The Al Franken Show In Fresno

Image Al Franken came to Fresno this week to do a live broadcast of The Al Franken Show, his weekly segment on Air America Radio . When I heard about it I also heard that the 400 available tickets were free and the live broadcast would be from 9AM-Noon on a Thursday. I couldn’t help but feel some doubt that they’d be able to scrape up 400 liberal Fresnans for an early weekday radio show. I was pleasantly surprised when the day came and the crowd was around 500.

We started lining our cars up at River Park around 7:30AM. People were busy decorating their cars with blue ribbons and signs welcoming Franken to Fresno. Afterwards we drove in a caravan of vehicles to Pardini’s on west Shaw. The warm, welcome and excited mood of those gathered was something you don’t experience a lot as a liberal in Fresno. Slowly, the cohesive crowd moved in to fill the banquet hall to capacity.

The show was nothing like watching any news program or talk show on television. To put it simply, Al Franken tells the truth. He backs up his assertions and opinions with facts, yet he’s still quick to catch himself in a misstatement or fumble of words. He’s genuinely interested and respectful of the knowledge and backgrounds his guests bring with them, though quick to question if need be. Although the greatest thing Franken brings to the table is his dedication to truth and fairness, it’s his humor that distinguishes him from anyone else.

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He addressed the crowd with an urging to be boisterous and then settled in for the 3 hour broadcast. Franken continually mentioned Fresno and discussed it’s history and agricultural significance, also discussing those issues that hit those who live in Fresno very hard, such as air quality and the growing pavement encompassing much of our land.  His guests included Reverend Robin Hoover with Humane Borders , Francine Farber, a retired educator discussing Proposition 82 , which would create a statewide pre-school system, Mark Arax , a journalist and writer who detailed the history and development of agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, Kevin Hall, a clean air activist with the Sierra Club, TJ Cox candidate for US Congress (District 19) , Francine Busby , candidate for California’s 50th Congressional District and Senators John Kerry  and Barbara Boxer by phone.

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The event was put together by local KFPT 790AM, Fresno’s only progressive talk radio station. . The station is a recent addition to Fresno and they were just as surprised as others that so many came out to support the event. They have another personality from Air America, Stephanie Miller, coming to Fresno on April 21st. to do a live radio broadcast from Fresno State University. Check with the station for more details.

You can listen to live broadcasts from Air America on the KFPT website, or on the site for Air America. You can also download any of the show archives from Air America on their site and listen to them on your computer or portable device. There are membership fees for downloading archives, however they’re minimal, and range anywhere from  $1.99 for a one day pass to monthly memberships starting at $6.95 a month.

Al Franken, who’s considering a run in politics, was charming and open to everyone in the crowd. After the broadcast he sat to sign copies of his book and take pictures with fans. If you’ve never listened to Franken, I highly recommend it. There are very few people right now reporting on the state of the country in an honest and direct manner. Al Franken is at the top of the list.

PHOTOS: Chris Jarvis


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