This listener is in the minority, I guess. I'm the same age (actually about three months older) than Elvis Presley [would be if he were still with us], so I was a teen-ager when the "rock n roll" fad began. I never liked it. Thudding overbearing mechanical rhythm (borrowed at the time from country-western) and a thin and colorless melodic pallette, coupled with apparently intenetional incomprehensibility, make it sound like just noise to my ears. It was that way when I first heard it 60 years ago, and my opinion hasn't changed.
Now I like jazz, good jazz, and always have. This, to me, is musical, not raucous. I admit to liking the swingers (Miller, Goodman, Shaw, Waller, Armstrong and a host of similar stars of a past generation) more than, say, Monk and some of the far-out bopsters. However, I appreciate the esoterica of Keneton and Gillespie, and quite a few of the lesser lights of their ilk. Les Paul's electric guitar work is a joy to hear, but the so-called "rock bands" perverted the instrument, in my opinion.
In the same way, folk music has always held a special place in my mussical pantheon. Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and even slicker groups like The Kingston Trio and The Limelighters stayed true to the musical standards.
Maybe it was the fact that the performers surrendered so completely to drugs -- and drugs became so much more powerful than what some (not all) of the pop muicisns of the 30s, 40s and 50s used. Most important, I suspect, was the move by record and concert promoters to position this kind of entertainment as the "new norm" of popular music -- and the kids (my own contemporaries!) to go along with this idea.
It's only fair of me to say that I grew up with "classical" music as a part of my sonic education. Not an ivory-tower sort of thing, but in those days it was part of everyday life. Radio then was far more homogenized than it is today: almost every station did a little of everything, from news to drama to pop to classical music. Early television began with the same broad vision. This is where I got my standards for music -- standards that apply to popular as well as "serious" music, and that are crubling every day, it seems.
Today, as most of us in the trade are aware, broadcasters have specialized and partitioned the programming. The result is that the bad get worse and the good starve on the vine and die. You can't help thinking of H.L. Menken's famous observation that "nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American people."
So, to address the question of bumper music on the Thom Hartmann Program (or any program, whether talk or whatever), I would simply ask and suggest, don't play ugly music. Don't scream and yell from the turntable or tape deck any more than you would yell and scream at us through the live mnicrophone. It's bad manners, to be basic about it. In a broadcasting career myself, over some half a century from which I am financially retired now (though I still dabble), I've tried to live by the vision that a radio (or television) station is a guest invioted into the listener's home or car. As a guest, one should behave properly, be courteous, show respect.
Let me hasten to say, and truthfully as well, that I have never heard you, Thom, behave on the air as anything less than a gentleman. Now and then a very irritated one, but never boorish or bad-tempered. It's just not a thing that a thoughtful progressive individual would do. And you don't. Once in a while, when a caller exhibits bad manners, you have to cut him off peremptorily -- but you have never been crude about it that I have heard (unlike a certain Faux News star whose first name, alas, I share). Sometimes, let's face it, you have rather abruptly chopped a caller who disagrees with your reasoned positions and spouts the current talking points of the regressive right; but that happened, as often as not, when a break intruded on your time. We all live by the clock in radio, and it's a tyrant that even the most liberal cannot defeat.
In summary, at last, I may be part of that dying breed, the truly conservative type who believes in the liberal ideas that made our society what it is today. I respect, as I believe you do, too, the thinking of nominally Republican figures like Theodore Roosevelt, who took after the robber barons like charging up San Juan Hill (if we only had him here today!) and Abraham Lincoln, who turned the Southern Democrats into regressives to the right of just about everybody for almost a century by using the power of big government to take their black chattel property from them in a most precipitous manner. As you have noted, the current regressive crop are destroying their own edifice of capitalism by perverting it into Randian selishness. A capitalist, you might suggest, is Andrew Carnegie giving people libraries -- not a Gingrich/Grinch or Ryan closing their schools so they become ignorant peons.
.........................................................................Bill in Santa Fe