Talkless in Seattle: listeners bid good night to Emerald City’s liberal voice

Seattle unplugged. Literally and liberally. The demise of Progressive Talk Radio in the Emerald City.

Greetings, Seattle radiophiles! Here we are in a vast metropolitan area teeming with liberal activists and awash in humanitarian causes, while known as merely a so-so “sports town,” except when the Hawks, Mariners or Sonics (oops, looks like we lost that one!) are at the top of the standings. But wait, what’s this? CBS has unceremoniously dumped AM 1090’s wildly popular roster of liberal talkers in favor of yet another obnoxious entry into the dreary series of all-sports stations to compete with KRKO AM 1380 and KJR AM 950.

So let’s take a look at the Emerald City scoreboard: Sports Talk Radio stations 3, Progressive Talk 0.

What’s going on here? Is this game rigged? Is the fix in?

In a city where progressive politicos and celebs draw huge crowds while the struggling Mariners have trouble filling seats even on Ichiro bobblehead night (oh wait, he’s gone too!), you’d expect there to be Progressive Talk radio stations adorning both the AM and FM sides of the dial, what with all the local and national pundits jockeying for air time.

And yet…dead air. Why is Seattle’s radio audience being deprived of their ability to learn about and discuss issues of local and national interest in an open and honest forum?

“We no longer have public airwaves, we have corporate airwaves,” explains Carolyn Tamler, who represents a newly formed group called Progressive Radio in Seattle. She goes on to suggest that the corporate conglomerates who now own much of the airwaves “have no interest in what the Left has to say.”

Could it simply be that there’s no profit in Progressive Talk? Well, yes…and no.

In an eye-opening piece on, longtime radio icon Peter B. Collins argues that the bottom line is that, well, Progressive Talk’s bottom line isn’t well. Writes Collins, “In my experience, most station owners and managers have a strong bias to the right, and with a few exceptions, the rest just look for the easiest way to make maximum profit.”

With the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, there’s no compelling need for the current owners of the airwaves (which used to be beholden to the public good) to present balanced news or opposing points of view. The compelling need now is not to educate, but to entertain. Entertainment, that’s where the big bucks are.

And entertainment is exactly what fear-mongering right-wing shills like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage are all about. Create a space where anger and frustration reign supreme and the disenfranchised paranoids of the world will beat a path to your radio dial. With cash in hand. Drooling with mad glee as they purchase everything from the latest insane paperback diatribe to whackdoodle T-shirts to sugar-laden tea, whether they can afford it or not.

Where’s a genuine seeker of information and knowledge to turn?

To be continued…stay tuned!

Originally published at

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