The most popular liberal host on radio owes his new TV career to Rush Limbaugh.
North Dakotan Ed Schultz, who joins MSNBC’s lineup Monday as anchor of the 6 p.m. hour, says an on-air dis by Limbaugh five years ago inspired him to move up to the majors.
The backstory: In a “Today” profile, Schultz was described as “the liberal answer to Limbaugh: who was shaking up the industry. The following day, Limbaugh laughed about it on his radio show.
“He said, ‘I don’t know who this $4 dollar-an-hour guy is, but he’ll never make it,” recalls Schultz, 55, who heard the broadcast live while he was driving.
‘That was all the fuel I needed. I don’t know if it was bio or diesel or straight gasoline, I was gonna do what I had to do.”
He did. Schultz’ noon-to-3 p.m. radio show grew to be heard on 100 stations. He’ll continue it after “The Ed Show” launches.
The question is where? “Ed Show” will be based in either Washington or New York. For the first few months, it will stay in the latter, Schultz says.
Either city will be a culture shock for Schultz and his wife, Wendy, a producer on his radio show and a psychiatric nurse. (“Perfect for a talk-show host,” he says.)
The couple has a lakeside home in Detroit Lakes (pop. 6,000). They moved there four years ago from Fargo, 50 miles west. Together, they have six grown kids – five hers and one his, all from previous marriages.
Thanks to the Coen brothers, Fargo folk “are seen as simple personalities,” Schultz says. “I’m much more dynamic than anyone in the movie.”
A Norfolk, Va., native, Schultz moved to the area to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he was a Division II All-American quarterback and led the country in passing. In radio and TV, he says, “there’s a kickoff every day.”
A self-described progressive independent, Schultz says he’ll fit right in with his new colleagues. Not just politically, either.
Like Rachel Maddow, he loves fishing. Like Keith Olbermann, he’s a hunter.
One small difference: Schultz targets deer; Olbermann’s quarry of choice is Bill O’Reilly.