Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Reason for thinking positive

Remember when the Righties were predicting the doom of Air America? I certainly remember tons of talk about how progressives would fail miserably with Talk Radio, most of it based on false premises, as with Jay Severin of the Boston Globe here in Late March of '04:
You are planning to lure conservative talk listeners? Dream on. You ignore -- or are delusional about -- the gross mismatch between your product and your customers.

Your ethos, mantra, unshakeable article of faith, and every utterance will derive from the smug presumption that the values and views of nonliberals are the root of evil: "selfish" because we believe our taxes too high; "haters" because we disdain racial preferences and same-sex marriage; "cruel" because we believe in strong national defense, capital punishment, and actually oppose illegal immigration; and, of course, "stupid" because we reject your benighted viewpoint.

Harsh words, and undeniably the wrong way to examine whether progressive talk radio will work. It IS working because folks like Randi Rhodes and Al Franken are talking sense in an entertaining way. Yeah, those two just got their contracts renewed, and instead of the handful of stations they started out with they are up to 40 nationwide.

Perhaps the real star is Ed Schultz. At the close of his first year of going National he's now on 70 stations, and the expansion of his audience continues. I was lucky to catch him on the Charlston, SC station a bit over two weeks ago, and he's engaging without being shrill and without the over-the-top showmanship (blowhardism?) of Rush Limbaugh.

There's lots of room to grow. Tune in, folks.