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Gov. Dayton’s radio show: will statewide network be an issue?

Yesterday, news reports, including mine, named five bidders for a possible Gov. Mark Dayton radio show.

Yesterday, news reports, including mine, named five bidders for a possible Gov. Mark Dayton radio show. It’s fairer to say there are four — and the combos may force the governor’s office to choose between a strong metro or non-metro presence.

Minnesota News Network — which syndicated WCCO–AM’s “Good Morning, Minnesota” when Tim Pawlenty was governor — isn’t paired with the Good Neighbor this time. Instead, MNN network services director Penny Meier says her operation is part of JR Broadcasting’s bid.

Former DFL Congressional candidate Janet Roberts owns AM950, whose ideological motto boasts: “What’s Left is the Truth.” Dayton would do the shows from MNN’s Minneapolis studio, Meier says.

WCCO is also bidding, though it’s unclear how they will replace MNN. Bidders can divulge details of the sealed proposals, but ‘CCO executives Steve Moore and Mick Anselmo haven’t yet returned calls for comment. Meier says she’s heard the Good Neighbor will make the show available to other stations via its website.

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The big question here: does a hotlink provide enough statewide oomph compared to the MNN link-up? Meier notes that over the years, between ten and 24 MNN affiliates ran “Good Morning, Minnesota” — fewer in recent years when Pawlenty became a lame duck.

That trend, plus the uncertainty of Dayton’s radio appeal, has me wondering if a decoupled Good Neighbor is as interested this time around. Politically, the station would get some heat if it didn’t bid on a DFLer’s show after years of running a Republican’s and Independence Party Gov. Jesse Ventura’s. But you can make a bid that doesn’t beg to be accepted.

It’s certainly possible the dynamics of networking have changed. However, if WCCO doesn’t guarantee good statewide coverage, Dayton’s people will have to choose between a highly rated metro station with sketchy statewide carriage (WCCO) or lower-rated options with better statewide hopes.

AMPERS Minnesota network
AMPERS Minnesota network

Minneapolis community station KFAI-FM is another contender — and it’s bringing along the 12-station AMPERS network. (Motto: “Diverse Radio for Minnesota’s Communities.”) AMPERS, made up of Minnesota public stations not in MPR’s orbit, doesn’t offer big ratings. From the looks of its coverage map, AMPERS blankets the eastern half of the state but has gaping holes elsewhere.

KFAI executive director Janis Lane-Ewart’s pitch:

“The Governor should choose to do his show in an Arbitron low-rated and community-based network of stations because statewide politics deserve to be heard by and receive input from a grassroots perspective, inclusive of the state’s New American/immigrant communities. … KFAI’s News Department operates on the same level of all of the other stations who have submitted bids — news covered with integrity and ethics; a sense of doggedness in reporting what is not covered by mainstream news media; and, a long-standing connection with and valued partnership with ‘the peeps’ of the state.”

Finally, there’s BringMeTheNews.com, which is being a bit cagey about what metro and non-metro stations are aboard.

BMTN’s Tom Elko notes that his site produces news and sports broadcasts for 30 stations statewide (though I wouldn’t expect the sports stations to be interested).

Elko states, “The BringMeTheNews model is to use the strengths of radio, digital, and social media to deliver high levels of engagement and reach, and our proposal fits within that scope. … We believe this is an opportunity to build on the success of last fall’s debate by facilitating more public affairs programming and elevating the conversation around the issues facing the state.”