The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

22 May 2006

Sheldon Drobny, Air America Radio, Nova M LLC, Milwaukee


Drobny Goal: Salvaging Air America

For Air America co-founder/ Lyndon LaRouche sympathizer/ Democrat Party operative Sheldon Drobny, propping up Air America Radio isn't proving so easy this time.

According to a report in today's Business Journal of Milwaukee, efforts to bring its programming to America's Dairyland simply aren't panning out.

So how will the New York Times spin the situation this time?

As Michelle Malkin and the Radio Equalizer revealed last August, Sheldon and wife Anita have been there at every turn to rescue the liberal radio network. And each time the company's financial situation deteriorates, their carefully- planned shell game strategy once again kicks into high gear.

This time, it's called Nova M Radio LLC and is being used as a vehicle to purchase stations that will carry Franken & Friends. By sidestepping Air America parent Piquant LLC's ugly balance sheet, Nova M (at least in theory) allows deals to be made that are otherwise unthinkable.

But who's funding Nova M?

And for a company that fails to turn a profit, or generate listener ratings growth outside of Portland and Seattle, why fight to keep Air America alive? Because it's really about ego and political ideology: remember, this was going to be the network that could finally take on Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talkers.

Especially during an election year, giving up now means making an unpleasant admission that liberal talk radio simply isn't going to find a significant audience.

According to today's Business Journal report, Drobny's attempts to purchase a Milwaukee- area station aren't getting off the ground:

The owners of liberal talk radio network Air America are seeking local investors for a "Green Bay Packer community model" of joint ownership in a Milwaukee radio station.

However, Air America backers have yet to find a station to buy and already have been rebuffed by Packers Hall of Famer Willie Davis, the owner of black talk radio station WMCS-AM (1290).

Wisconsin is among the states they've targeted with Milwaukee being their first priority, the couple said in an interview. Anita Drobny met recently in Milwaukee with a group that includes members of the Milwaukee County Democratic Party.

"We believe very strongly that Wisconsin needs to have much more balanced information on the radio waves," Anita Drobny said.

In Milwaukee, the Drobnys are seeking larger investors as well as average folks who would invest $10 to $100 toward acquiring a station. Nova M wants to lease with an option to buy, and struck such a deal in April for a station in Little Rock, Ark.

Air America representatives contacted WMCS and "we have absolutely no interest whatsoever," said general manager Bill Hurwitz.

Doesn't it seem odd that Air America is constantly looking to bump off ethnic programming for its white liberal- dominated lineup?

In addition, keep this in mind: even if the Drobnys find 30 medium and large market stations for the network's offerings, it still won't make up for the impending loss of its flagship New York City outlet, WLIB-AM.

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NYT & AAR in Bed: David A Lunde


  • There's an old saying in the financial world: "Never exercise your options before they're due."

    Where Nova M is concerned, the decision of whether or not to exercise the option of choosing to broadcast AAR's programming is held by the station owners with whom they're negotiating. The due date is when AAR is scheduled to lose its WLIB outlet in NYC at the end of August. If Nova M's "strategy" for extending AAR's reach has any hope, look for a bunch of deals to happen around then, when the station owners will be able to extract the best deal for themselves from Nova M.

    Until then, it's going to be a long summer for AAR....

    By Blogger Ironman, at 22 May, 2006 19:18  

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