The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

21 March 2006

Jane Fonda, Rosie O'Donnell, Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem


For Network Debut, Feminists Line Up Ca$h

*** 12 Sept 2006: Note Update Below ***

Q: What can GreenStone Media do, that Air America Radio can't?

A: Raise millions of dollars from celebrity feminists and Hollywood liberals.

Take that, Al Franken!

After months of planning, a new network talk radio venture for women has $3.1 million in early-stage funding and talk hosts in place, if only it can find some radio stations.

Led by former FCC Commissioner Susan Hess and Jones MediaAmerica exec Edie Hilliard, a Seattle-based supporter, the fledgling operation claims its programming will focus on lifestyle topics, rather than politics.

With Jane Fonda, Rosie O'Donnell, Billie Jean King and Gloria Steinem providing financing, in addition to Hilliard's far-left background and that of its newly-hired hosts, however, will this really be possible?

Or is it now impossible to raise money with "liberal politics" found anywhere inside a business plan?

While at Jones, Hilliard was notorious for making her extremist political slant clear to all. In addition, she openly pushed for far-left talk radio syndication several years before Air America was created.

And, in a previously unreported twist, GreenStone's success, if any, could provide badly needed funding for Air America's ca$h-starved operations. More on that in a moment.

While the company claims it spent a year researching the marketplace, one wonders if there is really a need for female-targeted 24-7 talk radio programming. Having been attempted by ABC in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the past, the outcome was nightmarish.

And those poor results were achieved using experienced broadcasters, something GreenStone doesn't find necessary. Why not learn from Air America's mistakes?

Plucking people off the street and turning them into radio talk show hosts almost never works.

Recently, ABC was forced to pay Air America to run its own female-oriented show, The Satellite Sisters, on WLIB in New York City. Despite significant marketing, the weekday lifestyle-focused talk show has struggled to gain affiliates.

Are women really underserved in radio? As Bill Virgin wrote recently in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

It's not that women haven't made it nationally as talk hosts. Relationship consultants Laura Schlessinger and Joy Browne, political commentators including Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes and Laura Ingraham, sports-talker Nanci "the Fabulous Sports Babe" Donnellan and technology-show host Kim Komando come to mind.

Not to mention a huge name in female-focused radio, based in Seattle: Delilah, queen of late-night FM chatter. She was originally syndicated by Broadcast Programming, since gobbled up by Jones.

Nearly all of these women have substantial broadcasting backgrounds.

For GreenStone's lineup, it's a different story, taking its cues from Air America's strange habit of placing comedians and actors in the host's chair. At the company's website, audio clips are available of trial-run "broadcasts".

Here are the posted bios of its morning hosts:

MAUREEN LANGAN is an award-winning stand-up comic and broadcaster. She created and hosted Bloomberg Television and Radio's popular entertainment programming and was a reporter for WNET-TV in New York. She was named "Best Female Commentator" by the Newswomen's Club of New York and was the recipient of Planned Parenthood's prestigious Maggie Award. As a comic, Maureen performs at New York City's top clubs and in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. She has appeared on HBO, WE Television, and in many national commercials. She and her husband Peter live in Manhattan.

CORY KAHANEY is a stand-up comic and performer, was a top five finalist on NBC's Last Comic Standing, hosted her own special on Comedy Central, and appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, The View, and Politically Incorrect. Cory is remarried with one child in college and another in diapers.

NELSIE SPENCER is an accomplished actress, playwright, writer, and stand-up comic. She parlayed her experience as a mom into a successful novel, The Playgroup, which the New York Post acclaimed "Momsational." She co-wrote and costarred in, My Heart Belongs to Daddy, which was lauded by critics far and wide. Nelsie lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

In listening to the demo clips, the Radio Equalizer wondered why one host seemed to dominate, while the others seemed along for the ride. They were warm and friendly, but used local New York City references that might mean little to women elsewhere.

That raises a question: can women really be lumped into one giant demographic category? What does the housewife in suburban Kansas City have in common with Manhattan or Los Angeles socialites?

In the same way FM "talk radio for guys" has failed in several markets, one wonders how Gloria Steinem could really have her finger on the pulse of broadcasting's future here. Aren't the seventies over?

And what does former FCC Commissioner Hess know about programming talk radio?

How does GreenStone's potential success help Air America? By leasing unused New York City studio and satellite time from Piquant LLC.

After an upfront payment of $25,000, that same amount monthly for the first six and $35,000 for the next six, it gets access to facilities and airtime (not Air America's stations, however).

While that kind of dough will barely cover Al Franken and Billy Kimball's restaurant tabs, Piquant will take anything it can get to stay alive.

Isn't it great to see liberals helping their friends pay the bills? It takes a village to keep Air America afloat.

UPDATE: This article has since been updated, click here for more.

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  • At least AAR's management is finally doing something smart with its underutilized resources - I had wondered what they were going to do with Franken's NYC studio, and was beginning to wonder if they were just going to sell it.

    By Blogger Ironman, at 21 March, 2006 08:37  

  • not to sound rude, and i know this is off topic, but i just think its amazing how few posts these blogs get when they aren't about air america.

    if brian gets his wish, and air america actually shuts down, i don't think anyone would ever come back to this site.

    By Blogger hardcore conservative genious, at 21 March, 2006 16:30  

  • so it'll essentially be The View on the radio?

    By Blogger eLarson, at 21 March, 2006 17:54  

  • Give them two weeks and they will run out of stuff to talk about. Even more from Loserville than AAR.

    By Blogger tradersmith, at 21 March, 2006 19:01  

  • How do you find this radio station in Houston????? I love you Jane Fonda!!!!

    By Blogger williamsharum, at 15 September, 2006 23:18  

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