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Ed Schultz to move head-to-head with Limbaugh, Franken

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John Byrne
Published: Thursday November 30, 2006

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Update: Schultz announced his move to the noon to 3 p.m. Eastern time slot on today's program

Move over, Rush Limbaugh.

Ed Schultz, the nation’s largest progressive talk radio host, is moving head-to-head with Rush Limbaugh’s show sometime in December, industry insiders familiar with the deal tell RAW STORY. The move – which puts Schultz in the choice noon to 3 p.m. window – will also bring him face-to-face with Air America’s flagship talker, Al Franken.

Two radio insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the move. Both characterized the decision to move The Ed Schultz Show from drive-time to early afternoon as one intended to bolster a rapidly growing national audience.

The decision to move Schultz to noontime eastern could put another nail in the coffin of Air America, which filed for bankruptcy Oct. 13.

A 2006 survey by Talkers Magazine pegged the Fargo talker’s listenership at 2.25 million, tying Schultz at #10 among radio hosts nationwide. Air America’s Al Franken rated #12, with an audience of 1.5 million.

Limbaugh still dwarfs all liberal radio hosts in popularity, with an estimated audience of 13.5 million, according to the Talker’s survey, down from 14.75 million in 2005. Sean Hannity pulls in roughly 12.5 million listeners.

A spokesman for Schultz said he couldn’t comment on the report, but confirmed that a major announcement would be made on Thursday’s show.

Schultz is expected to announce the change on Thursday’s program.

The Ed Schultz show is owned by Product First, a company held by former Clear Channel executive Randy Michaels. Product First president Stuart Krane, erstwhile vice president of ABC, was among those who helped pivot Limbaugh onto the national stage.

Schultz’s chief competitor, Air America, has threaded rocky waters since its launch in 2004. Since its inception, the privately owned company has lost more than $40 million, including $23 million this year alone, according to the network’s bankruptcy filing. Schultz’s show, also privately held, has not disclosed profit figures.

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