To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, strange trip it's been.
On the night of October 12, 2004, LTR officially opened for business, with a simple post:
Greetings!The purpose of this blog is to report on and help promote a new form of talk radio - a form that leans toward the left. I hope you enjoy and visit often.
Two and a half years, five hundred articles and posts later, LTR lives on. This is the 500th entry on this very blog.
Early readers of LTR were greeted with what is perhaps still the most comprehensive listing of radio stations airing liberal talk programming. They also were able to read about news, rumors, profiles and a heavy amount of information about the format. LTR didn't restrict itself to just liberal talk radio. Early articles covered things such as a start-up cable TV venture called INdTV (which later renamed itself Current), the plight of webcasting, the propaganda wars leading up to the 2004 election, Howard Stern's ongoing battles with the FCC and much more.
So, why did I start this crazy thing? At the time, I was a mere observer of the format, and often posted about it on sites like Democratic Underground. As a veteran of the radio industry, I have always kept up on the business, and continued to write about it. Somewhere along the line came this off-the-wall idea to put it all in a blog.
I was inspired by other media blogs. TVNewser has long been a great blog, giving excellent coverage of the TV News business. And I've always admired Northpine, which covers radio and TV broadcasting in the upper midwestern states and grew out of old Prodigy postings back in the early 90s. Today, it still is a treasure trove of old news and information archives, as well as current happenings. I wanted to do something like that.
In addition, we all remember how screwed up Air America Radio's affiliate listings were. In their early days, they even listed stations that didn't exist! It was a pretty sloppy list, and I felt that it would be a good idea to provide my own listing of stations, even ones that didn't carry Air America product. Somebody had to take matters into their own hands, and that somebody turned out to be me.
Furthermore, there really wasn't anything like this around at the time. And whatever sites and blogs existed were right-wing attack blogs. We all know that these types of blogs often tend to be inaccurate and full of nonsensical spin. Something had to be done.
Hence, LTR was born.
The blog grew little by little, at first getting about 50 hits a day. The writing was admittedly a bit crude and stuck mostly to the facts. Nothing fancy here. Luckily, the name that was picked was a good one, since it enabled high placement on Google listings (if you type in "liberal talk radio" in Google, you'll see LTR near the top, just below Air America and above Thom Hartmann, who owns the liberaltalkradio.com URL, which I had initially looked into obtaining). Soon, LTR grew further, and apart from a brief period a year ago when news was slow, the format was stagnant and I neglected it, LTR has been on a climb ever since.
Last Summer was a newsworthy time for the world of liberal talk. As the midterm election races were heating up, Air America fans were shocked and enraged when the network suddenly fired one of its most beloved hosts, Mike Malloy. A few weeks later came rumblings about the network being on the verge of bankruptcy, and a month later, they did just that.
Nonetheless, LTR charged along. Readership increased drastically, as LTR was the first to bring readers several breaking news stories. We were the first to write about The Mic's plans to drop liberal talk, a story that started a massive groundswell of grassroots support and even made headlines around the world. We were among the first to report on the infamous ABC Radio 'blacklist' and perhaps the first to really make sense of it.
LTR was the first blog to report on Lionel replacing Sam Seder at Air America. And we covered much talked-about topics, such as the problems radio salespeople had in selling the format, station and network turmoil, conservative misinformation and outright lies and hypocrisy and many other subjects. LTR even went outside the liberal talk box with reports on audio technology and the recent threat endangering webcasting as we know it.
People in the business became readers of or cited LTR on their sites, and I even got email from people at Air America, Nova M Radio and other places and people such as Tom Athans, Thom Hartmann and countless other local and national hosts and executives. Station owners, program directors and managers even started reading, even Michael Zwerling of KOMY in Santa Cruz, who actually enjoyed an article I had written trashing him (and which helped me gain a newfound respect for him, even if I still think some of his business practices are ridiculous).
In the past year, readership of LTR has skyrocketed immensely. Whereas last April, when this blog got roughly a thousand hits a month, this April sees LTR hitting 30,000. A few weeks ago, when LTR broke news of Lionel's hiring, a single-day record of 13,000 hits occurred. As of this writing, LTR gets an average of 500-700 readers a day and climbing. Last week, LTR welcomed its 100,000 visit, only three months after hitting the 50,000 mark.
LTR isn't really a political blog. There are sites that do that much better than I can. It isn't a clearing house for conservative misinformation. Media Matters and FAIR more than handle that. It's just a simple blog about liberal talk radio, alternative and advancing forms of media, a massive compilation of resources and information, silly graphics and humorous parody pics, and a little bit of fun. And that's good enough for me.
So here it is. Post #500. And this one is dedicated to all of you who have taken the time to visit, read, link to and even spread LTR. And to those of you who helped support this insane little hobby of mine via Amazon purchases and whatnot. Thank you very much.
If you'd like to take a stroll down memory lane and see how this thing looked in the early days, you can check out some very early pages at the Internet Archive.