Media Hero: Ed Schultz

Watch out Rush Limbaugh—you may just have a “prairie-dwelling, red-meat-eating, gun-toting” football-playing challenger. While likely still outnumbered by Rush's Dittoheads,“Edheads” dedicated to liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz are on the rise. Schultz' regular-guy humor, bombast, and red-state roots are making him something of an overnight sensation.

Just a year ago, Schultz launched his Fargo, North Dakota, brand of populism nationwide. Now his show reaches 70 markets across the country, and he can be heard on both XM and Sirius satellite radio. He just started broad?casting part-time from Washington, DC, and is currently in talks with MSNBC about a possible show on cable TV.

Schultz' autobiography is irresistible: Big Ed (6'2,” 250 pounds) was a college quarterback and briefly an Oakland Raider before becoming a sportscaster, and then, after voting for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, a right-wing political talk radio host. “I was pretty much a warmonger and a pretty greedy guy,” he told the Washington Post. “I always wanted to make as much money as I possibly could and felt the downtrodden didn't deserve a break.”

But then he met the woman who would become his second wife, who, he says, began to lead him out of the right-wing darkness. She took him to the Salvation Army shelter where she worked, so he could meet the “bums” he often railed against on his show. He found that many were veterans. Touring the Dakotas and meeting people losing their farms and struggling to make ends meet completed his political transformation.

Now, in his “Straight Talk from the Heartland” he rails against “mean-spirited and intentionally dishonest” conservative radio hosts and pounds at the Bush administration with facts. On January 19, he was the first host to broadcast from the new in-house radio studio at the liberal Center for American Progress in DC, which is being billed as a clubhouse for progressive talk radio hosts. Still, he says “the righties connect with Joe Beercan better than the Democrats do.” Ed Schultz seems to connect with Joe Beercan just fine.

Carolyn McConnell is Senior Editor at YES!

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