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Radio host Rhodes returns to West Palm

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Goddess has truly come home.

Following her departure from the liberal Air America talk radio network last week, controversial host Randi Rhodes is bringing her nationally syndicated afternoon drive-time show back to WJNO-AM 1290 in West Palm Beach, starting today.

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But this time, she's not just being heard on WJNO, which is owned by media giant Clear Channel. She's producing the show from her former employer's studio.

"We have our biggest star back," said WJNO Programming Director Brian Mudd.

Dubbed "The Goddess" by her loyal listeners, Rhodes, who worked for WJNO for 10 years starting in 1994, gained fame for her tell-it-like-it-is brand of leftist politics.

That prompted Air America to hire her when the network debuted in 2004.

Rhodes stayed on the air at WJNO in the years that followed, but through Air America.

She also became a national personality, seen on billboards and TV news shows.

The bottom line, Rhodes says of her return to West Palm Beach: She'll still be her usual loud and feisty self on air. And she'll still be speaking to a national audience, not necessarily a local one.

But she no longer has to schlep back and forth between New York and Palm Beach County, where she kept a home during her Air America tenure, to do what she loves.

"I just grabbed my dog" and came to West Palm Beach, Rhodes said of her sudden decision to base herself year-round in the area. Her show is being syndicated by the Nova M Radio Network, an emerging competitor to Air America in the talk radio world.

Well, the decision wasn't all that simple. Rhodes quit Air America after a high-profile dispute with the network that was covered by such media outlets as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Air America suspended Rhodes on April 3 for making what network executives deemed "inappropriate statements" about Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., at a recent comedy performance in San Francisco.

Rhodes said the dispute was sparked by employment discussions with Air America and that her remarks during the performance weren't the integral issue.

She added that when Air America suspended her, she thought it meant her contract was terminated.

So she quit to "clear the way" for future radio opportunities.

That was on Wednesday night. By Thursday and Friday, Rhodes was hammering out a deal with her new syndication company, talking to her 20-plus affiliate stations across the country about continuing to air her program (most have agreed to do so) and even going on Larry King's CNN show to discuss her situation.

That left Saturday to fly from New York to West Palm Beach and Sunday to reacquaint herself with the WJNO staff and get her show up and running again.

"What usually takes months took days," Rhodes said.

The show will air in its usual Monday-to-Friday time slot of 3 to 6 p.m., following Rush Limbaugh, who might be called the conservative yin to Rhodes' yang.

The two are more than radio neighbors, however: Limbaugh is also based in Palm Beach County.

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