Monday, January 5, 2009

Thom Hartmann Bounced at Madison 92.1 the Mic for Financial Talker From Fox Business Network.

Madison Clear Channel station 92.1 the Mic bounced Thom Hartmann out after a short time shifted run in the afternoon, for another one of those financial expert shows, this one hosted by Dave Ramsey. Hartmann is one of the best talkers out there right now, offering up historical perspectives and debates with some of the most zealot right wingers. There isn't a day that goes by when the other liberal talkers don't mention Thom as the guy who knows it all. The operations manager's reason for pulling Hartmann; as a station, they're "more than just political talk." That may sound reasonable to some, but in the radio business, that's a FORMAT CHANGE. I worked on the conservative talk AM side for over five years, and never once did anyone suggest taking a break from politics. When listeners tune in, they expect political talk, because that's the format.

But instead, we're treated to another financial advisor. You know, someone that gives the same advice as a dozen others. There is little concern about getting the advice accurate. That’s why these programs exist. A lot of advice with little or no accountability.

A look at Dave Ramsey’s web site, and you might notice this guy has every angle covered: insurance, workplace training, church programs, an on line store, school curriculum, military programs, counselor training, a column and a foundation. He calls it: Life. Money. Hope.

But most of all, you can't help wonder why someone wanted to break up the Air America format with a guy who hosts a show on the Fox Business Network. It's not exactly the talk of the nation. The insertion of happy talk, aw shucks advice on relationships and zero political content, on a political talk station for gods sake is radio suicide.

Not that I have anything against teaching people how to manage their money, but this is vacuous showbiz at its slickest, from someone conservative enough to have his own Fox show on the laughable, failed business network. Take his biblical technique of money management. Yes, the Bible:

Financial Peace University is a Biblically-based accountability curriculum that teaches you how to make the right decisions with your money. More than 10,000 churches nationwide have hosted the program—bring Financial Peace University to your church today!
eLearning Feature: This supplement, called “Drive Free,” teaches students how to drive free cars for life.
In this Ramsey talks about a mutual fund that earns on average 12 percent interest. In what decade is he basing that figure? He also assumes 20 something’s have about $475 to put away a month, instead of a car payment, for 6 years. Now that’s good advice. You’re driving free is the claim. Give me a break. Here’s a sample:

According to FM Operations Manager Mike Ferris, in a form email poised and ready for an anticipated avalanche of protests:

I believe Dave's show offers expert advice and counsel on subjects that affect everyone, our personal finances. Indeed, this has been the goal of this station over the past four years, to provide exceptional programming not available anywhere else on the FM dial (note: that’s why there is weekend programming), and one that offers more than just political talk. Consider the fact that even the progressive Capital Times has a financial/business section, sports and comics.

Newspapers are not like radio stations. Again I have to ask, if this were such a good idea, why didn’t Clear Channel take an important conservative daytime talk show off the air on 1310 WIBA and replace it with a “financial expert?” At the least, they could have gotten someone local who advertises and knows the market? You know where I’m going with this. After awhile, the ratings will sink even lower, and that’s that. Air America just couldn’t cut it in one of the most liberal cities in the country.

Taking a look at the bigger picture, along with 24 years in radio, I’m not encouraged by what I’m seeing. Radio is filled with so many syndicated shows, there isn’t a time slot open or money to spend on the growing number of unemployed talkers, to fill those important future talk radio slots. The trend seems to be employing former Congress people.

Radio used to nurture new talent, once upon a time, now it syndicates old talent. And when they’re gone…what? Where’s the up and comers? The good mid-day talker isn’t there to move into the morning show. But then, who needs a morning show when you can beam one in from a near by affiliate station.

Having said all that, the Air America format of liberal talk, is in the beginning stages. Syndication is the most economical way to introduce and grow a format. Bring back Thom Hartmann, the smartest guy in radio. Heaven knows we it.

NOTE: Thanks to all who pushed Clear Channel hard enough to convince them to bring Hartmann back to the afternoon slot. -Jan 15, 2009


  1. So what can we do about this? 2 years ago the listeners rallied and saved the MIC from death by college sports replacement. And it seems to me the advertisers lined up to get a piece of that motivated supporter/patron business. I've heard so many new advertisers on the MIC over the last year or so, they must see that the listeners WILL purchase their goods and services because they support the MIC and will keep the progressive talk flowing. So how do we stop this new assault?

  2. Well said (to quote our hero). Thom was one of the most informative, even-tempered, historically grounded, phisophically oriented, and an excellent supporter of the common person and the role of and need for our form of goverment.

    I got the same form letter from the operations manager when I asked the programming manager (a great guy; very progressive) about this change on Monday. Not very convincing. I guess I was hoping they had a real reason for the change; perhaps cost savings or something else. Nadda.

    Well, I thought the least I could do is give Dave a listen. Wow, is this guy boring. I can't imagine how anyone could listen to this show all 15 hours, each and every week!!! Obviously, ratings are going to suck.

    I wish I knew of a way to reverse this decision. Thanks for your post on this.

  3. Do what I did - email the station manager and advertisers informing him that he has lost a listener. The advertisers contact info is online for the most part. Point out that the "advice" this "expert" provides tells people NOT to spend extra money on green, renewable, or local products. The mic advertisers are paying to have this guy tell people not to buy their stuff.