Talk radio has become big business in the last decade and a half, particularly conservative talk radio, which has seen an explosion in popularity and influence. Progressive talk radio? Not so much.
San Diegans have become accustomed to the conservative stylings of locally owned 760 KFMB and the not so locally owned KOGO 600. When you’re looking for news in this city, there are no other choices. You’re stuck with the nonsensical, anti-government, sensationalist, and sometimes maniacal ramblings of Rush Limbaugh and Roger Hedgecock. But that wasn’t always the case. For a brief while, San Diego did have a progressive talk radio station to call its own: 1360 KLSD (for “Liberal San Diego,” as we are informed by radio and television news personality Bree Walker).
KLSD at one point was the home of San Diego personalities like Stacy Taylor and Jon Elliott. It was also San Diego’s home to Air America Radio, the national syndication outfit that brought voices such as Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, Randi Rhodes, and Al Franken, now a United States Senator from Minnesota, to the airwaves.
And the station, despite some limitations, and despite being hampered by a weak signal that didn’t reach the entirety of San Diego County, was doing quite well and continued to grow. “I beat Hannity” in San Diego, said Ed Schultz, now a host on MSNBC in addition to his daily radio show.
According to Cliff Albert, the KLSD program manager in 2007, KLSD ranked number one in San Diego in time spent listening—the average amount of time a listener would actually tune in to the station without changing the dial.
“There are two things that make up ratings. How long do they listen to you, and number of people,” said Randi Rhodes, the nationally syndicated progressive host. “The time spent listening, I was number one in San Diego. Advertisers look at time spent listening—TSL it’s called—because they want to see if I can hold the audience through the commercial so that their commercial gets heard by my audience.”
“The other part of ratings,” she continued, “is the number of people. If you can put together 100,000 people, which is what we had, and combine it with four or five hours a week of listening, that is the ballgame.”
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