Now that Joe Walsh has announced his quixotic bid to challenge President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020, the former Illinois congressman says he's sacrificing his career as a radio talk show host.
Walsh has been holding forth on WIND 560-AM, the Salem Media news/talk station, since 2013 — the year after he lost his reelection bid following one term in Congress. His local show aired from 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays. His national show, syndicated by Salem Radio Network, aired from 8 to 11 p.m. weekdays.
“I’m done with talk radio, and that makes me sad,” Walsh said Sunday on “Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont.” “But to me this is a bigger mission. I’ve got to do what I can to make sure this guy can’t be reelected and . . . to try to help save the Republican party. Trump has destroyed the Republican party.”
On Monday Salem Radio Network gave affiliates 30-days notice that it was cancelling Walsh’s show to avoid running afoul of the FCC's Equal Time Rule. “This announcement does not affect Walsh’s local program airing on AM 560 The Answer in Chicago, however Walsh’s program will have to be removed as soon as he becomes a viable and legal candidate for president,” according to the company.
Walsh acknowledged that his outspoken criticism of Trump already had cost him support among some affiliates.
“The easiest thing for me to do is to just line up with everybody else in conservative media and sing this president’s praises,” he told DuMont. “If I did that, I’d still have a radio show, I’d have great ratings, and every Republican would love me. I truly believe that this president is a danger to the country. He has no respect for the rule of law. He believes he’s a dictator.
“This will be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done because Trump and his people are going to come after me and pound me every day. I’m not doing this because it’s going to be fun.”
Despite Walsh’s declaration, his bosses at WIND weren’t quite ready to close the door on him Monday.
“The situation with Joe Walsh is complicated, it is not black and white,” Jeff Reisman, regional vice president and general manager, told me. “Salem will proceed with Joe and his WIND program in a manner consistent with FCC regulations as they apply to candidates for political office as well as with Joe’s employment agreement.”
Walsh has been on vacation from his radio job since last week. Filling in for him — at least through today — is Shaun Thompson, host of "The Liberty Hour" on weekends. Will Walsh be back on the air Wednesday? Stay tuned.
Since Salem Media does not subscribe to Nielsen Audio, WIND no longer appears in the local ratings. The most recent figures available are from 2016 when WIND tied for 25th place in afternoons with a 1.7 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 169,600.
Walsh's contract with the station reportedly runs through the end of 2020.
Monday’s comment of the day: Shane Gericke: The newspaper industry is literally a dying shame, which upsets me greatly both as a citizen and an ink-stained wretch of so many years. When newspapers are gone — not the dead-trees distribution part, but the reporting, editing, and visual information, the poetic hammer of writers banging keyboards on deadline — who will report the news, investigate social, political, and business wrongdoing, and tell our wonder stories? TV? Cable? Internet opinionists? Hell, no — they almost all get their leads from newspapers. Without real reporters paid to dig out truth, the chattering class would have to do original reporting, and they don't want to pay that heavy freight. Eventually, most "news" will be provided by government and corporate "information specialists," and opinionists will spin that pre-digested bulk into flossy strands of fool's gold. I sigh for America.