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Dave Roepke, Published July 07 2009

Hennen-owned radio station to air Schultz local show

Think of it as Fargo’s odd couple.

Scott Hennen is reaching across the political aisle to bolster his upstart radio cluster, forging a pact that brings liberal radio/TV talker Ed Schultz to one of Hennen’s two new stations.

The deal gives Hennen four radio stations in the market and means Schultz will once again helm a radio show about local issues.

The pairing of political opposites, Hennen on the right and Schultz on the left, was announced at a news conference Monday morning in Fargo.

“If you set the politics aside and look at the business side, it makes perfect sense,” Hennen said.

Schultz hosts a one-hour TV show on the cable TV channel MSNBC and a three-hour national radio program every weekday, but he said he’ll have time for the local show, which will run from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on KQLX 106.1 FM.

The former sportscaster and former conservative dismissed the possibility of burnout from working too much and said the hour of local talk will give him a grounding he needs.

“When you live in New York, you can get disconnected pretty fast,” he said. “I don’t want to change who I am and what got me where I am.”

Schultz parted ways with KFGO 790 AM, another local talk radio station, during the flood fight, right before he inked his MSNBC deal, and he said he missed his local show. It’s common for national hosts to maintain a local presence, he said.

“I never wanted to be off the air,” Schultz said, adding that he turned down an offer to do a local hour in San Francisco.

Hennen, who will be buying KQLX-FM and KQLX-AM, both based in Lisbon, N.D., agreed seeing Fargo’s best-known pundits teamed up could come off as surreal, but profit beats political bearings. Hennen said he expects his longtime competitor and ideological opposite to draw listeners.

“No one can argue with his ratings success in this market, period,” he said.

Schultz said a radio studio near his office at NBC in New York City will give him the flexibility to work the extra hour of airtime into his schedule. His cable show doesn’t take as much of his time as one might think, Schultz said.

“I’ve never had so many people help me do something,” he said.

His new local show on 106.1 FM, which also airs his national show, will follow a two-hour block called “Ed and Friends,” a “morning zoo”-style program from 6 to 8 a.m. featuring country music, former Y94 host Troy Dayton behind the microphone and spots by Schultz and others from his national show.

KQLX-FM will take on a similar logo to those for Hennen’s other stations and will be branded as The Liberty. When not airing its Schultz-related shows, 106.1 FM will continue to be a country station. The other station in the sale, KQLX 890 AM, will remain focused on farm news.

Hennen and Terry Loomis, who owns the KQLX stations, didn’t disclose the sale price. The deal needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which typically takes 90 days or less. Hennen now owns WZFG 1100 AM, a talk station, and KEGK 106.9 FM, an oldies station.

Schultz said he’s not invested in Hennen’s stations. Schultz’s contract is for one year, with options for more, Hennen said.

The new programming will begin later this summer and will include some cross promotion. Hennen and Schultz will spar in a weekly segment Thursdays on 1100 AM, where Hennen has a midmorning show.

“He says he’s going to counsel me,” Hennen said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535