KTLK talk-show host’s dramatic on-air departure Thursday was meant to “make a statement” about the state of radio.
Twin Cities talk-show host Jason Lewis made a sudden exit from radio Thursday night, quitting in the middle of his syndicated show, heard locally on Clear Channel’s KTLK (1130 AM).
Reached Friday morning, the conservative commentator said he decided to end “The Jason Lewis Show” to devote his full attention to his fledgling libertarian website, Galt.io, but also to put his money where his mouth is on taxation and highly regulated businesses.
“There’s a tipping point for everyone and for the economy as well,” he said. “I’m going to try to make certain [Minnesota Gov.] Mark Dayton gets as little of my money as possible going forward. My ending may have been a bit dramatic, but it’s a suitable one, because it’s happening all over. If people who take capital risks keep getting demonized, they will stop playing the game.”
Lewis said he told Clear Channel that he planned to retire Aug. 1, but wanted to keep it quiet because “a month of farewell shows makes for very boring radio. But I also wanted to make a statement.”
Lewis made a 15-minute video that the site calls a “parody of what it is like working in a highly regulated industry and some of the events that led to his decision” to end his show.
Galt.io, named for John Galt, the protagonist of libertarian hero Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged,” will be a “marketplace for causes,” said Lewis, who plans to contribute commentary as well. “We want to reward activism, but have fun as well, offering rewards for points.”
The site’s members are part of a virtual economy that uses “Galtcoins,” earned through dividends, voting and updates, to invest in such causes as supporting the Keystone XL pipeline or contributing to a political candidate’s campaign.
The site was launched after an independent crowdfunding campaign last November that raised nearly $800,000, largely on the strength of on-air promotions by Lewis, whose show was carried by more than 50 stations nationwide. According to the site’s co-founder and president, tech start-up consultant Alex Huff, most contributions were in the $25 range, with fewer than 10 topping $1,000.
The 7,000-member site had been invitation-only, Lewis said, but the goal is to expand membership and increase capital.
“We’ll be vetting everyone; we don’t want [prominent liberal donor] George Soros as a member,” he said. “No doubt those sorts will get in, but members will police the site.”
Lewis, who worked for KSTP in St. Paul for 10 years before leaving in 2003 for a job at WBT in Charlotte, N.C., came back to work for KTLK in 2006. His show was syndicated in 2009.
“I was getting concerned about the echo chamber in talk radio,” he said of his decision. “They all sound alike. I’ve tried to have a more independent voice, and the points of view on the site are not going to be as pigeonholed as people might think.”
To fill Lewis’ vacated slot, KTLK will begin running a program out of San Antonio’s WOAI, “The Joe Pags Show,” next week, said KTLK program manager Chad Abbott, adding that a mix of local programming would be added as election news starts to heat up.
Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046