In 1948 Alan Courtney—New York disk jockey and co-composer of the popular song, "Joltin' Joe Dimaggio"—began a call-in program for the Storer station in Miami, Florida (WGBS) and then on Miami's WQAM, WINZ and WCKR the "Alan Courtney Open Phone Forum" flourished as an avowedly conservative and anti-communist political forum with a coverage area over the Southeastern U. A major breakthrough in Talk Radio occurred in 1960 at KLAC in Los Angeles.Alan Henry a young broadcaster still in his early thirties had been hired by John Kluge, president of Metromedia in 1963.(He later became Mayor of Galveston.) Cherry gives no specific date, but the context of events and history of the station would seem to place it also in the 1940s, perhaps earlier.The format was the classic mode in which the announcer gave the topic for that day, and listeners called in to debate the issue. Joe Pyne, John Nebel, Jean Shepherd, and Jerry Williams (WMEX-Boston) were among the first to explore the medium in the 1950s.Expressing and debating political opinions has been a staple of radio since the medium's infancy.Aimee Semple Mc Pherson began her radio broadcasts in the early 1920s and even purchased her own station, KFSG which went on the air in February 1924; by the mid-1930s, controversial radio priest Father Charles Coughlin's radio broadcasts were reaching millions per week.Henry had previously worked in such diverse markets as Miami, Florida, Waterloo, Iowa, Hartford, Connecticut and St. KLAC was dead last in the ratings but Kluge wanted a big Metromedia presence in Los Angeles.
Most shows are regularly hosted by a single individual, and often feature interviews with a number of different guests.
While working for New York's WMCA in 1945, Barry Gray was bored with playing music and put a telephone receiver up to his microphone to talk with bandleader Woody Herman.
This was soon followed by listener call-ins and Gray is often billed as "the hot mama of talk radio". Author Bill Cherry proposed George Roy Clough as the first to invite listeners to argue politics on a call-in radio show at KLUF, his station in Galveston, Texas, as a way to bring his own political views into listeners' homes.
Generally, the shows are organized into segments, each separated by a pause for advertisements; however, in public or non-commercial radio, music is sometimes played in place of commercials to separate the program segments.
Variations of talk radio include conservative talk, hot talk, liberal talk (increasingly known as progressive talk) and sports talk.