Who Was Ed Schultz?
Ed Schultz was born on January 27, 1954, in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1979, he played football for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Afterward, he took a sportscasting gig on KTHI-TV in Fargo, North Dakota. In the 1990s, Schultz expanded his broadcasting to include political commentating. In 2003, he became the host of a radio talk show called The Ed Schultz Show. He took the role of TV host on MSNBC's The Ed Show in 2009, before moving on to the Russian-sponsored RT America in 2016. Schultz died on July 5, 2018, in Washington, D.C.
Radio host and political commentator Ed Schultz was born Edward Andrew Schultz on January 27, 1954, in Norfolk, Virginia. Schultz attended Minnesota State University at Moorhead, where he made all-American status as a quarterback in gridiron football. Initially headed for a career as an athlete, Schultz hoped to make it to the National Football League. Instead, he played as a free agent for the Oakland Raiders. In 1979 Schultz was accepted by the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
After he retired as an athlete, Schultz parlayed his experience in sports into a job in sports broadcasting. He took his first sportscasting gig for a local television station, KTHI-TV, in Fargo, North Dakota. In 1982, Schultz was also given the opportunity to provide play-by-play radio commentary of North Dakota State University football games. In 1988 Shultz added another local Fargo station, WDAY-TV, to his sportscasting resume.
Schultz left WDAY in 1996 to work at radio station KFGO, also in Fargo, which afforded him more regular opportunities to sportscast North Dakota State University’s football games. He left KFGO in 2003 in order to focus more of his time and attention on political commentating.
Concurrent with his sportscasting career, which lasted until 2003, in the 1990s Schultz expanded his broadcasting repertoire to include political commentating on his own radio show. The show quickly hit No. 1 in its market. It remained in this slot for the next 10 years, despite the fact that Schultz’s political views changed radically—from conservative to progressive—during that time.
During the late 1990s, Schultz hosted shows remotely out of economically depressed American towns, exposing listeners to the struggles of rural America. In 2003, Schultz became the host of a syndicated radio talk program called The Ed Schultz Show, on the Jones Radio Networks. In 2009 he also took the role of TV host on MSNBC’s The Ed Show.
Known as an outspoken progressive political commentator, Schultz's on-air remarks at times stirred controversy. In 2011, he was suspended by MSNBC for a week after calling conservative commentator Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” for criticizing President Obama.
After his MSNBC show was canceled in 2015, Schultz began hosting News With Ed on the Russian international cable network RT America. He began displaying glimpses of his right-wing roots once again, dismissing claims of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and delivering a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in early 2017.
In addition to expressing his political opinions on television and radio, Schultz wrote books that outlined his progressive views. His first book, Straight from the Heartland, was published in 2004 and was cited for its astute predictions of America’s advancing progressive movement. In his second book, Killer Politics: How Big Money and Bad Politics Are Destroying the Great American Middle Class (2010), Schultz extolled his view that corrupt politics motivated by greed were destroying democracy and the American family.
After divorcing a first wife, Schultz remarried to a nurse named Wendy. Schultz credited wife Wendy with leading him “out of the right-wing darkness” by introducing him to the homeless people and veterans at the Salvation Army shelter where she worked. With Wendy’s encouragement, Schultz also toured the Dakotas, where he sympathized with the plight of struggling farmers.
Ed and Wendy Schultz had six children. Their son Dave became a professional golfer. Although a large family, the Schultzes were a tight-knit clan who hunted, fished and flew together. In August 2012, Schultz announced to the public that Wendy had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After taking a couple of weeks off to accompany his wife through treatment, Schultz returned to radio and television, thanking his loyal viewers and listeners for their encouragement and support.
On July 5, 2018, Schultz died at his home in Washington, D.C., from natural causes. He was 64 years old.
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