Air America Radio: Good Talk Radio Not Dominated by Right-wing Ideologues

For too many years, talk radio has been dominated by right-wing blowhards using the microphone as a platform for pushing the agenda of the neo-cons in America. We have heard them all. Up until recently, they were experiencing upward growth trends in audience and in their ability to shape the debate for the righties.

The right wing politicians listened to them, and the growing numbers brought them power. Now, their audience and their influence are both beginning to wane. Why? the disillusionment with the President and the Republican Party are reasons. Any boat tied to the anchor that is George Bush is sure to go down some. But another reason is Air America Radio.

Berated and maligned by the right from its beginnings, it is now a strong a viable force in the talk radio world. Barely more than two years old, it challenges-and in many markets beats-the right wing blowhards. Starting in 2004 with only three affiliates, there are now more than 100. And Air America Radio is now an established force in the Red States too. Here in Portland, Oregon Air America is found at 620 on the A.M. dial, call letters KPOJ.

We in Portland are proud that KPOJ was one of the first in the nation to carry the Air America programming. We have a long tradition that favors open dialog and free-thinking debate. And now KPOJ dominates the talk radio ratings here, and is sometimes in the top three for all radio formats. Way to go KPOJ!

If you don’t live in a market that doesn’t yet have an Air America affiliate, you can stream many of the broadcasts. just go to airamericaradio.com to learn more. If you are in an area that has one and you haven’t yet “tuned in” I hope that my guide might encourage you to do so. I will profile some of the shows that can be found. To make it easier, I will basically review them in the order they are broadcast here on KPOJ.

For those bold enough to be up that early, the day begins with Mark Riley from 0200-0400. I have not yet had the opportunity to hear Mark, so I will skip right to Rachel Maddow. Those who watch The Situation with Tucker Carlson on MSNBC will recognize Rachel as a progressive voice countering the overall leaning of the show. She is on KPOJ from 0400 to 0600, a result of the time difference for the west coast. She has some very good guests, and keeps the conversation flowing well. After her comes a local boy (having recently moved to Portland from Vermont) Thom Hartmann. He is on from 0600 to 0900 here in Portland, and can be heard nationally filling in for other Air America regulars.

He has a very good take on what the corporations are trying to do in America, and a good feel for the other issues of the day. After Thom, the favorite broadcaster of Bill O’Rielly takes to the air. Al Franken is on from 0900 to 1200. Al is well known to the national audience, offering up some humor with a progressive viewpoint. Once Al finishes his show at noon, “Big Eddy” comes on Ed Schultz is a well-grounded progressive voice that reaches out to the free thinkers in Middle America as well as those on the coasts. Calling himself “a gun-toting, meat-eating lefty” Ed appeals to a very broad audience, and can be heard from 1200 to 1500 (noon to three). After Ed comes the always fun to listen to Randi Rhodes, whose candor and forthright approach are very refreshing.

She is a listening must for the progressive listener in the afternoon, on from three until seven in the evening. Then comes the Majority Report from seven until 10p.m. Hosted by Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder, the show tackles the issues of the day from a definite left leaning point of view. After Janeane and Sam comes the Mike Mallow show until one a.m. Mike is another strong progressive voice. The weekend lineup offers a few other choices, all keeping to the basic themes of Air America.

The Air America affiliate in your area may have a different lineup. For example, many stations carry Jerry Springer’s show. But whatever the choices are, you can be assured that they will offer something different than the right wing talking points we get so used to hearing from the conservative mouthpieces. Search for Air America in your area. If you don’t have it, call some talk stations and pressure them to get it. More than anything, listen. And learn. And take action. Vote. Volunteer. Possibly the most important American election ever is coming in November. Without forcing this Administration to be accountable to someone, it will only expand its powers. Happy listening!

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