Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hard Luck Charlie

In the early 1990's, the small radio station in the town I lived in began carrying a slate of talk radio hosts from a network called the Sun Radio Network. The anchor host was a man by the name of Chuck Harder. He ran a show called "For the People."

At first, I sort of liked Chuck's show. Chuck was a populist. He swam against the stream. I sometimes am a contrarian, so it was easy to hook into what he was doing. He seemed to be out to assist the little guy. His program had tips and tricks to conserve consumption and how to allow the little guy to get ahead when the big guys were keeping their thumbs on them.

But over time, the show became nothing but depressing.

Chuck somehow got in bed with a group of people who ended up taking over his network. I believe it was the Liberty Lobby. Whether they ousted him or he went off in a snit, I've never quite determined. Anyhow, from there he moved his radio show from Tampa, Florida to White Springs, Florida where he renovated the Teleford Hotel that he purchased and quasi refurbished. Some of the work done on the hotel was quite unique. Other parts of it were not as well done. He created another network called the The Peoples Radio network and began once again to broadcast his show from the hotel.

White Springs was something of a unique town. It had moss covered trees. It was South Georgia in Northern Florida. It was almost Mayberry like, except there was an air of poverty, hard luck and no hope.

He began a "For the People" membership program that included the opportunity to stay in the hotel and dine in the dining room on old fashioned cooking. Done on a shoestring, it was, shall we say a unique setting. Not terrible. Just nothing to write home to mom about. Those who loved Chuck would have enjoyed it. Those who didn't see Chuck with rose colored glasses probably would have returned to the interestate and found food and shelter somewhere else.

Chuck again got in bed with another group of people, the UAW, and once again was in problems with his new business partners. He again lost his network.

It was funny that a guy who was dispensing advice on how to not let the guy who has the upper hand get the upper hand kept falling into their traps. It was then that I coined the name "Hard Luck Charlie".

Chuck was also a believer in all things Y2K. And all of the were cataclysmic. His shows in the days and weeks following the calendar change were not pleasant for him. A large portion of his advertising prior to January 1, 2000 was for survival type gear all aimed for when the power grids went down as the clock ticked midnight. Most of the gear was now deemed worthless by his listeners who felt betrayed and cheated. Chuck held his ground, but it was not a pretty sight.

Unfortunately, as I listened to his show off and on from the 90's to the early 2000's, I became terribly depressed. Chuck had a way of taking elements of truth and trumping them up. Making the facts fit his outcome. When I gave up the show, my outlook improved and my life began to excel again.

The station that carried Chuck went off the air and he was no longer heard in my area. However, in mid 2000 while traveling in Florida, I told my wife that I needed to see if I could find "Hard Luck Charlie" on the air to see what his latest problem was. He didn't disappoint. There was a horrible problem with his van now handicap retrofitted that he now needed due to an issue with his legs.

As time has gone by, Chuck's station count has diminished considerably. He at one time had about 300 affiliates, second only to Rush Limbaugh. He now is down to a handful, if that.

His problems with maintaining ownership of his networks, his Y2K issues, the election of President Bush (many Harder listeners would look past something President Bush did but would have been breathing fire had it been former President Clinton or another democrat) and yes even consolidation have hurt his show considerably.

It's sad. I at one time looked to him as a unique and needed host and personality. Because of his lack of foresight, his over hyping of Y2K and other issues, he and his show have become shells of themselves.

1 comment:

Johnny Appleseed said...

I am a huge fan of CHuck Harder and regard him as an American hero. I listened to him and PRN/UBN as often as possible in my college days in the '90s. He is the predecessor of Alex Jones and the sort of neo-populist thing that's happening now with the Ron Paul movement and the Tea Party. (Even though the TP is on the path to co-optation by the Repubs, at least there is also a sizable movement of true independents to call their BS and hold their feet to the fire.)

I just started a blog which has a Chuck Harderesque, populist message. Except that, unlike Chuck, I will be able to present a complete and coherent populist program with the missing pieces of history and political economy that perhaps Chuck was unaware of. (Some of his guests -- such as Ralph Nader -- were aware of these pieces; regrettably, they just failed to emphasize them.)

Stop by and take a look. Intro post is up so far, and a new post is going up today. (It's a Wordpress site, but it seems worth it, I may mirror it on Blogger for the convenience of Blogger folk.)

Just Liberty