The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

24 October 2006

Tom Athans, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Liberal Talk Radio


Senator's Husband Planning New Libtalk Network

*** 02 APRIL 2008: ATHANS ARRESTED ***

Here we go again!

Air America Radio's high- profile failure to deliver popular and financially successful liberal talk radio programming obviously hasn't deterred other "progressives" from initiating their own efforts.

Instead, with the recent announcement by former AAR exec Tom Athans regarding his new libtalk operation, Talk USA Radio, we will soon have at least four suppliers of lefty programming ready to fight over a tiny listening audience.

After Air America's debacle, do any of them stand a chance?

Athans, Air America's former executive vice president of the syndication division, is a controversial figure even inside the so- called "progressive" community. He's made some enemies on the left and as a result, some have been eager to tip us off to his latest antics.

And as the husband of US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who is running for a second term this year, it's a wonder Athans hasn't at some point become a campaign liability.

During his time at Air America, we often wondered what he did during the day, in what proved to be a short tenure there. Hired (for whatever strange reason) to set up a Washington DC office for the network, Athans was to oversee its syndication efforts, which never really got off the ground. Previously, he ran Democracy Radio, another liberal talk radio upstart, which folded in 2005.

Having signed a contract in October, 2005, Athans was to have remained in his position until the end of 2006, but left in July. Compensation for the full calendar year was set at $165,000. Nice work if you can get it!

But providing a questionable contribution to Air America hasn't stopped him from attacking his now- former employer. As he told one publication, "There simply needs to be a credible alternative to Air America to ensure that Progressive Talk has a chance for success."

While Athans has already announced the formation of his new libtalk venture, he hasn't said what programs will air or who will back it. Apparently, that will be revealed soon.

Of course, the bigger question remains why it is so seemingly important for liberals to succeed at commercial talk radio, despite such a substantial track record of failure to date. What compels these people to beat a dead horse again and again?

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Photos: Stabenow's website


  • That's actually wonderful news.

    It's not as though there is room for an alternative to conservative talk radio; there is, indeed, room for four, five, six....a whole dial-full!

    I'm not sure it classifies as "liberal", though ("liberal" is a code word that right-wing extremists use to refer to anything they wish to see obliterated)...

    Nonetheless, with so much inherently weak radio on the dial, more progressive outlets are decidely a good thing. I'd love to see some of the old legacy stations reinvent themselves with more forward-looking programming, and fresh, intelligent personalities (WOR 710 in New York springs immediately to mind).

    Talk radio can only get better...

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 24 October, 2006 14:16  

  • Talk USA Radio? WTF?

    Haven't these people, including liberal Stabenow, ever heard of the USA Radio Network, which feeds to over 1100 commercial and non-commercial stations?

    GUESS NOT! Wonder if they could sue for possible copyright infringement.

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 24 October, 2006 15:52  

  • Sue, sue, sue.


    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 24 October, 2006 16:49  

  • Hell, line 'em up. I want the ProgTards and KosTards to have their ideas broadcast far and wide. I want them to actually compete for listenership rather than have it jammed down peoples' throat via the 'fairness doctrine.'


    Because the more outlets they have, the more then that will fail. Perhaps only then it will finally they will get it through their titanium-densified skulls that radio isn't about harangue or guilt but about entertainment. Three hours a day every day of negativity will never lead to good vibes coming across the airwaves.

    AAR and Jones and Pacifica and NPR all collectively have made a staple of spending hour after hour telling a large segment of Americans just how bad and evil and wrong and stupid they are just for their very existence on this earth.

    Those entities would then sit back and stare in wonderment at the Arbitron books which, for some reason, just won't reflect any measure of success on the level of those eeeevil reich-wing neo-KKKon wingnut republiKKKons.

    So bring 'em on. Let them spend their millions. Let them harangue everyone far and wide about how Right They Are, and how Wrong The Others Are. And then when their venture faceplants, as has each and every like one before, let them accuse the neo-cons of bribing the advertisers to stay away from them, or fixing the Arbitron numbers, or infiltrating the corporate structures, or some other such hashfanatic-induced twaddle.

    Bring 'em on.

    By Blogger SierraSpartan, at 24 October, 2006 20:18  

  • Again, you are placing business priorities and profit margins over the people's right to know-and all intelligent debate (or even entertaining debate) is forced from the square, because businessmen are no longer in the business of creating good talk radio.

    You are criticizing one aspect of talk radio, and using another aspect's justification to push yet another aspect's ideological ideals, and failing at both, proving that the entire industry needs an enema.

    The Fairness Doctrine is not a new concept, not some "liberal" invention. It was in place, successfully, for many years, for it was understood that media could be used to promote totalitarianism.

    It was argued that such could not happen, and it was done away with.

    Yet, it did happen. You PROVED you could not be trusted with the ability to handle privilege.

    When a child burns down a match, do you trust him with a box of matches three days later?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 24 October, 2006 23:49  

  • What the new liberal radio networks have in mind is based on an old model, and was used by Air America with the attractor of "progressive" radio as an incentive in which to raise money from wealthy donors. The programming is immaterial, what matters is you have something to which money may be donated. The success of the enterprise is based on how much money can be raised.

    It's actually a very old system - the first instances I know of were in Victorian England, and is used in a variety of contexts. I've seen it done with the environment as the attractor and it's a terrific way to make money (I've seen THAT first hand). AAR worked flawlessly in that sense. What you are seeing is others following up on AAR's success.

    Needless to say you shouldn't expect much, if anything, in the way of broadcasting.

    By Blogger thinkcon, at 25 October, 2006 16:21  

  • When are all these "progressive" network CEO wannabes gonna realize that unless they nuke NPR, and free up the bulk of the audience they are trying to attract, they are never going anywhere? That's what killed AAR in NYC; the overwhelming majority of the audience they thought would flock to them were being perfectly well served by WNYC on both the AM and FM band. All they ended up attracting were people who could stand the constant BusHitlerCo bashing... which totaled the same 12+ Arbitron monthly trend number AAR's ex-station drew last week.

    A big whopping 1.0

    By Blogger Unknown, at 25 October, 2006 16:47  

  • hash whined: "Again, you are placing business priorities and profit margins over the people's right to know-and all intelligent debate (or even entertaining debate) is forced from the square, because businessmen are no longer in the business of creating good talk radio.

    Not in the least. What I am promoting (what part of 'bring 'em on did you not understand?) is for as many outlets as possible to put out ProgTard talking points, the sooner to have them founder at the rocks of reality. Only then perhaps will they get it through their skulls that ProgTard broadcasting has exactly zero market potential, primarily because its basis goes against the basic optimism in the American culture.

    If you understood anything about broadcasting, hash, you would know that.

    History time: In the days of the Fairness Doctrine, Rush Limbaugh was working at KFBK/Sacramento. His programming was 'paired', if you will, with Christine Craft, a former TV anchorperson who was (she alleges) fired from a TV station in Santa Barbara for being not attractive enough. In any event, Craft had much larger name recognition, a better time slot (Limbaugh was mid-day, Craft was evening prime), but it was Limbaugh who broke out into syndication, despite being a relative nobody when he came into the market, after the Fairness Doctrine was (thankfully) retired.


    Because his ideas and his approach were commercially successful in the Sacramento market (then seen as a "test" market for many commercial products before general release), and has proven successful nationwide.

    Bottom line: If Guvmint has to force an outlet to broadcast your programming out of some idea of 'fairness' or equality, then it's a pretty good bet that your programming sucks the big one.

    My advice to the ProgTard broadcasters (before they lose any more gazillions of dollars) is to get better content, better presentation, and approach broadcasting more as a 'fireside chat' approach rather than as a streetcorner harangue.

    By Blogger SierraSpartan, at 25 October, 2006 20:22  

  • Not really.

    It's been clearly established to just about anyone in this country who reads, talks, thinks, and can pass basic skills testing that "conservatism", an outmoded, irrelevant set of empty doctrines that is the basis of conservative talk radio and has no real substance, just serves as a smokescreen for an authoritative, unconstitutional form of theocracy that melds government interests with corporate initiatives-anathema to true, traditional conservatives.

    The sheeple are waking up.

    Such blogs as the "Radio Equalizer" purport to keep tabs on talk-radio abuses, but never seem to notice similar falsehoods and chicaneries among their own neoconservative ranks. Such mouthpieces of the Republican iron heel (and certainly not individuals who need to attach a "tard" suffix in order to appeal to their base audiences) simply would never have existed, in the public sphere, had it not been for the emerging evolution of progressive talk (as opposed to the corporate "creationism" that fostered neocon talk).

    Those who promote this new, authoritarian form of American government forever get carried away with their own self-aggrandizement and bizarre allegations (or, perhaps more understandably, let their mouths override their asses), but have never been able to defend their positions without using their ill-gotten gains to silence their victims of oppression, the left.

    Neocon talk radio has been as incapable of reigning in its own self-indulgent excesses as the Bush Crime Family has (witness today's Limbaugh/Fox repentance debacle).

    It's just not flying with the people anymore. It's not even flying with an increasingly large number of their own loyalists.

    Advertisers understand this, and are voting with their feet (more and more cheesy sponsors on corporatist radio, slower collection of remittances in payment).

    The Fairness Doctrine, indeed, needs to be reinstituted, if not in indictment of the constitutional crisis its lack has caused, just to save talk radio as a whole, before neocons kill the entire genre out of sheer incompetence and selfishness.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 26 October, 2006 00:52  

  • It's amazing that people can say these things with a straight face, and may actually believe the nonsense that comes out of their For authoritarianism the left, sorry, "progressives" can't be beat - ask any conservative who has tried to speak on a college campus.

    Liberals/leftists/progressives make clear that by free speech they mean only their speech, opposing viewpoints not wanted, welcomed or more important, allowed. Hell, there is a name for it - it's called "silencing" and its been practiced since the '60's when protests were used to break up "establishment" meetings, and shout down speakers. Well guess what, my leftist friend, it's still going on only the techniques have become refined and institutionalized. The new rule is no opposing viewpoints allowed. That's not from the "fascist" right, that's the left, the "progressives."

    Yet when you bring this up, the issue is ALWAYS avoided and attention is deflected by pointing to something else, as if it all can excused by changing the subject. But it IS not only important, it's VERY important because most college campuses are pretty much controlled by leftists/liberals/progressives, and what they do there is a pretty good indication - a GREAT indication - of how the left would act if they had any real power. Well, you can see it first hand on campus, and it AIN'T pretty - only one point of view allowed, and if you disagree, you better be quiet about it. Think about that next time you are on campus and you want to do something that ain't correct, start thinking about "free speech" in that context. You get a pretty good feeling for what the left is about.

    And guess what? The reigning fashion as to what is or isn't correct gets more and more restrictive every day. And, as found by many in this environment, there are ways to pressure people into being "correct", anything from grades to promotions. (get the feeling that this is based on first hand experience?). You better support the proper way of thinking or you can forget about a raise, or tenure. But for the most part free sppech is just chilled - it's PREVENTED, yes just like in a fascist society. And that's college campus these days - a "progressive" paradise.

    And that's also what leftists/liberals/progressives are really all about - not open forums or free debate, but one point of view and one only - the "correct" way of thinking, and that's that. And, with Democrats more and more identifying themselves with "progessives" or simply adopting the name, the more likely it is that these "progressives" will use the same methods to stifle debate.

    As for radio, conservative broadcasting only exists because there really is no other outlet for conservatives. It exists not with the help of substantial grants of taxpayer funding (the ONLY way NPR and Pacifica can exist is through enormous, continuing public subsidies from all of us taxpayers so they can broadcast "progressive" radio - could you imagine if they did it from the right not the left?) but because it attracts enough of an audience to support itself through commercials. In other words, they pay for the time. And there really is no other broadcast outlet for conservatives - the media is overwhelmingly left/progessive - if there was any doubt about that this election cycle has removed it. What we've seen is really the final unmasking of the biases in the mainstream media, and it hasn't been pretty.

    But allowing conservatives to talk freely on radio doesn't work for "progressives" (I really hate that word - it's in the process of being changed big time, the "progressives" I know are all, and have been for the last few decades, Pacifica types, certainly not the center) - they want NOTHING but their point of view to be heard. So despite the fact that conservative talk radio is a pay as you go proposition, "progressives" can't stand it and want it stopped (and what's happening in the Pacific Northwest is going to be the template that's going to be used to try to stop it, as reinvocation of the "fairness" doctrine hasn't worked.)

    How's that for free speech and open debate?

    In fact, I've wondered if the reason that "progressive" radio doesn't work is that the position of the left simply can't stand up to the scrutiny that you would normally get during contant discussion, such as you find on talk radio. In other words, the "progressive" position is so flawed that no reasonably intelligent person could bear to see it expostulated for any length of time, such as you get on talk radio. How else to explain the consistent failure of "progressive" radio? (and don't give me any nonsense about what a success its been - the fact of its failure is just that, a fact, and if you argue that that isn't true you are simply proving my point).

    And with all that goes on in the "politically correct" world, we get screams of "fascism" and "theocracy" as if somehow by constant repetition you can convince people that this is true. That's not only a misreading of the facts, it's a misreading of history. And hey, it wasn't a Republican that locked up thousands of ethnic Japanese during WWII. And it wasn't Republicans that represented the post slavery segregationist South. It was, however, a Republican that freed the slaves, and formed the national park system, and was a "trust buster" (actually two of them - Roosevelt AND Taft). It was also Republicans, yes with a Democratic president, that passed civil rights legislation in the '60's, over the strenuous objections of DEMOCRATIC legislators. And, while Democrats may claim victory if they pick up seats in Congress, that's nothing special - the party of the president in the sixth year of his term historically has ALWAYS lost a significant number of seats. Yes the pro-Democratic media makes it out to be much more significant that it is.

    And, as for conservative talk radio being on the decline, where does that comes from - the numbers I see show that it is as strong as ever - isn't it AAR that's in bankruptcy? And what are the ratings of conservative v. "progressive" talk radio?

    By Blogger thinkcon, at 26 October, 2006 17:13  

  • Con, if you believe the ratings, did you also believe those 70s'-era Soviet news broadcasts where you'd see a field of wheat and a big arrow indicating production was up 26%, when you could see the people themselves were starving?

    If you have genuine conservative values, fine! Just don't try to pass this drunken-sailor-spending, nation-building, illegal-immigrant-importing crew off as your brethren.

    I'd welcome what I used to have, honest debate with honest conservatives over issues like economics, taxes, and accountability , over having to explain why torture and killing are wrong, any day.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 26 October, 2006 21:13  

  • I think in their heart of hearts very few, if any conservatives have any great love for Bush - most, including me don't like him at all. But, not only do the Democrats have no alternative what they offer is far (far) worse - not to get too far off the topic fof the blog, but the Presidency in 2004 was theirs for the taking, all they needed was a middle of the road candidate. Instead what we got was John 'effin' Kerry, just about the only candidate who made Bush look good by comparison (I know the true blues will disagree, but it's the center that elects people, typically anyway, and Kerry is not a center of the road candidate - in such an instance people will go for the devil they know).

    The amount of polarization that's out there (I blame the Dems for the most part, but there's plenty of blame to go around) is unbelievable. I have three children about to go into the world on their own, and all I see are things getting worse, as the basic consensus that underpins our society becomes more and more frayed, a process helped by the media which wants a controversy, becuase it makes people look at the news, which of course adds advertising revenue - interesting that the end of the society may come about because of the desire to make people buy things - but that's another subject.

    What is needed is a leader that brings everyone together, but I don't see one out there - not at all. What's worse, the media is always ready to pounce, to tear down anyone who comes along, left or right.

    It really looks like a road to some type of big change (for lack of a better word). Historically, these types of things don't occur without finish the sentence. For now though, a good economy seems to repress the more primitive inclinations (sorry for being so indirect - or rather discreet).

    By Blogger thinkcon, at 27 October, 2006 12:45  

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