The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

31 July 2005

What's Next In Air America Scandal

Stay Tuned

Watch For These Updates

Please continue to return to this site, for the latest developments on the still-evolving Air America scandal:

--- Tracking Air America's inconsistent statements over the last week

--- What to expect next from the company

--- Readers rush to create graphic designs after request, see them here (thanks so much!)

--- Tracking the media's slow, stubborn acceptance of a blogger-driven story

These and more, coming soon from the Radio Equalizer.

Be sure to check Michelle Malkin's site for her latest as well, plus Wizbang's excellent points as well.

And, thanks to those who noticed my request for advertiser support, particularly Amazon orders that begin with clicks from here (any item, not just those shown), it will help with my major site upgrade expenses. The new website will be ready soon. Thanks again!

Liberals Not Happy With Air America Scandal Reporting

Backlash Begins

A "Fake Story", What Took Lefties So Long?

If you've at all followed previous sticky liberal flaps, the routine should by now be clear:

First, it's silence, then quiet consultation, followed by a "collective" response, repeated verbatim across the Internet and mainstream media.

On Air America's taxpayer funding diversion scandal, it was inevitable liberals would snap out of their stunned silence and fight back.

Don't forget, Air America has been the realization of an ages-old lefty dream, to take on Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio. They're not going to let $480,000 in taxpayer funds meant for a community center, going instead to the network, get in the way.

The only question was how long it would take.

Answer: about four days. That must have been some pow-wow. How do we spin a way out of this mammoth mess?

When it came to how they would respond, there was never any question: with all of the usual tactics, name calling, trickery and nastiness.

What they're saying this weekend reveals much about the state of "progressive" politics.

Step one is to kill the messenger, that happens to be me this time.

It's a "fake story", Brian Maloney is "sweaty", "baloney", plus all of the usual radical-right labeling highlight (lowlight?) what we've so far seen. I'm noticing the same attack pattern across sites, with cut-and-pasted copy.

Emanating first from the Daily Kos, the nation's largest liberal blog site, it then spreads to smaller sites. I'm accused outright of making up a story:

It's fun to check in with Memeorandum now and then to see what the righties are linking to. Yesterday they were swarming like flies to a carcass to a story that appears to be phony.

I say "appears"; maybe it isn't. It's hard to tell, for reasons that I hope become apparent as you read this post. The point of this post is not to prove or disprove certain allegations, but to illustrate how, shall we say, uncritical reading and writing can create a lot of smoke without there necessarily being a fire.

The "appears" and "maybe" elements are just a way of hedging on Kos writer Maha's part. From here, it devolves into a lengthy "examination" of how conservatives have sloppily gone bonkers over a single report in a Bronx community newspaper.

I just can't figure out Maha's (Barbara O'Brien) logic, since the quote from Air America's second statement is included, indicating that the company agreed "months ago" to repay the money.

What's "made up" about that? Air America knows it has a problem, but liberals can't accept reality.

More devastating for the left's case is this third statement, made by the company to Brit Hume of FOX News:

An Air America spokesman says, "We're committed to paying this money and the terms are being worked out... We are awaiting direction from the investigation into how to proceed."

Hold on a second! Didn't the company agree months ago to repay it? But nothing happened until we brought it to light?

So they're now saying they haven't yet repaid a dime? If we hadn't gotten on their case, would it have ever happened?

Didn't they say they weren't being investigated, just a few days ago? They seem to at least be in contact with New York Department of Investigation (DOI) personnel.

The company's inconsistent statements will be the subject of the Radio Equalizer's next piece, watch for it this weekend.

The left's biggest problem is the company's own actions, where each successive statement makes the previous one look misleading.

How can they honestly say there's nothing going on here, when Air America sure makes it look like that's the case?

Some conservatives are howling this weekend over Maha's initial inability to find the Bronx News story via Google. Is that my fault?

Here's a third link, as this article makes its way around the liberal blogosphere. In each case, the emphasis is on this as "fake news".

Then, things get nastier. At this liberal site, featuring a dead panda, it's name calling and what may be an anti-Irish slur.

Here, it's "baloney and spew" and apparently, I'm supposed to be ashamed of myself for reasons that aren't very clear. Northwest Progressive also gets in the act, but doesn't put too much thought into the matter.

The Politburo Diktat, an exceptionally interesting site, is already all over this, especially Barbara O'Brien's (Mahablog, Maha's diary at Daily Kos, both linked above) Google search troubles.

Are other conservatives ready for battle? Liberals aren't going to let Franken & Co. go down the drain without a fight.

Update: The Larsonian adds a interesting point. Scott at Powerline adds muscle to the fight today. Captain Ed doesn't mess around, either, thanks Captain's Quarters! Viking Pundit, Wizbang (making a major point I'll be exploring in-depth today), Eclipse Ramblings, Medary and many others are on this today. Thanks!

To readers-- the Radio Equalizer needs your help in two areas:

First, is there anyone with design talent that could create a small "Air America Scandal" box graphic for use here and at other sites? You'll get credit and a link back to your site.

Also, a major site upgrade has been in the works for quite awhile, but events of the last week have made it an urgent matter.

It will ready shortly, but costs are going to be relatively high. Supporting the Radio Equalizer's advertisers, particularly through Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, will help to defray costs. Your help is much appreciated, as this site does not have a tip jar, so it depends entirely on this kind of support. Thanks!

Please consider doing what you can for other sites you enjoy, as well!

30 July 2005

Santa Cruz An Ecoterror Safe Haven

Sheltering Ecoterrorists

Plus, Pakistan's Role In Reducing Islamic Extremism

I've long hoped the post 9-11 anti-terrorism push would extend to eco-thugs, who destroy property, wreck farms, businesses and harm people in many damaging ways.

It may now be happening: the FBI finally seems to be scoring breakthroughs in the fight against ecoterrorists. Determining where the dangerous kooks are hiding and how they get by is key.

Sadly, it's another civic black eye for Santa Cruz, my hometown, where ecoterrorists have found safe houses and financial support.

A long-sought suspect from Mercer Island, Washington was recently using Santa Cruz as a hiding place from authorities, until being caught in March.

Madison, Wisconsin appears to be another safe haven for these extremists.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel and Seattle Times each have reports on the matter today. Note the references to "animal rights activists", rather than ecoterrorists.

--- Meanwhile, Steve at The Word Unheard believes we're overlooking a major development in the war against terrorism- Pakistan's newly announced expulsion of foreign madrassa students:

The significance of this development in the Global War on Terrorism cannot be overstated (if it is solidly enforced). Certainly a reaction to one of the London bombers hailing from a Pakistani madrassa, this is a solid development.

DC Talk Host's Suspension Sparks Debate

Censorship, Or Stunt?

What's Really Happened To WMAL's Michael Graham?

(Update: Graham Fired. Latest news here)

Because the Radio Equalizer moves in both political and broadcasting circles, I've been hearing two completely different versions of why WMAL/Washington talk host Michael Graham has been suspended without pay.

Which side is correct? Or, does the truth lie somewhere in the middle?

Much has been written, my perspective will be a bit different than others.

Conservative political activists are convinced Graham was kicked off the air for making anti-Islamic statements that drew the ire of the usual suspects, including the Council For American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

While calling Islam a "terrorist organization" is pushing the envelope somewhat, it is talk radio, after all, he wouldn't be the only host using this kind of rhetoric.

The wild card, of course, is that you never when radio's corporate suits are going to cave into political pressure. Or, sometimes their own feathers get ruffled over a comment, or stance.

Keep in mind, I wasn't the only host trashing Dan Rather last September, either.

With former sales managers and FM music people overseeing an increasing number of talk radio stations with the era of management consolidation, talk radio is forced to re-fight a lot of old content battles.

In addition, CAIR is known for really going after talk radio, especially in Washington, DC.

Michelle Malkin did such a complete job tackling the political aspect, it would be redundant to do much more here.

But there's lots more to say on the radio business side of the issue.

First, there was a great deal of talk industry speculation that Graham's removal was a stunt, albeit one that went awry.

Several radio insiders, including managers and other industry sources, emailed me today with what they knew. Their versions didn't vary much, but keep in mind this is speculation, with elements of first-hand information in their reports.

As has been documented here, WMAL's ratings are in the toilet, dropping substantially in the past year. I'm not so sure Graham is the problem, I'm told a weak morning news show may be the real culprit.

Graham, however, is new to major market radio, having spent his career primarily in the minor leagues, in places such as Richmond, where he did very well.

He's yet to prove his ratings potential in the high-pressure world of major-market talk radio, however. Companies tend to get impatient after a fairly brief period of time.

Brought to DC by Randall Bloomquist, previously Graham's boss at Richmond's WRVA-AM, it seems the former would likely defend the latter to a significant extent.

So hey, why not let Graham have a day off, while WMAL gets some much-needed ink?

The problem, I was told: Graham took it too far, blasting the company in Friday's Washington Post story. That turned off the higher-ranking managers who might have played along.

Adding to the weirdness: WMAL's morning show hosts went out of their way to address the issue, where normally you'd expect silence. That led to a series of trade reports questioning whether the media was being had.

Here's one, from DCRTV, a Beltway media analyst site:

WMAL morning team "Grandy And Andy" reported Friday that the station's late morning talker Michael Graham has been "suspended" for calling Islam a "terrorist organization." Apparently, he is out of work without pay for an indefinite period.

Says a DCRTVer: " I don't understand why someone who's job is to make controversial comments is suspended for making controversial comments. Part of me hopes it's all a stunt."
In fact, it smells like a stunt since Grandy and Andy said on-air that they disagreed with the decision and encouraged listeners to send complaints to WMAL management.

Also, WMAL is still running Graham show promos and pre-taped ads featuring the "suspended" Graham, who got a big write-up in Tuesday's DC Post about his dispute with a local Islamic organization. Paul Farhi gets duped in Friday's
Washington Post. More in DCRTV's 7/26 newsblurb.....

Then there's Perry M Simon's All Access report:

ABC Talk WMAL-A/WASHINGTON has suspended midday host MICHAEL GRAHAM without pay while it mulls over a response to criticism from the COUNCIL FOR AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS of GRAHAM's remarks on MONDAY that Islam is a "terrorist organization."

GRAHAM made the remark in the context of saying that an organization that has terrorist acts committed by members and doesn't kick the wrongdoers out is responsible for those acts, but CAIR called the comments "hate-filled" and asked members to contact WMAL advertisers.

After initially backing GRAHAM, the station is now investigating the situation and issued a statement calling the remarks "irresponsible," and, interestingly, as
DCRTV.COM notes, the station on FRIDAY continued to promote GRAHAM on-air and the WMAL morning show with FRED GRANDY and ANDY PARKS told listeners to complain to WMAL management about the suspension.

This tone exists in the Washington Post report, as well.

These reports are consistent with what I heard privately, to a point: Graham is said to be worried about his future and did make some urgent phone calls to industry friends, either looking for advice, consolation, work, or whatever.

That suggests this is a real controversy, one where Graham isn't laughing as he sits by the pool with a cocktail, enjoying a long weekend.

That tidbit, plus the nagging feeling I have that CAIR has finally worn down some thin-skinned manager somewhere up the ladder, make me believe there are elements (perhaps substantial ones) of truth to the censorship claims.

There's something else to consider: radio people assume everything's a stunt, because they've spent years creating them, especially the former FM jocks. There's a strong cynicism in radio that can go overboard.

Sometimes the motivating factor can be resentment, when a fellow air personality is getting a great deal of media attention. I felt that was the case with a couple of people who went after me last September.

Neither side, however, seems to know what's next. Perhaps Graham's fate at WMAL hasn't yet been determined.

Saturday evening update: I've been sent a compelling, convincing, insider account maintaining that it wasn't a stunt. Wish I could be more specific, but watch this space for more.

Readers concerned about Graham's position at WMAL should contact WMAL Program Director Randall Bloomquist directly at: This is more direct than the online forms station websites often employ.


29 July 2005

Air America Issues Second Statement In Funds Scandal

Scandal Heats Up

Is Air America Answering Questions, Or Creating More?

(Friday evening updates below)

So far, in seeking to determine whether Air America benefited from taxpayer money meant for a community youth center, we've accomplished two things: sending the blogosphere into action mode and compelling the company to respond to the developing firestorm.

Early Friday morning, I was made aware of a new, second press statement on the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club scandal. A number of emails and blog comments quickly followed, leading me to wonder if there was some kind of organized effort to turn the tables.

Sure enough, at the Daily Kos (king of the liberal blogosphere), there is this new post:

Hey folks, I'm the webmaster over at Air America and there has been some discussion in the right wing blogosphere, basically accusing AAR of stealing from poor kids. BlatherWatch has the rundown.

For a full explanation of what REALLY happened, here is Air America Radio's official statement.

That Daily Kos post links to my site, which is why I've been hearing from AAR fans this morning.

The new release seems strange on many levels, in its wording, timing and what it still doesn't say. Here it is from Air America's website.

Note that my comments are the ones in italics in this case, their words in boldface:


If the allegations of mismanagement and corruption at Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club are true, it is absolutely disgraceful.

(If you know Air America received the money, as you indicate below, then aren't the allegations clearly true?)

As reported in the Wall Street Journal and the HBO Documentary, Left of the Dial‚ the company that the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club officials gave money to, Progress Media, has been defunct since May 2004. That company was run at the time by Evan Cohen who has not had any involvement in Air America Radio since May 2004.

(I don't like the way this paragraph is written. It implies that HBO's documentary and the Wall Street Journal covered the transaction between Gloria Wise and Air America. You need to read it very carefully to realize they're merely saying it was reported that Progress Media was purchased in May 2004.

The problem is that the reader could be led to believe that this was somehow old news, previously published, now being dredged up for some ulterior motive. And so what if Cohen didn't have any involvement after May 2004, these actions still took place in Air America's name.)

The current owners of Air America Radio have no obligation to Progress Media's business activities. We are very disturbed that Air America Radio's good name could be associated with a reduction in services for young people, which is why we agreed months ago to fully compensate the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club as a result of this transaction.

(Glad you're disturbed about it. Note the strange choice of words here. "We agreed months ago", what exactly does that mean? See my questions below regarding this paragraph.)

We at Air America Radio strongly believe in the mission of Boys and Girls Clubs to provide a safe and nurturing place for young people to learn and grow. As a result, we recently allowed the same club, Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, to use our name in a fundraising effort for a summer camp for children in their community.

(So you knew Air America's previous owner engaged in a shady deal with Gloria Wise, but you still continued to deal with them? I thought your contention is that this was all about Cohen and former management? It wouldn't make sense to continue any type of relationship. This paragraph doesn't mesh well with the previous one: it says you realized the problem with the Wise deal months ago. Here, you say you've recently associated with them.)

The funding for Camp Air America was raised and collected entirely by the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, and Air America promoted the camp on air and urged support for it. A link on our web site sent those interested in contributing to the camp to the Gloria Wise web site.

Regrettably, the camp did not survive the closure of the Gloria Wise organization. We have offered any individuals who contributed to the camp as a result of Air America's promotion the option of a refund paid for by Air America Radio and the Club offered the alternative option of having their donation redirected to Kip's Bay Boys and Girls Club.

There you have it, now, some questions:

1. Have you actually repaid the money to Gloria Wise, or did you simply "agree to" repay it at some future time?

2. How much did you pay them, and when? Can we see a cancelled check?

3. If you repaid the money, what happened to it at Gloria Wise? They don't have it, that's why programs were shut. Where did it go, who did you give it to?

4. When you made the decision to repay the money, why didn't you let the public know?

5. If you were above-board on this from months back, why wait until news of a criminal investigation hits the press?

6. If you knew Cohen had put Air America in a bad position with this money, early in 2004, why did you wait until early 2005 to agree to repay it?

7. Again, if you knew Gloria Wise Boys And Girls Club had participated in an unethical or illegal transaction with Air America's previous owner, why would you choose to have further dealings with the organization, months later?

8. Did any current Air America employees or managers have a role in, or knowledge of, this "transaction"?

9. If you had, in fact, repaid the money months ago, why didn't you say so in your earlier press statement? What would have been the use of holding back that important information?

10. Does Air America realize that even if you've since repaid the money, the network had benefit of its use, while inner-city youth and senior programs were threatened? If I rob a bank, but return the money later, does it mean I'm off the hook?

I just don't buy the transfer of ownership excuse they throw around so sloppily in these releases. Have Air America's hosts been this accommodating toward corporate America during their recent scandals?

11. Are your hosts welcome to discuss this matter on the air, or have they been asked not to, by management or the company's legal department? Have any addressed it so far?

What am I leaving out? Please leave comments below.

Washington Times editorial addresses the issue, both yours truly and Michelle Malkin are mentioned.

New: Malkin points to this excellent legal analysis at Macho Nachos.

New: note from Captain Ed:

Brian and Michelle,

Congratulations on your excellent work on the Air America story! You've got them stuttering now ....


Edward Morrissey
Captain's Quarters

New: More legal questions from Macho Nachos. And further follow-up here.

New: BoreAmerica weighs in, site regularly covers Air America issues.

--- Lance at RedStateRant alerts me to this at Wizbang today.

Wizbang nails a huge point that I should have thought of first: are they repaying Gloria Wise with cash, or non-cash consideration? This means advertising, or other promotional consideration. This is very common in radio. Radio is heavily into barter and scrip. Did Camp Air America promotions count toward this?

--- Catch me on the Hugh Hewitt Show tonight, should be 6pm EDT, but we are still ironing out the details. (Update: interview went well, welcome to Hugh's listeners).

--- Also John Carlson's KVI/Seattle program, at 4pm PDT, 7pm EDT. Go to KVI for audio streaming. (welcome KVI listeners)

--- Here's Michelle Malkin's latest piece on the situation to date. It's a home run!

--- Here's the Captain's Quarters take on this.

--- One thing interviewers continue to bring up with me today (Melanie Morgan of KSFO, Hugh Hewitt, John Carlson of KVI): doesn't this mean that Franken and the other hosts were likely paid with taxpayer funds intended for children and seniors? Don't they have anything to say about it?

--- Coming up tonight: an update on this story, plus another about Michael Graham's removal from WMAL/Washington over remarks about Islam. Here's Michelle Malkin's very complete version. Mine will have additional points, seen only here, because I've been hearing from radio industry people all day who have knowledge of the situation.

--- CNN picks up Air America story for "Inside Politics". Radio Equalizer, Michelle Malkin, Wizbang and others mentioned. Here's a transcript link, scroll down toward the bottom to get the segment.

--- Hugh Hewitt has evening developments on the story here. He's been very helpful in moving the story along.

KSFO listeners, Powerline, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, RedStateRant, Orbusmax, Wizbang and other readers today!

Please support The Radio Equalizer's advertisers, thanks! It keeps this effort going.

Move America Rally Targeted By Demonstrators

Showdown In Sacramento

Move America Forward vs. Air America Listeners

Move America Forward has quickly emerged as a conservative force to be reckoned with, growing rapidly and making headlines. Founders Howard Kaloogian and KSFO host Melanie Morgan have been ambitious in tackling difficult projects.

It's also been an element of KSFO's resistance to the downward ratings trend hitting other conservative talkers. Listeners like to invest their time and loyalty into talk stations that are actually doing something to make a difference.

That takes hard work.

Fresh from their successful Iraq tour, Move America Forward took to the streets of Sacramento Thursday, to protest nutty California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer's anti-American "art" display, at the state's Department of Justice.

Called the "I Love America Art Exhibit and Rally", it was designed to provide an alternative to Lockyer's radical leftist works.

Not wanting to miss the fun, Sacramento's Air America affiliate organized a counter-demonstration against Move America Forward, ensuring lots of flying sparks for all.

The Radio Equalizer heard from Morgan after the event:

"It was the Move America Forward rally that had over 300 people who came to celebrate America with our artwork.

"Fifty to 75 Air Heads ...mostly ACLU, Code Pink, ANSWER, San Francisco rent-a-mob (types showed up in response)."

In fairness, if any of the Air America supporters at the event read this, they are welcome to provide their own accounts in the comments section below. And anybody else with an eyewitness account of what happened?

28 July 2005

Clearer Air America Ratings Picture Emerges

A Regional Niche Player?

Air America's Real Fate, Plus Seattle, Portland, Denver

We're continuing to press the matter of Air America's $480,000 in (possibly unreturned) taxpayer funds obtained in a highly questionable manner. Meanwhile, more ratings releases today shed a great deal of light on the network's future.

Unlike its conservative counterpart, liberal talk is destined to be simply a regional, niche format that works in a few cities and fails elsewhere. That's become clear.

While right-leaning talk also appeals to a segment of the population, it's big (even with recent ratings troubles) and successful nationwide, almost without geographic exception.

Ratings released today for Seattle, Portland and Denver put the finishing touches on this thesis. As you already know, we've recently been reporting in detail Air America's performance.

Air America's relentless boosters have a dilemma: in order to trumpet ratings "success", they're forced to overplay the few cities where that's the real case. Some of them resort to making things up, which we've also tackled here.

It's great that AAR's programming is successful in Portland, Oregon. We've been hearing about it for a year. And new figures released today show KPOJ-AM way up.

Is Portland like the rest of the country, however? No.

Its success wasn't repeated in Seattle, where KPTK-AM turned in a flat-to-slightly lower performance today.

In Denver, there was an increase for Boulder's KKZN, which I also noted last month. It's likely due to the addition of Jay Marvin's local morning show. KKZN grew from a 1.6 to a 2.0.

Marvin still has a Denver-area following from previous on-air work there. He's a pro in an industry that often fails to appreciate the value of broadcast experience.

Radio's biggest mistake was converting dozens of stations to liberal talk on the strength of KPOJ alone. Portland just isn't like other metropolitan areas, with radical leftist politics dominating every square inch of town.

Even then, there are a number of conservative talkers doing extremely well in the area.

Why were so many radio operators fooled into thinking KPOJ's success could be repeated elsewhere? That I can't answer.

The biggest question: is it worth this huge investment in liberal syndicated programming, if only a few cities can make it succeed?

News-talk highlights:

In Seattle, news-talk KIRO-AM continued its dramatic drop, WMAL-style.

It fell from a 5.0 last fall, to a 4.2 in the winter, now to a fresh all-time-low of 3.4 for the spring ratings book.

Before KIRO lost Seattle Mariners rights to KOMO-AM, it sometimes posted ratings above a ten share. It was always in first place, now it's tied for seventh. And that's not counting 25-54 ratings, crucial for advertising, which are likely far lower.

The big drop also coincides with an aggressive push toward hard-left programming, where the previous lineup had been more mixed. KIRO's audience clearly rejected the radical changes and moved the dial elsewhere.

Recently, a major-market program director mentioned KIRO in a conversation, pointing out how hard it is to bring a station back from a drop this steep. The station's next management team with have the challenge of a lifetime.

Conservative sister station KTTH, despite having Rush, also saw another big drop. It went from 3.0 to a 2.6 share. Right-leaning listeners are tuning in for Rush, then switching back to rival KVI.

KTTH has been badly neglected, as mentioned here and elsewhere. With just one local show (not terribly successful), the station has long needed serious retooling.

KVI, with its hugely successful recent political effort fighting statewide gas-tax increases, saw an increase from a 2.9 to a 3.1. It's handily beating KTTH, without Rush.

Air America's KPTK-AM fell to a 1.4 share from a 1.5 in the winter book.

Denver's powerhouse KOA turned in a 5.5 for third place, off last year's highs, but in line with recent performance. Rockies baseball provides a boost during the season.

Sister station KHOW rose slightly from a 2.5 to a 2.6, while liberal KKZN, as mentioned above, went from 1.6 to 2.0.

It continues to be a lively, thriving city for talk radio.

In Portland, news-talk KEX continued to dominate, with a 5.0, down from a 5.4 previously for Clear Channel's conservative outlet.

As mentioned before, liberal KPOJ surged, from a 3.3 to a 4.5, good for fifth place. Paul Allen's conservative KXL-AM was up slightly, from a 3.9 to a 4.0.

KPAM-AM, with a mix including some conservative programming, fell from a 2.3 to a 1.8. That's still a lot better than what it used to produce.

Portland may have more news-talk stations than any other market, it dominates Rose City radio listening overall.

Ratings data comes from Radio & Records. Fair disclosures: I formerly worked for both KIRO-AM and KVI-AM in Seattle. A top-level KOA-KHOW-KKZN/Denver manager is my former boss. Talk radio is a small, small business.

Air America Funding Issue Heats Up

What's Next?

Holding Air America Accountable For Funding Scandal

Now that Air America's sleazy funding scandal has received more attention, how can we continue to demand full accountability from the firm?

Here's where things stand:

--- Since the company isn't denying it received at least $480,000 in taxpayer funds meant for a Bronx community center, why doesn't it feel the need to repay the money, simply because of a network ownership change?

If any of the money was repaid, why won't they tell us? Some radio talk hosts have begun on-air campaigns to demand it be returned.

--- Why did Air America's response to our reporting leave out so many important details? The deflection of blame was unfortunate enough, worse was the refusal to address so many questions.

What do they have to hide?

--- Did any of Air America's talk show hosts address the controversy on Wednesday or Thursday's shows? If not, then their Bush-bashing credibility is forever shot.

How can they talk about ethics, integrity, or scandal, when the biggest one originated in their offices?

I've been monitoring their schedules, which list planned topics, so far I can't find a word about the money. Come on guys, you can do better than this! Under orders from the legal department to stay quiet, perhaps?

--- Can we really allow so much of the mainstream media to ignore this story, after they've repeatedly showered Air America with praise, for over a year?

--- Where are the lefty bloggers? So far, I've seen one address it, to discount the story. Will the others deal with it, or go the way of the mainstream media?

--- One additional radio industry trade publication covered the story today, but only presented Air America's side. Advertising for syndicated radio shows makes up a big part of ad revenues for the trades. The others are still blowing it off entirely.

Forcing Air America to provide some kind of a response is a start, but much more needs to be done.

Your ideas are welcome, please leave them in the comments section below.

27 July 2005

Federal Funds Diverted To Air America


Media Cover-Up, Bronx Community Programs Nearly Shut

*** 21 JAN 2010 UPDATE: Air America Shuts Down ***

What happens
when the mainstream media, after years of seething over conservative talk radio's success, discover its alternative got diverted public funds, earmarked instead for inner-city youth and seniors?

The answer, with one key exception: they pretend it didn't happen.

Yes, only because of a New York Daily News tidbit do we know that Bronx-based Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club nearly shut down major programs recently, because almost $500,000 in governmental grant money was instead diverted to Air America's liberal radio network.

It's taken a mad scramble by area politicians, including Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Bronx) to find a way to keep several programs for disadvantaged children and seniors from disappearing.

What's the connection between Air America and Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club?

How has this stayed out of the papers for the last month, even when community activists have been aware of the Air America connection since early July?

And how has the liberal talk network managed to avoid even the slightest bit of public scrutiny over the matter?


It begins with former Air America CEO Evan Cohen, who resigned last year from the network after some of its more infamous early debacles. You might remember Cohen was a key part of an HBO documentary, detailing its first days.

Cohen also happened to serve on Gloria Wise's board and convinced club leader and community activist Charles Rosen to "invest" at least $480,000 in the upstart political talk network.

Rosen has recently resigned from the board, according to New York Nonprofit Press.

The money, intended as a loan to be repaid with interest, was agreed to by Rosen after being sold on the idea of stretching their grant money further, according to one account. Part of the deal included promotional consideration of Gloria Wise's activities on Air America's programs.

Did that ever occur? If so, what was the benefit to Gloria Wise?

More importantly, has Air America paid back any of the money to date?

There are many more questions than answers at this point, but New York City's Department Of Investigation (DOI) is leading the effort to find out where the money went. Will indictments follow?

So far, the activity programs have been saved as other non-profit agencies scrambled to pick up the slack, while investigators look at Gloria Wise's records.

Cohen may be long-gone from Air America, but who else still at the network might have knowledge of this "investment"?

Has there been a media cover-up? In the Radio Equalizer's view, yes.

Why? Because Bronx activists and community journalists have known about the Air America connection for some time, while major publications have been ignoring the story.

Radio trade publications, even after the New York Daily News story, failed to mention the scandal, without exception, on Tuesday (if that changes on Wednesday, we'll update it here).

On July 5, for example, a community newspaper called the Gotham Gazette published a story by Michael Horowitz that laid out the evolving scandal in detail. Why wasn't this on the AP wire straightaway?

Horowitz's story named Air America and Cohen, as well as providing specific information about why the money was loaned and its origin. Why did major publications ignore it?

A June 28 Daily News story on the scandal left Air America out of the picture, but did mention Cohen. Of course, what reader would be able to make the connection to his time at Air America?

Both Daily News stories have appeared in the "Boroughs" section of the paper, which is sliced out of the national edition the rest of us see on newsstands.

What does Air America have to say about this? So far, nothing, look for yourself here. They have plenty to say about Karl Rove, though, they want him "fired". And Mike Malloy is busy ranting about the "Bush Crime Family", according to their site.

Can it really be dismissed by the network as something to be blamed only on the long-departed Cohen?

Again, was any of the money repaid to Gloria Wise and do any current Air America staffers or managers have knowledge of this diverted federal money?

If it was repaid, why the governmental investigation? It seems authorities are attempting to account for the missing funds now.

Are the network's hosts, such as Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo, willing to apologize for the severe damage done to community programs for inner-city youth and seniors, as a result of this sleazy scandal?

Syndicated radio host Rusty Humphries asked me just a short while ago whether I thought Franken, or the other hosts, were aware of the network's questionable funding source. I'd like to believe they didn't, but shouldn't they publicly speak to the issue anyway?

Thanks to tipster "FYI" who alerted me to this whole mess. Can we really let Air America get away without answering tough questions about their involvement in this scandal?

: whether the funding was from federal or local sources seems unclear. Sometimes, this type of funding originates with the feds, goes to cities and is distributed from there to area nonprofits. That may be the case here, based on the reports I've seen.

Update: Michelle Malkin wonders what excuses liberals will use. Read my comments section below, they've already begun. Do you think they have an action plan in place for these occasions?

Meanwhile, Michelle has added additional details this morning to her report.

Update: Talk radio reporter Perry M Simon of entertainment industry trade publication All Access indicates Air America will have an official response to our articles later today.

He wrote a piece on the controversy for today's edition. Other radio/ entertainment trades have so far ignored it.

Here's Simon's story:

A report in the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS raises the allegation that AIR AMERICA RADIO received NEW YORK CITY taxpayer funds diverted from programs for disadvantaged youth and seniors.

The Department of Investigation cut off city contracts with the GLORIA WISE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB and affiliate PATHWAYS FOR YOUTH in the BRONX, necessitating quick replacement with deals with outside agencies to save several programs administered by the GLORIA WISE club. The allegations apparently involve WISE club founder and former Exec. Dir. CHARLES ROSEN diverting the city contract funding to AIR AMERICA as a loan instead of the social programs; the DAILY NEWS notes that former AIR AMERICA chairman EVAN COHEN served as the WISE club's Dir./Development.

The story has been picked up by conservative syndicated columnist MICHELLE MALKIN and "RADIO EQUALIZER" blogger and talk host BRIAN MALONEY. MALKIN notes that MALONEY caught the tidbit at the bottom of the DAILY NEWS story but that the story has been in the open since JULY 5, when the BRONX NEWS ran a story with specifics including how the diverted funds ($480,000, according to that paper's source) were structured as a loan to the radio network (to be paid back with interest) and that the network agreed to publicize the club's programs.

A comment from AIR AMERICA on this story is pending.

Read the BRONX NEWS report by clicking here, and MALONEY's reporting on the issue here.

Once Air America's released its statement, can the rest of the media really continue to ignore this story?

Update: just heard from Michelle Malkin, she did an interview on Seattle's KVI-AM this morning, where a caller pointed out how the Gloria Wise center is involved in this "Camp Air America" program for Bronx youth. Here's another link showing their connection.

Radio host Cam Edwards interviewed me earlier, he's been digging into the summer camp connection. Does "Camp Air America" still exist? So far, no answers, be we believe it's likely defunct.

Update: Air America's statement has arrived. They're not denying it, but simply pin it all on the previous owners:

"On MAY 24, 2004 the newly formed PIQUANT LLC acquired the principal assets of AIR AMERICA RADIO from the prior ownership entities. PIQUANT has owned and operated AIR AMERICA RADIO since that time. The company that had run AIR AMERICA RADIO till then no longer had anything to do with the network.

"PIQUANT had no involvement whatsoever with funds from GLORIA WISE BOYS &GIRLS CLUB. PIQUANT neither received nor expended any of the sums that are the subject of the City's investigation of the CLUB.

"PIQUANT is not being investigated by the City, which is investigating a
transaction that took place before PIQUANT existed."

So this means Air America can wash its hands of the scandal, simply because new owners took over? Where'd the money go, was any of it repaid? Not a word here.

Doesn't Piquant see any legal or moral obligation to return the funds? Didn't that money benefit Air America?

Did all ties to Gloria Wise sever after May, 2004? What about Camp Air America?

Note the statement does not contain any denials that Air America received the funds destined for Gloria Wise. No doubt the statement was written by Air America's lawyers, but it fails to take into account public perception of their actions.

Did any of Air America's hosts address the scandal today, or are they trying to pretend this didn't happen? Will the rest of the news media grab onto this for Thursday?

I'm scheduled to appear on FOX's O'Reilly Factor Thursday to discuss it, but as always, major breaking news can lead to rescheduling on these news programs.

There's a new post on Air America's troubles here.

Note: Michelle Malkin is working with me on this story. Check her site for the latest, as she looks to uncover additional details. Here's her story.

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Welcome Orbusmax, Free Republic,, Red State Rant, Captain's Quarters, Front Page Mag, BizzyBlog,, LaShawnBarber's Corner and other readers.

AAR Scandal graphic: Martin Archer

26 July 2005

July 26 Gems

Tuesday Treasures

What happens when you're not the US Supreme Court pick, at least for now?

A quick withdrawl from public awareness, even if you happen to be US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Gonzales managed to slip into Santa Cruz County, California and avoid detection by anybody, while doing a number of TV interviews, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

To accommodate the East Coast time zone, Gonzales arrived at 3:30 a.m. at The Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley to be interviewed for CBS’ "Face the Nation" with Bob Schiefer, CNN’s "Late Edition" with Wolf Blitzer and "Fox News Sunday" with Brit Hume.

Two TV watchers called the Sentinel on Sunday to say the attorney general was being interviewed in Scotts Valley for "Face the Nation," as the show put a Scotts Valley label on the screen. But nobody else in the city seemed to be aware, including Mayor Paul Marigonda, who laughed at the inquiry.

"If the U.S. attorney general were in Scotts Valley, I think I would know about it," Marigonda said Sunday.

The mayor was not the only one out of the loop. The Scotts Valley Police Department reported Sunday it hadn’t heard anything about such a visit.

Just three FBI agents were protecting the attorney general? What's wrong with alerting local police departments? Are they really that untrustworthy?

I thought agencies were working together, post 9-11.

Bad Liberal ideas spread just like diseases from dirty needles, sad to say.

Tory activist Brent Colbert, a great source for the latest Canadian political developments, exposes how Ottawa plans to follow in Vancouver's footsteps by providing "safe injection sites" for addicts:

Ottawa, our National Capital, one of the first cities to provide free needles to I.V. drug users to “prevent the spread of Hepatitis and AIDS”. A progressive council that gives out free crack pipes to “prevent the spread of hepatitis and AIDS".

Ottawa now has the highest provincial HIV and Hepatitis C rates among injection drug users. So any sane person would suggest that the millions spent on enabling drug addiction has done nothing to stop the growing drug use problem. So what does City Council want to do now? Well following on the disaster of Vancouver’s “safe” injection site they want to bring one to by-town to “prevent the spread of hepatitis and AIDS”.

The injection storefront in east Vancouver costs $3.5 million dollars and is funded by the provincial and federal governments has not slowed the rate of drug overdose, has done little to get drug users off the streets and Vancouver’s alleyways and parks are still littered with discarded “free” syringes.

Don't tell the stealth Canadian Province of Washington about this, or it'll be seen in Seattle pronto.

Sure enough, he did an interview on Seattle talk radio today regarding the story!

The rest of Brent's article is found here, don't miss his great work at Colbert's Comments.

The last thing radio needs is more bad publicity, but here it comes in spades today, with the announced payola settlement plan. A number of stories provide insight into just how corrupt music radio really is, RadioDailyNews has them all linked.

From the New York Times:

To disguise a payoff to a radio programmer at KHTS in San Diego, Epic Records called a flat-screen television a "contest giveaway." Epic, part of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, used the same tactic in delivering a laptop computer to the program director of WRHT in Greenville, N.C. - who also received PlayStation 2 games and an out-of-town trip with his girlfriend.

Stephen Chernin/AFP — Getty Images/ New York Times

Eliot Spitzer, the New York State Attorney General, announces an agreement to halt pervasive "pay-for-play” practices in the music industry. (New York Times)

In another example, a Sony BMG executive considered a plan to promote the song "A.D.I.D.A.S." by Killer Mike by sending radio disc jockeys one Adidas sneaker, with the promise of the second one when they had played the song 10 times.

The gifts, described in a $10 million settlement with Sony BMG that was announced yesterday by New York's attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, exemplify what Mr. Spitzer called a broad effort by the recording industry to curry favor with radio station programmers in exchange for their promises to play specific songs.

Nice work if you can get it, no?

Is this really good breakfast reading? Nicole Brodeur of the Seattle Times has a column today on bestiality and abortion. Not sure of the connection, other than both being affronts to any decent, modern society.

New conservative blog discovery: Peter Porcupine, a Cape Cod Republican. Do you know who Peter was? He has quite a place in history.

Why "blame whitey" lingers, at LaShawn Barber's Corner.

A Chicago judge prohibits all-white juries. Michael King has the details at Ramblings' Journal.

25 July 2005

Ratings For DC, Sacto, Phoenix, St Louis

Talk Strong In Phoenix

Huge Ratings Drops in DC, Sacramento

How's the spring talk radio ratings picture shaping up?

Quite clearly: some properly-managed conservative stations are holding up well, while others are greatly suffering, with agonizing mistakes going uncorrected.

Liberal talk still isn't taking off, even if there are faint signs of life, giving leftists false hope for the format's future.

Not exactly a work of art, is it?

The crisis continues at Washington DC's WMAL, where the ABC talker plunges from a 3.6 to a 2.9, now in 13th place among all listeners ages 12 and older.

Once a powerhouse, WMAL has languished along with ABC's other stations, all reportedly for sale. Late last week, it emerged that three companies have placed "underwhelming" bids for ABC's radio division.

This is said to be WMAL's worst-ever ratings book.

It peaked at a 4.4 last year and the bleeding just hasn't stopped since. In morning drive, it's in 19th place for the key 25-54 demographic, meaning major advertisers would expect to take a pass.

So far, no programming changes despite the horrendous numbers, but ABC can't afford to wait before cleaning house.

DCRTV, a Beltway media watchdog site, has many more details.

Air America's WWRC-AM takes last place with a 0.4.

In Phoenix, conservative talk
radio is in good shape, with Clear Channel's KFYI holding third place with a flat performance, a 5.2 share. This is the area's Limbaugh station.

Rival KTAR, with a recent ownership change, takes eighth with a slight drop from a 4.1 to a 3.9 audience share.

Beyond that, the region has a number of tiny talkers. Air America's KXXT rose from a 0.8 to a 1.1, good for 23rd. Several other stations came in around this level, or slightly lower.

Talk radio in The Valley Of The Sun, the nation's 15th-largest market, is competitive and quirky.

In St. Louis (market #18), market mainstay KMOX surged two full shares, to lock in first place. Baseball helps KMOX a great deal, but where the games will air next season is still unknown.

Rival KTRS, not helped by the lack of hockey games this season, fell while FM talker KFTK tanked, sliding from a 3.4 to a 2.3.

STL Media, run by industry vet Mike Anderson, does a fantastic job covering radio developments in the area, as well as nationwide.

What's going on at Sacramento's KFBK? After peaking last summer with a 9.3, Limbaugh's former home base has fallen to a 6.8 share.

It's still in first place, as always, but now appears vulnerable in ways never previously thought possible. It's long been a stable ratings winner, commonly with showings in the nine to 11-share range.

Anybody in Sacramento with a theory on KFBK's problem?

Sister station KSTE rises from a 3.6 to a 4.1, while Air America's KSAC is stuck in neutral, with a 1.6 share on that frequency last year, now dropping to a 1.1.

More figures to come this week, ratings data from Radio & Records. Please support our advertisers!

What's New This Week

No Summer Doldrums

Lots of interesting summertime news. Here's what's getting my attention:

Should government stay out of the barnyard? Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Robert L Jamieson is against Republican-sponsored anti-bestiality legislation, to be filed in Olympia by Sen. Pam Roach.

Didn't the recent sick, fatal situation in Enumclaw make this law necessary? Does Washington state really want to be a destination for animal-seeking tourists? Many others made this illegal long ago.

The sleazy Sierra Club
will stop at nothing to decimate private property rights, even when liberal councils approve land development plans.

A recent case in Davenport, California, saw the extremist environmental group press California's Coastal Commission for reimbursement of legal fees, after it successfully sued a proposed small business out of existence.

That means taxpayers will pay to fatten Sierra's lawyers, for litigation that was outrageous to begin with. Read the Santa Cruz Sentinel guest Op-Ed by Lois Schum here.

Liberal Dems love to
talk about Niger, when it comes to Joe and Valerie-inspired political tantrums, but don't have much to say about the severe famine now tearing apart the country.

Nothing gets New Englanders
more excited than talk of redesigned Dunkin' Donuts boxes. A lucky 8-year-old girl won a contest with her sunny, happy drawing.

Ninety-seven percent of Tanzanians now have access to mobile phones. This BBC report reveals that even the most remote African villages have coverage, far more complete than found in the US, or Europe. The mobile is rapidly reshaping African economies and cultural dynamics.

They're really going in-depth
on shadowy terrorism figures at RedStateRant. A lot of information here I haven't seen elsewhere.

Michelle Malkin has the full story of Pennsylvania's crazy Lt. Governor, who showed up at a Marine's funeral to give an anti-war tirade. Warning: socks will be knocked off.

Dan ponders Hillary's motives in supporting John Roberts for the US Supreme Court, at the Museum of Left Wing Lunacy.

Trump vs. the UN, at Isn't It Rich.

Kent explores the controversy involving CNBC's Donny Deutsch and author Bernard Goldberg at RightFromLeft.

At NorthWestRepublican, a look at the man accused of threatening Oregon talk show host Lars Larson.

22 July 2005

Ratings For Boston, SF, Others

It's All About Providence

Air America Chokes WHJJ, Conservatives Strong in Bay Area

Yes, it's all about Providence this morning, not the sappy NBC-TV drama, rather a disturbing radio tragedy.

In one of talk radio's biggest-ever screw-ups, a once well-performing conservative talk station has been destroyed by switching to "progressive" Air America programming.

Most astounding: it took only a year to kill Providence's WHJJ-AM.

Since it's one of the few to dump a viable conservative lineup for Franken & Co., it provides an important case study for liberal talk's failure.

We're talking about Rhode Island here, not Wyoming (although there is a town by that name in the Ocean State).

It's the land of Congressmen named Kennedy, corrupt Democrat power brokers and squishy Republicans like Sen. Lincoln Chafee. Shouldn't it be a great place for liberal talk?

Not according to Arbitron, which released spring ratings results for the city-state, late Thursday.

WHJJ-AM has seen its audience sliced in half since the change, going from a respectable 3.5 share last summer, to a miniscule 1.8. Most amazing: a distant Boston signal from WBZ-AM actually beat hometown WHJJ. That has to be a first.

While Limbaugh affiliate WPRO was also down, avoiding the liberal radio media hype has paid off handsomely for the Citadel talker: it's in seventh place with a 4.1 share, while WHJJ was tied for 16th.

Radio execs are notoriously slow to admit failure, but this one is so devastating for WHJJ, Clear Channel has no choice but to quickly pull the format's plug. My guess: they dig in their heels and attempt to rearrange the Titanic's deck chairs first.

Why isn't the Ocean State a good place for liberal talk hosts? Simple: conservatives naturally fit the role of anti-corruption, pro-taxpayer watchdogs, while leftists are stuck in the position of defending the crooked Rogue's Island political establishment.

But it's not much different elsewhere. What approach can liberal talkers use, other than boring Bush-bashing? Where's the audience demand?

Meanwhile, conservatives looked great in the Bay Area, where talker KSFO gained almost a half share to finish with a 3.5, good for 6th place overall. Right-leaning rival KNEW also showed some life, rising from a 1.1 to a 1.6.

Market powerhouse KGO fell a bit, but of course remained in first place, while Air America's KQKE rose from a 1.0 to a 1.2. That's still far below the adult standards format previously aired on that frequency.

In Boston, a real shake-up, where the Red Sox Nation propelled sports WEEI-AM into first place, while traditional market "heritage" news-talk station WBZ-AM fell to second. I'm not sure if WBZ has, in modern history, ever finished below first place.

WBZ has several issues to overcome: a rapidly-aging audience, the death of talk legend David Brudnoy and the station's backing off of talk shows in favor of additional news programming.

None of these are good for ratings and things could get worse as the baseball season continues.

Conservative WRKO was up a tad, from a 4.1 to a 4.2, for 6th place overall. Rival WTKK-FM, home to Imus, Jay Severin and Laura Ingraham, fell from a 3.8 to a 3.6, taking 8th. It peaked last year with a 4.1.

There's one heck of a large conservative talk radio audience in Boston, isn't there?

Air America's two local stations checked in with a combined 0.6, taking last place overall. This is about as good as it's going to get for the Beantown lib talk duo.

More updates coming for additional cities, a look at Sacramento as well.

Ratings data from Radio & Records. Please support our advertisers, it helps to maintain this site. Thanks!

21 July 2005

Seattle Station Goes After Drudge

Matt's Nasty Surprise

KOMO-TV Sends Drudge 'Net Missile

Somebody at Seattle's KOMO-TV sure doesn't like Matt Drudge.

After linking to a photo at KOMO's website, the station had the image changed from one of an illegal drug/alien/terrorist smuggling tunnel between Lynden, Washington and British Columbia, to the below image.

This image briefly appeared at the Drudge Report before quickly being removed. KOMO-TV graphic

Within minutes, Drudge's people noticed the image on and had it removed. The Radio Equalizer captured it during that brief time.

Here's the KOMO smuggling story link. I thought about putting the tunnel picture here, in hopes I could get my own custom Web scolding from the station, but I'll hold off for now.

So what's the big deal if Drudge links to KOMO-TV?

Bandwidth is one issue, meaning that it costs the ABC station extra money to have the photo link on his site, but most news outlets like the huge traffic increases they get from him, it's great for business. If clicking the photo took readers to KOMO's site, it should have provided a benefit.

Is KOMO's notoriously liberal newsroom operation the problem? That's possible, Drudge is still hated by the left, even though his own political views are considered libertarian, not conservative.

I'm not sure this was a good move on KOMO's part, it makes them look as though they're initiating a petty conflict with Drudge, when they have a news image to maintain. I've never seen another media outlet resort to this.

Update: Okay, I'll give in and run KOMO's sacred photo, but without a link back to their site.

We'll see if I get raked over the coals.

Other points: the new, scolding, graphic cost the station just as much in hosting charges, didn't it? Did anyone try to contact Drudge and outline their policy, or were they just trying to make him look bad?

That's why I question their motives, would they do this to Al Franken or Janeane Garofalo?

Friday Update: welcome Orbusmax and Free Republic readers. Be sure to check out the comments section below, there's a lively debate going on there about the concept of "hotlinking".

As far as the photo, I'm seeing the same picture credited to the DEA and AP. Who took the picture? Here's the BBC's tunnel story, with links to other sources.

Thanks for your continued support of our advertisers.

Another London Attack Attempt

Covering London II

Networks, Radio Take Different Approaches

When major stories break, the Radio Equalizer always pays attention to how broadcast networks, as opposed to cable news channels, cover the story.

Why? Because cable outlets are sure to go wall-to-wall, that's what they do 24/7. News junkies go to FOX News, CNN and MSNBC first and stay there.

Broadcast networks, however, must break into regular programming. Is the story worth cancelling soaps, game shows, etc.? Do they believe the average oblivious viewer can be made to care?

Today, with London's terrorists attempting a sequel to their attacks of two weeks ago, American networks were still in their morning news programs. Did local affiliates stick with the news, providing updates, or did they go back to chat shows later in the morning?

All of Boston's TV stations had returned to normal programming by 1pm, with CBS affiliate WBZ-4 cancelling soap operas and remaining with coverage until that point. NBC's WHDH-7 also kept with developments for quite some time.

Others had gone back to regular programs much earlier, as if nothing had happened.
Emergency services by the 26 bus
Emergency services in protective clothing were deployed at the bus site. Photo, caption: BBC

I don't expect much from the local WB station, but what's the problem at PBS? Do they have the ability to take a live BBC feed? With the big debate about public television's future, why don't become more relevant to the immediacy of global news developments?

Did broadcast network anchors seem surprisingly caught off-guard today, considering it's just two weeks later? Or were they simply frustrated at the lack of early details?

Far more analysis of network coverage at TVNewser. Bloggers and insiders are emailing a number of observations.

It's the type of story that TV owns in the early hours, as viewers seek images, then is given to radio, as people look for a place to discuss it.

The busy recent news cycle has given Rush Limbaugh a huge boost, as there's lots to talk about and Rush tends to get fired-up at times like this. Interestingly, he moved on to other topics in the second hour.

Is it any less of a story, just because the bombs didn't detonate this time?

If other big terrorism stories break in the next week, however, Rush will be taking a holiday, which could become a problem for talk radio.

Here's an idea for talk hosts: will the public will hold London Mayor "Red" Ken Livingstone's feet to the fire, after he recently blamed the US and UK for provoking the attacks? Will the American left further ramp up this line of rhetoric, as well?

Friday update: TVNewser reports that MSNBC stuck with Imus rather than going to London coverage for a full 20 minutes. What makes Imus so important?

Any observations from you regarding TV, radio news coverage or talk shows today? Please leave your comments below, no registration required.

By the way, Bernard Goldberg's book, discussed on Limbaugh's show Thursday is found in the Amazon link boxes to the right. Your Amazon orders that begin with clicks from here help maintain this site. Thanks for your support.

Critical Radio Ratings Emerge

Ugly Slump Continues

Talk Radio Weak In Key Ratings Releases

(Note: many new updates below)

What's it going to take to get talk radio out of this increasingly dismal ratings slump?

The Radio Equalizer is tired of the post-election cycle excuse, since better-programmed stations are falling a bit less, while incompetently-managed outlets are getting creamed.

The emerging Spring 2005 figures paint an especially bleak picture that must serve as an urgent industry wake-up call. Spring and fall Arbitron releases are considered the most important for media buyers, a loose parallel to TV's "Sweeps" months.

Spring ratings are usually higher than winter or summer, because stations heavily pump up marketing budgets, before slashing spending once summer holidays approach. So it's likely things will get worse in upcoming releases.

We've previously discussed what's going wrong and why, but the industry is notoriously slow to wake up and smell the Starbucks (or better yet, Dunkin').

Meanwhile, I'm hearing from a number of readers asking about the latest lefty 'Net boasts regarding Air America's fantastic performance or Franken beating Rush in Outer Mongolia. Please keep the emails coming, but some of their claims are just too silly to be examined.

If it makes them feel better to think liberal talk is succeeding, I'm all for anything that improves the left's overall mental health.

Tom at BizzyBlog has done his own analysis of the ratings releases, be sure to check them out here. Bore America weighs in here with additional details.

Results for some of the largest markets:

#1 New York

Drudge posted this on his site:


HANNITY 99,100
O'REILLY 72,700
SAVAGE 61,900

This means that in any quarter hour period, this average number of New York City adults 12 and older were listening.

What it doesn't tell you is the rest of the story, even if we don't yet have all of the pieces.

WABC continues to suffer, along with most of ABC's other owned and operated (O&O in industry lingo) news-talk stations. With news reports strongly suggesting that Disney is ready to sell the radio division, the stations appear distracted and are hurting. San Francisco's talkers remain the key exceptions.

It limped across the spring finish line with a 3.2 share, down from a 4.5 fall 2004 peak, good only for 11th place. WABC has programming issues that need to be addressed, but nothing's so far been touched.

BoreAmerica points to this new press release, where Limbaugh's NYC ratings data is compared to Franken and others:

The Rush Limbaugh Show is the #1 ranked talk program in the noon - 3 p.m. ET time slot. Among Persons 12+, Mr. Limbaugh has a 4.1 share with 139,100 listeners tuning in, on average, every quarter hour. Among Adults 25-54, he has a 2.5 share with 50,600 of them tuning in, on average, every quarter hour.

Al Franken, who airs at the same time on WLIB-AM, has a share of 1.8 with 61,400 listeners Persons 12+ tuning in, on average, every quarter hour. With Adults 25-54, he has a 1.7 share with a listening audience of 34,400, on average, every quarter hour. Therefore, Mr. Limbaugh's audience is more than double that of Mr. Franken's audience.

Furthermore, among all radio programs on the AM and FM dial during the noon - 3 p.m. time slot, Mr. Limbaugh ranked #5 among Persons 12+ and #17 among Adults 25-54. Mr. Franken on the other hand ranked #23 among Persons 12+ and #20 among Adults 25-54.

Click the link for more comparisons.

Senile would-be challenger WOR takes 21st place, with a flat performance, but Michael Savage continues to pump up the station's evening ratings.

BizzyBlog also notes that Savage spent time on Wednesday's show boasting about the ratings success, saying he was beating WABC. Readers have been asking me if the claims are true, I believe they probably are.

This begs the question: without Savage in the lineup, what would WOR's ratings look like?

Air America's flagship WLIB, meanwhile, falls to a 1.0 share from a 1.2 in the winter survey. Given Drudge's Franken figure, he must account for a good percentage of the station's listenership. Can't imagine how bad the rest of the day must look.

Overall, WLIB took 24th place. Much lefty hay has been made about my now oft-repeated claim that the previous Caribbean format outperformed WLIB's lib talk. The problem: it's true. Besides, I'd rather hear soca or zouk music any day, over these guys.

#2 Los Angeles:

Even market-leader KFI couldn't escape the trend: it fell from a 4.6 to a 3.9, taking 6th place. KABC, continuing the company's pattern, fell again from a 2.3 to a 2.1, for 18th overall. It peaked at a 2.9 last year.

There was a time when KABC was a major Southland force, but KFI long ago ate its lunch. Perhaps it can again be brought back to life.

Liberal talker KTLK gained, going from a 0.3 to a 0.8. I suppose liberals have to take a "victory" where they can get it, but a station below a one share isn't taken too seriously in the radio biz.

Can it go higher? I believe so, there's a natural audience that can probably take it to a 1.0 or slightly better. But that makes it nothing but a tiny niche format, like ethnic programming.

#3 Chicago:

Baseball brought enormous gains to Tribune's WGN, rising from a 5.3 to a 6.6, with a solid lock on first place.

WLS, continuing ABC's trend, takes a huge hit, dropping to a 3.4 from 4.2. It's now in eighth place. Recent management changes may lead to programming changes in upcoming months. Summer would be the best time to do that, before the fall ratings period begins.

Robert Feder's Chicago Sun-Times radio column is now out, with detailed Windy City ratings information. According to Feder, WLS was hit hard in every daypart, including morning drive with Don Wade and Roma, but was especially clobbered in afternoons, where Roe Conn has been working solo since his co-host exited last year.

WLS has a number of very well-paid local talk hosts, with performance like this I hope they've been stuffing the piggy banks for a rainy day, because it's now pouring outside.

Air America affiliate WCPT-AM shows up for the first time with a 0.4, tied for second-to-last place.

#17 San Diego:

KOGO-AM sustains heavy damage, falling a full share, from a 5.3 to a 4.3. It's no longer in first place, either, now taking second. KOGO carries Limbaugh and Roger Hedgecock.

Rival KFMB isn't putting up much of a fight anymore, holding steady with a 3.2, after peaking last year at 4.8. It runs Savage and local talker Rick Roberts.

Air America's KLSD turned in a flat 1.7, up a tenth.

I think a huge mistake is being made in San Diego, where there are few local talk shows, despite an increasing number of hot area issues, particularly with major city scandals unfolding. Syndicated talkers simply can't address these matters.

Short-sighted cost-cutting is taking a major toll on performance. KFMB thought it was enough to have Roberts, that needs to be reconsidered. KOGO needs more of a local talk focus and to target younger listeners, KFI-style.

Note that L.A.'s KFI scores a relatively large rating in San Diego, a 2.4 in the latest survey. That's a strong indication area listeners aren't happy with local choices.

#6 Philadelphia:

Infinity's Limbaugh talker WPHT holds steady at 11th, with a flat 3.6 overall share.

Air America's WHAT-AM falls off the page, with no ratings to report.

#10 Detroit:

ABC's WJR down, but holds first place with a 5.6, down from a 6.3 in the winter book. WJR is the Limbaugh/Hannity station for the region.

Air America's WDTW-AM gets a 0.4, good for second-to-last place.

Susan Whitall's Detroit News radio column is now up. Hat tip: RadioDailyNews.

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Update: Another radio blogging discovery: Ohio Media Watch. Lots about talk radio here.

19 July 2005

Huffington Post Takes On Radio Equalizer

Not Over Yet

Talk Hosts Return From Iraq, Slams Continue

Looks like liberals weren't done attacking talk radio's field trip to Iraq, after all.

Nor did the Radio Equalizer's piece on the subject go unnoticed, either, becoming fodder for the Huffington Post's Michelle Pilecki:

Since this was also a morale-boosting trip giving regular servicemembers cookies, coffee, and a chance to talk on the radio, I wouldn't have any problem with it if it weren't that the rhetoric of so many trip-supporters was as heated as Iraq in July.

My favorite example from the Radio Equalizer: "The onslaught really became personal, as [KSFO-AM/San Francisco morning host Melanie] Morgan's news credentials were attacked and one site begged Iraqi terrorists to kidnap the group."

Said "site" was actually a discussion in which one of 62 posts said: "I hope the insurgency, er, freedom fighters are taking notes and planning a kidnaping or two." Five other posts compared the tour to This Is Spinal Tap, so you know just how serious they were.

Wasn't it really about the left going bananas over the purpose of this trip, calling it propaganda? FOX News ran a lengthy story, with an array of charges made by critics.

What bothered me was that many of the hosts paid their own way, in one case $20,000 out-of-pocket and deserved a little more respect. Instead, they got the Rove treatment, with accusations the group was in cahoots with the administration.

Pilecki is very kind to point out the morale-boosting aspect of the journey, which I'd never seen mentioned by anyone on the left side of the spectrum.

As for the personal attacks on KSFO's Melanie Morgan, they were well-documented and refuted by Michelle Malkin here.

Pilecki believes I've somehow been wrong to pin on a website, what's contained in its comments section. To me, the point is that the outrageous discussion has taken place, not whether the site's author was behind it.

Can it really be chalked up to one reader's crazy comment?

It's not quite that simple, it turns out. The hate rhetoric began with the first of 62 messages at the lefty Smirking Chimp site, featuring the headline "Attention All Iraqi Kidnappers", followed by the FOX News story mentioned above.

A number of subsequent comments from readers focus on whether the hosts would or should be physically harmed, seeming to hope it would happen:

Who are the big names on the itinerary?

I hope the insurgency, er, freedom fighters are taking notes and planning a kidnaping or two. Hannity or Coulter begging for their lives would be something to see.

Exhibit "B" (with language editing):

I hope some of the troops beat the f**king s**t out of them.

Thats what I hope.


Although the idiot "journalists" going on this junket whine that they're paying their own way, WE will be paying for their protection while they're over there in the form of our tax dollars. How I wish I had the connections to arrange a kidnapping or two.

How about "D" (language editing mine):

I hate to think this, I really do. But after reading this so-called "feedback" from the Safe, er...Green Zone, I'm convinced the only thing that's going to shut these deluded f**kers up is for a crate of pipe bombs to detonate right inside their air conditioned housing unit.

I take that back...please make this happen during one of their skinny-dipping ("I won’t tell if you won’t!"), Fallijah-Fizz sessions!

As for the Spinal Tap "satire", it's confined to just a few of the messages and isn't a key aspect of the discussion.

Meanwhile, the hate speech in the above posts isn't challenged even once, in fact, others add to it, in subsequent comments.

How angry must you be to wish this kind of harm on your political opponents? And why the need to downplay hate-filled rhetoric on your own side of the fence?

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