By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) — Tonight at 8pm, I’ll be sitting in on “Nightside” on WBZ Newsradio 1030 while Dan Rea enjoys some time off.

Dan does a great job of balancing sharp opinion with civil discourse, and it should come as no surprise that WBZ listeners and callers are noticeably brighter and better-informed than what you may hear elsewhere; after all, isn’t your curious mind the reason you’re listening to WBZ in the first place?

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But while I haven’t hosted in a long time, I have been listening to talk radio, because it’s one way of keeping in touch with what people are thinking and saying.

And with a handful of exceptions such as Dan’s show, it’s more often depressing than inspirational.

When I started in talk radio back in the late 1970s, what you heard in Boston had a different tone. Yes, there was some of the group-think and rumor-mongering that dominates now. But people would actually call in to question and debate instead of venting and spewing.

We could disagree without being too disagreeable, most of the time.

Now, most of what I hear is essentially an exchange of narrow-minded propaganda.

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Hosts feed the fire with a litany of grievances, most of them based on half-truths and rumors at best, outright lies at worst. Disagreements are attacked with flamethrowers.

No one appears to be listening to anything beside the sound of their own voice.

Hopefully, tonight will be more like the civil, thoughtful mix Dan Rea offers.

Tune in tonight from 8 to midnight and help me make that happen.

Listen to Jon’s commentary

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Jon Keller