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Dialed in

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The good news is that progressive talk radio has arrived in Detroit. The bad news is that Jerry Springer will soon be included in the lineup.

Damn. As if lefties didn’t have enough problems, now we have to deal with the King of Sleaze carrying our standard.

Double damn.

News Hits was jazzed to learn last week that radio station WDTW (1310 AM) had switched formats, airing the likes of Al Franken and Randi Rhodes — both of whom are part of the Air America network that launched last March.

Detroit was finally getting in on a growing act. The fact that Clear Channel — which, the last time we looked, owned every radio station in America — has been jumping into progressive talk could only mean there was a market for the programming. This is, after all, the company that issued an order — wait, make that (wink, wink) a “suggestion” — to the deejays at its roughly 1 zillion stations that they forego playing such radical tunes as John Lennon’s “Imagine” immediately following the 9/11 attacks.

What gives?

The format’s successful, that’s what gives.

Clear Channel tested the progressive format in Portland, Ore., last spring. According to the online publication mediaweek.com, ratings at that CC station in the Rose City grew by a jaw-dropping tenfold.

In San Diego — hardly the hotbed of lefty freaks that Portland is — ratings jumped an impressive 75 percent when the format was tried there. And so, faster than you can say profit margin, CC was gettin’ progressive all over the place. In all, CC has brought the format to 22 stations in less than a year.

“We usually figure 18 to 24 months for a talk station to catch on,” a CC exec told mediaweek.com. “If the format continues to perform as it has, you’ll see us double the number of progressive talk stations in the next year.”

But Jerry Springer? Yep. According to WDTW’s Web site, the man who never met anyone too pathetic to exploit will be coming to the station soon.

Give us a break.

There is, however, an alternative. You can bypass Springer and listen to the full lineup of Air America on its Web site, airamericaradio.com. Even if you don’t listen, the site is well worth the visit. It posts synopses and links to hard-hitting news stories, such as the recent Washington Post revelation that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has secretly been running his own espionage operation the past two years.

But maybe we’re being too hard on old Jerry. If he can get Rumsfeld on the air and get him to talking about how he relieves the stress of waging off-the-books operations by fornicating with sheep, then we’ll tune in.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com

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