Al Franken pursues comeback with new radio show on SiriusXM

Nick Turner

Al Franken, who quit the U.S. Senate less than two years ago under a cloud of sexual-harassment allegations, is restarting his career as a radio host.

“The Al Franken Show” will debut on SiriusXM Holdings Inc.’s Progress channel starting Sept. 28, with the comedian-turned-disgraced-politician interviewing guests such as Chris Rock, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and comic Patton Oswalt. Franken also will handle 2020 election coverage for the channel.

In this Sept. 20, 2017 file photo, then Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Franken, who resigned his U.S. Senate seat in 2017 amid sexual misconduct charges, will re-emerge into the public sphere on Saturday when he starts a new weekly radio show on the SiriusXM satellite service.

Franken isn’t a stranger to SiriusXM, which previously carried his “Air America” show. But getting back into the spotlight may be controversial. Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the first senators to call for Franken to step down in 2017, has defended that position in recent weeks.

Even before the SiriusXM show, Franken has been tiptoeing back into public life. He started a website in April and began hosting a podcast in May, featuring guests such as comedian Dana Carvey, author Michael Lewis and former energy secretary Ernest Moniz. He’s also been working with Hollywood firm United Talent Agency to book paid public speeches.

“Al Franken is an important and influential progressive voice, whom many have missed,” Megan Liberman, SiriusXM’s senior vice president of news, talk and entertainment programming, said in a statement. “SiriusXM is the perfect platform for him to reenter the public conversation.”

The allegations that led Franken to leave the Senate have divided the Democratic Party. Several senators, including Dick Durbin, have said they had second thoughts about calling for Franken to step down, and Franken told journalist Jane Mayer that he regretted resigning.

Mayer wrote a profile of Franken for the New Yorker questioning the allegations – in particular the first case. In that instance, radio host Leeann Tweeden said Franken made unwanted advances and released a photo of him gesturing toward her chest while she was asleep.

With assistance from Lucas Shaw.