There is a lot to dislike about talk radio, but I admit to being a fan of Marjorie Egan and Jim Braude. Their blend of whimsy, self-deprecation, and just plain nonsense is a delight and a welcome relief from the two-fisted, in-your-face style of many of their compatriots.
On weekdays from 12 to 3 p.m. on WTKK-FM (96.9, they are an oasis of humor in a desert of antagonism. The key is they donâ€™t take themselves (or some of their topics) too seriously. You also get the impression they genuinely enjoy poking fun at one another.
Jim is a Cambridge liberal and anchorman hypochondriac and Marjorie, Fall River-born and slightly more conservative, is a former Durfee High School cheerleader. She writes a regular column in the Herald and he does news and interviews on NECN.
The combination works. Sandwiched between Michael Graham and Jay Severin, they are a sunny day between two storms; balloons between a bulldozer and a sledge hammer; the quiet interlude between a colonoscopy and a prostate exam.
Severin and Graham, to a lesser degree, subscribe to the shock and awe school of talk radio. With his self-serving â€œbest and brightestâ€ audience, Severin is polite, solicitous, and complimentary, but let someone disagree with him or, even worse, criticize him, and he can be downright nasty.
Although obviously smart and often informative, his inflated ego, lack of civility, and flamethrower remarks undercut his credibility and get him in trouble, prompting station management to try to tone him down.
Even though Graham, the self-styled â€œnatural truth,â€ almost always agrees with his late afternoon colleague, he has a softer touch.
Some talk show hosts apparently think the only way to attract and retain an audience is to continuously carpet-bomb the opposition. Disinclined to entertain or consider opposing viewpoints, they preside over echo chambers. Thoughtful listeners with different views soon get the message.
While others pride themselves on being on the cutting edge, Marjorie and Jim have captured the blunt middle â€“ the area most of us occupy.
Even when discussing serious topics, they are funny. They just cannot remain serious for long. The chemistry between them is such that one or the other makes a remark and theyâ€™re off to the races.
Alone they are not as funny, but put them together and something happens. They have an acute sense of the absurd and silly side of life so helpful in contending with harsh reality. They are to current events what â€œClick and Clackâ€ are to matters automotive.
Although their humor is spontaneous, they often pick light topics that easily lend themselves to comic relief. When you consider that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have writers, you can better appreciate the almost effortless comic wit and whimsy of Egan and Braude.
He is particularly clever about exposing some of his neurotic tendencies to her good-natured skewering. They are not cruel or mean-spirited and much of their humor is directed against themselves.
What makes their show fun is they seem to be having fun doing it. Most of us enjoy watching (or, in this case, listening) to people having a good time.
So a salute to Jim and Marjorie! They are not about to solve any of the pressing problems we face but they do remind us that a sense of humor can brighten even the cloudiest day.
James W. Dolan is a retired Dorchester District Court judge now practicing law. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.