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Did Air America Fail Because It Was Not Liberal Enough? No.

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TomCADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:11 AM
Original message
Did Air America Fail Because It Was Not Liberal Enough? No.
I personally think that liberal media AND Democrats were the victims of sometimes self-inflicted wounds in which the corporate media exploited any daylight between the positions of those on the left. For example, Jane Hamsher (anti-HCR bill) v. Paul Krugman (pro-HCR bill). In either case, the only activists or politicians given significant air time were those folks who criticized Democrats or the Obama administration. On Sunday news talk shows, you would rarely hear from a progressive member of Congress, UNLESS they were attacking the Obama administration or threatening to vote against an Obama proposal. To an extent, Air America bought into this AND it also lost corporate sponsors, as corporate sponsors boycotted its programming. Thus, Air America was left with sponsors like the promoters of gold. Please.

The current talking point being spread is that Democrats failed because they are or were not liberal enough. What a wonderful unverifiable catch-all. I personally think that this message is inherently divisive, and it is often spread by those who are trying to undermine whoever they are referring to. It is a classic line of blame that avoids responsibility among those on the left. Yet, some actively promote the idea that so-and-so is not liberal enough with the speaker threatening not to lift a finger until things change for the better.

I thought activism required action to initiate change, rather than change taking place followed by action. I think liberals, progressives, Democrats need to own the party. Take responsibility for the movement, rather than simply second guessing the actions of others. The corporate media is more than adequate at second guessing our side and giving a forum to those who will attack us from within. The real challenge is to continue to take action in the face of adversity - real and imagined.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/25/arts/25radio.html

div class="excerpt"]
Liberal Radio, Even Without Air America

In a week of bad news for liberal causes, the announcement that Air America, the left-wing talk-radio network, was abruptly closing was greeted this way by Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos political blog, when he asked on Twitter, Air America was still really on the air?

The collapse of Air America on Thursday came across as a symbolic loss for those seeking an ideological counterweight to right-wing talk radio dominated by personalities like Rush Limbaugh. But symbolic it is, little more, given that small pockets of progressive talk are flourishing on the radio dial despite Air Americas misfortunes. The hosts of several progressive talk shows hastened to remind fans last week that although the formats brand-name network had folded, their shows were still on the air.

Air Americas biggest names have been more successful after leaving the network. Rachel Maddow has a prime-time show on MSNBC, and Al Franken, the former comedian most closely associated with Air America, is a senator from Minnesota.

Reminded of Ms. Maddow and Mr. Franken on Twitter Thursday evening, Mr. Moulitsas conceded, Thats a pretty good legacy. But with so many defections and so few listeners, it is little wonder that people might think Air America had folded long ago.



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frazzled Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:16 AM
Response to Original message
1. It failed because liberals don't listen to talk radio
for a lot of reasons. Perhaps because most of us don't WANT to emulate right-wing infotainment, hyperbolic, rabble-rousing formats, and we don't want to listen to it. Maybe because large swaths of liberals live in urban areas and aren't driving around in their cars listening to the radio.

Maybe it's because we can fucking READ.

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zipplewrath Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:28 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. Right follows, left leads
It's been said many ways, Clinton famously said the left wants to fall in love, the right wants to fall in line. There is also the observation that roughly 50% of Rush's audience is basically left leaning listeners that are yelling at him. Research also suggests that liberals seek out differences of opinion, the right tends to try to avoid them. All of this adds up to trouble in the basic Talk Radio environment. The concept there is roughly one of "preaching to the choir". That's not one that tends to work well with a left leaning audience.

Another reality, slightly more about economics, is that Rush's older audience tends to have more disposable income to spend. Advertisers care less about the political make up of an audience than the economic distribution.
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Ozymanithrax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #1
9. I listen to the radio only when driving, by myself, at most 20 minutes a day.
The internet is more valuable for me.

The left needs to develop its own system of communication.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:47 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. I, also. And for that 20 minutes I listen to classical music to keep my
BP down so I can deal with all the morons on the road with me.
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Edweird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 05:07 PM
Response to Reply #9
41. This is it. At least it is to me, anyway.
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YOY Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:33 AM
Response to Reply #1
15. Yup. That and the line "See this is what they do!"
I've heard it by RW pundits when I was an 19-year-old dittohead...and I've heard it from the LW equivalents.

Yes, I can see what they do. I don't need someone to parrot what I already came to a conclusion about.
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Xicano Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 01:00 PM
Response to Reply #1
23. KPFK and KPFA are staunchly liberal and take no corporate money.
And both have been around since 1959 and 1949 respectively. I think AirAmericas' failure is ultimately due to corporate sponsorship. Hard to keep funding from those who you ideologically oppose on so many levels, or, keep liberal listeners if your media content satisfies your corporate sponsors. The two are just too much at variance.

I use to love listening to Mike Malloy and the Majority Report with both Sam Seder and Jennen Garofolo, and, a little bit of Randi Rhodes. When those shows discontinued I noticed the message was no longer one I cared for so I discontinued listening to AirAmerica. However, I've always listened to both KPFK and KPFA since I can remember and still do so. They've never changed their staunchly liberal message.




click me


click me






Peace,
Xicano
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KamaAina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 04:54 PM
Response to Reply #23
40. Also the other three Pacifica stations
WBAI in NYC, WPFW in DC, and KPFT in Houston. (The latter is so unpopular among ultra-right-wing domestic terraists that it has actually had its transmitter bombed -- twice!)
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Strelnikov_ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 01:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
26. NPR? O'Franken, Seder, Maddow hyperbolic, rabble-rousing?
Sorry, can't really agree with your post there Vern.

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tanyev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 03:06 PM
Response to Reply #1
32. The commercials drove me CRAZY.
I listen to CDs when I drive.
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treestar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 03:08 PM
Response to Reply #1
33. I agree totally
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 03:09 PM by treestar
Liberals read books and liberal publications.

And they are harder to read and serious, not crap like Ann Coulter puts out. Full of theories rather than easy soundbites.
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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:16 AM
Response to Original message
2. Surely, there's a way we can pin this on President Barack Obama...
in three, two, one...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But seriously, it's the nature of our imbalance between corporate interests and the interests of our citizenry that's lead to this and other losses.

If they can't buy out an outlet or appropriate content, they'll drive outlets out of business.

:patriot:
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cherokeeprogressive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 04:46 PM
Response to Reply #2
38. That's an easy one. People listen to limpballs and watch faux because they can't WAIT to hear what
they're going to say about Obama next. It's like they LIVE for being angry because o'lie-ly, insanity, and limpballs said something they disagree with.

I'm tired of hearing progressives and liberals say they watch and listen because "ya gotta keep the enemy close". I say that we're half of the rw assholes' audience, and if we disappeared, so would o'lie-ly, insanity, and limpballs.

But no, before this day is out I'll read a post that says "I was just surfing the radio channels today and came across limpballs" as if they don't have pre-programmed channels in their car or we're stupid or something. That will be followed by "I was surfing TV channels today and accidentally caught a few minutes of the insanity show on faux..."

The left lives for the anger that comes from listening to rw talkshows and they eat it up.

It's Obama's fault, because my lefty friends are listening to them so they can be angry over what is said ABOUT Obama.
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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 05:37 PM
Response to Reply #38
42. You said it.
I'll listen to a little Rush or Savage, but I can't stand Sean's voice.

But I'll hear these talking points, then get home and see many of them echoed by a few prolific posters here.

Sometimes the top complaint on RW radio becomes the one of the top threads here.

You said it.

:toast:
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napi21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:22 AM
Response to Original message
3. I've heard several explainations on why AAR failed, but there's
one comon thread between all of them. Bad Business Model. Apparently the original group felt that they would have almost the entire market since there was no other LW radio out there. Because they had invested a lot of money, they insisted on seats on the board, but NONE OF THEM had any broadcasting experinence! From all I've heard, even new investors never changed the business model, thus final failure!
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Stevenmarc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:22 AM
Response to Original message
4. It failed because of bad management
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 10:42 AM by Stevenmarc
People in the NYC area thought it was gone long ago after they switched stations to a low power, static filled shit station that made it virtually impossible to listen to.
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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:35 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. + 1
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laughingliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:51 PM
Response to Reply #4
30. Same in my area. Low power station that preempted programming for Giant's baseball
and football games all the time. Nothing more irritating than getting in the car for my long drive home looking forward to a program and a baseball game was on. Plus, this is an area of far commutes so half the drive home the station signal was too weak.
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Raineyb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 04:41 PM
Response to Reply #4
37. Exactly!
And bringing on Lionel? Ugh!
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KharmaTrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:28 AM
Response to Original message
6. Mismanagement + Deregulation...
I strongly suggest those who want to learn what went wrong with AAR to see "Left Of The Dial"...a documentary about the start-up of the network and all the mistakes that were made that all but handicapped the network from the get-go. It was started by people who really didn't understand the radio industry and it wasn't until Jon Sinton was brought in that things stabilized, but by then the network as already in severe financial distress. The lack of money made it hard to get the network on stations...ending up on weak signals that were hard to sell...and the lack of money meant no money to market or expand. It's amazing the network lasted this long.

The other problem was deregulation...Telcom '96 allowed corporates like Cheap Channel (headed by boooosh pioneer Lowery Mayes and his family and funded by Hick, Tate, Muse & Furth....more boooosh pioneers) to buy up thousands of stations...predominately the largest signals that were the base for much of today's hate radio. They eliminated local voices and jobs...plugging in cheap satellite programming and driving away a lot of listeners...catering to the rabid teabaggers.

AAR's demise is a canary in the coal mine for the entire industry as advertising revenues, even on hate radio, have declined steadily over the past decade while debts continue to rise. We've already had several corporates declare bankrupcy with more to follow. Just today, I read of one of the leading syndicators, Westwood One (aka Premier) that is expected to lose money this year that is sure to add to the industry's major problems.

AAR was a trailblazer and opened the door for others to follow. This network's legacy lives on...with several propsering Progressive talk shows (Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller) as well as giving Maddow a platform that opened up the doors at GENBC for her. Far from being a failure, AAR created new opportunities.
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LeftinOH Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:29 AM
Response to Original message
7. Maybe it failed because communications technology from the 1920s
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 10:30 AM by LeftinOH
appeals to an increasingly specific market: People who have long periods of time available to listen and/or are willing to passively radio serve as their primary news source. Radio? Really?
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cbdo2007 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:52 AM
Response to Original message
11. More people on DU listened to Rush, Beck, Hannity, etc. than they ever did
to Air America.

That's why it failed. The majority of listeners to "shock jocks" are people who hate them and get all worked up thinking, "oh my goodness, I can't believe what they just said. I wonder what horrible thing they'll say next..." By their nature, Liberals are more realistic and actually trying to institute a change of policy and thinking. Air America wasn't out to shock people and say crazy things to get ratings...so no ratings no money no radio station.
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LTR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:46 PM
Response to Reply #11
28. There's a difference between being on 50,000 watt signals versus sub-5000 watt signals
Right-wing radio dominates the big-signaled AM stations. What's typically left for newer, niche formats are low-powered peashooters that hadn't gotten ratings in decades. That was basically all that was left for liberal talk formats.

Plus, RW radio has had twenty years to position themselves (same with sports talk, which was a dog when WFAN started doing it in the late 1980s and is now quite profitable).
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 04:53 PM
Response to Reply #28
39. Yes, if the atmospheric conditions are wrong, I get Glenn Beck coming in
as an angry babble behind the local NPR classical music station. REALLY annoying, especially since the classical announcers always make sense.
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:53 AM
Response to Original message
12. It failed because America is too conservative...
...for a poorly-managed liberal voice to survive.
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Romulox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:56 AM
Response to Original message
13. Nonsense. I'm of the Left. I even like *some* talk radio.
If I'm not listening to my Ipod in my car, I likely have one of two local NPR affiliates tuned in.

But I cannot take shouting, nastiness, and general acrimony while I'm driving. That's what "Liberal" talk radio engendered in me. :shrug:
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quinnox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:03 AM
Response to Original message
14. Eh, just wasn't entertaining enough
I listened to Randi Rhodes a few times when she was on Air America and she was ok, but even her show which was one of the highest rated wasn't all that great to listen to. Air America didn't really have many good radio presenters from what I heard.

Meanwhile, liberal radio is doing just fine with Ed Schultz who is probably the most popular and there are other good stations like KGO San Francisco with liberal hosts.
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pink-o Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:46 AM
Response to Original message
16. Air America died for me the day they took "Morning Sedition" off the air
on my freakin' BIRTHDAY in December 2004. The first of their many business blunders.

Luckily, we have Stephanie, Malloy, and Randi in our local market. Ed and Rachel have gone on to better places!
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sabbat hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:46 AM
Response to Original message
17. They failed because
they tried to be a network instead of a syndicator. The costs are much higher when you try to be a network over a syndicator
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robcon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:52 AM
Response to Original message
18. It would have done better had it been more liberal.
Radio ratings come from enraging the listener, not being 'reasonable.'
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upi402 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:53 AM
Response to Original message
19. I'm so sad
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 11:54 AM by upi402
Grieving for America is exhausting me. Don't know how much more I can stomach.
We listen all the time. I told everyone I could about it.
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reformist Donating Member (93 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:54 AM
Response to Original message
20. I didn't even know where to find Air America on the dial.
Not that I looked for it...
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Sen. Walter Sobchak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:39 PM
Response to Original message
21. It failed because Liberals don't look for a voice of authority
while the authoritarian requires it,
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:42 PM
Response to Original message
22. It failed because they never figured out what they wanted to be
and because their financing was always shaky.

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Sebastian Doyle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 01:04 PM
Response to Original message
24. Air America failed because the managment was not Liberal at all
AND because they had no idea how to run a radio network.

They should have had more people involved who knew radio. Even the on air talent from the original lineup - only Mike Malloy and Randi Rhodes were experienced radio broadcasters. Thom Hartmann also was, but he came on board a little later, and wasn't actually on the network's main feed until Al Franken quit.

The managment always had motivation other than producing good radio. Evan Cohen just wanted to rob the place blind, which he did. Danny Goldberg was from a record company. He didn't know talk radio. Mark Green tried to turn the whole thing into a DLC propaganda factory to elect Hillary president, and when that mission failed, there was really nothing left for them to do. When Thom Hartmann finally pulled out of Air America last year, I knew it was only a matter of time. Ron Reagan was the only decent show they had on during the week, and Ring of Fire was all they had left on the weekends. Both of those shows will survive, so I guess that tells you how much "Air America" was worth in the end - not much.

A sad ending for a network that once had such potential. :evilfrown:
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Strelnikov_ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 01:36 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. Agree RE the programming. At the end, Reagan/ROF were the only
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 01:46 PM by Strelnikov_
'liberal' shows left.

The original lineup was strong.

Morning Sedition
Unfiltered
O'Franken
Rhodes
Majority Report
Malloy

Never have been a Rhodes fan (too much about her), sometimes Malloy is a bit over the top (edit: for me, but he is really good for that time of day), but in general a entertaining/popular lineup. And as evidenced by the number of threads in the day, listened to by many of the DU members at that time.

But instead of sticking it out with a lineup based around this framework, for the 3+ years (in this case 3+++) even the best of new businesses take to build a following/break even, the piss-poor management started screwing with the lineup. And each step was a move down.

Unfiltered->Springer
Morning Sedition->Air America Mornings
OFranken->Hartman (good sideways move)
Majority Report -> Abandoned slot
Springer->Seder (good move)
Malloy-> Abandoned slot
Seder->Lionel (aka the shark jump)

At that point, I mostly lost interest except for Hartman and Ring of Fire. Once Hartman and the excellent webcast 'Break Room Live' were gone, really did not bother any more.


Bottom line, IMHO, a good product (at first), a large enough potential market, but truly piss-poor management.

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Touchdown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 03:23 PM
Response to Reply #25
34. Maron is back with his WTF? podcasts.
Check 'em out. It's more entertainment/comedy club oriented, but he still gets on his rants... and Lawton Smalls calls in too!
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Strelnikov_ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 04:37 PM
Response to Reply #34
36. I've been meaning to check WTF? out. The nice thing about AAR
was they were a good aggregator. For one yearly fee I had a good selection of podcasts back in the heyday.

There are still choices out there (Young Turks, Hartman, etc.) but each one has a fee, different site, etc.

Generally, I am too busy from day to day to chase down media from different sources. AAR made it easy.

Hopefully, Turks/Hartman/etc. will catch on to this and maybe start a coop. I would pay $20/mo. for an aggregator that had a number of different pod choices.

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bridgit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 01:57 PM
Response to Original message
27. Liberals weren't supporting the format, weren't patronizing the advertisers by & large...
No listeners no advertisers no advertisers no listeners coupled with top heavy mgt/personality costs and poof! Gone
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spanone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:49 PM
Response to Original message
29. air america failed because liberals don't have any desire to be like the rightwing assholes
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LTR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:57 PM
Response to Original message
31. AAR failed because it wasn't entertaining enough
It was more about politics than creating a compelling product. That only goes so far. Look at Salem. Their RW talk stations pound ideology quite heavily, are quite boring and get shitty ratings. They are, however, propped up by a company that makes tons of money off their religious outlets.

AAR had many problems that doomed them, from management and staff turnover and ridiculous amounts of drama. They have always been too concerned with being a radio soapbox, while companies like Dial Global (the company that syndicates Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz) are more into making their shows attractive to the ears. AAR tried too hard to be agitprop in a can. That only goes so far. They really needed radio people running it from the get-go. They later realized this, but by then, it was too late. When their top talent went elsewhere and became, in effect, competition, AAR was doomed. Montel Williams and Jack Rice couldn't match up with Randi Rhodes and Thom Hartmann.

The final nail in the coffin, however, is the economy. Ad revenue is down drastically, and for a little company like AAR that had always had problems attracting clients (or were too picky about which ones they signed up), that's a killer. And it's not just AAR. CBS/Westwood One has already nuked a number of shows, like Tom Leykis and Opie and Anthony. And if Citadel, Clear Channel and other companies are getting clobbered these days, what about a little guy like AAR?
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jmowreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 04:13 PM
Response to Original message
35. Air America failed because no one listens to political talk radio--period
Air America only played political talk, a genre where the number-one guy out there (Pigboy) pulls one and a half percent of the American public to his show. Pigboy is on Premiere Networks, which has a LOT of entertainment programming.

If you want to get His Corpulence off the air, reinstate the 1970s-era media ownership rules. No radio company is going to hand three hours to one relatively unpopular show if it's going on half the transmitters they have, with very few exceptions--think American Top 40 or the American Country Countdown. If you're putting fifteen streams on the air 24/7 you can dedicate one to political talk and, if necessary, use entertainment to subsidize the talk-radio stream.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 05:40 PM
Response to Original message
43. Talk radio is 100% about advertising.
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 05:50 PM by bemildred
Air America failed because it was liberal, and business in the USA does not support liberal politics, liberal radio stations, liberal anything. Compare with the MSM where they are happy to lose boatloads of money to spread their anti-democratic swill.
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