The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

17 September 2006

Al Franken, Air America, Department Of Investigation


At Air America, Old Troubles Never Seem To Disappear

Two of the biggest scoops on the Air America Radio front this past week didn't originate here or at lefty blog Think Progress. Instead, they were contained in little- noticed paragraphs from two stories by New York Sun investigator David Lombino and New York Daily News media reporter David Hinckley.

Both of these items, mentioned almost in passing, say more about Air America Radio's real state of affairs than just about anything we could spell out here.

First, in what is sure to infuriate leftists who foolishly still believe that the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club scandal was a mere invention of the right, Lombino suceeded in getting an answer from New York City Department of Investigation Spokeswoman Emily Gest where we've recently had no luck.

Has the liberal radio network been cooperative in returning the $875,000 in taxpayer grants it took from the now largely defunct inner city community group? From his report:

Last year, Air America was involved in a scandal involving a boys and girls club based in Coop City in the Bronx, prompting a probe by the city's Department of Investigation and the office of state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer. The probe is still under way.

While he was helping launch the radio network, a former director of Air America, Evan Montvel Cohen, simultaneously served as development director for the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club. Mr. Cohen told the Sun that he arranged the transfer of $875,000 from the club to help the start-up radio network. He could end up facing criminal charges for arranging the transfer.

Ownership of Air America has since changed hands; the current owner, Piquant LLC, deposited $875,000 into an attorney-controlled escrow account to be released to Gloria Wise when the DOI completes its investigation and authorizes payment. Gloria Wise was badly damaged by the scandal, including losing its affiliation with Boys & Girls Club of America.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the DOI, Emily Gest, said the transfer has not yet occurred. "DOI expects Air America to uphold its commitment to repay victims of the scheme," Ms. Gest said.

Since our first report on this mess in 2005, we've learned that Air America tapped investors to fund the $875,000 "repayment" that merely went into its own attorney's escrow account. As a result of this strange arrangement, money can potentially be withdrawn and (hopefully!) returned there later.

Since the DOI doesn't appear to have daily access to the account, the potential for more funny business is substantial. And for a company that's busy bleeding money, the temptation to tap it may too great to control.

This news, of course, doesn't stop the left from continuing their highly dishonest Internet misinformation campaign in order to convince their own that this scandal never took place. From the Think Progress site, here's an example:

Will Air (anti) America now return the $875,000 it stole from the Boys and Girls Club?

Comment by Tom — September 16, 2006 @ 1:28 am

Why do the rightwing thugs always have to lie about everything? Take the complete lie by the idiot above. That AA “Stole” money from the Boys and Girls club?

Is this the only thing they have going for them? Lies?

The story has been debunked since it happened but as usual the rightwingers lie about everything. I thought they were supposed to be the party of “Traditional Family Values”?

Or were they thinking of the Gambino Crime Family values?

It’s just amazing how much they lie.

Why is that? Do they really think their pointy widdle heads will explode if they tell the truth? Yeah I guess they do, so like the idiot, Tom, above they just keep lying about everything.

Comment by Buzzramjet — September 16, 2006 @ 2:57 am

You can find many examples of this "right-wing lies" strategy across the web. Particularly amazing is the angry tone utilized when fibbing about the scandal. It really takes nerve, doesn't it?

The other bombshell was news that Air America's most infamous lawsuit, where it was sued by Multicultural Broadcasting for a whole host of reasons (see these pieces from Michelle Malkin's site for background information), still remains a front- burner issue for the company, even after indications that it had been put behind them.

Earlier this year, it was widely reported that the complaint had been settled, but Hinckley reports in the New York Daily News that there's been a bit of a snag:

Midday host Al Franken told Radar that while he didn't know about bankruptcy, "There have been cash-flow problems. I haven't been paid in a while - like, no cash is flowing to me."

Air America reportedly laid off several staffers this week, and there were reports it is behind on other cash obligations, including payment to Multicultural Broadcasting for time it leased on Chicago and Los Angeles stations.

Air America, which launched March 31, 2004, has always said it intended to be self-supporting. But its early leadership overstated its startup cash, and it has had periodic financial squeezes.

It recently moved its New York flagship from WLIB to WWRL (1600 AM), a station with less signal coverage.

Oddly, as the Radio Equalizer has exclusively discovered, the matter never really had been settled as reported. While the two parties had reached agreement in February to resolve the suit, the judge rejected it. Apparently the deal, which included a two- year stay of the case pending repayment in full, was deemed unacceptable by the court.

Instead, Air America parent Piquant LLC pressed for a binding settlement, on condition that the case be immediately dismissed. Defendants Peter Durst, Norman Wain, Mike Papantonio, Thomas Embrescia, Sheldon Drobny, Anita Drobny, Mary Kelly, Terry Kelly, Jon Sinton, Doug Kreeger, Sandy Koshkin, Barbara Levin and Rob Glaser apparently agreed to this revised approach in May. This has not been reported until now.

Since then, however, something has clearly gone wrong, as evidenced by Hinckley's reporting.

What's now clearer than ever: at Air America, nothing ever seems to get resolved, leaving the company with its wheels stuck in the mud.

Thanks for your continued and vital Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order!

AAR Scandal: Darleen Click, Sucker: David A Lunde, Outhouse: Pete at IHillary

Technorati tags:


  • Whatev, Equalizer.

    I'm still wondering if there's still any schweet aftertaste of ahss in your mouth after getting fried by ThinkProgress and going with the bankruptcy story.

    All that was required was 48 hours of patience on your part and then you would have known the story was true or false. Instead, like Michelle, like many others in the Dextrosphere, you allowed buck fever to trump reason and reality. You titled the story in the subjunctive tone ("Bankrupt?") but then went with specific details that "the Radio Equalizer has learned exclusively."

    IMHO, Equalizer, you have yet to explain forthrightly to your readers your own personal conduct on the AAR Bankruptcy story on this blog. In the follow up story there was a reference to thinking (in your words, "from the first moment") that "it just didn't smell right." There was absolutely no mention of something not "smelling right" in the Bankrupt post. None.

    In a subsequent post, you wrote: "We've always gone after the truth, however, no matter what it was. And in this case, we discounted the bankruptcy report because our sources indicated that the network was instead up for sale and we were provided evidence that isn't being disputed by the network."

    Two words, Equalizer: Bull, Shit. You, yourself, have yet to personally "discount" the bankruptcy story. You have couched your words in fleeting references or blaming of ThinkProgress or other organizations, but I have yet to see a mea maxima culpa on your part.

    In fact, to this date, there is no update on the original "Bankrupt" post indicating that the story out of ThinkProgress was incorrect - a horrible breach of blogger ethics. Instead, there is just a "check for updates" rocker on the top of the post itself, requiring a person to scan through the entire post. I know blogger software and how it works - altering the top of that particular post to indicate that AAR was most decidedly NOT bankrupt is childs play.

    But it has yet to be done. Equalizer, until you get right on this issue, no one should believe word one of what you write about AAR.

    Looking back on your coverage of AAR, many of your predictions on the fiscal condition of AAR have indeed come "true," but not without some serious goalpoast-moving on your part. The NYC freq loss/change (April to August to September) serves as Examples A thru C in this regard.

    And going with the "AAR Bankrupt" story without having the sources by name leads me to suspect that some of your "insights" into the financial condition of AAR may not be as "insightful" as you would like us and others to believe.

    Who knows. If AAR does indeed go bankrupt, you may indeed (down the road) claim you were correct in your predictions along that line. But those of us who have been along for the ride ever since Michelle sent us over here in the height of the Gloria Wise Scandal will know the unvarnished truth.

    And as far as I am concerned, any story you run on AAR that is based on any unnamed sources should be considered just so much crap.

    Left or right or center, the Internet will fact-check your ass. No one is immune, nor should they be.

    You claim you've always gone after the truth, no matter what it was.

    Well, Equalizer, you've got a whole bunch of truth staring you in the face. What are you going to do about it?

    By Blogger JD, at 17 September, 2006 22:18  

  • Did our dear little Anchor Baby comment on HER blog regarding this latest faux-pas, or did it just get "lost" in the wake of the papal controversy?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 17 September, 2006 23:29  

  • Considering that the manufactured controversy surrounding His Holiness has just a little more global impact than whether or not Malkin corrected herself in this story, I'm inclined to give her a little more leeway.

    Besides, she hasn't made AAR her main target of opportunity for pinata practice, as has the Equalizer.

    BTW, hash - nice attempt to smear Malkin there, ya tool.

    By Blogger JD, at 18 September, 2006 00:29  

  • I'm going to guess that most lawyers aren't willing to play fast and loose with their escrow accounts, since doing so could get them in trouble. But, just to be sure, check with Sheldon since, while not being an actual lawyer, plays one on the HuffPost.

    Interesting sidenote: the interest on said accounts is collected by the various states and channeled to various left-wing NGOs. In one case, a CA NGO receives money from that fund; the NGO also collaborates with Mexico. (Although I'm told that the fund money doesn't fund the collaboration.)

    By Blogger LonewackoDotCom, at 18 September, 2006 00:47  

  • Now, now, Widdle J...don't be getting your proxy panties into an uproar..

    Would somebody please tell me how one can accurately report on a pending bankruptcy until it is actually filed, in this day and age?

    Progressive-minded investors to the few left-of-center media enterprises permitted to even exist in the wake of the Communications Act are always extremely skittish, primarly because they understand acutely that the enemy does everything, legal and illegal, to make these outlets disappear. They hedge their bets till the last minute.

    I'm not aware of any infusion of capital into Air America as of Friday, nor any buyout offers. That certainly doesn't mean one could not have transpired...

    And none of this will change the outcome of the impeachment fact, the whining is drawing the interest of formerly unmotivated ex-Reagan Democrats, that may very well neatly replace those of us who have, to varying degrees and reasons, defected from tuning in!

    It all seems so counterintuitive.

    But, then again, so did Abu Ghraib....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 18 September, 2006 01:36  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 18 September, 2006 02:22  

  • A Boston Herald column about why AAR hasn't caught on in Kennedy Country,
    or elsewhere. The libs can't match Limbaugh with Franken, so they'll just bring back the (un)Fairness Doctrine
    and wipe out talk radio completely...

    Where have you gone Air America

    And: Talk radio faces liberal static

    Talk radio faces liberal static

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 18 September, 2006 02:23  

  • Gotta lay down the pipe, hash. Abu Ghraib? Ex-Reagan Democrats? What's next, flying monkeys from space?

    Those "few left-of-center media enterprises permitted to even exist in the wake of the Communications Act" are actually being forced to compete in the arena of ideas, and are no longer forced to give 50-50 treatment to issues. In radio, money flows to where the people go (excepting of course NPR).

    That progressive radio is having difficulty being heard is specifically the fault of progressive radio, or more specifically the ideas and policies it typically espouses. No outside agency is making them "disappear" - they are disappearing themselves with their own ideas, which are no longer required to be crammed down peoples' throats in equal measure by Guvmint fiat after the deregulation in 1987.

    By Blogger JD, at 18 September, 2006 18:55  

  • In the immortal words of one of your ideological heroes, Bill O'Reilly: "Put YOUR pipe down, and get my pipe up!"

    Are you denying the failed, thoroughly corrupt sack of filth known as neoconservatism is going down for the count in this country?

    Do you doubt that, if additional progressive voices, whose tenure at Air America was a springboard for their continuing popularity and success, were to be unveiled (and uncensored on satellite radio), their popularity would not soar, based as they are on FACTS and not just the same tired old subterfuge?

    You've proved that the Fairness Doctrine MUST be reinstated, so people will be able to distinguish between news and opinion once again.

    You know what they say about payback.....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 18 September, 2006 22:35  

  • Okay, hash, in order then...

    "Are you denying the failed, thoroughly corrupt sack of filth known as neoconservatism is going down for the count in this country?"

    My answer: I reject the premise of your question on its face. But, for argument's sake, I do deny your assertion primarily because Neoconservatism has yet to be tried fully in this nation because of the cowardice of the go-along-get-along branch of the GOP Senate. If it comes to keeping this nation safe and I am given a choice between Tom Tancredo and Lindsey Graham, I go with Tancredo.

    "Do you doubt that, if additional progressive voices, whose tenure at Air America was a springboard for their continuing popularity and success, were to be unveiled (and uncensored on satellite radio), their popularity would not soar, based as they are on FACTS and not just the same tired old subterfuge?"

    My answer: Again, I reject the premise of your question, as it assumes that AAR was a springboard to success. The very fact that we were discussing a possible bankruptcy voids that very notion. Furthermore, progressivism has never, ever had its ideological roots in fact. Progressivism is based entirely on emotional impulses and opinions generated from them; how people feel about an issue trumps all in progressivism. However, again, for arguments sake, I would respond as follows: Yes, I doubt that (additional progressive voices unveiled resulting in additional popularity of progressive views nationwide) very much. Reason being that if that popularity was so self-evident, then AAR would not be in the trouble it's in. Remember, hash, AAR is being carried for better than half of its network, including some top-ten markets, on ClearChannel stations. AAR is being given, and has been given, every possible opportunity to succeed. This on top of forced Guvmint support of NPR for better than 30 years. And yet progressivism does not rule the day on the radio. Sometime, somewhere, the ProgRadio supporters need to face facts and stop rationalizing the facts, on the ground and in the air, that their message flops when broadcasted.

    "You've proved that the Fairness Doctrine MUST be reinstated, so people will be able to distinguish between news and opinion once again."

    My response: I've done no such thing. In fact, your little rant has proven that it shouldn't be reinstated, because of your desire to force people to listen to programming that the do not wish to listen to (presumably for their own good) and which at the same time would insult their very core beliefs. We already have that on the air today, and it's called N-P-R.

    "You know what they say about payback....."

    My response: Figure out a way to pay the bill first, and then we can talk about payback...

    By Blogger JD, at 19 September, 2006 01:54  

  • Who cares?

    Fairness is media WILL come back, baby!

    By the way, you're a little confused as to the natural order of things.

    You'll be paying us.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 19 September, 2006 15:13  

  • 99.9% of ALL businesses go bankrupt, close, or are sold, eventually. It happens to almost every single one.

    You will be right eventually. Air America Radio will either go out of business or be bought by some larger company. History tells us this.

    But how loud is your "I Told You So" going to be when this happens? And how loud should it be?

    Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    By Blogger Scott, at 20 September, 2006 17:55  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Page Rank Checker

Powered by Blogger