I wouldn't be on the path I'm on without Sam, and his former "Majority Report" co-host Janeane Garofalo, giving me the opportunity to contribute to their show. For that I'm forever grateful.
But beyond the positive impact Sam has had on me personally, he has had a greater impact on radio.
In turning to me and other bloggers as regular guests, Sam was the first to recognize how blogs and radio can work together. How an army of bloggers function as volunteer researchers, digging up stories, making connections, offering fresh perspectives that aren't being provided in traditional media. How a show's own blog can give listeners the ability to communicate with the hosts in real time, and build community.
Sam also picked the difficult lock of combining sharp humor with substantive news analysis, which liberal talk radio needs both of to be profitable and meaningful.
There's always been a ongoing question whether liberal talk radio is a business or a cause. It should be both.
It should be entertaining enough to attract listeners, it should inform those listeners better than the vapid mainstream media, and it should channel the energies of those listeners to push the political and media establishments in a better direction. If it's not doing all of that, what's the point?
Sam knows what the point is.
Even if I find the decision to replace him during the week to be deeply misguided, I take solace knowing that on his new Sunday show, he will provide a desperately needed alternative to the Washington cocktail party groupthink that passes as insight on Sunday morning TV. And the more popular "Seder on Sundays" becomes, the more influence it will have on the punditocracy.
I have faith liberal talk radio will become a firmly established part of our national discourse. But it will not get there by defensively denying any association with "ideology". It will get there with the vision that pioneers like Sam have established.