Clear Channel Hears Liberal Madison Loud and Clear

With the holiday fill-ins and Lords of Loud wannabes manning the mikes
along with the "Best Ofs" (I get a kick from the talk radio programming
logic that believes it makes sense to give us the news of 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 to celebrate. It's not news when a radio station picks up Progressive
Talk, but it is headline material to have the same station that canceled
Progressive Talk, change their 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
Tête-à-tête 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 number, 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. I know I wrote that twice. It's just
so 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 knells being rung by 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.

Steve Young is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" and his column appears in the LA Daily News Sunday Opinion page...to the left of O'Reilly's...really.