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A 1968 Election Discussion with Jerry Williams on WBZ

While working on the post with the two interviews of John McLaughlin by my favorite talk radio personality Jerry Williams, I also came across more YouTube videos of Jerry on the radio. They don’t make talk radio like they used to.

Rush Limbaugh keeps saying that it all began with his show, talk radio, during the 1980s. But there were several other talk radio shows that existed before him, especially on the clear channel 50,000 watt stations such as WBZ in Boston that can be heard in supposedly 38 states, and WOR in New York.

Not only that, but there were several talk radio programs before the 1980s that were intelligent and diverse, and which featured two-way discussions between host and guests and between host and callers. Most of talk radio now, in contrast, consists of the host going on and on and on and on, and when they do take callers it’s mainly an echo chamber. It’s mostly not a discussion consisting of diverse points of view, merely mutual agreements.

Jerry Williams (1923-2003) was a talk radio personality who discussed controversial political and social issues throughout his career from 1957 to 1998. He was mainly on WRKO, WBZ, and WMEX in Boston, and WBBM in Chicago, as well as a few other stations.

In his shows during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Jerry Williams was himself very articulate with the issues as well as being a talented humorist and he knew how to tease callers to elicit emotional responses from them. And he was not afraid to confront those in power and call out the corrupt including police. I didn’t agree with him on everything, but it sure was good to hear him.

While the old Jerry Williams tribute site seems to be gone probably because the website owner decided to not renew it, I have found some new YouTube videos featuring Jerry on WBZ and WBBM.

But we don’t really hear that kind of back and forth any more. Now it’s all echo chamber on talk radio, in the same way the mainstream news shows, such as Meet the Press with Chuck Toady and Fake the Nation on CBS, have their own echo chambers on the other side of the political spectrum.

So in this video that I have found, Jerry Williams on WBZ hosts a live forum at the time of the 1968 Presidential election, with guests including columnist Jack Anderson, White House correspondent Sid Davis, and a WBZ newscaster. They discuss polls, whether or not polling is biased, the campaigns of Nixon, Humphrey and George Wallace and the people who support those candidates. They do discuss actual issues as well, although they don’t even refer to the Vietnam War until at least 45 or 50 minutes into the discussion.

I knew about the 1968 Democrat convention and all the protests, but toward the end of the discussion one of the panelists mentioned that the Republican convention in Miami also had protests and rioting that resulted in 6 deaths. Now, I can’t find any verification of that online, so maybe that guy is wrong about it. It might have been Jack Anderson who mentioned that, I’m not sure.

Some people may not find this hour-long discussion of interest, but I am sure that history buffs will.

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