As Janet Robert shook hands with construction workers in a small cafe in late 2002, she came to the hard realization that the election was lost. Robert, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in Minnesota’s 6th District, felt the loss both personally and for her party, the Democrats. She remembers thinking, “It’s over, and it’s all because of talk radio.” The construction workers she spoke with that day had received misinformation from conservative talk radio. She knew then that Minnesota needed progressive talk radio.
Today, as owner of Minnesota’s local affiliate of Air America Radio, Robert takes pride knowing she is “helping people market the truth.” Listeners hear progressive points of view from both the radio show hosts, but from other listeners who call in to share their stories, knowledge, and opinions. She believes Air America provides a “voice for the community.”
Robert’s work at Air America is deeply rooted in a desire to help people and be of service to her community. She went to law school because she wanted to help poor people. Her own family’s history is part of that desire: When her immigrant grandfather was disabled in a coal mine, some family members had to drop out of school and go to work so they family could survive. Robert recognizes the significance of this sacrifice, and said that when family members were eventually able to get an education, “[It] was the key to my mother’s family breaking out of poverty.”
She is driven by the realization that all families are not this fortunate, and her Catholic religion, which involved being raised with the belief that “we have an obligation to help people who are left behind” has led her to represent a number of nonprofit law clients and to co-found the Hope House of St. Croix Valley, which provides a home for people living with AIDS, and the St. Croix Valley Christians in Action, an organization that helps churches serve the needs of low-income people.
Robert knows Air America Radio benefits not just small business owners, but Minnesota as a whole. “Local radio is really important, because it’s hard for people in their busy, busy lives to do all the reading necessary to be informed,” she said. Robert believes talk radio is an enormously powerful tool, and she strives to use it to better her community. “We get the truth out! That’s what makes the difference.”