18 YEARS ON THE AIR IN THE LA LA LAND OF NEW ORLEANS
Back in late January of 1999, I had just finished a two-year stint as Executive Director and Deputy Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. Looking for a new project, I started a political newsletter with journalist and commentator Christopher Tidmore.
While interviewing Ed Butler, the new General Manager of talk station WTIX 690 AM, we were offered positions as talk show hosts on the station. Of course, we gladly accepted his kind invitation, although we had no experience or training. It was a great opportunity for complete novices. Fortunately, Butler was patient as we learned the business and became more comfortable on the air.
Eventually, Chris moved to another station and I brought on a new co-host, Leslie Stewart, to fill the role of my liberal counterpart. A year after the radio show started, we created a television version of the show and I recruited former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial as my liberal co-host. Our radio and TV on-air battles were spirited, but respectful, hopefully educating our audience not demoralizing them.
After another year, I bid fond adieu to both Leslie and the Mayor and had the formidable challenge to be the solo host of both programs. A show that had started as Politically Speaking Louisiana Style became Ringside Politics.
After WTIX 690 AM, the program moved to Pittman Broadcasting on the Northshore and Lafayette and then find its home in June 2007 on WGSO 990 AM. This remains the only locally owned news/talk station in New Orleans, as all the others are owned by either out of state media conglomerates or individuals.
This week, I have the good fortunate to celebrate 18 years on the radio as a New Orleans talk show host, a lone conservative voice on an island of liberals. In fact, New Orleans is a deep blue island in the red sea of Louisiana. For example, in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton received 81% of the vote in New Orleans, while only receiving 38% statewide.
New Orleans is a city with immense potential, but immense problems. There is rampant poverty, blight, horrible street conditions, homelessness and a high crime rate. The liberal Democrats own all the current problems afflicting the city. Democrats literally control everything from the schools to the streets. In fact, there is not one Republican serving in an elected public office in New Orleans. The last Republican Mayor of New Orleans was elected during Reconstruction.
Hosting conservative media programs in such a liberal market is a challenge. At least, I don’t have much competition for being the conservative voice of New Orleans. One “conservative” news/talk station has all out of town syndicated political shows, while the other major talk station in New Orleans features hosts who are either moderate or outright liberal.
The so-called objective political analysts on television are liberals. The local newspapers mostly feature liberal columnists, and, quite often, will present only liberal editorial opinions, apart from an occasional establishment Republican viewpoint.
There are some exceptions such as Kathleen Benfield, a great social conservative talk show host on WSHO, a religious station, and the talented Libertarian John Osterlind who does a show on a music station. Other than that, it is all liberal, all the time.
Surviving in this climate is only possible due to our great listeners, viewers, supporters and sponsors of the Ringside Politics TV and radio programs. In 18 years, I have had the incredible opportunity to interview 18,000 wonderful guests, who have graciously shared their stories with our audience. These guests have provided tremendous insights on countless issues and helped me clarify my positions on the pressing problems we face today.
At the very top of this impressive guest list are my talented radio all-stars who generously donate their time on a weekly basis to enlighten our audience: Chad Rogers, Publisher of The Dead Pelican, Steve Sabludowsky of Bayou Buzz, Attorneys Mitch Gibbs and Nick Varrecchio, Chris Holton of The Center for Security Policy and commentator Donna Carol Voss.
None of this would have been achievable without the backing Chris Beary, Principal Owner, Richard Tate, General Manager, and the entire staff of WGSO 990 AM. Their steadfast encouragement of my program over the years has been crucial to any success I have been able to achieve. In addition, much appreciation is also given to Ron Yager, WLAE-TV Vice President and General Manager and Jim Dotson, LAE Productions Vice President and General Manager, for their generous support of my television program.
Also, very special thanks to my longtime friend Steve Sabludowsky for faithfully featuring my columns on Bayou Buzz and co-producing with me the successful political comedy show, Politics with a Punch.
Even after 18 years, this work never gets old as every day is a new adventure. Today, during this heightened political season, it is the most exhilarating time ever to be on the air discussing the major events of the day.
To be able to express my views, explore important issues, interact with guests and listeners and try to impact the political environment in our country is the biggest honor I will ever receive.