Friday, September 08, 2006

If the (mis)management at Air America Radio is truly the best that progressives can do, maybe voters are right not to entrust the country to us


"So many questions, so few answers."

"What in the hell is going on in New York? Is there major brain damage up there or what?"

"It does appear that the AAR suits are on a suicide mission, and as someone who has supported the enterprise from Day 1, monetarily and every other way, I'm very disheartened."

These are just a few random thoughts I gathered just now while reading through the comments on Rachel Maddow's blog (at, which Rachel has opened up for venting on . . . well, on whatever the hell is going on at Air America Radio.

I noticed quite a few comments from listeners in the same position as me: They were big fans of AAR's brilliant Morning Sedition show, which had the plug pulled for no reason that management ever deigned to share with listeners, but then they became huge fans of the more information-based show that Rachel has done in the two-hour portion of the MS time slot she was given. But now . . . now . . .

I've refrained from commenting on what's been happening because I haven't been able to figure out what's happening. Now I see that apparently nobody knows what's going on at AAR, probably least of all the pathetic lost souls nominally in charge.

You hear repeated talk of an announcement when all the changes are in place. By now it's sounding like the tech guy who, not knowing what's wrong with your computer, and not much interested in figuring it out (assuming he can), delivers the ritual pronouncement, "It's the hard drive." (Who knows? It could be.)

As for what we actually know, last Friday, Sept. 1, the network's (surely ironically dubbed) "flagship station," meaning the station in the New York area that AAR has managed to wheedle into letting it squat on its frequency, switched from lowly WLIB to the even lowlier WWRL, whose signal is so weak that many people in the metropolitan area can't even get it. However, humble though the station may be, it apparently had the power to force AAR to leave its own morning show on the air.

Now it might not have been a problem that this show is geared to a black audience. Who knows? That might have been interesting. In the spirit of good old-fashioned liberal guilt, I felt rotten when Air America Radio first came on the air and knocked most of the minority-oriented programming previously aired on WLIB off the air. I mean, jeez, nobody wanted a progressive radio outlet more than I did, but did it really have to come at the expense of, apparently, the only radio listeners in the Greater New York area with even less broadcast clout?

So last Friday morning I brought an open mind to this morning show that AAR was inheriting on the new "flagship" station. I was assaulted with a show that can only be geared to an audience of morons. One cohost is none other than that poster boy for right-wing journalistic flimflam Armstrong Williams! Surely it occurred to the AAR suits that AAR is supposed to be the antidote to people like Armstrong Williams? The other cohost is a loudmouthed woman who seems actually to brag about knowing nothing about every subject that's discussed. This never seems to inhibit her from shooting off her uninformed mouth.

Supposedly Rachel Maddow's show is moving to the evening. At least that's what she has been told. She herself told us--back in those good old days when we New York liberals could hear her--that this is supposed to happen on Sept. 18. She said she'd been doing everything she could to get the AAR management to make some sort of announcement or let her make one. Obviously she felt obliged to say something before she effectively went off the air. (She is continuing to do her morning show for the stations--other than the "flagship" one, that is--that carry it.)

Meanwhile: It seems that as of Aug. 30, AAR summarily fired excellent night-time host Mike Malloy, once again in total secrecy and totally without explanation. Actually, Malloy had already been yanked from the New York lineup some months before, once again in total secrecy and totally without explanation. I've always liked Mike when I listened to him. I just don't happen to need radio companionship at that hour. I need a morning show! (And yikes, NPR's Morning Edition is even lamer than it was the last time I tried to listen to it.)

Also meanwhile: Majority Report's Sam Seder is apparently without either a new contract or much idea what the f--k is going on.

General suspicions seem to center around some sort of Push to the Center as a way of easing AAR's undoubtedly severe financial situation.

However, does anyone hold out any hope that anyone involved in this AAR management has anything at all to contribute to a solution to the financial crisis? About the only thing you want to hear from these people is an announcement--preferably in their joint suicide note--that they have found new people to take over the management of the enterprise who possess at least some skills for the job.

One theory is that the network is trying to hit up rich-rich people like George Soros for big bucks and is anticipatorily kissing butt by cleaning out on-air personnel who might be displeasing to even liberal solons. Hey, in the absence of any actual information, every theory is about as good as every other. If this one is true, though, it goes to show that the AAR suits are just as incompetent at pandering as everything else.

AAR has never even thought to bring listeners in on the financial problems, perhaps for fear that those goddamn listeners might actually be able to participate in some sort of solution. It does seem that few things fill AAR management with more dread than the thought of listeners feeling a sense of participation in the undertaking.

(Back in the days of Morning Sedition, they undertook a series of live broadcasts from food-serving locations around the metropolitan area, and even ventured to Boston--with who-knows-what sites to follow. Those shows gave every evidence of being riotously successful, confirming the intensity of the connection between the show and its growing audience. Naturally some suit put a stop to that!)

Oh yeah, AAR has sort of flogged its mysterious and barely comprehensible "premium" services. But they've done it in their usual shady-sounding way, which leaves you feeling all but certain that you're having your pocket picked.

Of course, I think we all have a pretty good idea how this is going to play out. One of these days--maybe tomorrow, maybe Sept. 18, maybe a month or a year later--word will come that, sadly, AAR is going out of business. Gosh, it was such a noble idea, but it just wasn't possible to make it work financially.

Well, I'm sorry, but I don't believe that liberals are uniformly this incompetent at running businesses, or that there are no progressives capable of making a fighting, feisty radio network a going enterprise. Possibly that effort might involve including listeners in the solution. However, it's clear that's not going to happen as long as you have management that treats listeners as at best a nuisance and at worst the enemy.

POSTSCRIPT--For fans of Mike Malloy

I just revisited Mike's website ( to check the date of his termination, and in his latest update--dated today, 9/8, as you'll see--I found this note:

Pssssst, Truthseekers . . . . over here . ...make sure to catch Sam Seder's show tonight and listen for a surprise guest late in the program!

Draw your own conclusions, and act accordingly.


At 5:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tuned in one afternoon to learn that on a show that was in
Franken's time slot had interviewed Tony Blankley and Pat Buchanan. We can call that moving toward the center, but if we do all directions, left, right, and center have lost all meaning.

We can only hope that some big money, the money Drobney told us never showed up as promised finally shows up. There are plenty of wealthy on the left. They need to open their wallets.

Robertson's flock and Dobson's flock know how to opent their wallets to support a cause, I think it is time the left learned it too or pays the price.

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had high hopes for AAR. Early on I tried to listen on-line because we didn't have a station carrying it here. That didn't work. We finally got a local station but it's such a low power station that I can barely pick it up. Plus my car radio is the only one I can pick it up on. My home stereo doesn't get it. I can't even find a portable that can pick it up and I still can't get it to work on-line.

I've about given up. I've also decided AAR wasn't the way to go anyway. Let the right have radio. In five years the vast majority will be getting their information through this medium. The left is well established here. With the changes that are happening around advances in multimedia options on-line we are well positioned to dominate this medium as the Right has radio

Weep not for Air America Radio

At 9:03 AM, Blogger Timcanhear said...

As of this past Friday, I've resigned my post at Air America Radio affiliate in Cincinnati.
What has happened to many AAR affiliates is clear. The religious right will do all it can to silence anyone who gets in their way to establish a Christian nation and to force their narrow views on America.
Many AAR affiliates have been sold to christian owners who turned them into christian broadcast stations. Afraid that they couldn't beat the left with idea's, they chose to buy the medium which gave us a platform, essentially, to silence us.

Bad management at AAR corporate is largely to blame by not insisting that their affiliates around the country be marketed in the marketplace.
Here in Cincinnati, even my most liberal of friends didn't even know we existed on the air until they ran into me on the streets.
By the time the corporate lemmings at Clear Channel Cincinnati were done with it, they moved it from a 50,000 watt powerhouse to a 5,000 watt city signal with bad engineering and still, no marketing.
Programming at the Cincinnati affiliate was a joke. The head of AM operations for Clear Channel in Cincinnati had publicly sabotaged AAR on the air on WLW and in the press at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
AAR needs George Soros but they also need radio people who understand how to market and sell the great talent that they have.
Partisan hacks can't do the job.
BTW, apparently AAR did not re-up Springer's contract either.
I don't think it's fair to call this a debacle of liberals. I think it's more fair to say that with the consolidation of power in the media to too few owners,(and clear channel is without doubt, a very conservative company owned by friends of george w. bush in Texas)we can see that their interests truly are partisan and that they will pretend to support all views while sabotaging those views behind the scenes.
It's sad to see this kind of thing happen in America and it's up to all of us to make sure that the media represent all sides.
As for me, I'm happy to be out of the Clear Channel broadcast mess.
I have nothing good to say about any of their poorly run operations.


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