Why There Needs To Be A Conservative Education Blog

Listening to the new Gadfly podcast (audio segment) is like driving past a car wreck. You want to turn away, but grisly curiosity keeps you fixed on the scene. Why are they doing this, you wonder? The answer: Because they don't have a blog.


The show opens with the theme from Rocky and some cringe-worthy banter ("Howdy Ho!"). Grandpa Checker comes on -- cracks on the hosts as having "the best show going" (it's the only one), plugs his forthcoming book, and rehashes the Center on Education Policy report arguments. Best line? "Jack Jennings is no more independent.... than George W. Bush."

Then Hess and Petrilli (the hosts) go back and forth in the style of Pardon The Interruption, an ESPN sports talk show. Hess calls Petrilli a "minor appointed official" who's drunk with power. They're laughing at each other's lines so much that I'm wondering if they've done some shots to get in the mood for this. They mumble and talk over each other. There's a high-pitched whine in the background.

While somewhat incomprehensible that they actually aired the show, it's totally understandable why Fordham thought of the idea. The Foundation for some reason hasn't been willing or interested in turning The Gadfly into a daily blog (as they probably should of a year or two ago), there aren't any high-end conservative education blogs out there that I know of, and April Fool's only comes around once a year. So there's precious little space for them to get silly and mean like the rest of us get to do any time we want.

Their solution? Podcast. Hey, at least it isn't a video (don't laugh -- there are a few uber-wonky video blogs and vidcasts out there). They're both obviously smart guys. Petrilli plays the host reasonably well. Hess comes across as a bit more thuggish and fun. But the fundamental problem is that funny and mean is really hard to do "live" and works better in print, where readers can move on at will and bad jokes are only mildly annoying. (See for example Petrilli's HotSeat.)

Lack of timeliness is also an issue -- the rest of the world has already moved on, as is the whole question of whether folks want to listen to two wonks talking at their computers much less on the way home. Audio adds all sorts of technical elements -- voice quality, ability to articulate, microphone quality, etc.

Via Joanne Jacobs.


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