by Rob Kall, editor, OpEdNews.Com
The ice has been broken. A Clear Channel station has put a strong, real liberal on the air, going up against Rush Limbaugh's time slot.
Thom Hartmann is taking talk radio by storm, pulling liberal and conservative listeners with his entertaining, radical middle, non-nasty, smart, polished talk and programming. Hartmann is an author and the host of the nation's largest nationally syndicated progressive daily radio talk show, heard on stations coast to coast from noon to 3 PM ET.
Grand Rapids Michigan, one of the nations top 100 markets, with more than one million listeners, has two Clear Channel talk radio stations, WOOD and WTKG. For years, both stations ran Conservative talk formats. Most recently, Rush Limbaugh filled the airwaves on WOOD, with Dr. Laura giving advice on WTKG.
But now, says Director of Programming & Operations Phil Tower, liberal Thom Hartmann will be a welcome addition for moderates and liberals looking for a different perspective.
"Putting a liberal host on opposite Rush Limbaugh's show is great for our
market, and really allows us to cover the entire political spectrum," said Tower. "If we're starting a national trend here at Clear Channel in Grand Rapids, I'm proud it started here."
Hartmann is a best-selling author of books on democracy, ecology, spirituality, and health, a progressive pundit and former radio DJ. He started his progressive talk show on the ieamericaradio.com network in April, 2003, with a few smaller radio stations and a satellite link that allowed people to listen on the internet. Over the last 30 years he's started a community for abused kids, a hospital in Africa and seven businesses that have generated revenues of over a quarter of a billion dollars in gross revenues. .
In the fall of 2002, Hartmann had written an OpEd article on liberal talk radio, Talking Back To Talk Radio that was widely circulated and that was used as part of the business plan for Anshell media, now known as Central Air. Hartmann was invited on right wing programs, and somewhere in the process, the idea of him coming back to radio, after several decades away from it (1968) began to emerge as a way for him to pursue his mission of waking people up to the very real dangers to democracy and our planet from the rise of the radical right, as he's written about in a series of books, including, Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, Unequal Protection:; The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights, and The Edison Gene .
OpEdNEws.com/Rob Kall interview with Thom Hartmann, clear Channel Liberal Talk Radio Host
What made you decide to go into talk radio?
It was a combination of 2 things-- one was that the distortions and deceptions being promulgated by right wing talk radio hosts were becoming so outrageous and so, frankly, dangerous to the democratic process that I felt strongly that there needed to be a voice answering them. And I didn't see one out there. So, in part, I wrote that first article, which became part the business plan for Anshell media (recently acquired by Central Air Media,) and got a lot of people thinking about the possibility of liberal or middle of the road talk radio.
And second, as I said in that original article, I saw that there was a business opportunity here, the opportunity to produce a program that would be listened to by people and that I could make a good living at. So I was willing to take the risk and try something that everyone said wouldn't work. And it seems to be working
What are your goals?
My goal is to re-educate and reawaken people to the ideals of democracy, to the vision that our founders held for this nation and to return democracy to America. We have moved too far too quickly into a new form of feudalism-- corporatism, where governance has been replaced by corporate power, and statesmen have been replaced by corporate shills, and while I am a strong advocate of business I am not an advocate of monopoly. We are facing the same crisis that Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt faced.
What does the radical middle mean?
The positions that I take are positions that I think the vast majority of Americans agree with, even though the right labels them as liberal or left-- universal health care, rational taxation policies that help insure a middle class, trade policies that are not just free for corporations but that also protect jobs here in the Unite States and build our economic infrastructure, environmental policies that keepus safe and healthy and that will leave our children a better world than that which we inherited from our parents, energy policies that will lead to freedom from our addction to middle eastern oil.
These are all considered radical because modern politicians are unwilling to do them and yet I think they are the values of the middle class of America. So I call it the radical middle. I don't think this is about liberal or conservative. I'm in favor of a balanced budget. What does that mean? That used to be conservative. I'm not only in favor of a balanced budget, I'm in favor of paying off our debt.
Who's your favorite candidate
As a talk show host, I really feel that my first job is to be an honest broker and observer rather than an advocate for any one candidate, so I'm not endorsing anybody.
What is your vision of liberal talk radio?
I think it's going to be very successful. If you just look at conservative talk radio., if you figure that half of America likes listening to that, the other half of America would like listening to the liberal version of it. I think that within a few years you're going to see multiple tiers of liberal talk radio and different varieties of it. You've got this new network that's starting up that's going to be producing entertainment liberal talk radio. I'm doing politics liberal talk radio, and there's probably room for other niches, just like in the conservative arena. At any different time slot you've got three different conservatives competing with each other.
Why hasn't it worked before?
First of all, it has been working for years and years, but on a local basis. You Have Ed Schultz in S. Dakota and Randi Rhodes down in Palm Beach (Rush Limbaugh's home town) and Bernie Ward, in San Francisco who have proven that there's nothing wrong with liberal talk radio. They've been on the air for decades. Number one, it does work. The reason the only really well promoted national attempt to make it work has not succeeded is because Mario Cuomo is not a radio guy. Radio is a medium that has it own unique demands and it's own requirements by way of experience and talent and format and you can't just bring anyone in off the street and expect them to produce good radio. I've been in radio on and off for decades. The same is true for Randi Rhodes, the same is true of Ed Schultz. The same is true of Bernie Ward.
So I'm convinced that if you get good radio guys and you give them a national venue, as we've seen with my program, you're going to have positive results. You're going to have people tuning back into AM radio who had given up on it.
What's it going to take to beat bush in November?
The Truth. All you got to do to beat Bush is tell the truth--- the truth about the damage he's done and the lies he's told. The truth about his real agenda and what his real plans are for the future. You just have to tell the truth. That's all it's going to take.
What are the issues that you are most passionate about.
Our Economic and environmental future and the quality and state of our democracy. Democracy is at risk. It is being overtaken by corporate power.
Why do you think that the number of radio stations that have picked you up have expanded so quickly and dramatically. ...
Because, more than half of America in 2000 voted for Al Gore and those people want to listen to the radio too and they get very enthusiastic and happy when someone is talking to them. And I know how to do good radio, we produce a good, tight show.. .
When Hartman was on Compuserve, when it was the biggest internet provider, he was tops in running forums-- a master of the internet. In the world of ADHD, Hartmann's theory that people with Attention Deficit Disorder are like hunters in a farmers' world reframed ADD as a difference with strengths rather than a brain disease. He became one of the top selling authors and speakers on the subject, and about five years after proposing his theory, researchers at Johns Hopkins re-discovered the same theory. His books weaving together spirituality and ecology earned him invitations for meetings with the Pope and the Dalai Lama.
Hartmann doesn't do things half way and when he takes on a new challenge he breaks new ground and builds lasting businesses that persevere after he moves on. Unlike most talk radio authors, Hartmann's already written over a dozen books. There's real depth in this man and it shows in his talk show. If Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are reflections of the experience, character and depth of the right wing, and Thom Hartmann is a reflection of the middle class and progressives... well, it's an interesting comparison. One things for sure. Hartmann's talk show is on fire with new stations signing on every week.
To find out if you can listen on the radio yet, or must use satellite or Internet radio, go to www.thomhartmann.com
To listen on the internet, between 12:00 and 3:00 PM EST, click here or here or, for other hours and recorded sessions, try radiopower.org.
shows are archived for three weeks at http://www.WhiteRoseSociety.org/
Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is editor/founder of OpEdNews.com, president of Futurehealth, Inc. and organizer of the Futurehealth Winter Brain, Optimal Functioning and StoryCon Meeting. This article is copyright Rob Kall and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog or web media so long as this credit paragraph is attached.