THE FALLON FORUM — The Fallon Forum broadcasts live each week from the heart of America’s Heartland: Des Moines, Iowa. The program is in its ninth year and hosted by former Iowa lawmaker Ed Fallon. Topics are of national political interest, especially in the build-up to the 2020 Iowa Caucuses. Ed also focuses a lot on climate change and environmental concerns. He describes the Forum as “the fusion of politics and civility” and “a pioneering effort to bring local, progressive talk radio to audiences hungry for an alternative to the fear-mongering that dominates the public airwaves.”
For the past twenty years, America’s public airwaves have been dominated by national shock jocks who feed the frenzy of increased polarization in American politics. During 2 1/2 years on 98.3 FM, the Fallon Forum saw a four-fold increase in audience size and provided a forum for discussion on issues largely ignored elsewhere on the public airwaves. In 2012, 98.3 was purchased by the second-largest conglomerate in the country and all the local programs canceled. The Fallon Forum broadcast online for awhile, until it found a home on another commercial station in Des Moines, La Reina KDLF 96.5 FM and 1260 AM.
The Fallon Forum currently broadcasts on La Reina KDLF 96.5 FM and 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA), KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA), KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA), WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA), and KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO). It is also available as a podcast on the Fallon Forum website.
ED FALLON was born in Santa Monica, California while his father was stationed there as a sergeant in the U.S. Army. He grew-up in Saugus, Massachusetts and was heavily influenced by his Irish grandparents and relatives during repeated trips to the family farm in Roscommon County, Ireland. While only marginally interested in academics in high school, he excelled as an athlete, setting the school record in the high jump and as a member of the 4×400 indoor track relay team.
He studied music and philosophy at Marlboro College in Vermont after which he traveled the world for six years. He worked on farms in Nova Scotia, walked across southern England during blue bell season, stayed for three weeks with Carmelite nuns at a monastery in Cairo, spent time on a kibbutz in Israel, and served as a Franciscan Volunteer on an Objibwe reservation in northern Wisconsin. From 1985 – 1987, he attended Drake University, where he received a degree in religious studies.
In the late 1980s, Ed worked in the peace movement. He organized the Iowa stretch of The Great Peace March and founded Des Moines Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Well-versed in the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Ed traveled to India in 1995 to study ways in which modern Indians continue to use Gandhi’s ideas of non-violence to address contemporary social and political problems.
Between 1993 and 2006, Ed served seven terms in the Iowa Legislature, representing residents of downtown Des Moines, the surrounding neighborhoods and the City’s northeast side. Ed’s focus as a lawmaker was to champion the needs of constituency groups treated unfairly by government or neglected by the majority of policymakers.
As a state lawmaker, Ed worked to give a voice to the voiceless, including family farmers, workers, the poor, minorities, and gays and lesbians. He led the way on several key initiatives, including efforts to address urban sprawl, reforming laws to protect land from condemnation, ending corporate giveaway programs, opposition to the death penalty, reforming the delivery of human services, opposition to the official English bill, and equality for gay and lesbian couples. His 1996 speech against the Iowa version of DOMA was often quoted and published and gained him an invitation from Congressman Barney Frank to testify before Congress against the proposal federal DOMA.
In 1998, Ed helped found 1000 Friends of Iowa, a land-use and anti-urban sprawl group. He served as executive director for five years. In June of 2006, he ran for governor in the four-way Democratic primary, receiving 26% of the vote. Ed also ran for Congress in 2008, losing to incumbent Leonard Boswell in the primary.
In 2013, Ed spear-headed the Great March for Climate Action, and in 2014, led 35 climate activists on a 3,000-mile trek from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. Ed was one of five marchers to walk every step of the way. In March of 2015, Ed walked 400 miles along the length of the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline. He now continues his work to advocate for the farmers and landowners he met during that walk, and is vocal about the need to stop expanding fossil-fuel infrastructure.
Ed is an accomplished musician on several instruments. He speaks French and Spanish, though they have grown rusty. He was raised Catholic, was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church for 20 years and considers himself staunchly ecumenical. He lived in the inner-city of Des Moines for nineteen years and now lives in the Sherman Hill neighborhood. An avid gardener, he grows much of his food on 1,000 square feet of urban garden. He also raises laying hens. Years ago, Ed established a community garden in the inner-city, and he maintains strong connections to his family’s farm in Ireland, where he organized the planting of 25,000 oak trees in 1999.
Ed has two adult children: Ben, who works as a Merchant Marine, and Fionna, who lives in Portland, Oregon and is active with immigrant rights’ issues.
Ed’s spirituality continues to inspire and direct him in his work, and he is not hesitant to say that his life is committed to working for social justice, both within and outside the political process. While Ed feels that he has been able to accomplish much during his years as a state lawmaker and in other venues of public service, he insists that the most satisfying part of his job is when someone says to him, “Years ago, you helped me and my family with a problem, and our lives are now better for it.”