The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

04 May 2005

Caught In Another Dubious Claim

There He Goes Again!

Franken Trips Up In Softball Seattle Interview

Just a week ago, Al Franken made the astounding claim that Air America's critics were wrong to talk about weak performance, given that radio ratings aren't available to the public.

Now he's caught up in a second strange contention, one that puts supporters in an uncomfortable position: he says Air America is now reaching up to 55% of the country.

But wait, yours truly and other critics have been on the receiving end of massive numbers of letters, posts, and website gripes, for supposedly not pointing out Air America's stations are too tiny to properly reach the cities they serve.

The examples, between reader comments on this site, whining at Radio-Info and other radio sites, from Boston, Denver and San Francisco, are too numerous to mention.

So which is it? Is Air America reaching 55% of Americans, or suffering from poor signals that keep target audiences from hearing it?

If it really is reaching that many people, then what's the reason for the low ratings? Oops, those are secret. It isn't easy keeping up with the conflicting "reasoning" Air America's apologists like to use!

Perhaps Franken should think before he pulls figures "from his butt" as he's so fond of saying about Rush Limbaugh.

Now, liberal talk supporters will be forced to do a U-turn to save Franken, saying ratings are in fact solid, as the network's reaching a majority of Americans. Hope they're keeping close tabs on his interviews.

Yes, that's exactly where he tripped up, in a Larry King-style softball interview with Seattle Weekly's Geov Parrish, which combined typical liberal Seattle provincialism with ignorance of opponents and their views:

Parrish: What, long term, is the goal of Air America?

: Long term, the goal is to build until our reach is 100 percent of the country. This takes a while. We've been doing this ayear. We now cover between 50 percent and 55 percent of the country. We've done that in a year. We're going to be, I think by the end of this year, somewhere around 70 percent. The goal is really to be heard everywhere, and it just takes a while to build. And I believe we will.

Why didn't Parrish ask Franken to elaborate on this nearly incoherent statement:

We had a guy on today [Thursday, April 28], Brian Anderson, who's written a book called South Park Conservatives, and it's a conservative book on liberal bias and all this stuff, and he attacks Air America in it. We had him on the show today. And he ultimately had to admit that our show was not what he was saying we were, or not what he was saying Air America was, anyway, and that I don't do what Rush does.

Anderson told me earlier this evening he doesn't remember comparing Franken to Limbaugh and found the statement puzzling.

Radio Equalizer reader John Jensen investigated Franken's assertions here:

Parrish: What do you think the differences are between you and Limbaugh?

Franken: I'm glad you asked me that. I use this example a lot. A few months ago, Rush was talking about the minimum wage. Conservatives like to portray it that no one has to raise a family on the minimum wage—the only people who get the minimum wage are teenagers who want to buy an iPod. So Rush says, "Seventy-five percent of all Americans on the minimum wage, my friends, are teenagers on their first job."

And one of the researchers brings this to me, with a smile, and I say, "Well, can you look it up?" And they look it up. The researcher goes to something called the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sixty percent of Americans on minimum wage are 20 and above.

Forty percent, then, are either teenagers or below 12 [laughs]. I had several jobs as a teenager, so you figure, what, 13 percent might be teenagers in their first job. Not 75 percent. So where did Rush get his statistic? Well, he got it directly from his butt. It went out his butt, into his mouth, out the microphone, into the air, into the brains of dittoheads. And they believe this stuff.

So we get our labor statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He gets his from the Bureau of Rush's Butt.

Here's Jensen's response:

You see where Al Franken accused Rush of "pulling stuff out of his butt" regarding minimum wage workers, then does the exact same thing?

There are 73,939,000 hourly workers in the U.S. in 2004. Of those, 2 million worked at the federal minimum wage, or less. This makes up just 2.7% of hourly workers and 1.44% of the total employed workforce of 139,252,000.

Of those making at or below the federal minimum wage 51% are under 25 years old, and 24.9% are between 16 and 19 years old.

Additionally, 62% of all minimum wage workers are working only part time.

Yesterday, a reader said I'd created a "cottage industry" of attacks against Air America and liberal talk radio. The truth is, Franken and Company have done the work for me, I don't need to build anything. Keep it up, libs!


  • Yaaawn....

    No Mr Maloney I was not a fan, your show sucked and you equalized nothing, while spewing the same tired crap that was on every other station at the time. Your voice is so high pitched you set more then a few gaydars off.
    I personally thought you were a girl
    Heck even when I saw your picture on the webpage I still thought you were a girl…

    But hey I digress

    Air America is doing just fine
    I turn on the radio in the morning and in spite of what you say they are still there.

    Put that in your pipe.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 May, 2005 14:24  

  • I am a radio insider, Marty, and I can tell you that you know absolutely nothing about the way things work.

    We in the biz look at the Arbitron ratings, and for 18-34 and 25-54, AA is hemmorhaging...and badly, with the exception of the Emerald Pot City and Moscow on the Willamette.

    Know your role, Marty. You are cattle to the radio insider, and as proof...I will cite the switch of many stations to the new "Jack/Charlie/Bob/Burt" that you can find on 96.5, the former KRQI.

    Put that in your pipe, you brainless consumer.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 May, 2005 19:27  

  • Yet in the morning
    Air America is still there.

    Analize that, you insider clown.

    (Brian is that you?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 May, 2005 20:34  

  • Mr. "Insider" Maloney. I too am an insider, actually one working for pay, and not some wanna-be who paid for vanity spots on KIRO and then fabricated a story to explain why you were no longer on the air.

    Before you have any kind of credibility, you should come clean and explain the REAL reason your show was dropped from KIRO.

    Perhaps I should tell people, since you probably don't have the cajones to do so yourself

    KIRO, like many radio stations sell vanity slots on the weekends and late nights to air shows like legal advice, money matters, and plant shows. Some of these slots get sold to people like Brian Maloney to pretend like he is a real talk show host.

    The Sunday slot that Brian had simply went away because KIRO is the Seahawks station. Brian thought he had "paid his dues" and was trying to fanagle the 9-Noon slot that Alan Prell now occupies and was told "no". So Brian had to make up a silly story to blame his leaving on comments he made about Dan Rather.

    You should talk about dubious.

    Air America is doing quite well for media upstart of just over a year old. Like any upstart business, it is expected to lose money for at least the first three years.

    I should remind you that FOX News ran in the red for four years before it started making a profit.

    You are confusing people by trying to show a failure by overall ratings. Those are misleading and you know it. Overall ratings blend an entire 24 hour schedule for a station -- of which most of AAR is repeated shows for now.

    In specific time slots, AAR is doing quite well for running on low-wattage stations and a small advertising budget. They certainly aren't at the top yet, but over a period of time they will get there, or at least close to it. They will be able to increase their wattage and advertising budget.

    Advertisers are the real key here, and they are taking notice. Ads are the money, and the more advertisers, the more revenue to expand.

    The funny thing here is that the louder you attack Air America, the more it shows how scared you are.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 May, 2005 21:01  

  • I listen to both Air America (Al) and Rush during the morning as I travel between meetings. One thing i can say for Air America, it sure has a lot less ads. I always change the station when an ad comes on. I end up listening to Air America for longer spells then Rush.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 May, 2005 21:06  

  • I use my real "display name" when responding to posts here.

    I must be hitting just a little too close to home, when the liberal response is nothing but personal attacks and kill-the-messenger tactics.

    Love it, keep it up.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 05 May, 2005 21:08  

  • I must be hitting just a little too close to home, when the liberal response is nothing but personal attacks and kill-the-messenger tactics.

    One attack begats another. You attack Air America, giving people the impression you know what you are talking about, but people should really know what you are about.

    You get a little noteriety from Michelle Malkin and others and it goes to your head. So you transform yourself into an Air American know-it-all.

    Yes, I prefaced my comment with a little history on you. But you couldn't respond to the real meat of the argument -- the facts.

    Is this all you can afford, a free account at blogspot? sheese.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 May, 2005 21:27  

  • It must really be burning Maloney that there are those who can get right into national shows and he is still learning to be a hack.

    Why else would he be talking so bad about Air America?

    We already know the beef he has against KIRO and Entercom.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 May, 2005 21:47  

  • I'd respond to arguments, if there were any, instead it's you liberals who sound bitter and angry.

    I've presented facts about Air America, which have yet to be properly tackled by the opposition.

    As for KIRO, the manager who fired me was himself let go, just days later. It's not relevant to this topic except regarding the performance of its liberal talk shows.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 05 May, 2005 23:29  

  • tsk tsk.

    But you weren't fired, Brian, your slot just went away. You are the one who exaggerated the story, just like you are doing with the Air America story.

    Are you willing to take bets that AAR will still be around and gaining steam over the next year?

    There are so many factors involved in ratings. You make the silly assumption that it is all due to content or a market for that content.

    But that is only a part of it. There IS a market for progressive radio, or otherwise media giants like Clear Channel or Infinity wouldn't be making the investment. Advertisers recognize the market also -- Liberals buy Fords and Chevys just like Conservatives do.

    One important factor in ratings is how far the signal can reach. Most of the AAR affiliates are starting out in stations that have a low or directional signal that doesn't cover as many square miles as the larger ones, therefore less listeners. Once a particular affiliate gets a toe-hold, they will up the signal to reach a larger area.

    Another factor is listener awareness. Most AAR affiliates are operating on a low advertising budget right now, so people are catching onto the station either by word of mouth or by accident.

    You can trumpet all the doom and gloom you want about Air America, but the reality is, they are doing a whole lot better than you are.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 May, 2005 00:20  

  • Brian -

    I am the author of the response to Marty. I forgot to sign to it, so I'm doing it now while I have the chance.


    Hate to tell you this, but regardless of whether AA is on the air the next morning or not, it still is failing. And when it goes off the air, due to lack of advertising and bad ratings, I will be there to say I told you so.

    It's still there in the morning, eh? One day, it will not. Just like you and me.

    Check, and Mate.



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 May, 2005 04:36  

  • **It's still there in the morning, eh? One day, it will not. Just like you and me.

    Check, and Mate.**


    and someday the sun will burn out as well

    Check and mate indeed.
    You’re a genius


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 May, 2005 09:03  

  • Are you willing to take bets that AAR will still be around and gaining steam over the next year?

    If by "gaining steam" you mean "hemmoraging listeners", then sure. Whether it's around next year will be entirely up to the financiers decision as to whether or not it's worth it to lose money for "the cause".

    There IS a market for progressive radio, or otherwise media giants like Clear Channel or Infinity wouldn't be making the investment.

    And what investment are they making? They're reprogramming their last place stations in out-of-the way markets. That's quite a show of support, wouldn't you say? Were they really sold on the format, they'd be plugging AAR into higher wattage, higher profile stations.

    Liberals buy Fords and Chevys just like Conservatives do.

    Not the SUV's though, which is where the money is.

    One important factor in ratings is how far the signal can reach.

    Careful. You're in direct conflict with Franken now, who on yesterday's show now say's AAR reaches 60% of the country. If they have that much "reach", then signal strength is not an issue.

    Another factor is listener awareness. Most AAR affiliates are operating on a low advertising budget right now

    If only they could get someone, anyone!, from the mainstream press to notice their operation and write a puff piece or 900. Then maybe people will know to tune in.

    By Anonymous SaveFarris, at 06 May, 2005 09:20  

  • Your "rabid" dismissal of Air America is borderline funny, but more intellectually dishonest.

    As I mentioned on the other blog thread, it took Rush Limbaugh over 15 years to reach a national audience. His big break was when his gay lover got him Morton Downey's spot in Sacramento, and thn it took him a few years to hit New York, and a few more to go national. The same is true for Howard Stern. AAR has respectable ratings, considering it's been up for a year.

    What other startup station in New York, broke into the top 25 in the first Arbitron, and stayed there for a year?

    It took Rush over 15 years to accomplish what Al Franken achieved in his first year on radio.

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 06 May, 2005 12:55  

  • Rush Limbaugh pioneered talk readio, his blood, sweat and tears paved the way for political talk radio. AAR has had an EASIER road to trudge because of Rush, and they have failed miserably. I agree with the sentiment posted above: "AAR will be around as long as the investors are willing to prop it up."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 May, 2005 14:23  

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