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Pogemiller wants to balance Pawlenty time

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Senate's top Democrat wants a chance to respond to what Gov. Tim Pawlenty says on his weekly radio show.

In a letter to WCCO radio in the Twin Cities, Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, wrote that the station has provided the Republican governor "unfettered and unanswered access to the public's airwaves."

He asked Mick Anselmo, a CBS Radio senior vice president in charge of WCCO, to "provide a periodic segment following the governor's show for lawmakers of the opposing party to provide a different point of view."

Pogemiller added: "A publicly licensed station such as yours should be interested in ending the ongoing monologue and embrace a dialogue of the ideas and issues facing our state."

WCCO did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Pogemiller letter, which only sought time on WCCO, not another 14 stations across the state that carry the program.

However, the governor's spokesman said Pawlenty's show offers differing viewpoints.

"Close to half of 'Good Morning Minnesota' is devoted to taking calls from ordinary Minnesotans each week, and Gov. Pawlenty encourages people whose opinions differ with his to share their perspectives on the air," Pawlenty spokesman Alex Carey said. "While neither WCCO nor 'Good Morning Minnesota' are legally required to offer equal time, numerous Democrats and non-Republicans have been guests on 'Good Morning Minnesota,' including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Janet Napolitano, Gov. Ed Rendell, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, E.J. Dionne, David Gergen and many others, and to suggest only Republican viewpoints are represented on the show is factually incorrect."

Pogemiller wrote that Pawlenty, who also occasionally fills in for an absent WCCO talk-show hosts, often "misrepresents the positions of his opponents." The senator also claims Pawlenty uses the airwaves for an "ongoing cultivation of his public persona.

The issue of giving opponents time is not new. When then-Gov. Jesse Ventura hosted the show, legislative leaders for a while were given air time. But their response was not nearly as popular with listeners as Ventura's show.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.