FARGO, N.D. — Longtime TV and radio broadcaster Ed Schultz died of natural causes early Thursday at his home in Washington, D.C., according to RT America, where he was the host of “The News With Ed Schultz.” He was 64.
Schultz got his start in broadcasting as a sportscaster for Fargo area television stations in the early 1980s, including time as sports director at WDAY-TV. He eventually moved to talk radio, including WDAY in Fargo, dominating the local airwaves as a conservative firebrand in the 1990s.
He later said his views changed and he became a Democrat.
In 2004, Schultz took his now left-leaning radio show nationwide. At one point, “The Ed Schultz Show” was syndicated to nearly 100 radio affiliates, and in 2008 he was ranked No. 17 nationally by Talkers magazine, reaching a weekly audience of more than 3 million listeners. The show was broadcast from the Fargo studios of KFGO. In 2009, he moved to national television, becoming a prime-time progressive firebrand on MSNBC.
Schultz’s weekday evening “The Ed Show” was canceled by MSNBC in April 2013, and Schultz was moved to a weekend show, but he returned to weekdays four months later to host an afternoon show. He parted ways with MSNBC in 2015, starting his job at RT America, formerly called Russia Today, in early 2016.
“I’m back in prime time at 8 o’clock where I belong,” Schultz said at the time.
“I am very sad to hear of Ed’s death,” U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in a statement. “He was one of the most talented and passionate broadcast personalities I’ve ever known. I appeared many times on his radio and television broadcasts, even filling in for him ... Ed always treated me with respect and kindness and I will miss him.”
With RT, Schultz hosted a half-hour broadcast called “The News With Ed Schultz.” The most recent episode of his program was available on the RT website July 2.
RT America, based in Washington, D.C., is part of the RT network, a global multilingual television network that runs cable and satellite channels and creates Internet content. It is based in Moscow and funded by the Russian government. RT says the English-language channel has more than 700 million viewers worldwide.
RT has been criticized as pushing Russian propaganda and was forced to register as a “foreign agent” by the Justice Department in 2017.
Schultz, who was critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin while at MSNBC, said when he took the RT job that he didn’t anticipate any problems with his new employer. “Nobody is going to tell Ed Schultz what to say,” he said in a 2016 interview.
Schultz is a graduate of Minnesota State University, Moorhead, where as a football quarterback he was named an All-American.
Tribune News Service contributed to this report.