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Scott Hennen asks fans to become 'founding fathers'

FARGO - Scott Hennen has a new timeslot and a new plan to enlist his fans as backers - "founding fathers," as he puts it - of AM 1100 The Flag.

The conservative talk radio host said Thursday he will announce today that he's seeking 1,600 backers to put $1,000 each toward the purchase and operation of the station.

He said he has plenty of investment offers from more traditional sources like banks and capital firms, but opted for a more populist route to raise $1.6 million after sensing his audience "has a desire to be part of something bigger."

He also said the new arrangement will ensure the station's long-term health by keeping it debt-free. His first stint at The Flag, which he founded in 2008, ended in his 2010 ouster by investors as president and chief executive and a high-profile firing a year later.

Hennen says he extended the company too quickly and will move more cautiously this time. He struck a deal to buy back the station in April. The sale won't be finalized until the Federal Communications Commission signs off on it in the next few months, but he said he'll begin operating the station today.

To finance the deal, he's asking fans to buy into one of four clubs - Faith, Family, Freedom and Free Enterprise, which he describes as his "pillars." Each will be limited to 400 members who pay a one-time fee of $1,000 each.

Members won't be owners of the company, but they'll get input on the station's weekend programming, behind-the-scenes updates, $1,000 in advertising credit to use as they see fit, and an American Flag in a case handcrafted by Iraq war veteran Rusty Ouart.

Hennen said they'll also act as "citizen journalists," feeding the station stories and keeping an eye on issues that matter to them.

Mark Skogerboe, a Twins Cities author and tea party activist who describes himself as "The Freedom Poet," will serve as the director of the clubs and also contribute as an on-air personality.

Hennen got the idea to turn to fans for support while talking with Dave Dietz, a fellow Sullivan Middle School parent, at a local Dairy Queen in early May. "He said, 'I'd write you a check for $1,000 right now. I talk to 10 people a day who'd do the same thing,' " Hennen said,

Dietz, who owns Heartland Capital Group in Fargo, said it's a way for supporters who can't necessarily put up big money to get involved.

If he doesn't get raise the money he needs through the clubs, Hennen said he'll bring in other investors.

He is also moving his own program to the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. timeslot, pitting him against fellow conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh on 101.9 FM.

Other weekday, daytime program plans for The Flag include Bill Bennett from 5 to 8 a.m., Mike Gallagher from 8 to 11 a.m. and Laura Ingraham from 2 to 5 p.m.