Air America's Odd Pledge Drive
AAR Seeking 'Gifts', Limbaugh, O'Reilly Won Election
In what appears to be just short of outright panhandling, a desperate Air America Radio is now begging listeners for cash donations.
From a mass email pitch sent Wednesday afternoon, Air America supporters were taken to a webpage where a direct solicitation is made.
Resembling an online PBS or NPR pledge drive, the site offered paltry "benefits" for cash "gifts" to the liberal talk network. Is Air America unintentionally a not-for-profit enterprise?
For $50, they'll send three "official" bumper stickers, while $100 gets a "stylish" tote bag thrown in. The sucker who has everything might choose the $250 version, including the above and an on-air thanks from one of Air America's talk hosts.
Another option: send "any amount", for which they'll be "grateful". Only you can prevent the next Boys & Girls Club financial raid. Send a buck, save midnight basketball in the Bronx.
There's little indication of where the money will go, whether for overpaid air talent, sparkling new studios, the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club repayment fund, or perhaps to settle one of the endless legal flaps that plague Air America Radio. Somehow it will "help Air America Radio get on the air in every community in the nation," according to the website.
Radio industry reaction was swift to Air America's new fundraising approach, cooked up after recent private fundraising troubles and obvious advertising revenue shortfalls (simply listen to the commercial breaks). From one radio industry message board commenter:
Talk about cheap! Public radio has better offers than that. This sounds like a desperation move. How hard up for cash flow could they be? They are running spots but a lot of them sound like bottom-feeder PI (per inquiry) spots (no cash, they get a commission if anybody orders).
The least they could do is offer stock, then if the thing ever does take off people could see some return. Keep in mind folks, donations to a for-profit business are NOT deductible.
Radio Equalizer readers were busy forwarding the email here Wednesday evening:
Dear Air America Radio Listener,
When we launched the Air America Radio network one year ago, the country was being talked to death by conservative zealots like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and others. Right Wing radio saturated every media market and every community a dominance of the airwaves that has been a huge part of what allowed the Right Wing to:
* Drag America into the Iraq war.
* Open up the Arctic National Refuge for oil drilling.
* Take over both houses of Congress.
* And, of course, win the 2004 Presidential election.
Rather than wait for the Right Wing to run out of breath, we launched Air America Radio to give the country back its voice. Thanks to listeners like you, we have a presence on 70 stations covering 60% of U.S. media markets. Air America Radio currently offers 15 shows and runs 24 hours a day of entertaining but always enlightening programming.
To continue this great success story and start shaping the national debate the way that Right Wing talk radio does every day, we've got to reach into every community in this country. We know we can’t achieve this next stage of growth without significant help from you, our loyal listeners.
We’ve also been asked on many occasions by our listeners how they can help out. Today we are launching a new program called AIR AMERICA ASSOCIATES that gives you the opportunity to do just that.
As an Air America Associate, you are a member of a special group of listeners who support Air America Radio and are dedicated to building the Air America community. When you sign up, we will send you a packet of bumper stickers to remind you that your job as an Associate is to spread the word about Air America Radio to other progressives in your workplace, your family, and your neighborhood.
Also, as an Air America Associate, you'll be kept informed of events in your area and receive a monthly Associates insider newsletter with backstage news from our shows and our headquarters. And in time, when we launch our paid services, as an Associate you will be eligible for special discounts for premium content.
Rush Limbaugh didn't take over our airwaves by himself he had an army of "dittoheads" behind him. We will never reach the same critical mass that he has without our listeners helping us as well. So, please become an Air America Associate today by clicking here:
Thank you very much for your support,
Air America Radio CEO
I'm sure Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and other talk hosts are happy to know they swung the 2004 election for Republicans.
Funny, liberals were just blasting Bill O'Reilly for revealing Air America's financial troubles and collapse risk on Tuesday's radio show. Just one day later, the network itself has backed up his contentions.
Update- Captain Ed writes:
Anyone else see the resemblance between AAR and Blanche DuBois of A Streetcar Named Desire?
I loved the AAR promotion language that promised FREE STUFF if you send them $50. Who would be stupid enough to fall for that line? Well ....
See the Cap'n's brilliant take here.
Update: Powerline weighs in here.
AnkleBitingPundits has fun with the story.
Kevin at Wizbang has another angle on this. More at Memeorandum, California Conservative and Chris Christner's site. Chris has a nice "deathwatch" graphic I hadn't before seen.
Radio industry coverage from talk radio reporter Perry Simon at All Access:
AIR AMERICA RADIO is asking listeners for donations, an unusual move for a commercial broadcaster. The "AIR AMERICA ASSOCIATES" program is similar to public radio's pledge-drive offerings, with a $50 donation netting the donor three "I'm Building AIR AMERICA RADIO" bumper stickers and a $100 donation worth a tote bag. Donors of $250 or more will be thanked on the air and personally by hosts and staff. The donation page appears on AAR's website, accessible by clicking on the "Associates Program" ad on the right side of the home page.
And as expected, the move has drawn immediate criticism from conservatives, including blogger/radio host BRIAN MALONEY's RADIO EQUALIZER, which is featuring the text of an e-mail sent to AAR listeners by the network's CEO DANNY GOLDBERG asking for donations. AAR's move is not unprecedented, however: besides religious broadcasters who routinely ask for donations on commercially-licensed stations, TED TURNER famously asked for viewers of WRET-TV/CHARLOTTE to send in donations to keep the station on the air, saving the station, which he later sold and is now NBC affiliate WCNC-TV.
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