I mentioned it on the air last Saturday – because that’s when I’m on the air! – but today, March 6, is the actual tenth anniversary of the first Northern Alliance Radio Network broadcast.
I think it was John Hinderaker who predicted the show would probably go about three weeks before AM1280 kicked us off the air. By the end of that first day, I think everyone was amazed at how fast that first three hours had gone.
The NARN has changed a lot over the years, of course; as befits an outpost in the bumptious, fractious alternative media, there’ve really been a bunch of different incarnations of the NARN:
- 2004-2006 – the original three-hour show, with Brian Ward, Chad Doughty, King Banaian, Ed Morrissey, John Hinderaker and me (along with Scott Johnson ’til 2005, JB Doubtless for a couple months, and Atomizer for exactly one segment).
- 2006-2010: The station gave us an extra hour – so we split into two different shows; John Hinderaker, Brian Ward and Chad Doughty from 11-1, and Ed, King and me from 1-3PM. A little later that year, AM1280 had two more hours became available – so King joined Michael Brodkorb from 3-5PM.
- 2010 to Today: Chad and Michael left the show, for family and political career respectively; Brian and John followed sometime over the winter because…well, it’s a long story. King moved to AM1570 around the time he decided to run for the Legislature, and stayed there. Brad Carlson joined a little over two years ago, and Ed left in November of 2012. Which is where we’re at now – Brad, King and me. For now.
You know why I love doing the NARN? I’ll tell you.
I worked – full-or part time depending on the station, but always as my primary career – in the radio business from 1979 to 1992, off and on. And I learned that the radio industry in general is one of very few businesses that can not look used car salesmen, sports and music agents, entertainment industry lawyers or pimps in the eye with even the faintest air of judgment. I say “in general”, because Salem Twin Cities is a huge exception, and I’d say that even if they hadn’t been letting me use their station for two hours a week for the past decade. But in general? The radio industry is one of the scuzziest industries in the world.
But there is almost nothing in the world more fun than talking with an audience on the radio. Don Vogel once talked with me about the “Talk Radio Bug”, a subtle addiction to reaching out to an audience, and having them reach back, to putting a point out there and fielding challenges to it from whatever random assortment of drunks, cranks, and brilliant people happen to call in to talk with you.
So for the past decade, I’ve really had the best of both worlds; all the fun, but none of the misery of trying to earn a living and raise a family working in one of the world’s nastiest, most dysfunctional businesses.
But as I said, Salem is a whole different thing. For starters, think about the gamble they took – putting seven guys, most of whom hadn’t done radio, two of whom hadn’t done it in at least a decade, on the air without any particular guidance or creative leash (or, for a while there, a dump button of any kind). And then staying with it for a decade, through three different management regimes.
Anyway – thanks to Salem; to the three general managers (John Hunt, Ron Stone and Nik Anderson) and the three operations/program managers (Patrick Campion, Nick Novak and Lee Michaels) who’ve kept putting us on the air.
And to the producers who’ve made us sound less bad than we should have; the late, great Joe Hansen in the beginning, followed by Irina Malanina, Matt Reynolds, Sam Holmgren, Jon Osburn, Tommy Huynh, and, today, Maegan Fatale (and a few others tucked in there from time to time in between).
And of course, a million thanks to Atomizer, JB, Michael, Chad, Brian, John, Scott, King and Ed – nine random guys with blogs, seven of whom I’d met exactly twice before ten years ago today, who went on to become some of my best friends.
And that is ten years well-spent.