September 13, 2006
Air America to Declare Bankruptcy?Think Progress says Air America Radio (AAR) is filing for major restructuring on Friday. Right wingers are already celebrating, even though AAR sent Think Progress a response denying the rumors.
Bankruptcy, as anyone with the most basic financial knowledge knows, doesn't necessarily mean you're kaput. Corporations reorganize all the time, at times coming out of it stronger than before.
AAR is doing some major programming changes : Jerry Springer will now be on syndication with Sam Seder taking his slot, while Rachel Maddow whose morning show will be replaced by The Young Turks will take Sam's slot in the evenings. Hardly the move of a company going under.
As for right wingers who think AAR's woes mean progressive radio is dead, think again. There is obviously a market for liberal talk which even radio giant Clear Channel -- hardly a liberal outfit -- can't ignore, as evidenced by its own liberal lineup that includes the highly rated Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller. As Think Progress also pointed out, Clear Channel just announced a partnership with Center for American Progress and MSS, Inc. to search for the next Progressive Talk Radio Star.
This goes to show that AAR's problems aren't due to lack of demand but more due to not getting their act together. There was the poor way they handled the programming rigmarole with Mark Maron and Mike Malloy; Hoffmania also points to their "buy one, take all" syndication requirements in the beginning that was hard on affiliates.
There were also the financing and distribution missteps along the way. Radio is a tough business, even with a ready market. It's going to be an uphill struggle if one doesn't have deep pockets that can sustain losses for the first few years, and that's what's mainly ailing AAR.
AAR reminds me of our neighborhood small-time, family-owned sushi bar which toiled for months building a clientele, only to be swallowed by a bigger, savvier competitor which reaped the rewards of all their hard but hit and miss startup work. Hopefully, AAR can get it right this time around or Clear Channel will take it all.
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