Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bill Press talks to Buzzflash

Over the past year, our friends at Buzzflash.com have conducted in-depth interviews with some of the biggest personalities in progressive talk. Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, Stephanie Miller, Rachel Maddow and Mike Malloy have all talked with them. This time, Bill Press is on the hotseat, and discusses his lively style, the future of progressive talk, how he learned to adapt to radio and talk radio as entertainment, among other things. You can read the entire article at Buzzflash.

BuzzFlash: In our BuzzFlash interviews with progressive talk-show hosts such as yourself, we're asking first of all, where is your show broadcast from, how many markets do you reach, and if people don't have you in their area, where can they stream you from?

Bill Press: God bless you for that question. We are on Sirius satellite radio in all fifty states. We broadcast Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 a.m., morning drive, on the East Coast. In addition to being on Sirius, we're syndicated in about 35 markets nationwide through Jones Radio Network. Those markets include: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Denver, Phoenix, Reno, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Grand Rapids, Buffalo, Ithaca, Columbus, Daytona Beach, Washington, D.C., and Asheville, among others.

If people they don't have Sirius and we're not syndicated in their local market, they can stream the show live at billpressshow.com. Those who want to hear us also can just call up the local radio station and raise hell, and tell them to put progressive radio on in your community.

BuzzFlash: How do you describe your style?

Bill Press: I like a lively, fast-paced, entertaining and informative morning show, and that's what I try to provide every day. We're on top of the big news of the day, first of all, with what's my take as a liberal on what's happening. We also giving listeners an opportunity to weigh in and be part of the conversation. And every day, we talk to two or three news makers -- people who are either in the news or reporting the news. So it's a combination of news, analysis, calls, interviews, and keeping it light and entertaining, and just giving people a good start to their day.

BuzzFlash: That 6 to 9 a.m. time spot presents kind of a challenge, because you're getting the stories from the evening before, and you're also dealing with the stories that are likely to come up that day.

Bill Press: Yes, but it's the best time of the day, actually. I've been doing talk radio for a long time, and the morning drive is the pot of gold for most radio stations. It's where they have the most listeners and make the most money. As a talk-show host, you can make the most impact because you've got the first crack at everybody listening that day. They're hearing what's happening first from the Bill Press Show, and they're having a chance to weigh in on the Bill Press Show. And I get the first crack on what it all means. So I really love that timeslot.


BuzzFlash: How are you feeling about the future of progressive radio?

Bill Press: I feel both very confident and very worried, and I'll tell you why. I feel very confident because I think we have proven in the last two years -- and when I say "we," you know, I'm talking about Air America, I'm talking about Stephanie Miller, Bud Schultz and myself, and basically that universe -- I think we have proven that, given an opportunity, we can win. We can build an audience. We can hold an audience. We can make money. We can be successful in talk radio. We have disproven the old theory that liberals can't do talk radio. That's why I feel good about talk radio. And I particularly feel good coming into 2008. I think this year is going to be the golden era for progressive talk.

Where I worry is that there are so few outlets for progressive talk -- there are probably sixty total progressive talk stations in the country, compared to some four or five thousand for conservative talk. And the ownership of those stations is just about exclusively held by companies that are very conservative, that have very little commitment to progressive talk, and that have proven that they're willing to pull the plug on progressive talk even if their ratings are good, if they think they can make more money from sports or some other format.

So we have very few outlets, and we're at the mercy of networks owned by conservative Republicans who don't really care about progressive radio. For example, in San Diego -- KLSD. Great station, great audience, good ratings. Clear Channel just pulled the plug and turned it into their second sports talk station in that market. Now there's no more progressive talk in San Diego. The audience is there. The demand is there. The need is there. But the outlets and the ownership are lacking.



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