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Former presidential candidate and two-term California Gov. Jerry Brown is asking the questions instead of answering them in a 2-hour syndicated radio talk show called "We the People" that started airing recently.

Mr. Brown, who with the help of radio took about 4 million votes during the 1992 Democratic primaries, has a guest list for the weekday evening show that includes corporate executives, movie moguls and politicians.

But Mr. Brown denies plans to run for office again.

"This is a non-partisan, iconoclastic forum for people to talk and give their points of view," he said.

Talk shows are the fastest growing radio format, up 11.2% in 1993, according to the 1993 Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook. Well-established personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan and Larry King now rule the highly competitive category.

Executives at Talk America Radio Network, syndicator of the show that airs 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET), said they were drawn by Mr. Brown's instant name recognition and appeal among the college-age target audience.

Ultimately, success will be measured by Mr. Brown's ability to deliver a well-defined audience attractive to mainstream advertisers.

"They'll all stay away," predicted Sam Michaelson, VP-radio at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York, referring to major package-goods companies that want to avoid controversy.

To lure advertisers, Talk America Radio Network will sell spots for as little as $300 per minute (but as of last week had yet to sell any), compared with an estimated $14,000 on Rush Limbaugh.

Thirty-eight stations carry the program. Only two-WSSH-AM, Boston, and KING-AM, Seattle-are in top 20 markets.

The Marlboro, Mass.-based syndicator is committed to airing the show "long term" without advertisers, said Tom Star, VP-operations. He agreed some will be put off by the show's content but said once the program reaches 60% of the U.S., it will be able to land magazine, computer and environmental companies' ad dollars.

"I think the advertisers we're going to attract will appreciate what he has to say," Mr. Star said.

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