The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

21 January 2010

Air America Shutdown Impact Less Than Believed


Libtalk To Continue Without Troubled AAR Network


Though news of struggling libtalk network Air America Radio's shutdown and corporate liquidation might lead many to believe the format is dead, the truth is that much of its programming had shifted to other firms over the past few years.

Clearly, talk hosts saw failure coming and jumped ship long ago, while others were never employed by the New York City-based operation (but many mistakenly thought they were).

That's why today's announcement that AAR has shut down won't have much of an impact on talk radio. Several years ago, this development would have been significant, but not now.

After the departures of Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and Rachel Maddow (as a live host, the network continued to carry an audio-only version of her MSNBC program), it was left with an assortment of no-namers short on talent and potential.

It's also possible that some of its programs (Montel Williams, Ron Reagan, weekend shows with Arianna Huffington and RFK Jr) will be picked up by another network such as DialGlobal, which currently syndicates Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann and Bill Press.

Meanwhile, Mike Malloy continues in independent syndication, while Rhodes was hired last year by Premiere Radio Networks, which also oversees Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, among others.

Al Sharpton is heard via Syndication One on a number of African-American stations and satellite radio. Others, such as Lynn Samuels, have long been heard via the latter medium.

Rosie O'Donnell has also recently joined Sirius as a daily host.

What remains of liberal talk radio survives for two reasons: it is carried via XM Sirius and / or the host is also regularly featured on cable television, especially via MSNBC. Sirius Left has no Air America Programming on its current schedule.

Several dozen land-based stations also remain, but most had phased out Air America long ago. In San Francisco, KKGN (Green 960) will remain virtually untouched by its shutdown, according to a letter posted on its website this evening by its station manager:

Air America: RIP

The Air America radio network is no more. They are closing the doors on Monday, and the great experiment featuring talk radio with a lefty tilt is over.

Read this from their website.

The truth is, this network was dead a long time ago. They're just burying it Monday at 6pm PT.

We started 960 the Quake in October of 2004, with a lot of promise, anticipation and excitement, with a virtually 24-7 Air America schedule. We were all in. You were there with us. It was so exciting.

Fast forward to now.

Management screw ups, overspending, talent management, it was a mess from almost the get go. There were truly some fine, dedicated radio people there that were part of the launch team, but they never had a chance.

They offered un-entertaining programming. They deserved this. We are in the ENTERTAINMENT business, I am going to say this for the ten billionth time. We are not in the POLITICAL business.

And now, sadly, I have been proven right. And I'm not one bit happy about it. I once dreamed of an Air America West, in the bay area. I was in,. I wanted to play. I offered them my heart, soul, and station once. They bit the hand that fed them in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Don't cry for them. The marketplace has spoken.

GOOD NEWS: Green 960 Online and Radio is NOT GOING ANYWHERE! We do not carry any AA programming during the day, we will offer Norman Goldman temporarily at midnight weekdays, replacing the (very) talented Jack Rice and Rachel Maddow, who sadly, is not offering a radio product (for now)

Stay tuned, as they say. I will have much more to say in this space soon.

Now, your thoughts...

While Air America certainly was a mess from day one, thanks to corporate disorganization, sleazy funding scandals, high salaries and expenditures (staff writers for talk radio!), the other networks are run without the bloat and frills.

The remaining question is not why it failed, but what it kept it going for so long. Will we ever know who has sustained it over the past few years?

Classic Franken / AAR images by David A Lunde and Pete at IHillary

HAVE YOU SEEN our companion site for New England regional talk radio updates?

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    Anybody home?


    Sure looks dark in there.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21 January, 2010 22:57  

  • Rest in pieces.

    By Anonymous danybhoy, at 22 January, 2010 09:11  

  • I normally do not watch more than a few minutes of the Today show on NBC, but the morning of the day Air America debuted, I remember Al Franken being interviewed on Today. It was a softball interview (of course!), and Al was laying it on thick about how his show was going to be the end of Rush Limbaugh. Remember, his show went head-to-head with Rush.

    I never lived in a location that could receive Air America on the radio. While travelling, I once caught part of Al's show. He was going on and on during this so-called comedy skit about an interview with Mrs. Dewey, whose husband invented the library organizational system, the Dewey decimal. It was so lame and unfunny, it was embarrassing. Al used his natural voice as the interviewer and his "old woman voice" as Mrs. Dewey. Torture to listen to.

    At home one weekend I listened to Reagan's show on the Internet, where he ragged on corporations and then complained about having no big corporation sponsor. Then there was Randi Rhodes, who made 4 errors (misquotes & the like) within 10 minutes.

    Then I never listened again.

    By Blogger Chromium, at 22 January, 2010 10:54  

  • Good gawsh. I just heard that a TV show like Jay Leno's could have hundreds of staffwriters.

    That bilge? One hour per night? Mostly nothing. I can't believe they tried to operate AAR with staffwriters, truly incredible.

    They had no idea HOW to do a radio show and definitely had no talent for it. Also its hard to compete with ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, PBS, NPR, etc etc etc that are all leftist.

    Libertarian Capitalist Radio might have a shot.

    By Blogger GeronL, at 22 January, 2010 15:52  

  • Air America was built around having hosts with name recognition, but who had never done much, if any radio, & could not entertain while informing. Franken & Garofalo are just 2 examples of this. They were unable to build an audience because they don't understand radio. When you look at conservative talk radio, you see guys like El=Rushbo, Hannity, & Beck. They all had extensive radio backrounds before the nation ever heard of them. Because of that, they understand how to build a following & keep it.

    By Anonymous danybhoy, at 23 January, 2010 21:24  

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