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Talk radio's conservative dominance traces back to when Limbaugh went national.

Online petition aims to diversify Milwaukee talk radio

Have you found that listening to talk radio in Milwaukee means you're hearing a lot from the "right" side of your speakers, but little to nothing from the "left?"

If the likes of Sykes, Wagner and Belling leave you wishing for some response, Scott Stearns has an opportunity for you to make your voice heard ... or at least read.

Stearns, a local blogger whose entries can be found on milwaukee.blogspot.com, offers up an online petition that strives to illustrate a ready market for liberal talk. The petition is addressed to Milwaukee's radio program directors and major ownership groups such as Entercom, the Milwaukee Radio Alliance, Milwaukee Radio Group, Clear Channel and the Journal Broadcast Group, which collectively own 18 of the area's radio stations.

Stearns says the petition itself won't bring a liberal talker to town, even if everyone in town signs it. Evidence that a station can succeed with such a format is what matters.

The argument that liberal talk radio doesn't bring the audience and ad dollars that conservative radio does has held water for a long time. But, liberal talk network Air America just added its 51st affiliate, recently made it through its first year of business (despite many predictions of its demise) and ratings for many affiliates are starting to make a dent. The market for liberal talk, the petition argues, now exists.

"I'm not seeing this as the be-all, end-all. The main purpose is to raise awareness that there is a demand here for Air America and talk shows like it," Stearns says. "I'm hoping down the road we'd be more likely to get that here. There's always radio stations switching formats, and I want to prove that there are people who would listen to an Air America-type format, and that market is not being served."

Talk radio's conservative dominance can be traced back to 1988, when Rush Limbaugh went into national syndication. The sheer size of his audience -- and the ad dollars that followed -- led some to credit conservative talkers like him with "saving" AM radio. More conservative talkers followed to share in the success of the market throughout the '90s, with some now popping up on the FM band.

Air America formed to counter conservative talk radio. Spearheaded by personalities such as Al Franken, Ed Schultz and Randi Rhodes, its affiliates include "The Mic 92.1," a Madison station owned by Clear Channel, which also airs Rush Limbaugh on another of its Madison stations.

Clear Channel's balance in Madison is not duplicated here. The closest thing we have to liberal talk is Racine's WRJN (AM 1400), which broadcasts Ed Schultz (4-7 p.m. on weekdays) and Sean Hannity's nemesis on Fox News Channel, Alan Colmes (9 p.m.-midnight on weekdays). WRJN also broadcasts Bill O'Reilly, proving some stations swing both ways.

The online petition aims to see more of a balance on Milwaukee stations, and invites any station owners to take a closer look.

The petition was posted online on March 15. On the morning of March 31, Air America's one-year anniversary, the petition had 227 signatures. If you'd like to add your name, you can sign the petition online at: petitiononline.com/mke0315/petition.html

Talkbacks

tkueny | April 5, 2008 at 7:53 p.m. (report)

The right-wingers NEED talk radio. They wouldn't know what to think about politics without being spoon-fed. They don't read. Before talk-radio these people had no opinion at all.

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MusicalH | March 29, 2008 at 2:04 a.m. (report)

why do we need a liberal radio station when this city is all about liberalism in every other spectrum of the media already, all the local TV stations except FOx 6 favor the liberals, the Journal Sentinal is ALL LIBERAL and one sided just like every other small paper is in this city? The conservative talk radio stations are the only voices conservatives have in this city. Just like the liberals, they want to take over everything! The liberals are just mad because they can't have control of the radio stations too - that's all the liberals are about is control which is why they want the govt. telling us what to do while taking more freedoms that our forefathers faught for and current military are fighting the freedoms that we should all treasure!

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OMCreader | April 11, 2006 at 12:31 p.m. (report)

Jody said: www.themichaeldressershow.com This is what our area needs - Thought Provoking Talk!

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OMCreader | Dec. 16, 2005 at 1:14 p.m. (report)

Blimpy said: Hip Hip hooray! ?? How so? Because I live my life to become close minded, and listen to Rush or Belling. Mega Dildos! NON-Hip, NON-Hip, NON-hip hooray for Milwaukee radio. IT SUCKS! From top to bottom of the dial, from AM to FM. Keep the dial to the left. Enjoy balance.

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OMCreader | July 13, 2005 at 6:33 p.m. (report)

Boaty said: Before Rush came along the Republicans and Conservatives had nothing. The left has NPR, CNN, MSNBC, channel 4, 6, 10, 36 and 12. I think having Sykes, Belling and Rush is great and it's the Conservatives only outlet besides Fox News Fair and Balanced reporting. Can't help it that people like Rush, Sykes and Belling better than what the left offers up. Hip-Hip-Hooray!!

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