The Mic 92.1 in Madison is set to change its programming once again -- unless people act against it. On April 1, the station will end the run of the Bill Press Show in the mornings, replacing it with the Wall Street Journal Report, a Rupert Murdoch-owned program.
This isn't the first time that the Mic, owned by Clear Channel, has tried to replace political programming with pro-corporate talk radio. In January of 2009, the Thom Hartmann show was replaced by a call-in program aimed at helping listeners improve their finances. Though such a show would be beneficial to listeners of any ideology, the fact that it replaced one of the more popular shows on the station was a sign to many that management didn't care about programming that listeners wanted to hear.
Ultimately, Clear Channel acquiesced to the demands of the Mic's listeners, and reinstated the Thom Hartmann show. However, the local morning show hosted by Lee Rayburn remained canceled. The show that ultimately filled in for Rayburn's was none other than the Bill Press show.
With essentially the same situation now being repeated for a different show, will the Mic's listeners come to the rescue for Bill Press the same way they did for Thom Hartmann? Press is not listened to as much as Hartmann due to their different time slots, but the Bill Press show is still an appreciated part of the programming on the Mic 92.1. Many liberal Madisonians depend on his show to help wake them up to the issues of that day; I myself listen to Press on the way to work nearly every single morning.
I cannot imagine that the same would hold true for the station were the Wall Street Journal Report to take the place of the Bill Press show. The idea of such a program doesn't interest me, and likely wouldn't interest the audience that the Mic tries to cater to. We're listeners who are interested in progress, in liberal ideas that benefit society overall, and in changing the status quo -- not in how well the mega-corporate companies are doing within the stock exchange.
The management of the station is trying to do one of two things. Either they're trying to influence their listeners' listening habits directly by broadcasting a program that caters to the interests of the wealthy elite, or they're trying to gradually change the station itself over to a more conservative format, little by little.
The latter can be achieved in two ways: by gradual change over time or through diminishing the number of listeners and forcing change through market forces. With less sponsors getting the attention of Mic listeners -- who will prefer progressive talk ALL the time rather than just after 8 AM -- the management can argue for an entire station format change, especially if this model works on more than just the removal of the Bill Press show.
Which is why it's imperative that we fight against ANY change of programming that the station might employ, especially if it's a change from a progressive talk show towards a show that caters to other interests politically. If the station's management is successful in removing one program, if it can change one show in this manner, then the next show that may be taken off the air might not be the early morning show but the late night one. And if that succeeds, the station can justify changing another show, and then another, until a change in format of the station becomes the next step overall.
This is an attack, I feel, on the progressive community in Madison. The Mic has and always should be a vehicle for liberals and progressive in the Madison area to come together, to hear reasonable talkers give their opinion and formulate their own. The radio waves belong to the people; and since there is a compelling interest in our community for political talk radio that captivates the interest of leftist listeners, it stands to reason that the Mic should remain a liberal-only station. Lord knows the area already caters to an arguably smaller conservative listening-base, one that dispenses Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the like.
There IS something that can be done -- regular listeners of the Mic are gathering on Thursday night, January 27, at Glass Nickel Pizza on the East side (2916 Atwood Avenue). Concerned citizens and listeners are gathering at 6:30 PM to talk about keeping Bill Press on the radio airwaves, or at the very least keeping Rupert Murdoch-owned media off of a station that is dedicated to liberal ideals.
If you cannot make the event, you can still call into the station or email the station manager, Tim Scott. His business number is (608) 274-5450, and his email address is TimScott@clearchannel.com.
We need to make our voices heard, to influence the management at Clear Channel to understand that progressive talk is here to stay. Join community leaders and regular listeners of the Mic Thursday, call and email the station right now, and spread the word about this to everyone that you can. Progressive talk can only survive if we make it clear to management, "We want this here!"