Roland S. Martin: Progressive radio must rev up

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Posted by on December 27, 2008 at 11:48:46:

Roland S. Martin: Progressive radio must rev up
Roland S. Martin 12/27/2008 8:35 am

How many of you caught the Dec. 22 edition of The New York Times, which had a big story on the efforts of conservative talk radio to gear up in an effort to take down President-elect Barack Obama?

In a year when Democrats saw massive gains in the House and Senate and retook the White House, conservative talkers see an opportunity to re-establish themselves and go after Obama with gusto.

According to the Times piece, former presidential candidates Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee are poised to be the new stars of conservative talk radio.

But progressives and liberals shouldn't be sitting on the sidelines. We have witnessed this kind of attack before, certainly during our eight years under President Bill Clinton. Yet a lot has changed since then. The Huffington Post has established itself as a major counterbalance to the Drudge Report, and progressive/liberal talkers on MSNBC are battling it out nightly against Fox.

I would hope that in all of this, urban radio doesn't forsake the role it can play in driving the agenda. We saw daily efforts on the "Tom Joyner Morning Show," "The Steve Harvey Show," "The Michael Baisden Show" and others to drive black folks to register to vote.

But it's no longer about voting. Now the issue is policy. There needs to be a serious progressive/urban agenda that is advanced daily, and radio can help that happen. That means hosts are going to have to bone up and realize that they are playing on a big field and the opposition isn't playing around. The opposition will do all they can to derail Obama, and that means there needs to be a counterbalance.

I attended the "I Rock the Mic" urban radio conference earlier this month in Miami, and just like conservatives, I believe that urban radio should push the Obama White House to host twice-yearly urban radio days at the White House. Conservatives did this a lot with President George W. Bush, often bringing talk radio hosts from around the country to do their shows from the White House, and the biggest voices got Oval Office interviews with the president.

Now is not the time to sit back and watch conservatives lather up and blast away. Urban radio and progressive talkers should be planning their own battle, and it should revolve around education, health care and civil rights.

Roland S. Martin is a CNN contributor and a talk show host for WVON/AM in Chicago.

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