Mar 3 2007

Rough Road to Liberal Talk Success

A short history of radio bias

When Air America declared bankruptcy on October 13, conservatives who’d been predicting its failure since it launched 30 months earlier were afforded a new chance to gloat and scoff at the notion that liberal radio hosts could ever compete with what they see as the stunningly talented conservatives who dominate the medium (O’Reilly Factor, 10/13/06; AP, 10/14/06). It may be too early to count Air America out—the network is still on the air and syndicating programming to other radio stations—but it’s fair to say that it hasn’t given liberal talk radio advocates a clear rebuttal to the conservative argument that […]

Feb 2 2007

Remembering Molly Ivins

Progressive voice a rarity on the op-ed page

Incisive, forceful and funny progressive columnist and author Molly Ivins died January 31 from breast cancer at the age of 62. Ivins’ career included stints as a police reporter at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a reporter at the New York Times, but most came to know her work through reading her syndicated column, which appeared in over 300 newspapers, making her the most widely syndicated progressive columnist in the country. Throughout the years, FAIR has been proud to be associated with Molly Ivins. In a syndicated column in 2003, Ivins suggested readers could send donations to a number of […]

Jan 1 2007

Sidebar: Liberals Can’t Cut Talk Radio?

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to Rough Road to Liberal Talk Success.] One talk radio talking point for conservatives and establishment observers alike is that progressive politics don’t “work” on talk radio because they are too nuanced and therefore not reducible to the sort of clear-cut moral terms that get talk radio audiences fired up. Anyone who believes this has never heard the likes of Michael Moore, Barbara Ehrenreich, Molly Ivins or Michael Eric Dyson (himself a successful local talk radio host in Chicago). While touring in support of FAIR’s book The Way Things Aren’t: Rush Limbaugh’s Reign of […]

Jan 1 2007

The Pitfalls and Promise of Progressive Talk

Surviving and thriving on the left end of the radio spectrum

Although progressive hosts like Michael Jackson and Bernie Ward have been around for years, progressive talk as a recognized format began in 2004, when Air America Radio was born and the Jones Radio Networks began to syndicate Fargo, N.D.-based Ed Schultz nationally. Since then, the format has attracted major newsmakers, big-name politicians and famous authors. But it hasn’t won over many media critics, who keep insisting the format has no future. Other than an occasional profile of a well-known host like Schultz or Al Franken, what little mainstream media attention progressive talk has received tends to be negative—dismissive comments by […]

Oct 15 2004

FBI Shutdown of Indymedia Threatens Free Speech

October 15, 2004 In a chilling attack on free speech, U.S. authorities on October 7 seized two internet servers in London belonging to the independent media network Indymedia. More than 20 Indymedia sites around the world were taken down as a result of the raid. The servers were returned on October 14, but no formal charges have been announced and no explanation has been given for the raid. FBI spokesperson Joe Parris told Agence France Presse that the raid was “not an FBI operation” but that the FBI issued the subpoena on behalf of Italy and Switzerland (10/8/04). U.S. authorities […]

Aug 27 2004

Brian Montopoli on Swift Boat controversy, Kyle Johnson on KNFT

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: campaign coverage is often derided as superficial, but the media performance of the past week takes the cake. Why have a series of unsubstantiated claims about John Kerry’s Vietnam service become the defining issue of the presidential race? We’ll talk to Brian Montopoli of the Columbia Journalism Review’s Campaign Desk about the Swift Boat controversy. Also this week: we’ll talk to a radio host from Silver City, New Mexico whose show on station KNFT had offered a little balance to the right leaning station’s other programming. What happened once his show hit the air? […]

Jan 1 2003

‘Making the Invisible Visible’

Antipoverty activists working to make their own media

“We’d like to thank the mainstream media for showing up,” quipped Cheri Honkala, adjusting her baby son on her jeans-clad lap. The executive director of the Philadelphia-based Kensington Welfare Rights Union, a multiracial organization of, by and for poor and homeless people, Honkala was opening a Saturday press conference last October in a claustrophobic classroom at Temple University. The occasion: “Break the Media Blackout: A Conference on Media Democracy and the Struggle to End Poverty,” of which KWRU was a co-sponsor. The absence of mainstream reporters only reinforced one reason the meeting was taking place: to address and remedy what […]

Jul 1 2000

Solid Ratings Don’t Protect Progressive Radio Voices

Are 'controversial' and 'mean-spirited' code words for 'left'?

Commercial talk radio, like television punditry, is politically lopsided, dominated by the likes of Dr. Laura Schlesinger and Rush Limbaugh. The airspace for voices that tackle political issues from a progressive perspective even seems to be shrinking; two progressive shows–Pat Thurston of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Chicago’s Mike Malloy–were canceled earlier this year. The February 15 firing of Pat Thurston by Santa Rosa’s KSRO sparked protest rallies and letters to the local paper lamenting the loss of “the voice of Sonoma County” and “the only widely accessible interactive debate on local issues” (Press Democrat, 2/17/00; 2/27/00). Project Censored’s Peter Phillips […]