Copyrighted material


by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

With the holiday fill-ins and Lords of Loud wannabes manning the mikes along with the Best-Ofs (why do talk radio programrs think we want to hear about Eisenhower's golfing prowess while we've got U.S. soldier's dying today in Iraq?), there's not much foolishness from the Right side of the world. Though Billy O'Reilly did stick around for the week to remind us that al Quaeda was scared of him. Normally that would just be hyperbole on my part, but damned if the no-spinster didn't actually say that.

One of the few big boys on the Left, Ed Schultz, stuck around this week, and was in a mood to celebrate. It's not news when a radio station picks up Progressive Talk, but it is headline material when the same station that canceled Progressive Talk changes its mind.

Clear Channel had announced it would be replacing Madison, Wisconsin's Progressive Talk "The Mic" at WXXM/FM 92.1 with Fox Sports Radio on Jan. 1. Schultz and Jones Radio syndication-mate, Stephanie Miller air on the "The Mic," along with Air America's Randi Rhodes and Al Franken.

Instead of accepting the inevitable thrill of High School Volleyball Tete-a-tete and hourly t-ball updates, thousands of Madison listeners signed petitions, held rallies and got community leaders and local advertisers to speak out in support. And management heard the voices and the dollar signs.

Schultz had been pretty vocal about the progressive pull out, believing that it's always the bottom line, not the ideology, that is a determinant in radio. In Madison, if it was a numbers decision, they hadn't added up to a change.

"When I first heard about it, I thought it was a radio stunt," said Schultz. "Because the numbers had been very good."

Both Schultz and Miller have been proving their worth. Listenership and ratings are increasing steadily. Shultz has the biggest progressive audience on the dial (you kind of wish Air America would bring on some of Jones Radio management). But even at AA, Randi Rhodes and Al Franken's audiences are in the millions and Rhodes is rated by the bible of talk radio, Talkers Magazine, as a more important voice than Bill O'Reilly. Rhodes is rated by the bible of talk radio, Talkers Magazine, as a more important voice than Bill O'Reilly. Yes, I know I wrote that twice. It's just so much fun to say.

So as the year ends and while we're still in the dark as to whether Franken will return, we can ring one up for the good guys. Despite the death knell reports coming from O'Reilly and Hannity, there seems to be a growing audience for Progressive Talk that continues to search out an alternative to self-inflated ego that permeates the Right. And for that we should give thanks.

Thank you, Ed. Thank you, Stephanie. Thank you, Randi. Thank you, Al. And especially, thank you, Madison.

Comments? Send a letter to the editor.

Albion Monitor   December 20, 2006   (

All Rights Reserved.

Contact for permission to use in any format.