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WCCO, Pogemiller begin talks about Pawlenty’s radio show

The Good Neighbor hasn’t given in to DFLers’ request for response time on Pawlenty’s “Good Morning Minnesota,” but there’s still a chance a deal could be cut.
By David Brauer

Well, they met: WCCO-AM officials and DFL Sen. Majority Leader Pogemiller, discussing Pogey’s objection to Gov. Pawlenty’s oft-partisan weekly radio show.

The Senator’s beef is that legislative leaders don’t get guaranteed time on ‘CCO when the governor bashes DFLers and their positions. WCCO, which gave legislators a slot during the Ventura administration, isn’t anxious to give them time outside of “Good Morning Minnesota’s” 9-10 a.m. Friday slot, and the contract with the state of Minnesota basically cedes control of that hour to the state’s designated representative, TPaw communications director Brian McClung.

According to a Pogey spokesperson, the meeting with WCCO market manager Mick Anselmo and program director Wendy Paulson lasted “upwards of an hour,” and the duo was “very cordial, and very generous with their time.”

When he first raised the issue last month, Pogemiller had requested response time after the governor’s show, but now appears focused on an in-show carve-out. The reason? The governor’s show is carried by a 14-station state network; a post-show deal would only cover WCCO.

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Anselmo and Paulson “said they would take our concerns into consideration, and would get back to us,” the spokesperson says, adding “they haven’t yet. They did indicate they needed to consider our request.”

For her part, Paulson says only, “We’re working with the Senator’s office and will continue to be a radio station that reflects all points of view, as we have been throughout our history.”

A compromise seems obvious; a gentlemen’s (and ladies’) agreement to give DFLers a few in-show minutes when Pawlenty goes partisan — as he did during a tee-off on President Obama’s health care plan July 24. (The podcast is here.) Like other listeners, DFL leaders would have to monitor the show, as they almost certainly already do, but the agreement would give them a guaranteed chance to get on-air.

The resulting debate would be good radio — that truly reflects multiple viewpoints — and would arguably better serve the state, which after all is party to the deal.

The counterargument is that a deal isn’t necessary; DFL leaders can simply call in now.

Notes McClung, “We don’t screen calls to the Governor’s radio show. When calls come in they are answered by the studio coordinator, who is a WCCO employee. He asks the caller for their first name, where they are calling from and what their topic is. The Governor picks the callers off the computer screen, typically in the order they call in. If you listen to the show, you’ll find that we certainly have callers who disagree with the Governor’s perspective.”

Given Pawlenty’s ultimate control, Pogey’s office is skeptical that their voices would get through. “We feel the calls tend to be favorable to the governor,” says the spokesperson, admitting, “we have no empirical information” that McClung or Pawlenty screens for viewpoint.

Given the enmity between the GOP Presidential aspirant and his DFL foes, it’s probably unwise to leave full control in Pawlenty’s ambitious hands. Of course, that enmity makes any sort of gentlemen’s agreement unlikely, too.

That leaves it up to WCCO will have to do the fair thing, either during “Good Morning Minnesota” if the contract allows, or at a nearby time if that option fails.