Mike Newcomb says he’s trying to counterbalance the conservatives that dominate Arizona’s talk radio.
The Cave Creek doctor and former gubernatorial candidate has taken to the airwaves with a liberal-format show called “On Second Thought.”
Nationwide, former Vice President Al Gore and other Democrats are trying to launch a broadcast network to challenge syndicated formats that have elevated hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to the top. "I think it's a great concept," Newcomb said. "But while other people are talking about it, we're out here doing it. We felt that we could serve as a catalyst for progressive, liberal talk show radio, particularly in a state that is viewed as a conservative state."
But there's plenty of questions about whether Newcomb will find a niche. His radio home, KFNX (1100 AM), is a relatively unknown station despite having one of the most powerful transmitters in Arizona. And Newcomb is paying for the privilege to speak his mind on local and national politics.
Some conservative radio stars said liberals already have plenty of broadcasters that reflect their point of view.
"The reason conservative talk radio has been so successful, not only in the Valley but across the country, is because there was a need for an opposing view,” said Tom Liddy, who co-hosts a show during afternoon drive time on KFYI (560 AM). “People could get what was generally regarded a liberal viewpoint from major networks and from public broadcasting."
Newcomb, 39, unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination for governor last year as a political novice without backing from any party interests. But he gained enough respect that, in the first two weeks his show has been on the air, guests have included state Attorney General Terry Goddard, state House Democratic leader John Loredo of Phoenix and state Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa.
The joint appearance of Pearce and two representatives from a group promoting an initiative to discourage illegal immigration were the first guests that depart substantially from Newcomb's political stance.
But Newcomb said he will seek others to balance like-minded Democrats.
"Having conservatives on the radio program will only magnify my viewpoint . . . that the conservative movement and conservative ideology is perhaps a greater threat to our longtime national interest and international interest than any other terrorist group out there," Newcomb said.
Newcomb is a new addition to a radio station trying to break into a talk market dominated by KFYI and KTAR (620 AM). Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Secretary of State Betsey Bayless, both Republicans, have weekly shows.
Libertarian activist Ernest Hancock said he will bring his daily morning show from KXAM (1310 AM) to KFNX on July 28, airing for two hours before Newcomb's program.