Democracy Radio was an organization founded in 2002 by Tom Athans and Paul Fiddick dedicated to creating political balance on America's commercial radio airwaves. The concept was to develop and incubate progressive oriented talk programming and enlist radio networks to market the programs to stations around the country. Democracy Radio developed and produced talk shows that launched the national careers of Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller, among others.
In 2003, Democracy Radio recruited its first talk show host: Ed Schultz from KFGO in Fargo, North Dakota. "The Ed Schultz Show" was launched January 4, 2004. Democracy Radio retained Jones Radio Networks to handle affiliate relations and advertising sales. The show became a quick success, as it grew to over 100 stations and 8 of the top 10 markets since its debut.
On June 8, 2005, Democracy Radio sold its stake in The Ed Schultz Show to a new company headed by veteran radio executive Randy Michaels, the former CEO of Clear Channel Radio. Michaels had previously played a featured role in Rush Limbaugh's syndication success. The company stated their intention was to return to its core mission of nurturing up-and-coming radio talent.
The company followed the success of Schultz' show by launching its second syndicated effort. In September 2004, veteran radio and television host Stephanie Miller debuted her new show, also syndicated by Jones.
In November 2005, Democracy Radio's partner in The Stephanie Miller Show, WYD Media headed by radio industry veteran Ron Hartenbaum, purchased Democracy Radio's shares and assumed sole ownership of the venture.
Democracy Radio helped to develop new radio shows concurrently with the rise of another similar venture, Air America Radio, which created an entire radio network of left-leaning talk shows. As the goal of Democracy Radio was to help grow the format and to develop new talk shows, the company encouraged Air America's success.
On November 4, 2005, Athans announced on the company's website that he would be joining the management team of Air America, effectively shutting down Democracy Radio. He felt that the combined efforts of the two organizations would make the format much more viable in the future.
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