WTF is up with Progressive Talk Radio?!?

I work at home full time, and in order to pass the time, I listen to progressive talk radio for at least half of the day. I have been dong this for around 5 years now, with Air America being the major provider. For a time, I was even a paying subscriber, until I saw the best and funniest hosts weeded out, Sam Seder, Mike Malloy, Marc Maron, Randi Rhodes, Chuck D, all kinds of original and funny voices have been muffled, either fired or given very limited air time, in favor of a new crew, mostly made up of former lawyers, i.e. Lionel and Ron Kuby, who seem to dull out the real message in favor of getting gooped up in legalities. Sure Lionel favors the legalization of pot and other good causes, but he does not have the punch and humor of all my past favorites. And he is the only Air America host I listen to. Basically it has turned into old former lawyer radio.

Stepping back a moment, when Randi Rhodes got in trouble for a stand up comic routine where she called Hillary Clinton a “big f’in whore” during the heat of the race with Obama, I simply stopped listening to Air America at all. Watch her stand up, and notice how the crowd loves it and eggs her on.

She really is pretty funny, and does not hold back. So I started listening to Nova M, who picked up Randi immediately when she left Air America. They also had Thom Hartmann, and some other decent stuff. And what do you know, less than a year later the stream no longer works, and I hear that they have filed for bankruptcy…and, worse yet, few days prior to the filing, Sheldon Drobny, founder of Nova M, and a co-founder of Air America Radio, attempted suicide and is hospitalized in Chicago.

At this moment it seems that the two big networks that I enjoy, Air America and Nova M are both no longer available to me. While Nova M has filed for bankruptcy, and Air America seems to have screwed up their live stream, as they have continually screwed up their network. (UPDATE- the air america stream is now working – I’ll have to wait a couple months for their next update to screw things up again.)

By the way, Thom Hartmann, who was actually carried by both Nova M and Air America, parted ways with both of these networks and signed with a more traditional radio syndicate. From 12-3pm every weekday he streams live from his own website. Sure Thomm is a bit of a nerd, but he truly is one of the smartest guys you will ever hear.

Why the gradual demise of free progressive talk radio on the internet? The problem all comes down to advertising and the big money that corporate giants need to provide radio in order to make it profitable. A progressive show may start to catch on and get great ratings, but when the host starts to talk about shipping jobs overseas, corporate corruption, and mass media critique, this doesn’t jive with the corporations messaging, and they punish the stations by pulling their advertising.

I think the real future of progressive radio and media, requires walking the walk not just talking the talk. In other words, only take on sponsors that share the progressive values, and therefore there will be no conflict. The money will be minimal, but the hosts could also be guys like Jimmy Reefercake, who will work for peanuts and just need a soapbox and a microphone. Perhaps there is a future for allthehypocrisy.com in this arena…we shall see…

One other thing is that progressive radio doesn’t seem to get, is guys like Mike Malloy, who are abrasive and mocking towards conservatives, these are the ones who are really entertaining, like the Rush Limbaughs, it is much easier to entertain when you have a scapegoat to pick on and make fun of…the only difference is that Mike Malloy actually tells the truth….

  • M.Uila

    Nice post, Jimmy, lots to chew on. In the first place, lefty radio is not the only media outlet to feel the pinch… as Republicans have fallen out of power and money has dried up following the financial crisis, so too has the wingnut welfare dried up, as evidenced by Pajamas Media closing down their blogging operations. (Pajamas Media are the ones who recently hired Joe the Plumber to be their Israel correspondent).
    Also, in California:

    But for all the anti-tax swagger and the occasional stunts by personalities like KFI’s John and Ken, the reality is that conservative talk radio in California is on the wane. The economy’s downturn has depressed ad revenue at stations across the state, thinning the ranks of conservative broadcasters.

    For that and other reasons, stations have dropped the shows of at least half a dozen radio personalities and scaled back others, in some cases replacing them with cheaper nationally syndicated programs.

    As for your ideas about starting your own streaming broadcast, I predict that will be commonplace in the near future. I’m pretty sure the revived interest in literacy spurred by blogging will soon be replaced by a million voices chattering past each other.

    • Look at the prescience of the mighty all knowing Uila and the poetry…..a million voices chattering past each other. classic.

  • Jimmy Reefercake

    I think Hannity and Limbaugh have 30 million dollar contracts. There is nothing wrong with their business model. These big conservative names are taking over in the same pattern, sqeezing out the little guy and controlling the airwaves. That is their game!

    But for crying out loud you should be able to go to a web site and hear a variety of funny progressive talk radio all day long!? But there is nothing. They have been crushed…

    reggae wonderland on accuradio is not bad…