The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

12 October 2006

Air America Radio, Atlanta, Think Progress


Air America Failure Is An O'Reilly/FOX News Plot!

It may not be as outrageous as the fauxtography smear machine that has spread fake, "incriminating" photos across the Internet, but it doesn't make the situation any less frustrating.

Increasingly, your Radio Equalizer is taking the blame for inaccurate reporting regarding the fate of Air America Radio and a supposed bankruptcy that was due to be filed several weeks ago. Now, another example that recently appeared in a print publication is spreading across lefty chat boards, with no attempt to correct the false statement.

From Creative Loafing, a weekly "alternative" newspaper in Atlanta:

Tom Taylor, editor of the Inside Radio newsletter, says the near extinction of left talk radio coincides with deregulation. "In 15 years, the national limit on ownership has gone from 14 stations to no limit," Taylor says, "while the local limit has gone from two stations to eight in large markets." In other words, a few conservative, corporate honchos decide what's heard.

Air America was born to give progressive talk a home. Earlier attempts, including one by a union-owned network where Malloy worked, had failed to gain traction. Air America immediately ran into big trouble. Investors and management were replaced and replaced again. Ex-CEO Evan Cohen, a Republican activist, created a scandal by diverting money from a youth club to Air America. The network's star, Al Franken, called Cohen a "crook."

Last spring, Air America lost its full-time Atlanta affiliate (full disclosure: CL hosted a show on that station). Then, in August, the network went from its New York flagship, WLIB, to a lower-power station. Air America is now under the control of Rob Glaser, who founded the RealPlayer software company. Glaser has brought in an odd duo of bosses: CEO Jim Wiggett, who has no broadcasting experience, and CFO Bob Ennis, who previously worked for Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp.

Wiggett concedes severe financial problems, but says, "We're still broad- casting." Ennis says Malloy's suggestion that he's Murdoch's stealth saboteur is a "clever conspiracy story. It shows the depth of Mike's delusion."

For the last month, there's been speculation -- fueled by right-wing blogger Brian Maloney, who is patronized by Fox News chief prevaricator Bill O'Reilly -- that Air America is headed for bankruptcy court. Ennis admits that's a possibility, but one "we're trying to avoid."

With Air America at best limping, Boortz, Hannity, O'Reilly and rest of the GOP echo chamber tout that there's no commercial viability for progressive radio. Not so, says Inside Radio's Taylor, pointing to success at stations such as WINZ-AM (940) in Miami and KPOJ-AM (620) in Portland, Ore.

"It's easier to do conservative radio," Taylor says. "Rush Limbaugh says, 'Cut taxes.' A liberal host has to explain there are better ways to spend money, and that takes more time. Air America is struggling to identify a vocabulary as well as a business structure. In the end, clearly liberal radio works, despite foes who want to deny that."

Regular Radio Equalizer readers know, however, that the incorrect bankruptcy story originated with Think Progress, a lefty website associated with the Center For American Progress. Until then, though we'd made predictions of the network's demise, this site had never claimed that Air America was ready to take such a step.

(Important note: this does not preclude us from providing future reporting that may indicate such a move is coming)

In fact, this site was the first to point out that at the time, no such filing was imminent. Think Progress subsequently posted a retraction to their story.

So how does Bill O'Reilly, Rupert Murdoch, the GOP and yours truly end up taking the blame for Air America's failure? It's because desperate liberals are busy looking to deflect attention away from this expensive screw-up and would love to pin it all on the right.

That's why, for example, Evan Cohen is falsely portrayed as a "Republican activist" in this story. Beyond once working for a liberal Republican governor of Guam, Cohen's a hard-core leftist. That's the reason he got involved with Air America in the first place.

Yes, it simply couldn't be possible that Air America has failed because the marketplace has once again rejected liberal talk radio. Instead, it's yet another Rove- inspired plot to bring down the left.

ELSEWHERE: at Olbermann Watch, the mainstream media's attempts to spin Keith's ratings success is documented.

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  • Deny, deny, deny.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 12 October, 2006 23:01  

  • Typical Demster's . Everything that happens to us is the other guys fault.
    I lost my job, it's because I'm black.
    I'm in jail, it was my upbringing.
    Our radio network is going belly up, it's the Right that did it.

    It's tough to write this when I'm rolling on the floor laughing.

    By Blogger Owen, at 12 October, 2006 23:30  

  • Well if you did read the left wing blogs, you would know they are inane and unreadable. You could not properly quote them, you have to quote your sources as right wing blogs.

    By Blogger Island Republican, at 12 October, 2006 23:31  

  • Well, this mess, and the state of our media, and the evil that has enveloped our government, certainly is the fault of the neocons.

    Republicans never accept responsibilities for their transgressions.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 13 October, 2006 00:00  

  • Just heard on the radio that Air America has filed for bankruptcy.

    By Blogger Rich in MT, at 13 October, 2006 11:08  

  • Smoking Gun says AAR is merely $20 million in the hole, with Rob Glaser of Real Networks owed about half of that. Alan Franken of Minneapolis
    (who?) is owed $360,000.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 13 October, 2006 12:54  

  • How much is our country in the hole, thanks to you, coon?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 13 October, 2006 20:38  

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