Monday, January 10, 2005

North Dakota Talker Ed Schultz Is Set to Blanket Washington

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 10, 2005

The most widely carried liberal on radio is a "prairie-dwelling, red-meat-eating, gun-toting former conservative" who broadcasts from the unlikely locale of North Dakota.


"A year ago they were laughing at us," says Schultz, who debuts on Washington's WRC next week. "I knew I had the talent and could get the job done. I didn't believe what the industry was saying, that liberal talk radio couldn't make it."

Schultz, 50, has a long way to go before he approaches the influence of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and others in the conservative-dominated medium. His tale of how his second wife helped lead him out of the darkness of right-wing belief is a bit too neat, and some recent fundraising for the Democratic Party raises questions about his independence. But Schultz is an overnight sensation with a red-state base and a regular-guy sense of humor, all of which have been lacking in the liberal world.

The show was developed with $1.8 million from Democracy Radio, a New York nonprofit run by Tom Athans, the husband of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), with a board composed of three Clinton administration veterans. Another Democratic senator, North Dakota's Byron Dorgan, recommended Schultz to Democracy Radio. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) hosted a fundraiser about a year ago at her home for Democracy Radio and Schultz, which was attended by about 20 Democratic senators, including Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tom Daschle. Such lawmakers "feel the acute pain of having talk radio be mostly conservative," Athans says.



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