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WINZ progressive talk is gone, but not Nicole Sandler

Progressive talk radio may be gone from the Miami airwaves, but its coolest host lives on. Nicole Nicolesandler Sandler, who from 2007 to 2008 was the only local voice at lefty talker WINZ-AM, is filling in on Air America's noon to 3 p.m. call-in show. She's got some lively stuff planned, particularly a segment on how President Obama is fighting to retain some of the same prerogatives -- in particular, warrantless wiretapping, extrajudicial "renditions" of suspected terrorists to offshore prisons -- that he condemned in the Bush administration. Sandler is hoping to line up Glenn Greenwald, who just wrote a withering column on the subject for Salon, as a guest.

Of course, since WINZ dumped Air America and progressive talk earlier this month to go all-sports, you can't hear Sandler out of an actual radio. But you can listen at AirAmerica.com. Though Sandler has been working pretty regularly on Air America pretty regularly the last few months, she's not optimistic that the network will return to the South Florida airwaves anytime soon.

"Most of the big radio stations are owned by big broadcast companies, and they have a more Republican agenda," she says. "When you have a company with two AM stations, one progressive and one conservative, you'll always find that the conservative station has a better signal, more marketing dollars and a bigger marketing braintrust, and just better resources in every way."

That was certainly the situation at WINZ, she says. "WINZ was the ugly stepchild of the [seven-station]Clear Channel cluster," Sandler recalls. "It had a weak signal -- at night, you couldn't really hear it north of I-595 -- and they put no resources into marketing. I didn't have a producer or anybody at all -- I ran a one-woman show, which in some ways is good, but ultimately you need some help."

I don't know about how Clear Channel marketed WINZ or its promotional budget, but I can certainly tell you Sandler was the Lone Ranger when it came to running the show. Once, when Sun Sentinel TV critic Tom Jicha and I guested on the show to talk about the upcoming TV season, something on her control board broke. Technical support? Ha. "You guys just talk to each other while I fix this," she instructed us while pulling out a screwdriver -- a daring programming decision with two guests whose politics were roughly 180 degrees south of hers. "Hey, how come Rush Limbaugh's show isn't on WINZ?" I asked Jicha. "Yeah, I really like that guy," he replied. Sandler took it in good humor...but she sure finished those repairs in a hurry.

Sandler worked a year as producer on Jim DeFede's WINZ show before taking it over when he departed. But she picked up her interviewing skills as a rock-jock in Los Angeles, chatting with people like Dave Matthews and Ray Davies between records. (You can listen to some of them, as well as download podcasts of her best Air America interviews, on her website Radioornot.com.) But you might say she was born to do political talk: Ronald Reagan was elected president on her 21st birthday, Barack Obama on her 49th. She's been doing her Air America shows from a studio in her North Miami Beach home, but wouldn't mind moving to New York if it turns into a permanent gig: "I love working on Air America."


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R.J. Sigale

I have always enjoyed her & miss her & Randi Rhodes terribly. There is no one on our air waves that speaks the majority language - PROGRESSIVE!!
R.J. Sigale
Boca Raton, Fl.

pat hamilton

The free market decides these things, were these people of any count they'd still be on the air...

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