A story in the Capital Times today details the recent programming changes and the resulting listener uproar on the Mic, 92.1 FM, Madison’s only progressive talk station.
As 2008 ticked over into 2009, the Mic, rather quietly, announced that popular daytime show ‘The Thom Hartmann Program’ was going to be replaced by evangelical money-help host Dave Ramsey’the same Dave Ramsey who hosts a similar financial show on the Fox Business Channel. (I’ll leave my comments about having a right-wing, bible-thumping Fox mouthpiece on my progressive talk station for another post’¦.)
However, the change won’t last. Ramsey is moving to the morning slot and Thom Hartmann is moving back to the 2-5p slot on the Mic.
As an avid Mic listener’the OWN office radio is tuned to the Mic at some point every day’I certainly welcome the change back to Hartmann. But the change and change back really drive home the danger of media consolidation that we’ve all grown accustomed to.
The Mic is owned by the biggest radio provider in the country, Clear Channel, which owns over 1200 radio stations in the US. And one of the biggest complaints that the station managers of the Mic had is the station hasn’t been able to grab a bigger share of the local market’the Mic currently stands in 11th place among Madison radio station market share.
But look around. How many advertisements do you see around Madison for the Mic? What has the station’s parent company done to help improve the stations share? It can’t be assumed that Clear Channel cares one bit about progressive talk. I’m sure the corporate overlord/fat cats are some of the top 2% that got the Bush tax cuts’¦and since Clear Channel owns several stations in Madison, what do they care if progressive talk succeeds?
The crowing from conservative hosts on both TV and radio about progressive talk’s ‘imminent failure’ grows louder and louder. Remember Bill O’Reilly railing against Air America over the years, claiming it was bankrupt and set up to fail? And Clear Channel is all too willing to oblige. They open a ‘progressive’ station, then let it flounder without advertising or other support from its parent company, and the station eventually fails, leaving more room for blowhards like Hannity and Glen Beck. Another progressive talk station that just can’t cut it.
I don’t buy it. And although the Mic’s listenership may be small’even though I’VE never been called or asked what radio stations I listen to’we’re loyal, and we’re not giving up our station so easily.
Madison progressive, listen up! Tune in to the Mic, tell your friends, and check out the sponsor page on http://themic921.com and support those local business who support progressive talk!