That set Thom Hartmann along a path-- envisioning, advocating Liberal talk radio, helping write the original business plan that became Air America Radio starting a program carried now for almost 4 years by Sirius Satellite Radio ... and now, he will, in just about two weeks, be taking over for Al Franken across the Air America Network, in the coveted noon to three EST Monday through Friday daily time slot.
Thom Hartmann is the Project Censored award winning, NY Times Best selling author of 18 books in print, as well as being a talk radio host with decades of experience.
Photo by Rob Kall
It won't be any change at all for listeners in Seattle, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids, Anchorage, Burlington, Santa Fe and a about 20 other cities where Hartmann has already been the show of choice, along with nationwide coverage on Sirius ..
But, with the acquisition of Air America Radio by a new buyer, presumably rescuing the network from bankruptcy, Hartmann will be reaching all of the 75-80 metro area radio stations that broadcast Air America Plus the stations Thom has been reaching through his own syndication..
Unlike Franken, who is primarily known as a comedian, Hartmann is known for encyclopedic knowledge, smart conversation, strong background audio content and entertaining repartee with the conservative guests he loves to bring on his show, where he almost always proceeds to eviscerate their arguments with facts and smart persuasion.
Air America Radio (AAR) appears to have made a very good business decision bringing Hartmann, who had already replaced Franken on a number of AAR stations. His Arbitron ratings have been up over over 100% over the last year in virtually every market he's entered.
Paul Fredricks, Operations manager for the local CBS 'Talk 1090' radio station waxed enthusiastically over Hartmann, who he replaced Franken with for the live radio slot nearly a year ago, saying,
He's done really well. He's been one of the anchors of our station as a whole. WE have a couple of good progressive voices on the air. And in some instances being number one, even beating Rush Limbaugh. THey (listeners) love how scholarly he is and they feel like they're going to college and enjoy his ability to draw on the history of the country pulling in the founding fathers
He's so well read and informed. He Not only keeps them up to date but also keeps them feeling like they are learning something.
Now, Thom is going to just explode on the scene. I think this is his day. To bring that in with Air America's 75 - 80 stations, he's going to shine.
Fredricks reports that in the Fall Arbitron ratings, Hartmann even beat Rush Limbaugh, pulling stronger audience stats.
In San Francisco, Bob Agnew, Program Director for Clear Channel's Quake Radio in the San Francisco Metropolitan area-- the fourth largest in the nation, reported that when the rumors started that Franken would be leaving AAR, he decided to get ready by switching Hartmann for Franken.
I always felt, once I started to listen to Thom, he just seems incredibly sharp. He's not a screamer... he's the new face of progressive radio... you learn something. He's not the professor you pound the nodoz to stay awake. He's a guy you want to learn from, at a time when there is so much BS... it's nice to have a refreshing, calm but vibrant voice coming out of the radio that just makes sense.
Agnew reported that, comparing Arbitron ratings between Franken and Hartman, they went up 25 to 65 percent with Hartmann.
Ed Schultz comes on, delayed, after Hartmann (just recently delayed. He was live until a few weeks ago, when he switched time slots, reportedly to take on Rush Limbaugh) and Hartmann pulled ratings 20% to 100% higher than Schultz's.
In an exclusive first interview with Thom Hartmann since word of the finalization of the AAR sale and his replacing Al Franken, Hartmann said, "I'm pleased and honored to replace my good friend Al Franken on Air American and look forward to continuing having as much fun as I've been having for the last four years doing progressive talk radio (as of March first.)
Talking at greater length, Thom said,
I love talk radio. I don't want to be on TV. I don't want to run for public office. I don't want to be a movie star. I write books and I do talk radio and that's enough for me.
I think I have some of the smartest listeners in the world and I appreciate every one of them and I'm really grateful that over the nearly four years I've been doing this show I've been able to develop a good and symbiotic relationship with progressive websites like OpEdNEws.
Asked about his policy of regularly bringing conservatives on his show, he replied,
I'm one of the few progressive hosts who regularly debates conservatives. I do it because it hilights for my listeners the real issues-- the deeper issues beneath the sound bytes-- and helps model for them how to win the "water cooler wars'
While I don't share the conservative world view, I understand it and respect some of the people who hold it from a position of integrity and belief. THat allows me to help my listeners understand the real differences between conservatives and liberals and solidify their take on why the liberal founders of this nation, like Jefferson, Madison and Washington, were so adamant that America be a liberal nation rather than a conservative aristocracy, oligarchy or theocracy.
We asked, If liberal radio is successful, what will it look like? He replied, "there will be as many liberal stations as there are conservative stations."
Then we asked, if there is a problem getting sponsors for liberal radio?
But what about the list of 100 companies that won't run on Air America? He replied,
"There's a similar list for Rush Limbaugh-- companies that don't want to get tied up in politics.
The fact of the matter is my advertisers, from Purina to Sacred Grounds COffee to the Organic Wine COmpany get great results, which is why I refer to my program as listener supported radio. It's supported by my listeners supporting my sponsors.
Hartmann will start broadcasting throughout the AAR network on February 19, the week after Al Franken leaves the air.
OpEdNews has been Publishing Thom Hartmann's articles for close to four years. Find links to archives of his articles here.