The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

01 April 2006

Ed Schultz Profile, Fargo-Moorhead, Los Angeles Times

RUBBING OFF

Owned By Democrats, Schultz Gets Frankenfluff Treatment




With the mainstream media so efficiently manufacturing Frankenfluff, that curious brand of nonstop positive press coverage enjoyed by few others, it was only a matter of time before a non-Air America liberal host would enjoy a spare batch.

In Sunday's Los Angeles Times, that's exactly what's happened for Big Eddie Schultz, Fargo's conservative-turned-liberal nationally syndicated host. No doubt he's happy to see some of Al's good luck rub off on him:


Carried live in Los Angeles on KTLK (1150) weekdays, noon to 3 p.m., and on roughly 100 other stations across the country, "The Ed Schultz Show" is a somewhat rowdy town hall meeting of the air, overseen by Big Eddie, as he is known in North Dakota — in reference to his 6-foot-2, 250-pound frame.

Part town crier, part lay minister and every inch a performer, Schultz regularly lights a fire at the feet of the current administration while giving succor to the disgruntled and disenfranchised, which these days include all manner of registered Democrats and "lefties," a term he uses to describe himself.

But he is hardly the sort of "lefty" conjured by the popular right-wing talk radio opposition represented by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Although carried locally on the same station that is home to Al Franken's upstart liberal Air America network, Schultz's style has little in common with either Franken's studied East Coast ironies or the decorous objectivity of NPR, where Keillor got his start from St. Paul.

"He's proving that liberal radio can work," says Michael Harrison, the editor of Talkers magazine, the industry publication that recently ranked Schultz No. 13 overall in its Heavy 100 list of national and local talk-show hosts based on ratings as well as talent, buzz and influence. Howard Stern was No. 1 and Rush Limbaugh No. 2. Al Franken came in at No. 18.


Why do newspapers so frequently reference that silly Talkers "Heavy 100" list? In the talk radio industry, it carries little weight and is actually quite unpopular.

In addition, the piece claims Schultz has two million listeners, again probably from Talkers. That's also not reliable.

More:

BOXER'S voice is often heard on the program, as are the voices of other ranking Democrats such as Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa), Harry Reid (Nevada), Patrick J. Leahy (Vermont) and Feingold in short, to-the-point interviews.

The show, in fact, was born three years ago with $800,000 in seed money raised by Senate Democrats looking for someone to push back against the relentless attacks from Limbaugh and other conservative talkers on then-minority leader Tom Daschle. Jim Hightower, Mario Cuomo, Gary Hart and other noted liberals had failed to crack the talk-radio format, which seemed destined to be dominated by conservatives. When the search committee turned up Schultz, he offered a theory why the others had fizzled.


Score one for the article's author. We've rarely seen the Harry Reid/ Democrat Party connection mentioned in print.

One more excerpt:


SCHULTZ, syndicated independently by Jones Radio Networks, was not so liberal when he began doing a talk show in Fargo in 1992 and admits he did his share of Clinton-bashing. "I was more of a hard line-drive to right-center then," he said. The story goes that meeting his second wife, Wendy, then a psychiatric nurse working with the homeless, turned him around. But he says, "I also think I just started to see the light and realize what was happening to the country."

Still the competitor he was on the football field, Schultz's ready smile tightens when he talks about winning his time slot in major markets and proving the naysayers wrong. He would like the world to know that, according to the latest industry ratings, he is beating Sean Hannity head to head in San Diego, Denver, Seattle and Miami — and doing so with a tiny staff and a budget of less than $1 million a year. His national audience is approaching 2 million. (In Los Angeles, after a year on KTLK, his number of listeners has doubled and is estimated at just under 100,000.)

Though probably benefiting from the president's sinking popularity
, liberal talk shows on American radio are still outnumbered more than 10 to 1 — something like 450 to 40.

Schultz has watched ruefully as Christian broadcasting companies have bought stations in Phoenix, Missoula, Mont., and Charleston, S.C., where he was on the air and sent him packing. Protesting Mormons drove him off a station in Salt Lake City after only three weeks.


Problems:

On Eddie's fishy conservative-to-liberal switcheroo, the LA Times has let him off the hook without tough questions.

Liberals often complain about Schultz, finding him insincere or too moderate, that's really not explored here.

It took a Democrat Party search committee to find Schultz? Isn't something that bizarre worth further exploration?

Since KTLK's overall ratings are absolutely in the toilet, how could his audience have doubled? Did other shows lose listeners?

Regarding Christians working to knock off Schultz and liberal radio, that's a kooky conspiracy theory. It should have been edited out of the story.

Is he really beating Hannity in all of those places? Perhaps, but we've yet to see bona fide Arbitron data to back up the claim.


Overall, a lucky break for Eddie, a major newspaper story full of fishy assertions regarding his performance.

Schultz has one thing going for him, however: he's not part of Air America!

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Some images: NBC

6 Comments:

  • Ed got kicked off KFGO 790 AM in Fargo ND. I sure don't miss the babbling idiot. He was a hypocrete and he does not have a real big following here and is talking about leaving town too.

    By Blogger bobnd, at 02 April, 2006 03:42  

  • Interesting questions, Brian. How about this line from the article?

    "Schultz has watched ruefully as Christian broadcasting companies have bought stations in Phoenix, Missoula, Mont., and Charleston, S.C., where he was on the air and sent him packing."

    It's inaccurate, actually.

    * Schultz' affiliate in Phoenix, KXXT/1010, was bought by Communicom, which indeed does specialize in religious formats. A new AAR station set to debut tomorrow, leased-time KPHX/1480, does not include Schultz or fellow Jones Radio talker Stephanie Miller.

    * As far as I can remember, the Missoula station was not bought by "a Christian broadcaster", but a secular company which flipped it (an FM) to a secular music format. I could be wrong on the ownership of Simmons Media, the company, and they may well be run by conservative folks (they ARE based in Utah)...but the format change was secular there. They do run what's basically a conservative FM talker there, but that's a smart move in Utah.

    * The Charleston station, WLTQ AM 730, was flipped to standards...and is still owned by Clear Channel, which still runs Schultz on a boatload of its liberal talk stations. That hardly fits the "Christian broadcaster takes us off the air" line.

    So, of the three examples - one instance could be considered to be right, one a bit shaky, and one entirely inaccurate. I can't speak to the "hooted off by Mormons" line about Schultz's departure from KSL's nighttime lineup...

    By Blogger Ohio Media Watch, at 02 April, 2006 14:24  

  • How could he be beating Hannity in Miami when they're on at different times? How is he doing against his "real" conservative competition, the Schnitt Show on WIOD? (WKAT remains a nonfactor).

    By Blogger smedge, at 02 April, 2006 19:11  

  • Randi Rhodes spilled the beans on Big Ed in a CSPAN interview, describing the auction where Ed got his money. Per Randi: "I'm just – first of all I'm not going to be mouthpiece for the party".

    12 AUTH 19 OP FARGOPLAINS 449 CEN

    By Blogger LonewackoDotCom, at 03 April, 2006 02:06  

  • I'll give Eddie this much: he actually sounds like he's knows what he's doing behind a microphone. (The same cannot be said for Franken, Rhodes, and the rest of the AAR gang.)

    By Blogger BF, at 03 April, 2006 09:10  

  • Frankly, Schultz says he's sincere about his politics, so I have to take him at his word. I certainly hope he's sincere; he talks a good game to be sure. He admits he's pro-life, which I am not, but hey, the Left should be a big tent, and if a guy says he's on the left, he should be accepted as one of us (to a certain point beyond which it would be ridiculous...you need to share at least SOME of our political viewpoints).

    The reason he is valuable is that he portrays an archetype that is not normally seen as a "lefty." Guys that look like him and talk like him are not perceived as liberal usually. But there are "meat-eatin' gun-totin' liberals" out there, and they should get some exposure.

    Once I was in public listening to Ed's show and someone unfamiliar with it came up and asked "Is that Limbaugh?" "No, just the opposite" I replied.

    That's my point: the stereotype of the East Coast, Ivy League, egg-head, cynical, ironic esthete as the emblem of The Left is just that. A very narrow stereotype which the entire Left should not be saddled with. There's Democrats, liberals, progressives, etc. of all stripes, shapes and sizes. That's why Schultz is so valuable and that's why they spent so long looking for him. I glad they couldn't bribe Randi Rhodes.

    By Blogger Scott, at 07 April, 2006 04:18  

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