Insult To Nonexistent Injury

Yesterday, we noted that Governor Dayton has turned down all of the proposals from regional radio stations for what has become a Minnesota tradition, the governor’s talk radio show.

I had initially thought Dayton had a point for turning down the offer (albeit not for his petulant reaction); the audience would be smaller.

It’s not true, of course:

‘CCO says the Saturday slot has roughly the same number of listeners as Pawlenty’s time, around 50,000.

Indeed, they may be a better audience than the Friday one; weekend audiences stay tuned in longer.

But McClung points out that the Governor’s response – again, leaving out the petulance – makes no sense:

The other issue was that during the Pawlenty era, the show was on WCCO in the metro and was syndicated by Minnesota News Network and picked up by around a dozen or so Greater Minnesota stations, including stations in most of the key outstate markets. This time around MNN had teamed up with liberal stalwart Air America (owned by one-time congressional candidate Janet Roberts). Dayton had a choice between a solid metro station with a time slot he decided was an “insult” or a liberal metro station with little reach and a good Greater Minnesota network. He chose none of the above.

The KTNF/Minnesota News Network was an odd combination; MNN is a fairly sane, safe, sober operation, while KTNF is the “Ed Schultz” station.  Still, MNN has decent statewide reach.

But not only are KTNF’s ratings almost too low to measure (they’ve fallen off the cliff after the demise of Air America), but the audience is one of the least-desirable, economically, in the  metro – middle-class white people who aren’t smart enough for MPR.

And Dayton already owns that demographic.

I’ve been leaving aside Dayton’s petulant response, so far.  But let’s address it now.


Frankly, Dayton’s attack on WCCO is embarrassing for him and makes the situation a lot worse. As usual, there was another option. Dayton and his team could’ve said that in this modern age, radio is simply outdated. They could’ve decided to do a radio show via the Internet, without commercials, that citizens could listen to live at the time of Dayton’s choosing or via recorded podcast. They could’ve even teamed up with, who made a bid for the show.

And that broadcast could have been picked up by outstate stations – it’s not at all uncommon, these days – or, for that matter, MNN.

During my nearly six years with Governor Pawlenty I had a chance to be his sidekick for more than 250 weekly broadcasts. It was a great way to have a dialogue with the people of the state. But no radio station is under any obligation to provide a governor with any certain time slot or access to other stations. Dayton made a serious error in how he responded, but he could attempt a recovery by using new technologies. Of course, then there would be the inevitable Data Practices Act request to see exactly how many Internet users are tuning in….

My conspiracy theory: Dayton never intended to do the show in the first place.  Jesse Ventura was not a good talkradio host, but he knew how to work the medium.  Tim Pawlenty wasn’t a talk show host at all, but he was affable, unflappable,l and quick on his feet; his weekly hour was consistently good stuff, well worth a listen.

Whatever Mark Dayton’s virtues may be as a human, a citizen and a politician, his radio style isn’t high on the list.  Even in the friendliest and most controlled interviews – Keri Miller at MPR, who all but painted his toenails on the air – he sounded uncomfortable and tentative.  And  let’s not get me started on how his voice sounds on the air.

But since you did – he sounds like he’s still doing his morning gargle.  There.  I said it

So I think – sorta – that his intention was always to turn down the radio show; doing it couldn’t possibly gain him anything.

5 thoughts on “Insult To Nonexistent Injury

  1. Mark Dayton knows microphones are his enemy. Microphones pick up what you say. Microphones project your spoken words across a medium where other people can hear them and hold you accountable. Better to avoid them. Microphones bad. Medicine, good. More medicine, better.

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