You’ve heard the story for years. Liberal talk radio has been tried over and over again with limited success, and certainly zero longevity when compared to conservative talk. Mike Crute would like to change all that with his “Resistance Radio” format in Madison. He recently added his full lineup of liberal and progressive hosts to an FM translator in the market that radio listeners can tune into on 92.7-FM. We reached out to Crute to pepper him with questions about why his plan will work when it’s been tried – and has failed – many times before.
Radio Ink: Tell us why you decided to launch Talk 92.7 with this format?
Crute: I have been scheming the return of Progressive Talk to Madison since Election Day 2016. The day Donald Trump was elected President, my former broadcast hosts of five years, iHeart Media, “flipped” the Progressive Mic 92.1 FM to Christmas music. In this age of daily political chaos, Madison has been starving for a Progressive Talk station.
Radio Ink: What kind of feedback do you get about your show?
Crute: My stations are, in large part, a platform for my own show-The Devil’s Advocates Radio. I co-host with my college-roommate and best friend, Dominic Salvia. Launched during the Wisconsin
Uprising and Scott Walker Recall in Wisconsin. We initially built our Madison audience as the loyal opposition to Scott Walker. When Scott Walker ran for President, we turned towards covering the Presidential primary race in 2016. When Walker faltered, we continued chasing Bernie, Hillary, Ted Cruz, and Trump, broadcasting rallies and debates from Brooklyn to California.
The Devil’s Advocates will anchor afternoon drive on both the new TALK 92.7 FM-WTTN 1580 AM and my Milwaukee station, WRRD-1510 AM. We do two hours of National politics, before turning topically towards Wisconsin during a daily “happy hour”. The show is my true passion, and an extension of 25 years worth of our bar-stool political arguments. The Devil’s Advocates also play out in Minneapolis, Charlottesville, VA, and Eureka, CA.
We have gotten lots of love this week, good local press, and huge social media engagement from our audience. We just launched TALK 92.7 FM and returned the Devil’s Advocates to the Madison airwaves Monday 5/13.. We got encouraging tweets from across the political spectrum; R-U.S. Senator Ron Johnson encouraged me as a “free market” capitalist, while my very progressive D-Congressman Mark Pocan, welcomed the “great conversations” back to Madison’s airwaves.
Radio Ink: What gives you the confidence the station will work?
Crute: My Madison expenses are very low. My Sales Director and I have already cemented a number of former Devil’s Advocates show sponsors. A few Progressive Mic sponsors have already signed on, others have been inquiring all week. I will be in the black by mid-summer, at my current expense structure.
Radio Ink: As you know this format has been tried many times and has not succeeded. Why do you think that is?
Crute: Progressive Talk is hard to program because there are day-part gaps in the Nationally syndicated programming products available. You cannot plug and play. You need duct tape and local hosts to fill the programming gaps. Developing local talent takes time, risk, and expense, that many won’t devote. Also, historically, Democratic candidates don’t adequately support the format with their campaign dollars in the same way Republicans support right-wing talk radio. Many Progressives hosts start as cause driven or donor dependent, they don’t have the business background to succeed.
Radio Ink: How will you make it successful this time?
Crute: By devoting resources to covering events of high Democratic-audience interest, we will maximize relevance, grow audience rapidly, and continue to build my show’s National profile.
The Devil’s Advocates will broadcast the Democratic Party Convention in Wisconsin June 1-2. We will broadcast from the First Democratic Presidential Debates in Miami June 26, 27, 28, broadcast live from the Detroit debates July 30, 31. By 2020, we will be on the ground broadcasting from the Iowa Caucuses, New Hampshire, Nevada, California, and Michigan primaries/caucuses next spring. The timing of Wisconsin’s Presidential primary makes us center of the political universe for nearly a month. The DNC Convention was awarded to Milwaukee in 2020, where my WRRD-1510 AM studio is just 1.2 miles away. And Wisconsin will be a key battleground state in the General Election.
The stars are aligned politically for the format’s success in Wisconsin.
I bring a unique resume as a businessman, who then became a broadcast content provider. As such, I truly understand my small business clients need for ROI from their marketing campaigns. We incorporate sponsor interviews seamlessly into my show, between political guests and the commentary.
I have earned as a top salesman, sales manager, General Manager, and successful business owner, before selling that business earlier this year to fund my radio expansion. I have already gotten my nose bloodied and learned many painful, but valuable lessons, since launching Progressive Talk in Milwaukee in February 2017.
Madison will succeed with small businesses, in a city where advertising as a Progressive business is smart business.
Radio Ink: You have said Madison the best market for liberal talk? Why is that?
Crute: Madison had supported the Progressive format for more than a decade. The fan base already exists in Madison and has demonstrated they will support the sponsors. I don’t have to win them over, just get the word out. Madison is Wisconsin’s Capital, with a highly-educated population, very liberal, and with a very politically engaged population. Madison had 93% voter turn-out in the 2018 mid-terms.
Radio Ink: Do you have plans to buy more stations and expand your show and the format?
Crute: I have a FCC Construction Permit, in hand, for a non-directional FM translator in Milwaukee, permitting a 1000’ tower location. My next goal will be to take on a Milwaukee equity partner or partners, allowing me to finish my Wisconsin network of two AM and two FM signals, geographically covering the #41 and #91 metros, and two-thirds of all Democratic voters in the state by the fall.
Reach out to Mike at [email protected]