The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

22 November 2005

Tuesday Evening


And: Denver Readers Resist Frankenfluff

Especially from the "progressive" network's supporters, it's funny to see how carefully scrutinized our Air America coverage has routinely become.

What's not mentioned, however, is how AAR's harshest critics are increasingly on the left.

Originating with Marc Maron's on-air protests concerning his upcoming "Morning Sedition" removal, a deep liberal divide has recently begun to emerge concerning the network's future.

Normally, a radio talk host marked for termination doesn't stick around for two months to complain about it. Nasty as it may seem, standard procedure is an instant programming schedule disappearing act.

But this is Air America, run by radio outsiders, where rookie mistakes are simply par for the course.

And from the ranks of the liberal radio network's small but rabid fan base, eliminating one of their favorite shows isn't going over well. With Rachel Maddow already tapped to replace Maron, many listeners are not sold on the changes.

Even Maddow is said to be somewhat reluctant to potentially bite off more than she can chew. There's a big difference between hosting one early hour and taking over the entire morning drive. Instantly, Maddow will be expected to perform in their most important time period.

In a two-part series that began earlier this month, the lefty WFMU blog outlines why the moves are disturbing to fans:

It looks like Air America is about to lose one of their best on-air personalities, Marc Maron. There's been no official announcement, but on his show, Morning Sedition, Maron has repeatedly said he's probably on his way out. And yesterday he said it's unlikely he'll be part of the Morning Sedition air team (with radio veteran Mark Riley) after this month. And they're promoting their live remote at O'Neal's in the Upper West Side this Thursday as their "last live appearance."

Why would Maron leave? Or why would Air America let go of the funniest guy on their talent roster? Best guess-- deadlocked contract negotiations.

When Air America went on the air over a year and a half ago, a lot of us in radio were dismayed that a new talk network would go on the air with so many air personalities and writers who made their mark in television instead of radio.

Not that media cross-pollination in general is such a bad idea, but just that when a start-up radio network was trying to do something SO new (a national liberal talk network) AND they were also attempting to reinvent the medium at the same time by leaning so heavily on TV talent instead of loading up the schedule with radio veterans.

In part two, even more criticism is levelled:

While Maddow's talents would undoubtedly translate to good radio no matter which slot she might occupy at the network, it seems unwise to completely dump one of the most dynamic programs on Air America, especially the ONLY one that always delivers laughs, in order to give Maddow more air time.

Let's not forget that the 9am to noon slot is occupied by the radio non-talent Jerry Springer, who sounds as if he's explaining the issues of the day to a room full of middle-school kids, AND controversial talk monster Howard Stern is about to abdicate his morning throne and head off to Sirius Satellite Radio.

While some of his fans will fork over the dough for the equipment and subscription fee to follow Stern, a lot of his other listeners will be scanning the radio dial for topical comedy talk, and if it were around Maron's Morning Sedition might be a viable magnet for the coming Howard Stern radio diaspora.

Oddly, this is the same reasoning Maron himself recently used to justify remaining at Air America: that he was best suited to grab Howard Stern's listeners upon the latter's upcoming exit for SIRIUS radio.

It's baffling to think Stern listeners could be potential Air America converts.

While the Radio Equalizer has been aware of the impending morning changes for some time, this site has chosen to instead focus on a bigger issue: the network's dire financial situation.

Now, however, the issues have become intertwined: moving Maddow into morning drive saves Air America a bundle.

Meanwhile, Denver Post radio critic Dick Kreck seems surprised not everyone in Colorado is on board with Al Franken's rhetoric:

I need to hang around a better class of commentator. Al Franken is making "a joke" out of me.

I interviewed Franken last week ahead of his visit to Boulder to broadcast his Air America Radio show live (10 a.m. weekdays, KKZN 760-AM). It's said nothing gets reader response like writing about (a) abortion and/or (b) gun control. To that, I would add Al Franken, a lightning rod for the right.

Whether it's fear or revenge for his comedy-laced attacks on Rush Limbaugh, I can't say. But I can share some reader responses, which ranged from political to, well, scatological:

"I cannot begin to conceive the amount of outrage you libbies would raise if Rush Limbaugh's New York affiliate were involved in getting money from not only a Boys & Girls Club but terminally ill, mentally challenged, and the list goes on!" - Kevin Morin.

"History reveals the truth but, then again, 'truth' escapes the liberal mind as they wouldn't want anything to get in the way of keeping an 'open' mind." - 1patriot. (Multiple samples of President Clinton's actions against Iraq attached.)

"Apparently, Al believes he is relevant." - Bob St. Clair.

In fresh radio ratings
for Dallas-Fort Worth, Air America's local outlet is still showing a 0.0 doughnut hole. Ouch. Conservative radio at WBAP and KLIF were both way, way up this month.

Michelle Malkin's WRKO "Pundit Review" interview from Sunday is now posted at their site. Listen here.

Your Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of your final purchase selections, help to support this site's efforts. Thanks again!

The Radio Equalizer also recommends the (free) Mozilla Firefox web browser. Packed with features such as tabbed browsing, SessionSaver (makes computer crashes less painful) and dual Google/Yahoo (both at once!) search extensions, I can't imagine using anything else.

Hello Kitty Tackles Frankenfluffy by Pete at IHillary.


  • i shouldn't be surprised, but you did it again. you mentioned AAR being in "dire financial straights" without providing any evidence or documentation. which convinces me that you are lying, because you provide "sources" for other things, but not the monetary issue. either back it up, or don't bring it up. its as simple as that. the point is that you can't prove it, you don't know it, you just like saying it because you know that the morons who come to this blog for news will buy it.

    By Blogger hardcore conservative genious, at 22 November, 2005 17:45  

  • Brian,
    Good work as usual Funny how many AAR supporters you attract.

    I am wondering why AAR doesn't just use Stephanie Miller's feed for the Morning time slot. Unless I am mistaken, and I am not an AAR listener per se, here in L.A. on KTLK, Miller's show runs the 6 to 9 a.m. slot. Is this Morning Sedition's time slot also?

    Seems Miller has a following and I think she will attract Stern fans once he leaves, if they can pick up the signal.

    Correct me on the errors. Sometimes when driving I will try to hear what AAR is up to.

    By Blogger BurbankErnie, at 22 November, 2005 17:54  

  • Thanks for the support for Marc Maron. Any publicity is good publicity right now. He is in my opinion the most humorous and angst-ridden, in a good way, host on the air right now.

    But this is Air America, run by radio outsiders, where rookie mistakes are simply par for the course.

    If you really want to see what people think of Maron, go read his petition:

    And then Brian references WFMU and their blog, which is a completely rookie, as in amateur and non-commercial, operation. Hysterical how Brian rants about ratings and then uses the GREAT WFMU, free-form station of the nation, to support his arguments.

    In fact you mentioning WFMU in any way puts to shame any ideal radio model that you may have in mind. WFMU is the epitome of democratic radio, hosts rotate in and out of the schedule with agreement by all. It doesn't matter if they are super popular. Everyone that has some talent has a chance. I think Air America is going toward that model. The fact that they even give a heads up as to what is going on, puts them in a big step toward an open, democratic network. Something that was unthinkable at one point in the corporo-fascistic radio of the past.

    By Blogger WHT, at 23 November, 2005 01:00  

  • As of 11/6, the Maron petition had just 3000 names, now it has just 5500. That's despite it being pimped at DU and various other places.

    OTOH, the petition to save Arrested Development has almost 48000 sigs, and my petition to bring back the Panther cheerleaders has just 39, but PO refuses to link to it from their category page.

    Marc Maron: more popular than my vanity petition, but far less popular than a show that's being canceled for low viewership.

    By Blogger LonewackoDotCom, at 23 November, 2005 01:42  

  • Nice...
    Do you remember guys that Xmas is coming soon?
    You can find exclusive gifts at :

    Dont forget about Christmas and your family!

    By Blogger SeaLou, at 23 November, 2005 03:39  

  • Maron's getting grumpy about being released? That's what you get for trying to be a Stern clone.

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 23 November, 2005 04:46  

  • Hey, hardcore:

    Just because you're half the listening audience doesn't mean we want to hear constant denials from half the listening audience.

    It's like rats jumping off the Titanic. You're just too busy rearranging deck chairs.

    Like I said before, anyone who expects that having to PAY people to listen is a successful business model is stupid. But then, the Left has never been known for its wisdom, just its ability to drown out their foes with noise and hate.
    Luckily for the real majority in the country, the noise won't be on the AM dial very much longer.

    By Blogger Elnish Arundel, at 23 November, 2005 08:21  

  • Let me make sure I have this correct:
    Brian writes for over a year that Morning Sedition has bad ratings, and then seems to criticize AAR for changing up the formula. Huh?

    By Blogger Justin, at 23 November, 2005 10:43  

  • Elnish Arundel,

    "real majority"?

    63% say we should bring troops home in next year
    60% Disprove of George Bush
    65% Disprove of Cheney
    54% Think the Iraq war was a mistake
    57% Think the Bush Administration misled us into the Iraq War

    Go drink some more Koolaid.

    By Blogger Robert, at 23 November, 2005 12:57  

  • Actually, Justin, it's perfectly logical.

    Change up the line-up, you fail.
    Don't change up the line-up, you fail.

    It's a Win-Win, no matter what!

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 23 November, 2005 17:30  

  • Justin wrote:
    Let me make sure I have this correct:
    Brian writes for over a year that Morning Sedition has bad ratings, and then seems to criticize AAR for changing up the formula. Huh?

    You're reading it wrong, Justin. Brian wasn't criticizing Air America for letting Marc Maron go.

    Brian was simply reporting that many ON THE LEFT are upset about Maron's departure -- and that his departure is causing a divide in Liberal Land.

    Brian's charge that Air America made "rookie mistakes" wasn't about retaining Maron ... it was about keeping a lame duck radio host on the air for two more months. Big difference.

    By Blogger The4thEstate, at 23 November, 2005 18:49  

  • "Conservative radio at WBAP and KLIF were both way, way up this month."

    Are you sure about that? According to RandR, WBAP is up 0.4 and KLIF is up 0.1 in the Fall Phase 1 book. Maybe you do consider that "way, way up." But if that's the case, why not mention that KLSD (AAR San Diego) is up 0.4 and 5 other AAR affiliates are up 0.1 or more? Are those also "way, way up?"

    By Blogger Mr. Kite, at 23 November, 2005 20:15  

  • Completely irrelevant, but...
    I caught Mahron's comedy act once.

    Boy was he high.

    By Blogger Robosquirrel, at 23 November, 2005 21:00  

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