’s a public health issue. And it’s killing people.

    • Best comment I’ve read in this thread. Thank you, Mr. Myers. The information is readily available for people willing to invest the tine and effort to research these things, rather than letting politicians, media, and peer pressure do their thinking for them. One can be sure that the folks driving alone in their vehicles and wearing masks haven’t a clue.

  16. Yes and it’s not just the vaccine. Everything is politicized now, so, little is getting accomplished to heal our country on many levels, at a time when we need it most.

    • Remember when Kamala Harris said she wasn’t gonna get the jab since it came out under Trump.

      Sure changed her tune when her and China Joe were ‘elected’ didn’t she?

      • Thank you for providing us with a *perfect* example of the sort of BS that right wing talkers consistently traffic in.
        What Harris *really* said was that in regards to any new vaccine, she wouldn’t trust merely the word of Trump, a man with more than 20,000 documented lies to his credit, and she would need “a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s (Trump) talking about.” Which seems fair, as the man rarely delivers either a coherent or a truthful sentence.

        • I felt the same way had Trump rolled out a vaccine Nov. 2. However I wuld see what Fauci, Andy Slavitt and my doctor said. I got my vax as soon as I was eligible. Trump’s touting of Hydrowhateveritwas as a miracle cure was a red flag.

      • Carter, you’re the problem. Dishonesty may cost us our democracy.
        But hey… own the libs right? Thanks for shining a light on a lie Rob.


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