San Diego Welcomes Newest – and Youngest – Conservative Radio Talk Show Host
Welcoming Mike Slater to San Diego by way of Jackson, Tenn. in a downpour on his second day seemed a bit of let down – mostly for me.
“Welcome to sunny San Diego?” he asked grinning as he put out his hand. I laughed while sitting down my soaked raincoat and umbrella. He was wearing a tie-less button-up blue dress shirt and seemed right at home in La Mesa’s Hooley’s, where we chewed some serious fat over federal, state and local politics, local movers and shakers, and some of the usual suspects for more than an hour.
The learning curve in this small, big town market is huge. But ready or not – he’ll be live from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on 760 KFMB next Monday, January 3, 2011.
I took a seat across from him beside his new executive producer, Anna Good, 27, who started her radio career with the Rick Roberts Show at KFMB AM760 years ago while I was the communications director for Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta. Since then, she worked as producer for KOGO AM600’s The Mark Larson Show and later, associate producer for The Roger Hedgecock Show.
But today, she’s on her second day back to KFMB completely in charge of building her first show from the ground up as executive producer and with a host younger than herself.
So what would make a 26-year-old conservative talk show host relocate from 1390 WTJS in West Tennessee to San Diego – besides the *ahem* beautiful weather?
“I’m looking for something new, different,” Slater said. “I may want a syndicated show one day, but right now, I want to be the hometown talk show for local politics.”
The Yale alumni calls Syracuse, New York, home where he says it’s gray as many days as sunny in San Diego. Slater was recruited to the Ivy League university for the swim team. He’s also a marathoner and triathlete. The university didn’t offer trades, like journalism and communications, so he studied history and wrote for the Yale Daily News plus worked some at Yale Radio.
“I kind of created my own major,” he said. The Glenn Beck fan moved to Nashville from Yale, which he called “off-the-charts crazy liberal” to speak to folks more his speed.
“There was always some protest going on at Yale,” he said. “One day, I’m crossing campus and they had a sign up: ‘Welcome to Tolerance Village.’ Of course I had to check it out. They had upside down cardboard boxes labeled: ‘Free Health Care,’ ‘No Guns,’ and ‘Bar-less Prisons.’ ”
What’s a bar-less prison?
“I asked a girl and she said it’s inhumane to put prisoners behind bars,” he said. “So I asked, how do you keep them inside? Her answer: shrubbery. All that made me more conservative.”
Conservative – not Republican. Slater’s a registered Independent with a Libertarian bent. His favorite author: Ayn Rand.
Slater and Good hope to create a hometown talk show to talk about local politics and how state and federal politics effect day-to-day life in San Diego – a show format this town hasn’t really seen since Hedgecock went national.
If conservatives want to debate issues during campaign season, they’ve gone to KPBS hoping to reach some moderates, decline to states and die-hard supporters. Slater hopes his show fills that void as well as draws some center-lefts to his show.
“I’m interested in what they have to say,” he said. “I want to discuss the days’ news and what’s going on in all the local media and not just the major outlets.”
The show’s format includes three talk segments plus a news talk segment with shorter breaks. It’s a very different show clock than others in town. Slater said he prefers to have a new discussion topic each hour for debate and discussion mostly with call-ins.
He and Good discussed wanting to incorporate social media streams on Twitter and Facebook with the show. Slater also maintains a podcast and writes a blog.
“We want this to be highly-interactive,” Slater said over a plate of fish tacos – fried, of course.
Bringing in a young, fresh face seems to indicate a course change for KFMB. Good agreed and said she sees the station becoming more “hometown” focused again.
“We’ve still got the Hannity and Beck syndicate shows, but that still fits in with Mike,” she said. “Bringing in somebody young who can really get engrossed in the community brings new eyes to our issues of the day. We don’t have any young voices in San Diego, and yet we’re a young town with young families and a large military population. It brings a whole new perspective to San Diego.”
Slater hasn’t been on the radio outside Nashville in a couple weeks. He’s going to try out a few new sign offs during his dry run this Friday. He already knows his old one won’t work. Let’s just say “raiders” was part of it.
“I don’t know, maybe ‘Spread the Word, Slater Crusaders’ ” he said. “That’s a mouthful. Or maybe just ‘Spread the Word.’ We’ll see how it evolves.”
And so will we. Welcome to soggy San Diego, Mike.
– Follow me @erica_holloway.