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I first became acquainted with talk radio back in the late 80’s. We had this guy who ran a grinder all day and listened to Rush Limbaugh on full-blast for 3 hours. Every. Single. Day.

If you were going to spend any time at all in the grinding department, you were gonna get Rush all afternoon. But I found the whole concept fascinating: a nationally syndicated host pontificating his opinions and taking live calls from people around the United States. Remember, there was no internet or streaming back then. It was all on AM radio. 

While “podcasts” are the rage now, from my limited exposure to them it appears that they don’t take calls. Just opinions and interviews. For me, the callers add the secret sauce to any program I’m listening to. I love hearing other people’s opinions on all subjects, whether I agree with them or not. One of my best debate preps is listening to talk radio because I learn a lot about how the other side sees issues. And in the end I guess that’s why nobody ever wants to debate me. But I’m always ready, LOL.

For many years, the King of Talk radio here in Erie was WJET 1400 AM. They were the ones who hosted the Rush Limbaugh show and also had a very lively 6 to 8 AM morning talk show here in Erie. It survived until about a year ago, when the final host passed away. Several years ago, I actually hosted my own radio program there that I called “Working Hands Radio,’ where I promoted the trades and brought in local manufacturers to interview. At that time, I was paying $250 an hour for radio time. It was fun, but not very profitable.

Hanging out with the Talk Erie crew: Joel Natalie, myself, Shani and Paul Bills.

BUT there was a new game in town: With decades of experience in media, Joel Natalie decided to bring something different to the Erie market. With all of the new technologies available in 2019, he was not only able to launch it on AM and FM radio but also stream it on the web, bringing in a literal worldwide audience. And as it stands at this moment, The Joel Natalie Show is the only local talk radio program here in Erie.

Like a moth to the flame, I couldn’t resist listening to the program. Unlike the previous talk radio programs here in Erie, they were streaming it, which meant I could listen to it at work on my laptop speakers. And then flip on my radio on the way home and continue listening on 105.9 FM.

If you’re a resident of Erie County and have any interest in what’s really happening at a grass-roots level, The Joel Natalie Show is a must-listen. I’ve lived here my entire life, and know more about what’s happening in our region than I ever have. Joel routinely interviews guests who are impacting our region in real-time: the mayor, the county executive, the downtown revitalization project, educators, and local movers and shakers. The program also allows call-ins, where we can ask our elected officials direct questions.

. On a talk radio program, the host can go two different ways: encourage or even incite toxic interactions for more “buzz” and clicks, or encourage a polite exchange of thoughts and opinions. The listeners can definitely tell the difference and are more than happy to keep a dumpster fire going if the host is combative and encourages it. It’s been a delight to listen to how Joel has handled the flame throwers with both dignity and respect.  And it’s been fascinating to hear how the callers who I used to hear on AM 1400 have changed their approach now because the host won’t put up with it.

So, I highly recommend catching The Joel Natalie Show someday soon. It’s light and informative, plus you’ll hear some opinions from the folks who call in. Joel and his producer – Shani Bills – have truly brought something very special to the Erie PA airwaves. Our region is lucky to have them. And don’t be surprised if you tune in and happen to hear my voice. I’m a frequent caller and occasional guest.

Pro Tip: If you’re going to call in, have your talking points ready and assume you’ve got one minute to make your case. Be polite, don’t call people names, and for the love of God please don’t call in every single day with the same rant. Try to be the person that your dog thinks you are.

For more information:

Website and streaming:

Radio: AM 1530, FM 103.3 or FM 105.9

Phil Kerner

Phil Kerner

Phil Kerner is a life-long Erie, Pennsylvania resident. Married to The Queen, father of four sons, grandfather to Gracie Mae.