After reporting earlier this year on the slow, painful collapse of progressive radio with the implosion of left-wing network Nova M here in Phoenix and the padlocking of its short-lived replacement at 1190 AM, I've been deluged with phone calls and e-mails from loyal listeners of the lefty airwaves, asking me when liberal on-air personalities such as Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy and Stephanie Miller will return to Phoenix radios.
Well, the word seems to be that liberal talk radio will be back at KPHX 1480 AM this July 6, and, apparently, without the self-destructive influence of Nova M and its owners Anita and Sheldon Drobny. According to Kathleen Osborn, an account exec with "Phoenix Progressive Radio," the new venture is headed by KPHX owner Jose Molina, whose station changed format to lounge music when Nova M ditched 1480 AM and hightailed it to KNUV 1190 AM.
Osborn is already soliciting advertisement for the talent lineup which she has listed thusly: Bill Press, 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.; Stephanie Miller, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.; Thom Hartmann, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Randi Rhodes, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Mike Newcomb, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Mike Malloy, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; and Ed Shultz, 9 p.m. to Midnight.
I'm happy to see Rhodes, easily the most talented talker on the left, in this tentative schedule. And the inclusion of Ed Schultz should hearten those who appreciate his two-fisted progressivism. But Mike Newcomb in drive time? Sorry. Dr. Mike might be on the right (um, or left) side of history, but he has all the appeal of soggy Pall Mall. The new 1480 AM would be better off looking elsewhere for local talent, unless Newcomb has put up some of the seed moolah for the venture. In which case, might I suggest the still empty Midnight to 3 a.m. time slot.
As far as a local lefty with a devoted following, Jeff Farias would be a better bet. He and Nova M parted ways last year when the Drobnys went on a tear and fired station manager John Manzo. Since then, Farias has been doing a successful online show, livecast from his garage. It's impressive to watch Farias fans call into a show that you can only get via the Internet. Farias has continued the show, even since scoring a midday slot beginning at 11:30 a.m. on KXXT 1010 FM.
In any case, I hope this changeover from the Rat Pack music to progressive talk goes down. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Sammy Davis, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. But that's what the Good Lord made iPods for.
Below is the full text of an e-mail Osborn's sending out. I spoke with Osborn to confirm the e-mail, and the media kit attached to the e-mail certainly looks professional and legit. Also, the station's Web site promises, "The New 1480KPHX.com Coming Soon." Finally, who would be advertising the fact that they have a snoozer like Mike Newcomb on during drive time if it weren't true?
(At least one of my other sources in the local radio biz has confirmed that the changeover is occurring to his knowledge. Messages left for Mr. Molina have yet to be returned.)
If I hold out some skepticism, it's because the lady who answers 1480 AM's phone was completely bewildered by my call looking to confirm this shift in KPHX's programming. She promised to call me back with more info. Hopefully nothing's amiss. But, well, we are talking about progressive radio...
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 4:11 PM
Subject: Fw: The Return of Progressive Radio in