May 8, 2003
Liberal Talk Show Host Nancy Skinner Talks About Her Dixie Chicks DJ Campaign
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW
Nancy Skinner is known best as a liberal talk show host on WLS-AM (ABC) in Chicago. Skinner is one of those people that loyal listeners consider an island of sanity amidst a sea of right blabbering right wing air heads. Recently, Skinner launched a campaign to get Country Disc Jockeys to pledge their support to the American right of free speech. Including, of course, playing the Dixie Chicks.
Just imagine, if we got the Dixie Chicks and Robert Byrd together, we might have a Democratic Party with cojones!
We were delighted to conduct this interview with Skinner, who is now stationed out of Boston where she is also partnering with Doug Stephens on his radio program.
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BUZZFLASH: You started a new campaign in relationship to the Dixie Chicks boycott by some of the corporate owned radio stations? What is the goal of the campaign?
SKINNER: To send an unmistakable message to the radio industry that organized suppression of free speech is very un-American indeed, and will not be forced upon a free people lightly. Too many people, of all political persuasions, just shook their heads in disbelief and disgust over the treatment of the Dixie Chicks. I want them to do something about it.
Voltaire said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Today we are hearing radio industry executives saying, "I disapprove of what you say and I am going to stop you from ever saying it again." We are seeking 100 country radio DJ's who are brave enough to sign a statement in support of free speech and send that message. The Pledge is as follows:
Although we may all disagree on the issue of the value of this war and the leadership of this President, we understand that most country DJ's do wholeheartedly support the President and the war, but many are troubled by the suppression of speech and coercion therein. That is the common ground that we hope to start with. We are asking BuzzFlash readers to help us get it signed by e-mailing and snail mailing it to the country radio DJ's in their city and getting it back to us at the show, Nancy Skinner's Radio Vox Pop, through my website www.nancyskinner.com.
BUZZFLASH: You interviewed one of the disc jockeys in Colorado who was suspended for playing the Dixie Chicks. Why was he "punished" and how does he feel about it?
SKINNER: I had the first interview with Jeff Singer of the morning show Singer and Moore on country station KKCS in Colorado Springs. (See: http://www.nbc6.net/entertainment/2185232/detail.html) Their station had banned the playing of the Dixie Chicks as many country stations have. Jeff and his co-host Dave Moore decided that the Chicks had been punished enough and it was a violation of free speech to keep this up, so they padlocked themselves into their studio, with a cooler of food and Depends diapers because they had no bathroom access, and played 5 straight hours of Dixie Chicks before they were given an ultimatum to come out with their hands up (and get suspended) or to persist (and get fired).
Well, they made their point, and took the former. They were suspended for two days, but were called back after one, owing to the tremendous national support. In fact, they appeared on Good Morning America and CNN Wednesday morning and needed to be back for that. So Jeff Singer was my inspiration for the DJ's Pledge, my own little profile in courage if you will. I mean diapers for God's sake, that takes guts!
BUZZFLASH: Tell us a little about your WLS radio program and the program that you are also doing for ie America?
I wear many radio and TV hats these days. There are so few liberals out there, I have to. I am half of the Ski & Skinner show on WLS in Chicago (www.wlsam.com) for almost seven years now, which is pretty incredible for a liberal on talk radio. My co-host is Ski Anderson, a kindred spirit and very funny and talented guy. We have an oasis on Sundays from 12-3 Central time for those who are filled to the gills with the non-stop liberal bashing that has dominated the talk radio airwaves over these many years. We only have three hours a week to challenge all the outrageous propaganda put out by the right wing media, so we have lots of fun and talk fast.
I am also co-host of the nationally syndicated Doug Stephan Good Day Show (www.dougstephan.com) heard on 360 stations around the country (third ranked in morning syndication)! Although I am second banana to Doug, the proverbial token liberal if you will, I can really do some damage there because the audience is so huge and for most of the country, the first liberal voice they have ever heard on talk radio. Some people are just in shock to hear a different opinion outside of right-wing dogma! Most have responded favorably. Even conservative listeners applaud us for bringing some balance to the discussion. Doug Stephan deserves the credit. As a 14-year veteran, he knew that talk radio was getting stale and wanted to mix it up. His audience is now bigger than ever for taking that chance.
And now, I have a solo gig, too! I have just recently started my own syndicated radio program called Nancy Skinners' Radio Vox Pop on i.e. America Radio, the nation's first progressive radio network. The show can be heard from 10-noon Eastern right now on 14 stations around the country but will be expanding to 9-noon the near future. It's a start and we hope to add hundreds of stations across the USA. So we ask BuzzFlash listeners to petition their local talk stations to add us to their lineup. Until then, they can listen live at www.ieamericaradio.com.
It's Vox Pop, Vox Populi, Latin for voice of the people. I call it a Radio Evolution, a show where all points of view are welcome and no one gets fed to the lions. It fun and fast-paced and we're hoping that heretofore reluctant commercial talk radio stations will take a chance and bring some diversity to the airwaves. Even conservatives are bored with all the one-sided Amen club, right wing, Hillary-hating harangues that pass for talk radio. Americans of all stripes love a good ole fashioned debate. Plus it's funny.
And of course I'm probably most well known as Nancy Skinner, "liberal talk show host" on frequent cable food-fight TV appearances. I appear regularly on CNN, Fox, MSNBC as guest and guest host when the few liberal hosts there are get a day off. "Oh yeah, she's that blond chick." I can hear it now.
BUZZFLASH: Do you think there is a large enough audience to sustain liberal radio talk shows?
SKINNER: Absolutely, I'm living proof! More people voted for Al Gore, as y'all know. It's definitely a "build it and they will come" scenario. Word of mouth and connections through great websites like BuzzFlash will make all the difference. Most liberals have given up and just listen to NPR all day. It's like a bad marriage, you're bored to tears, but you just don't even bother to see what's out there.
BUZZFLASH: Getting back to the Dixie Chicks, they appear to BuzzFlash to have more courage than most of the Democratic leaders in Congress. They told it like it is and they are more popular then ever. Is there a lesson for the wimpy Democratic leadership in this?
SKINNER: Absolutely! It wasn't until Kerry called for regime change that anyone took notice. Forget about this "electable" crap. When Republicans advise Democrats that they need to be more conservative to get elected, RUN! It's a trick as we've seen so many times over the last several years. The Dems just keep getting rolled. Wile E. Coyote had more success for gosh sakes.
BUZZFLASH: To finish up, what is the one thing that a BuzzFlash reader can do right now to help the "Country DJ 's Pledge for Free Speech" campaign succeed?
SKINNER: They can help us identify and locate potential endorsers of the pledge by getting their local country radio station and host contact info to us at www.nancyskinner.com. Better yet, send the Pledge to their favorite hosts and send us the contact information. We will verify all signatories and send it out for press release but we need help getting to the radio hosts that we know will be brave enough to support free speech.
It's a small statement that could have a very large impact. Can you see the headline? DJ's revolt against Dixie Chick ban. We need to do more than gripe about what's happening in this country.
You have certainly done that with BuzzFlash! I usually get to BuzzFlash before I get to my first sip of coffee in the morning. Your site has changed the Internet and I hope to do the same for talk radio. Thanks, BuzzFlash!
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW
otherwise noted, all original