The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

17 January 2006

Air America's Pay-To-Play Negotiations Fail


Angry Firm Discloses Failed Air America Radio Deal

When business negotiations between two companies fail, how often does either side lash out in public? Normally, few details of such proposals will ever see the light of day.

So when the Information Radio Network decided to pay PRNewswire to distribute a tell-all press release detailing their now-abandoned dealings with Air America Radio, they must have been mighty ticked off.

In the process, they've done us a big favor: finally shedding a bit of public light on the financially struggling liberal radio network's recent move toward "pay-to-play" programming on weekends and after 7pm on weeknights.

Instead of paying Air America hosts to fill these hours, they're quietly being sold to the highest bidder, if any can be found. Is it part of a last-ditch survival strategy for a network already living on borrowed time? You be the judge.

One minor variation here: instead of outright purchasing hours of airtime, IRN approached them with advertising commitments, offering a split of the proceeds in exchange for network access.

The price of
such a shift in philosophy is obvious: in exchange for money, the network gets typically shoddy programming. To get an idea what we mean, think about late-night TV infomercials. Do you regularly watch them?

Even more incredible, cash-starved Air America execs were apparently willing to run a "conservative" religious outfit's programs, even if the host was said to be "progressive". Of course, these are the very same sort of people Randi Rhodes, Janeane Garofalo and Al Franken regularly attack on the air.

While the Radio Equalizer hadn't previously heard of IRN, a visit to their website reveals a primarily extreme-right lineup of personalities, partly focused on exposing "the new world order".

Why IRN decided to syndicate an extreme-left host isn't clear, but polar opposites do sometimes pair up in politics, making for strange bedfellows. Or perhaps they somehow thought there was money to made in liberal radio, meaning they haven't been paying attention to Air America's situation.

From IRN's press release, sure to cause red faces at Air America:

MEMPHIS, Tenn., Jan. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- As Arbitron continues to release radio ratings from the recently completed Fall 2005 survey period, affiliates of Air America, the progressive radio network, which launched behind one of the most heralded promotional pushes in radio history are showing continuing signs of listener erosion.

Information Radio Network (IRN), a traditionally conservative network, earlier last year launched an African-American progressive talk show host, Andre Eggelletion for national syndication. Despite its conservative values, IRN realized the lack of successful African-America radio talk show hosts in syndication today.

In August 2005, IRN approached Air America with a joint venture to syndicate Eggelletion's program, which had been airing on WSRF in Miami. At the same time, IRN was able to garner a minimum of $400,000 annually in advertising commitments for the program, predicated upon Air America's list of affiliates.

The proposed agreement stated that IRN would produce and deliver the program to Air America, and Air America would sign-up the radio affiliates. Add revenues from the program would be shared between the parties equally after recouping expenses. Air America needed only to provide a place for the Eggelletion show in its lineup.

Air America would only offer IRN and Eggelletion the overnight shift. Currently, the only other African-American voices on Air America share co-hosting duties with other non-minority talent. Furthermore, the business model offered to IRN would have given Air America over two-thirds of the program revenue.

"We're extremely disappointed that after four months of patient negotiations, Air America would present us with an offer that fails to recognize both IRN's investment and Andre's talent," said Dr. Larry Bates, CEO of IRN Radio.

IRN had no choice but to reject Air America's offer. IRN will continue to air Eggelletion's program in select U.S. markets, including Memphis, Tennessee, and national rollout is planned beginning later this month.

Why did talks fail? The Radio Equalizer's wonders if Air America felt they could get more from another outfit for the early evening hours. IRN's figure, however, must have looked quite tempting to the cash-starved liberal radio network, probably why they had such lengthy discussions in the first place.

What's Air America's side of this story? Who knows, we'd sure love to hear it, but we're not holding our breath.

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Frankenfall: David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer


  • Two Points:

    1. Brian, you still have not provided any evidence that AAR is having financial troubles or is "living on borrowed time." Please provide some concrete evidence (budgets, margins, revenue, etc.). This echo chamber thing is getting stale, and this press release does bothing to either confirm nor deny your suppositions.
    2. Press release sounds like sour grapes to me. Assumning it is completely accurate, all it means is that 2 sides couldn't come to an agreement. Big deal -- happens all the time. If AAR was as desperate as Brian claims, they most likely would have done the deal.

    By Blogger Justin, at 17 January, 2006 08:46  

  • Funny you mention "this echo chamber thing is getting stale." That's basically the primary weapon of the left, keep saying something over and over until it sticks (or hope it sticks.) The difference is the left makes up, out of thin air, most of their mantras while the right bases them in fact.

    "Bush Lied" anyone? The phrase holds no meaning anymore. It's akin to when a cashier tells you to "Have a nice day." No one really pays it much attention, but it's the cashier's Pavlovian response to every purchase, just like "Bush lied" is the empty Liberal response to every losing argument.

    In the case of Air America, why should Brian have to provide the "concrete evidence" you keep whining about? AA's actions speak for themselves in a better way than any numbers could. You don't see successful radio stations acting the way they do. All evidence points to a desperate outfit.

    By Blogger Dr. T, at 17 January, 2006 12:18  

  • Dr. T is now officially captain talking point.

    I particularly love the part about not having to provide proof. Dr. T loves getting fucked in the ass by Hitler while licking the juices from Ann Coulter's slimy pussy. Why should I have to provide concrete proof of that? Dr. T's actions speak for themselves.

    By Blogger Mr. Kite, at 17 January, 2006 13:10  

  • you know, if maloney wants to drone on and on about air america, let him. because while he is bitching about the liberals' radio station, we're taking out their republican leaders one by one. if the worst thing they can get us for is our radio station, then let them throw their stones. their leaders actions speak for themselves.

    By Blogger liberal outlaw, at 17 January, 2006 15:37  

  • Kite - Either you are a complete fool (which is more than certainly the case) or perhaps just a 12 year old with a bit of time on your hands. Your frustration level shows in your written speech patterns. FACTS? Nah, someone who uses language and reasoning like yours doesn't need or even want to use facts.... just feelings.....

    By Blogger wise_n_texas, at 17 January, 2006 15:42  

  • Can someone explain this development regarding Air America here in Dallas for me?

    Where before, they seemed to only play advertisements or public service announcements, they have started playing music for 2 or 3 minute intervals between parts of the broadcast, over the half-hour break, etc.

    Why would they do this?


    By Blogger Lokki, at 17 January, 2006 17:35  

  • Brian - I'm confused. You have a graphic saying that Al's ratings have fallen, and he can't get up... and yet everything I'm reading says that he's up all over the place, most notably in NYC.

    So we're clear: Randi is beating Sean Hannity in the coveted Male 25-54 demo, and Al is burying, I mean seriously burying, Bill O'Reilly. 2.4 to 0.8.

    That makes it a sellable radio station - a legitimate contender in the NYC market. Beating WOR almost across the board and rivaling WABC.

    I note Brian, with some interest, that you failed to mention those facts.

    By Blogger Lyin' Baloney, at 17 January, 2006 23:22  

  • Lokki: pretty clearly they can't find a buyer for the ad time if they're running music during it.

    By Blogger James Jones, at 18 January, 2006 05:53  

  • The reason talks failed is because IRN wanted the show broadcast evenings, which would have forced Air America to dump one of its two popular shows. They were willing to try out the show after Mike Malloy, but IRN refused.

    Nont only is this sour grapes, but its a case of IRN being idiots. Had they wanted national sydication, the opportunity was there. It just wasn't in a prime time slot. If the show was any good, it would have been possible to renegotiate down the line.

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 18 January, 2006 08:30  

  • lyin' baloney: "[WLIB is] beating WOR almost across the board and rivaling WABC."

    How about a little reality?
    WABC : 10th place : 3.4 overall
    WOR : 19th place : 2.2 overall
    WLIB : 23rd place : 1.4 overall

    "Beating WOR almost across the board"? "Rivaling WABC"? Who's lying now?

    But if you want to keep telling yourself that ... Fine.

    By Blogger frankenlies, at 18 January, 2006 20:11  

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