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[The Hall Monitor] Supply and Demand for Coarse and Vulgar Entertainment

Todd Huttunen began appraising more than 20 years ago with a few years off in between to pursue a career in cabinet making. He relegated that to hobby status and is currently an appraiser in an assessor’s office. His best friend dubbed him The Hall Monitor because of his rigidity and respect for rules. He offers Soapbox readers tongue-in-groove insight on appraisal issues. This week, Todd ponders the question of questionable supply, when demand is, well, demanding. …Jonathan Miller


The media circus surrounding this story gives me a new appreciation for the power of the free market, as expressed by the actions of buyers and sellers. Consider the product of “talk radio”, where the sellers include not only Don Imus and Howard Stern, but any number of other “shock jocks”. Judging from the reaction to the comments made by Imus with regard to the women from Rutgers, one would think that there are very few buyers for this product.

Yet, according to one of the many stories in Wednesday’s Times, “Imus in the Morning” has an average of 477,000 listeners on the New York radio station alone. What he said was offensive and degrading. But he has been saying the same kinds of things for 35 years and I don’t believe the New York Times ever printed five stories and seven letters to the Editor, concerning Don Imus, in any one issue before today.

There is a huge demand in this country for shows that provide coarse and vulgar “entertainment”. And radio is nothing as compared with television and its 500 channels. Personally, I think American Idol humiliates people and I choose not to watch, but lots of viewers disagree with me. Thanks to the remote control, everybody’s happy.

With real estate, people like to complain about how “McMansions” are ruining the neighborhood. “Those people” (developers) build them but we buy them! Whether it’s houses, radio, television, movies or music, if “we” didn’t buy it “they” wouldn’t make it.

Imus has to make amends for what he said. But we have to consider our own role in having made Imus so popular for being what he is. He is a participant in a market, as are we. Unlike the real estate market however, where demand is down, the demand for the kind of entertainment he supplies seems unending.