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OpEdNews Op Eds        3/31/2004

Liberal Talk Radio is Busting out all over.

By       Message Rob Kall     Permalink
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Liberal Talk Radio is Busting out all over.

by Rob Kall


Contrary to the news on all the major networks, Liberal talk radio has not  just begun.  Air America is off to a Kick-butt Start and they're just the beginning of a whole WORLD of Progressive media Content, if you're not already familiar with it, that's been in existence and coming into existence,  all aimed at sending George W. Bush Back to Crawford, and taking back the congress from the far right wingers who are trying to radically change America;  a bloggish article.

Air America Radio goes live, joining a host of other already up and running talk radio, talk internet and soon to arrive liberal cable programs...

Today, there's a huge amount of major media coverage of the new kid on the block, Air America Radio. But they are not alone. There are new liberal talk shows, networks and cable operations either up and running or on the verge of going live. These will be a strong supplement to the existing liberal and progressive news and opinion websites and blogs that already serve millions of visitors daily.

Air America Radio, fielding  Al Franken, Jeanene Garafalo, Chuck D,, environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and a team that will cover the airwaves from 6:00 AM through midnight EST, will start broadcasting today. The cities they will be covering on opening day include:

New York - WLIB 1190AM
Los Angeles - KBLA 1580
Chicago - WNTD 950 AM
Portland, OR - KPOJ 620 AM
Inland Empire, CA - KCAA 1050 AM

Minneapolis MN - WMNN 1330AM

If you can dial them in, make sure to contact the station and let them know how happy you are that they are carrying the shows. Then, make sure you support the local advertisers. Tell them you are doing business with them specifically because of the network. Tell them you weren't doing business  with them before if that's the case, and tell them how much more you appreciate them for supporting the network if you were already a customer.

If you can't tune in the dial, you can also tune in to Channel 167 on XM Satellite Radio. Email them to let them know you are listening.  And if you don't have XM radio, then the website www.airamericaradio.com is promised to have the show accessible by streaming audio on the net. 

 Here's the anticipated lineup, according to a press release from XM sattelite radio:

Morning Sedition   Weekdays 6am-9am Unfiltered   Weekdays 9am-noon The O'Franken Factor   Weekdays noon-3pm
Repeat: 11pm-2am The Randi Rhodes Show   Weekdays 3pm-7pm
Repeat: 2am-6am So What Else Is News?   Weekdays 7pm-8pm The Majority Report   Weekdays 8pm-11pm The Laura Flanders Show   Saturdays 7pm 10pm; Sundays 6pm 9pm

"Look out Rush Limbaugh," they're blasting on the major news networks, raising the question, "can the new liberal network make it?".

I'm hoping they're going to be a smash hit. At 10:58 AM the website still wasn't active. By 11:52, when I checked back, the front page of the site had new text and a simple link to a live audio stream. I clicked and in a few moments was listening to a hip-hop song with political lyrics, followed by the song  CULT OF PERSONALITY. Here are some of the lyrics:

Look into my eyes, what do you see?
Cult of personality
I know your anger, I know your dreams
I 've been everything you want to be
I 'm the cult of personality
Like mussolini and kennedy
I 'm the cult of personality
Cult of personality
Cult of personality

Neon lights, a nobel prize
The mirror speaks, the reflection lies
You don 't have to follow me
Only you can set me free
I sell the things you need to be
I 'm the smiling face on your t.v.
I 'm the cult of personality
I exploit you still you love me

It is a great beginning  that some serious investors have put up serious bucks to put some liberals on the air. We'll see whether political comedian Al Franken can pull in an audience that makes the new network a profit. As an occasional guest on conservative radio (always being going into the interviewed expecting to be savaged for my liberal views and usually invited because of specific statements I've made) I've always been pleased by the number of liberal callers. I know, when driving I listen to conservative radio because there are no liberal shows in my area (Philly.) So there's a good chance that many of the liberals already listening to "the enemy" will simply make the switch to the easily accessible liberal radio shows in the metropolitan areas where Air America Radio is starting.

From a political perspective, in the short term, one problem is, the stations are, for the most part, not in the 17 battleground states, or the cities where the 2004 presidential election will primarily be fought. Hopefully, in the next few months, as the network gets coverage and builds upon its initial foothold, more stations will pick up either the whole network or individual shows. It's likely that, as with any network offering a smattering of new shows, some will survive and some will disappear within weeks, or even days.

* * *

Al Franken opens the show by saying that this is  a beginning and an ending-- an end to the right wing dominance of talk radio-- a beginning to a battle for truth, a battle for justice, a battle for America itself. Not to be grandiose about it," he spoofed.     He goes on to say "This is about relentlessly hammering away at the Bush administration... because they are going down!" And then, my internet connection goes down. I try to log back on again and get a message it may be my network. I test it out, going to my usual noon to three show, the Thom Hartmann show and sure enough, I can tune in, via the internet to it. So I go back to the Franken link and it logs in again, for about 45 seconds. Then I lose it again. Then I get it back and it seems to hold steady for 90 seconds.. then I lost it again and again and again, and for the last five tries, the player seems to connect, but there's no audio

. I'm guessing that the site is getting totally overloaded with listeners and they can't handle the bandwidth, plus, it's a new system with normal bugs to deal with.  Meanwhile, I've switched back to the Thom Hartmann show, which, when it went independent, ran just fine on its first day on satellite,

* * *

Four o'clock. I check back in on airamerica. The website is down, but my alexa.com toolbar is still working for it. So I click to see the stats for the day.

Here's the chart from alexa

And here are some of the key stats:

Traffic rank:

Today 1 wk. Avg. 3 mos. Avg. 3 mos. Change 1 3 , 1 0 1 2 3 , 1 2 9 220,788 --
Reach for airamericaradio.com :   (what's this)


Reach per million users:

Today 1 wk. Avg. 3 mos. Avg. 3 mos. Change 1 9 0 7 2 9 --


Reach rank:

Today 1 wk. Avg. 3 mos. Avg. 3 mos. Change 7 , 0 2 5 1 9 , 6 2 2 1 2 6 , 5 68

To give you some idea of how these look,  here's a graph that compares some well known progressive sites:

Air America Radio's rank of 13,101 puts in the realm of all but commondreams.org, and it's only the first day. These things build. They're off to a kick-ass start as far as the web goes. .

A few moments later, I tried to log on to the website again. It worked, and the audio feed on the internet worked. Ten minutes, no problem so far. Awesome. So... the bugs will be worked out. The strong demand will be met. A new strong liberal voice will be heard, will be accessible.

But Air America is not alone. There are plenty of other talk radio shows across the country.  Another new "network" on a smaller scale, started recently as a hybrid, some on the web only, some on satellite radio and some on actual radio stations. This "network" is really a group of separately operating radio talk show hosts. The network that ties them together is www.radiopower.org , which is the common denominator for talk show hosts operating from noon 'til six, then nine 'til midnight, EST.

The Radiopower.org talk radio hosts are very independent and really, outside of the common sharing of radiopower.org internet streaming, they do operate totally independently of each other, each with their own studios. Radiopower unlike airamericaradio, is operated by one dedicated, never sleeping person, Shelby LaPre, dedicated to getting the progressive word out and doing a great job at it.

Thom Hartmann, whose show runs from noon 'til three, has the largest listener base, with his show also being aired in 20+ cities, on Stream 143 on Sirius radio and on cable radio network, which is  in 24 million homes. Hartmann, like so many of the progressive radio personalities, is a many of many hats-- founder of a school, author of over a dozen books, founder of a number of corporations that have grossed over a quarter billion dollars in sales, calls his audience "the radical middle."  I know Thom is doing a superb job bringing perspective to the news. He comments that this explosion of liberal media is a part of a natural process of the pendulum swinging back towards the center. Americans really do want access to all viewpoints so they can make up their own minds and AM talk radio has denied them that for a decade. There's a huge market opportunity here, which we're seeing with our show, with the rapid growth we're experiencing in both affiliates and listeners and the great success our sponsors are having.

* * *

It's four PM EST. I''m still listening to airamericaradio and Randi Rhodes is talking to Madeline Albright. I smile. I'm used to, when I hear a big name, hearing a right winger, like Ollie North or  Newt Gingrich... . This is sweet. Even on the Thom Hartmann show, which I switched to, when the audio stream was down, he was interviewing NJ Senator Jon Corzine. And between Thom and Randi, I was hearing smart questions asked of progressive national leaders. How rare, how wonderful!!

* * *

Wolf Blitzer, doing a spot on the first day of airing Air America Radio,  asks. What about NPR? Isn't that liberal radio? The right wing   Deborah Perry with the stiff, bad hair, answers Wolf, " when I want to hear what liberals are saying, I tune into NPR."  But I totally disagree.  NPR is great at covering the latest hot news in Nicaragua, Africa and that quaint village in India. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy my occasional NPR, but it is almost totally devoid of political discussion, and it certainly doesn't tread where right wing radio goes, giving opinions on the opposition, let alone calling a spade a spade and Bush a liar.

* * *

Randi Rhodes has Ralph Nader on. She's being tough on him, saying we can't afford him. Nader's pissed, saying she's doing a bad job interviewing, that she should be ashamed of herself, talking over him. Randi replies, "I'm not interviewing. I'm pissed at you.... don't tell me how to do radio. I've been doing it for 20 years. (Hmm. trying to figure out her age, especially after she suggested earlier that she slept with Bush 'hit-man' James Baker.) At about 5:50 PM, I lose my connection again. This time, after four or five tries, I give up, at least for a while. It's been my first time listening to Randi. She was a little rough on Ralph, but he can take it, and I like my liberals tough. I'll be back.

* * *

6:29:  I get back on after a few more tries. It lasts about two minutes and Randi's wrestling with a Nader supporter. Like Al Sharpton said, "Getting Democrats organized is like herding cats."  No dittoheads here. Well, a lively debate on the Nader issue is healthy. He wants Bush out too. He's made that clear. Somehow, I think he has plans to help make it happen. Meanwhile, it's clear that Republicans are contributing to his campaign. So long as he ends up getting behind Kerry, that's a good thing. Wouldn't it be nice if he already had something worked out with Kerry? That would throw the conservatives off their guard and siphon some money away too.

6:40: Randi just spoke with Pat Buchanan. It's very civil. She invites him back again. This is great radio. She really knows her sh*t and she knows herself, making comments on the meta-communications as well as on the content.

Ads go on. The first is an unusual one, a pitch for a screenplay, Heart of the Beholder. If progressive talk radio is going to succeed, then it will need advertisers who see that their ads are working. Check out this site. The next ad is for Onstar a service for automobiles. My guess is that ad is a minimum pay one, like the ever-present GEICO ads, that take deeply discounted 

6:55 Peter Jennings does about a minute on Air America radio. The coverage has been amazing, all day long-- very high rotation. Al Franken is getting all the coverage, not fair to Randi or the others on the team. Hmm. Just checked a  schedule I'd included in the article,  sourced from XM radio. Randi was on when Ed Schultz was supposed to be on. Schultz is an interesting guy with some good stuff happening all on his own. He's in Senate minority leader Tom Daschle's state of South Dakota,  and the word is he's getting strong support as a way to help  bolster Daschle's home base.  (It turns out Schultz is NOT on the schedule. But he's another strong major player in the world of Liberal radio, with his The Ed Schultz Show. One of the few who also do sportscasting too, Schultz is a  former All American. He won the 1977 NCAA Division II passing championship and signed as a Free Agent with the Oakland Raiders.

10:00 PM Jeanene Garofalo has Dave Chappell on. My 20 year old college student son would love to hear it. He watched Chappell's show every night he was home on his last visit.

5:15 AM Air America  now has a real website up. Ed Schultz is not on the schedule. Randi Rhodes is covering his time slot.

Unfiltered, from nine 'til noon looks really good. Air America describes it: co-hosted by The Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead, Chuck D, leader and co-founder of legendary rap group Public Enemy, and Rachel Maddow, a rabblerousing broadcaster with a doctorate in politics from the University of Oxford. This uncompromising program puts politics and culture through the ringer, uncensored and unfiltered.

The more you see of AirAmericaRadio, the better it looks. But it's an awful lot to digest in one sitting. Each program will go through the test of cutting it or failing on its  own. We'll start to see the results in just a few weeks. We can expect the right wing to start sniping at them today, grabbing three second, unrepresentative samples of slow air time, momentary lapses, and playing them over and over again, like they did to Howard Dean. I'm looking forward to seeing AirAmerica Radio do it back to Bush and Limbaugh and the zoo full of other right wing ditto brains. Hartmann already does it regularly. It's a hoot when he does it, without the meanness we see when Fox decides to go ugly.

* * *

Two other shows on the radiopower.org "network" are Tony Trupiano's  The Tony Show, also offered on satellite radio, and local stations, which starts off with union support, in Michigan,  and Mark Levine's Radio Inside Scoop. Levine's website reports he served as Legislative Counsel to a high-ranking Democratic Member of Congress on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.  He has an economics degree magna cum laude from Harvard College and a law degree from Yale. 

There are a lot more existing or soon starting shows that offer a liberal perspective. On TV, there's Comedy Central's the Daily show, with Jon Stewart, CNN's Crossfire with James Carville (Paul Begala's a bit too centrist for me,) Bill Maher, on HBO. There's talk that Al Gore is close to putting together a deal with lawyer Joel Hyatt to create a cable network aimed at the MTV generation.  More radio shows include  Doug Basham's Basham Radio in Las Vegas, Bernie Ward in San Francisco,  Meria Heller, Vermont's independent congressman Bernie Sanders has Bernie Sanders Show, Young Turks, Wisdom Radio, Radio Left, RadioForChange, microradio.net , democracy now, Pacifica  and there are literally dozens more. Many of them are listed and linked to at OpEdNews.com's progressive media page.

7:24 AM; I'm listening to morning sedition, starting to get to know another new batch of radio hosts, who are obviously just getting to know each other too. The team consists of, as airamericaradio describes them, radio veteran Mark Riley, journalist Sue Ellicott and comedian Marc Maron. They have Salon Washington Bureay chief editor Sidney Blumenthal on, talking about the subject of a headline I linked to an hour ago, which I found on the Guardian, The White House has the last laugh which discusses violation of long held journalistic rules in their quest to savage Richard Clarke.

So, as this article, already too long, comes to an end, a few last observations:

Liberal talk radio is in the middle of an explosion. Even Clear Channel is beginning to carry it. More and more local stations are taking risks with liberal programming. A challenge is the loss of radio diversity, with so many markets having radio stations owned by large chains.

As this blossoming of liberal radio shows progresses, some will succeed, others will fail and still more will appear. Right wingers will tend to ignore the successes and try to make the whole movement look like a failure, using their now-becoming-standard "ugly-brush" to paint any opposition as flawed, weak, of poor character and inconsistent.

We don't know yet which formats will work-- comedy and news, hard hitting tough diatribes like Limbaugh and Hannity, nuanced, smart analysis, like Bill Moyers, who is soon retiring... 

The liberal family of progressives, Greens, Democrats, cultural creatives, and far lefties is discovering itself, communicating building a means to connect, creating the foundations of a counterpart to the incredibly powerful right wing
echo chamber" used to quickly blast "talking points" out to the public. The right wing echo chamber usually starts with the RNC's daily talking points and the drudgereport . The left's early beginnings of an echo chamber seems to be emerging from the Center for American Progress's daily Progress Report and some of the leading progressive news and opinion websites-- Alternet, democratic underground, commondreams, Buzzflash, Tompaine, informationclearinghouse, as well as some of the more traditional left leaning media-- The Nation, The American Spectator, Mother Jones...

These are exciting times. The left is finally waking up. Howard Dean helped energize  the progressive electorate and bring together the democratic party. Center for American Progress is the first real progressive policy promotion think tank, and now, we have serious competition for the right's toxic radio spew machine. Bottom line, listen, support the advertisers, and let them know your are supporting them because of their support of your media.

Rob Kall rob@opednews.com is editor/founder of  OpEdNews.com.   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.  Over 85 other articles by Rob Kall




Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 


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