It’s 1983 – You Live Everywhere In America – You Like Talking About Your Problems . . .To Several Million Total Strangers.
KABC-790, Los Angeles – Dr. Toni Grant – July 20, 1983 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
As it’s been said several times in several places: “Americans love a good dish” – and no, it’s not anything caloric – the “dish” they speak about is “dishing the dirt” – talking for the sake of talking – talking to uncover secrets.
Talk Radio wasn’t new in 1983 – it had been around almost 30 years prior. But back then it was primarily about giving opinions – the announcer, or host would pose a question and people would call in and offer an opinion. It was mildly entertaining because it gave you some idea just how nuts your fellow humans were at times.
But somewhere during the mid-1970s, almost exactly during the time of Watergate, or “Our Great National Nervous Breakdown” as I’ve often called it, we got very touchy-feely. Pop Psychology and the “I’m Okay – You’re Okay” school of Modern thought began taking over and suddenly the focus on our society was how each other “felt” about things – and better yet, getting each other to start talking about it, preferably to a large audience and in great detail.
There had been celebrity Shrinks of the Airwaves before, mostly as pundits or commentators on issues of the day. But by the 70s, the old taboos of subject matter were falling by the wayside and, as you’ll hear in this one hour slice of Dr. Toni Grant from KABC in Los Angeles in 1983, people were flocking to these shows and brining up everything from cross-dressing to homosexuality and laying souls bare in the process.
It became huge. And Pop Psychologists like Dr. Toni Grant rode an enormous wave of popularity. Over time, others took to the airwaves and the subject matter became even more racy – Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a noted Sexologist, certainly went against stereotypes of the “sweet little old lady with a thick German accent” and openly discussed a wide variety of sex topics – nothing was off the table, and Dr.Ruth became a household name.
This episode of Dr. Toni Grant is pretty typical of the type of show she did over the years – by 1983 she was already syndicated and heard on several hundred stations around the country.
Americas insatiable appetite for dishing the dirt was being fulfilled – from there on it graduated to Reality TV. The fine art of eavesdropping and comparing notes – and the relief of knowing you’re not nearly as screwed up as the people you’re hearing about, or gazing off with dewey-eyed envy that you maybe you really need to be.
For now, anyway.
Here’s an hour of Dr. Toni Grant from KABC on July 20, 1983.