On Saturday April 27th, Thom Hartmann, a progressive national and international talk show host, spoke at Salem’s Grand theater to a standing room only crowd followed by a Q&A with the audience. The talk was recorded by Capital community Television (CCTV) for broadcast at a later time. Melanie Zermer, from the local non-profit community radio station KMUZ, spoke with Hartman about independent and community radio before his presentation. Zermer supplied Salem Weekly with parts of the transcript from that interview for this article.
Hartmann, described as a progressive national champion by the three local groups that organized the event, Marion Polk Move to Amend, Salem Progressive Film Series, and Oregon Peace Works, spoke about overreaching powers assumed by the Supreme Court in defiance of the constitution and read Article. III. Section. 2. directly from the Constitution to drive the point.
Thom Hartmann is a New York Times bestselling, Project Censored Award winning author and host of a nationally syndicated progressive radio talk show. One station that broadcast his show, KPOJ in Portland, was recently changed by their owner, Clear Channel (a subsidiary of Bain Capital) and switched to an all-sports format. During her interview, Zermer stated that many people were outraged over Clear’s decision to replace the progressive talk radio to Fox Sports and asked Hartman “Do you believe these people have any recourse, in light of the re-licensing of all Oregon radio stations next year?” Hartman responded, “Perhaps. But the FCC hasn’t been very aggressive about this.” He says that people can ask to put written statements about their dissatisfaction into the public file of KPOJ, but he doesn’t expect that will have much sway in whether the FCC re-licenses KPOJ. Hartmann suggests that a better strategy is supporting community and independent radio.
When asked by Zermer if “community radio stations have a role in beating back the tide of a few corporations managing the content of what people hear on the radio?” Hartmann’s response was, “Yes. Emphatically.” And that he felt local programming was the most important programming, in addition to having syndicated national progressive programming picked up by local independent stations, explaining that it would help bring back balance to what people hear on the radio.
Hartman further explained that the government regulated the movie and television industry back in the 1950s and 60s by requiring those entities to offer a certain amount of local and non-owned content, which is not true for radio. Hartmann stated that if the FCC and Congress would take this on… “you’d see a renaissance in American media and progressive media would be a part of it.”
During Zermer’s interview, Hartmann also spoke about the importance of overturning the 2010 Supreme Court decision known as “Citizens United.” Citizens United declared corporations to be people and money to be speech. Overturning this decision through Constitutional amendment would firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. Hartmann further challenged the received wisdom that the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the right of judicial review and the power to rule on the constitutionality of laws.
Although no longer heard on KPOJ, Hartmann has a daily independent television program, The Big Picture, syndicated by FreeSpeech TV, and shown by hundreds of community TV stations.
CCTV rebroadcast of his talk can be seen at the following times.
May 16th 8:00pm
May 18th 3:00pm
May 20th 7:00pm
May 21st 8:00pm
May 26th 1:00pm
May 31st 4:00pm
June 1st 5:00pm
June 4th 8:00pm
June 6th 8:00pm
June 8th 5:00pm