GRAND RAPIDS, MI - January 19 - In Grand Rapids, Michigan, one of the nation's top 100 radio markets with more than a million potential listeners, Clear Channel owns two talk radio stations, WOOD and WTKG. For years both stations ran Conservative talk; most recently Rush Limbaugh held court on WOOD, while Dr. Laura pontificated on WTKG.
But now, says Director of Programming & Operations Phil Tower, liberal Thom Hartmann will be a welcome addition for moderates and liberals looking for a different perspective.
"Putting a liberal host on opposite Rush Limbaugh's show is great for our market, and really allows us to cover the entire political spectrum," said Tower. "If we're starting a national trend here at Clear Channel in Grand Rapids, I'm proud it started here."
Hartmann's program has been in national syndication for a year, although his days in radio go back to 1968. A best-selling author of books that include the history of American democracy, Hartmann loves to take on conservatives. He refers to his program as "uncommon sense from the radical middle," although industry publication Talkers Magazine says: "There's a buzz growing around nationally syndicated talk show host Thom Hartmann, whose daily program is drawing high marks by those who are on the lookout for talk radio's 'Great Liberal Hope.'"
Hartmann is carried on stations from coast to coast, including other Clear Channel affiliates, although WTKG is the first Clear Channel station to use him to run directly opposite Limbaugh on a sister Clear Channel station.
Clear Channel's Tower looked over a broad spectrum of possible hosts to program opposite Rush, and found Hartmann the best of the bunch. "Thom Hartmann's an experienced and rational liberal that we're proud to have in our lineup," he said. "For West Michigan liberals looking for the their perspective on the radio, this is the show."
The next few rating periods will tell if conservatives are right when they claim that Gore and Nader voters don't want to listen to talk radio. Phil Tower is betting they're wrong.