The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

31 March 2006

Air America Anniversary, Sacramento, New York City, Al Franken, Bill O'Reilly


After Two Years, How Else To Describe Air America?

As certain as the presence of a dozen Dunkin' Donuts outlets in every New England town, today's second Air America Radio on-air anniversary is sure to bring mainstream media accolades from every corner of the country.

When looking at the network honestly, however, how can we conclude it's been anything other than a debacle?

--- Ratings are in the toilet (another update soon on the way).

--- Just to stay afloat, it requires constant cash infusions from Rob Glaser and George Soros.

--- To sustain a bloated management and staff structure, company spending remains outrageous, with lavish salaries, perks and other benefits. Franken and some of its other hosts are compensated at rates up to ten times industry norms.

--- Does the firm ever intend to make money, or is it merely a political operation?

--- From skits advocating violence against President Bush, to the Gloria Wise taxpayer funds transfer scandal, Air America has had a nearly endless knack for generating bad publicity.

Getting a head start on the fresh round of praise was the ultraliberal and ever-shrinking New York Daily News:

After 2 years, Air America grows progressively upbeat


It was two years ago tomorrow that the progressive network Air America took to the radio, like a band of pioneers seeking a foothold in territory long dominated by hostile conservatives.

The ride has been as rocky as any 19th-century wagon train, and it's still not clear where the network is ultimately headed.

But count Randi Rhodes, the 3-7 p.m. host, among those who think a lot of turf has been claimed, with more to come.

"For a long time, there was a big hole," said Rhodes, "and it's not there anymore. Now there's another side on the radio. People who think our government has been going in the wrong direction don't feel like they're alone anymore.

"I'm much more optimistic today than I was two years ago. Much more hopeful."

Air America launched amid considerable optimism of its own - heady talk of buying its own network of stations while derailing the re-election of President Bush.

--- Given the huge number of liberal talk shows that have failed in the past, how are Air America's hosts "pioneers"?

--- How are conservatives "hostile"?

--- Given the company's inner turmoil, ongoing questions about the future of its flagship New York City station and ratings troubles, why is Randi so hopeful?

Perhaps the real hope is that her salary will yet overcome that of Al Franken's executive producer Billy Kimball, who clears over $600,000 a year.

From the story, more Air America spin:

Affiliates, ratings and revenue are rising, he said, challenging critics, like Bill O'Reilly, who have regularly declared the network close to dead.

One of the major arguments by O'Reilly and other critics is that Air America will never succeed as long as it sounds like a Democratic Party mouthpiece.

Network hosts maintain they often chastize Democrats - over not opposing the war more strongly, for instance - and Rhodes says Air America's critics wouldn't be so persistent if the network wasn't making a difference.

"It's a sign of fear and loathing," she said. "They see where we've gotten with zero promotion, and they're terrified."

Zero promotion? From the New York Times to the Washington Post, when has any upstart media operation ever had more fawning free publicity heaped upon it?

As for O'Reilly's point, he's right. Conservative talk radio never directly ties itself to the Republican Party, because that's a huge mistake. Nor does it usually call attention to its right-leaning nature (with a few West Coast exceptions).

To recognize the programming as conservative, it's up to the listener.

Air America, however, isn't just tied to the Democrats, it's directly promoting their candidacies and participating in partisan events. From the Sacramento Bee:

Democrats' delight: Candidates get airtime as Franken brings radio show to Sacramento

By Peter Hecht -- Bee Capitol Bureau
Thursday, March 30, 2006

Democratic gubernatorial contender Phil Angelides turned to Harvard classmate Al Franken - author, liberal satirist and foil to conservatives - to burnish his progressive political credentials.

Franken is touring California this week for broadcasts of his 9 a.m.-noon radio show. And Angelides was among several Democratic politicians to bask in the road show by the author of "The Truth (With Jokes)," "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot" and "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

Also interviewed on the Franken show Wednesday was former Sacramento Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, who is running for the state Senate, and Bill Durston, a Democrat who is challenging Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, in California's 3rd District.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, who is running for lieutenant governor, told Franken of her fight against steroids and dietary supplements for high school students.

Other than an in-kind campaign contribution for these candidates, we can't imagine what else to call Franken's Sacramento visit. No doubt Al neglected to mention Angelides' past as a decidedly un-PC land developer.

While Air America may have reached its second on-air anniversary, the company's situation has never looked more precarious. Don't expect to read much about that in the next round of upbeat press reports.

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Silence: David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer, Fluff images: Pete at IHillary, Franken with Sen. Speier: KCRA-TV


  • Hi Malonely:

    On the second birthday of AAR let's all guess how many times Malonely, "TIME MAGAZINE's Conspiracy Theorist of 1996", will predict AAR's demise this year.

    Any guesses to how many times he's predicted it in the past two years?

    By Blogger samseder, at 31 March, 2006 09:03  

  • Brian, have you thought that the reason for AAR reaching 2 is because of your nonstop free promotion? You just can't stop talking about them.

    By Blogger Mr. Kite, at 31 March, 2006 09:29  

  • Mr Maloney

    Time for your meds. Take your Red Pill right here--->

    or try this Med--->

    Can you say Revolution GOP boy?


    Congrats on your success with that hot, sexy, intelligent J.G. Every time I hear her, I picture her and Wynona boppin to the Knack in 'Reality Bites' She is a gift to this country that has yet to be appreciated and you are a fountain of great info AND your on air work just keeps getting stronger.

    I am a radio guy as well (26 years now) Check out what I snuck on a Clear Channel station in Sept. of 04

    Randi woke my ass up a few months before those broadcasts by addressing the Payne Stewart/F-16 scramble issue

    I know Malloy has popped that cherry and J.G has danced over that line a few times. But for most of the sleepwalkers in this country it will take a few more Charlie Sheens to wake em up.

    I'll be listening to you all on XM. Keep up the great work.


    By Blogger Scott Ledger, at 31 March, 2006 10:45  

  • Happy Birthday to you
    Happy Birthday to you
    Happy Birthday Dear Air America
    Happy Birthday to you

    Back on in Phoenix, Monday April 3, 2006.

    Also, here in Portland, Or, one of the spots they have been playing, they say that forces tried to keep them off the air.

    By Blogger pbrauer, at 31 March, 2006 11:18  

  • pwoor widdle bwrain. AAR never goes out business. Maybe mommy will buy you an ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles.

    By Blogger christomento, at 31 March, 2006 12:19  

  • Brian's very, very odd obsession with AAR's business model aside, the ratings and funding aspects are valid stories...

    Why he feels the need to champion poo-pooh'ing how someone else decides to spend their money...who cares?

    Interestingly absent from today's article, though, are the disingenuous all franken robbing from kids cartoons and accusations of illegal campaign financing.

    Whatever one's assessment of brian's odd obsessions, that, at least, is a step forward.

    By Blogger TJ, at 31 March, 2006 13:15  

  • Now I feel better... it was so lonely....

    By Blogger Lokki, at 31 March, 2006 13:16  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Justin, at 31 March, 2006 13:23  

  • How are conservatives "hostile"?
    Ummm Brian, have you read your own coverage? Or watched O'Reilly?

    By Blogger Justin, at 31 March, 2006 13:24  

  • Lokki

    I dont get it. Why the swarm of locust ( I mean moonbats ) on this one and but none dare show their face on a post about the ratings being virtually all on a downhill slope? If Soros chooses to feed it, it can defy gravity but he aint going to do that indefinitely. He did not make a huge pile by being stupid with his money. If the trends were up, I would say he had patience and a long term vision. But given that aint the case, it probably is a matter of time. If the very unsavory stuff with the Boys and Girls Club funds had not taken place, I doubt Maloney would care much about radio programming that no one listens to.

    From my own perspective even Soros is not a money tree. So every dime he throws away on this obvious malfunctioning entity, is a dime that wont go to a another vehicle ( that is more detrimental to conservative causes ).

    By Blogger Seriouslyunserious, at 31 March, 2006 13:39  

  • check out which has linked to this story, the comments are fun to readl

    By Blogger FYIFYI, at 31 March, 2006 13:48  

  • Happy Birthday AAR! I'll check back on this lame pathetic blog on 3/31/2007 when failed talk show host and blogger Brian Maloney once again trumpets AAR imminent demise. Yawn.

    By Blogger Robert, at 31 March, 2006 13:53  

  • Brian Baloney

    randi beat Hannity in NYC in Males 25-54

    take that, you desperate right wing hack

    BTW i just filled out an Arbitron book

    1190 WLIB was listed from M-F 5AM-10PM

    kind of makes you cry doesen'y it?

    By Blogger rightwingwhiner, at 31 March, 2006 14:39  

  • >>AAR never goes out business.

    AAR is a business? How many businesses have billionaires bankrolling them?
    Rush, Hannity, etc. all succeed and bring in money. AAR just spends money.
    And gets crap for ratings. But the Left isn't big on capitalism
    anyway, is it, Comrade?

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 31 March, 2006 14:54  

  • Brian
    You are oozing in HACKERY

    anyone with a tiny amount of radio knowledge understands 12+ ratings MEAN NOTHING. It's about the DEMOS, and A.A is doing fine in the 25-54 MALE group
    beating WABC in some time slots
    I saw the whole book. I know cats at Z100.
    did mommy make your bed today?

    By Blogger rightwingwhiner, at 31 March, 2006 14:58  

  • >> How many businesses have billionaires bankrolling them?

    Yep. I always thought that venture capitalism was akin to communism.

    :rolls eyes:

    By Blogger christomento, at 31 March, 2006 14:59  

  • hey raccoon

    12+ means spit in the radio world
    you sissy mama's boy ditto head

    By Blogger rightwingwhiner, at 31 March, 2006 15:00  

  • rightwingwhiner: Actually I wish I could have been a mama's boy. She died of cancer when I was only 12 so I barely got to know her.

    The conservatalkers do well in the 25-54 demos, much more so than the libtalkers. If Franken, etc. had a product the people wanted, you'd have the big stations running AAR. But it would be economic suicide for them to
    do so. So libs just have to fall back on getting their message out through newspapers, magazines,
    the MSM, music, Hollywood, et al.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 31 March, 2006 15:12  

  • Nice work, Brian. You have obviously struck a nerve yet again. They can't stop howling.

    By Blogger rhodeymark1, at 31 March, 2006 15:34  

  • I don't get how Piquant who owns AAR, and says they have no connection to the old AAR--how it can be celebrating it's second bday--if piquant has owned AAR for just about a year.
    ..oh,maybe cause the board members and investors are all still the same people as the "old" aar.

    By Blogger FYIFYI, at 31 March, 2006 15:46  

  • FYIFYI said...

    I don't get how Piquant who owns AAR, and says they have no connection to the old AAR--how it can be celebrating it's second bday--if piquant has owned AAR for just about a year.

    Are you really that stupid or is it just an act? There are litterly thousands of companies that have been bought and sold that celebrate their original founding date. You haven't been on this planet very long, have you?

    By Blogger pbrauer, at 31 March, 2006 16:43  

  • BTW, as a side note, Big Eddie Schultz will be on Larry King tonight 3/31/06 6pm & 9pm pacific.

    By Blogger pbrauer, at 31 March, 2006 16:47  


    I guess it just depends on whose asking. If its a media type looking to run an article on the progressive station, 2 years. If its a not for profit trying to get its money loaned without its knowledge paid back, well its a new company that does not know anything about that stuff. Sheesh.

    By Blogger Seriouslyunserious, at 31 March, 2006 18:58  

  • By Seriouslyunserious, at 31 March, 2006 18:58

    My sentiments exactly....

    By Blogger FYIFYI, at 31 March, 2006 19:36  

  • Look, I don't tend to always spell things correctly and I have typo's but when I'm attempting to point out how "stupid" someone is, I put a little more effort into making sure my spelling is correct. I see this happen quite often and I literally groan.

    Or is it "litterly"?

    That having been said, to Brian I say that I didn't realize that you were so hated so much by people who insist that you are irrelevant. Not irrelevant enough to prevent them from posting on your site week-in and week-out, but irrelevant none-the-less.

    Keep up the good work.

    By Blogger OttO, at 01 April, 2006 03:06  

  • I tend to think that progressive talk radio is a viable format. What makes AAR's second anniversary more amazing (regardless if their spot ad sales stink or if the operation is bankrolled by George Soros) is how far they've come with some of the worst hosts, worst production values, worst imaging and blind idiotic programming sense in the history of the medium. Imagine if AAR was programmed by someone who had a clue about the talk radio format. So Kudos, if you can get clears in market with Sam Seder (who no real PD would hire to host a show in market 150, that's how god awful maudlin he is) at the helm of one of your shows, god bless.

    By Blogger Cool Hand Puke, at 01 April, 2006 08:09  

  • >>with some of the worst hosts, worst production values, worst imaging and blind idiotic programming sense in the history of the medium.

    yup. by the way I wonder if they'd
    consider a kind of point-counterpoint
    show, with a liberal and a conservative...? Make way for
    Coulter and Franken! Ingraham
    and Stephie Miller!

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 01 April, 2006 15:41  

  • The ever shrinking New York Daily News??? You mean the New York Post, that Murdoch vehicle for Wingnut propaganda...

    Get over yourself Maloney or we are changinh your name to Baloney...

    By Blogger Maria E., at 01 April, 2006 16:31  

  • The funniest thing about Air America is that it refers to itself, and others refer to it, as being "progressive". But if you listen to what they have to say, it is all a throwback to the 60's and 70's. What progress are they supposedly making? What new ideas and programs are they promoting?

    By Blogger Z as in Jersey, at 02 April, 2006 12:23  

  • I guess it's "progressive" to steal from charity to keep your network going. I'm super glad these people are in denial. I hope Soros keeps pumping money into scAir America until he's broke.

    Otto - all these "progressives" ever do is post little comments online whenever they're not marching around with signs (and btw look at all of the "reviews" they give conservative authors on - it's freaking hilarious!) It beats working - but I guess since the government (i.e. our taxes) owes them a living, "working" is against their principles. You know, not working keeps them out of touch with reality- something they are proud of, apparantly.

    By Blogger RR, at 02 April, 2006 13:33  

  • Reading about the travails of Air America, and its still hopeful believers in Bukharin, seems more an exercise of kicking at the carcass of a dead enterprise. Each time the boot is placed Air America's true believers shout out "See! It's not dead, it just moved again"

    By Blogger Pat Patterson, at 02 April, 2006 14:21  

  • You're joking, right? "Conservative radio never directly ties itself to the Republican Party???" The listener has to "guess" that it's conservative? You've got to be off your meds! I listen to a lot of talk radio, from Glenn Beck to Ed Schultz, and I can assure you, conservative radio consistently 1) derides the Democratic party, 2) lavishes praise on George Bush (particularly Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, whom I'm convinced do their programs on their knees from the Oval Office,) 3) advocates listeners to vote Republican (last year, Fla host Glenn Beck literally warned his listeners down here that if they voted for Kerry, they were essentially asking for another terrorist attack, 4) liken Democrats to communists (Savage does this almost daily, though he is one of the few who does criticize the GOP) and on and on.

    Michael McConnell says point blank that he's a Republican, as does Glenn Beck and Neil Boortz and Michael Medved (who goes even further, likening Republicans to virtually the party of God...) on and on and on... and they not only state their preference, they deride the Dems and pushing their listeners to support the GOP.

    You're as delusional as those who claim that Fox News is neither GOP-friendly nor conservative. I think it stems from a need to believe that your side is right, and only the other side is partisan. The truth is, both left and right wing radio are partisan. Like one and hate the other if you want to, but at least be honest about that fact.

    I'm not defending Air America -- I don't even listen to much of it because though I'm a Democrat, I don't really enjoy many of the shows (except for Randi Rhodes, and Schultz is on Jones, not AA, so he doesn't count, though he is doing well ratings-wise, disproving your theory that it can't be done). I'm just saying that you're being intellectually dishonest in pretending that "right wing radio" is neither right wing nor blatantly Republican.


    By Blogger JReid, at 02 April, 2006 15:42  

  • Correction: by "last year" I meant 2004 re the election. Man, time flies when George Bush is f---ing up the country...!

    By Blogger JReid, at 02 April, 2006 15:44  

  • When has Neal Boortz ever claimed to be a Republican? Have you ever listened to his show?

    By Blogger Ben, at 02 April, 2006 16:27  

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