By Jon Keller, WBZ-TVBy Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – For the first time in eight years there will be a Republican in the Massachusetts governor’s office. And if you ask local conservative talk radio hosts, the airwaves are a big reason for that.

Howie Carr, who recently re-launched his show on a Boston-area station, believes that talk radio played a big role in Charlie Baker’s election and the repeal of automatic gas tax hikes.

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“(Repeal supporters were) outspent 20-1, yet on talk radio I think we had a large part in defeating that,” Carr told WBZ-TV.

Dan Rea, the host of NightSide on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 weeknights from 8 p.m. to midnight, agreed with Carr’s assessment.

WBZ NewsRadio host Dan Rea. (WBZ-TV)

WBZ NewsRadio host Dan Rea. (WBZ-TV)

“Even for example casino gambling, it was the goo-goos who were against casino gambling for the most part,” said Rea.

Rea believes that right-leaning talk radio never lost its relevance.

“Even in Massachusetts, 40-45 percent of the folks consider themselves conservatives,” said Rea.

With the exception of Scott Brown’s 2010 U.S. Senate win, the past decade has been a tough stretch for the clout of conservative local talk as Democrats such as Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick felt free to give it the cold shoulder.

But Carr said that just made his audience mad.

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“They want to know how many people Deval is trying to put into public civil service positions. They want to know if they’re appointing a hack to a judgeship,” said Carr.

Rea explained that conservative talk radio’s interactivity with listeners preserves its special role in residents’ civic lives.

“You sit there, you listen, you call, you engage in a conversation, just like you would in your neighborhood,” Rea said.

But will there always be an appetite for that dialogue?

“I sure hope so,” he added.

Carr, meanwhile, said there was never any concern that his show and other conservative talk radio stations were a key factor on the political scene.

“Reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated,” said Carr.

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Jon Keller