NYC Airwaves Beck Free?

Conservative US radio and television commentator Glenn Beck speaks at a rally dubbed 'Restoring Honor,' to show support of the US military,.

If you’ve recently felt a burst of joy in your heart, and a lighter mood in the air, it’s not just the coming of spring. It may be the sound of NYC airwaves free of Glenn Beck.

Ever since WOR dropped the conservative radio host at the start of the year, New Yorkers have been able to safely surf the radio dial without fear of running into the reactionary rants and conservative conspiracies of the right-wing darling. And there are groups looking to keep it that way.

Color of Change, an online activist powerhouse in pursuit of racial and economic justice, has been running a campaign against Beckthat has led to more than 300 advertisers to pull out of his show. The same organization is now pushing local radio stations to keep New York’s airwaves Beck-free. CREDO Action and MoveOn have reached out to their members in solidarity.

Beck's brand of hate-mongering and disinformation is particularly out of step with the values of New Yorkers. Beck has said that President Obama hates white people. He has derided social justice organizations. He also reportedly loves Broadway's "Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark." He definitely doesn’t share the opinions of the Big Apple.

Of course, Beck is as much a symptom as a cause, just one in a rotating cast of right-wingers who pollute our airwaves. Color of Change has run a larger effort to get public establishments to "Turn Off Fox" as a way of combating the station’s systemic campaign of misinformation. Ironically, Fox itself might join the side of Color of Change in regard to Beck – reports are that the host may part ways with the network at the end of the year.

He has a large platform, and despite his sagging numbers, he still rates higher than most rivals on TV and radio. But keeping him off the airwaves of New York City will be an act of public health: Reducing air pollution, lowering our stress levels and decreasing migraines, as our city heaves a sigh of relief.

As The Times article notes, Beck’s apoplectic apocalyptic antics may have turned viewers off. When he’s entertaining, he’s popular. When all he sees is doom and gloom, his viewers change the channel. It’s an important lesson for liberals to remember as well. Even while issues may be serious and the state of the nation dire, optimism, energy and even humorous levity may communicate more effectively than somber sobriety. From Rachel Maddow to Jon Stewart, that point is proven again and again. There’s a reason why rallies with songs, chants and humor buoy our spirits more than earnest vigils or didactic speeches.

However, it’s not only tone. Beck is mean. He’s a bully. And while that will always attract some followers, most of us – especially the younger demographic coveted by commercial media – have had enough. The younger generation, increasing in spending power and voting clout, doesn’t want a hate-fest. We don’t want to demonize the "other," because our friends are others. We don’t want to wage war against the unfamiliar and foreign because we recognize a world in which we’ll increasingly interact with the unfamiliar, and need to engage them to tackle the world’s problems. Beck just doesn’t speak to us.

And now Beck truly doesn’t speak to New Yorkers, at least none who would accidentally find him on their AM tuner. We have a chance to keep it that way – so we better take advantage of the opportunity. Everyone has at some point wanted to scream at a radio host to shut up. Now, though, there’s a really easy way to do something about it.

Whether it’s his views on diversity, social justice or Spiderman, we all have our own reason to take this action. Besides, this is New York – if Beck wants to share his crazy rants, he can mutter them on the streets or in the subways, just like everyone else.

Justin Krebs is a political organizer and writer based in New York City. He is the founder of Living Liberally, a nationwide network of 250 local clubs that create social events around progressive politics, and author of "538 Ways to Live, Work and Play Like a Liberal."