Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dead Air...

News item: Air America noses in...

From its very beginning – yes, from its concept in some loony brainstorming session where “well-meaning” folks were discussing how they’d take down Rush Limbaugh/talk radio and the ascending Fox News – Air America was in a flat spin. A death spiral.

I’m sure it was a smashing the time (probably made all the more edible with the help of a few drinks…maybe some other “agents of enhancement”). “We’ll fight fire with fire!” no doubt was the battle cry. “If Limbaugh can steal make empty headed voters pull the lever for those guys with an “R” next to their name, I’m sure we can come up with a host or two – NO! A WHOLE RADIO NETWORK! – dedicated to presenting the other side. And once they hear our arguments, there’s no way they won’t buy it. There’s no way they can resist! I mean, look at the way we suck ‘em in with movies and TV.”

Yep. It was a great ideajust like that time we thought about putting screen doors on all our submarines!

Well, Air America finally…with a resounding thud.

"Ladies and gentlemen…the pilot has some bad news. Um, yeah. We’re going to be making an unplanned landing here. And, um, well, return your seats to their upright positions lock your trays up and kiss your backsides goodbye. We’re going in – hard. Oh, and thank you for flying Air America."

On Thursday, the all-liberal content/host radio network announced that due to “very difficult economic environment,” it was kaput.

From the start, it was only a matter of time before Air America experienced “Controlled flight into terrain.” The economic model was weak, the entertainment was all but missing and programming/content was so predictable that it was nearly possible to turn off any given show, come back several hours later and know exactly what would be airing. In short, it wasn’t worth listening to unless you were driven by an incessant need to constantly hear someone attack (pick one or more): the GOP, big business, the GOP, the Pentagon, the GOP, America’s history of (fill in your favorite reason to loathe the U.S.)…oh, and the GOP.

“It is with the greatest regret, on behalf of our board, that we must announce that Air America Media is ceasing its live programming operations as of this afternoon, and that the company will file soon under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code to carry out an orderly winding down of the business,” the chairman of Air America Media, Charlie Kireker, said in a memorandum. His statement was published on

You could hear the schadenfreude as far away as Dick Cheney’s house.

“The company, which was founded in 2004, never found a substantial audience or sound financial footing. It filed for bankruptcy protection in 2006, but managed to stay on the air at that time. The network churned through several owners and several attempted reinventions, with little to show for it.” (h/t: NY Times)

The network – founded in 2004, made a point of positioning itself as a liberal alternative to conservative talk radio host Limbaugh and the multitude of others who have worked to follow in his footsteps. At one time, the network was carried nationally on approximately 100 stations, but early on it experienced money woes. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2006 and in 2007, a group of new investors bought a one-way ticket to nowheresville on Air America for $4.25 million.

United States Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn) – who had previously built a career on “Saturday Night Live,” – hosted an Air America show from 2004 to 2007 before running for office. Rachel Maddow, who also hosted on Air America, has since gone on to a lucrative career with her own prime-time show on MSNBC. In addition to those two, Air America had a list of hosts that included Ron Reagan Jr., musician Steve Earle, comedian/actress Janeane Garofalo and rapper Chuck D.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we know you have a choice when you pick your radio station…so we thank you for…wait – they’re still listening to conservative talk radio? Oh, no…we’re going in!”

I'm sorry I couldn't do anything about the Minnesota U.S. Senate race, but I like to think I did my part to bring Air America down...

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