Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

January 29, 2007

Air America Bailed Out

Air America will rise from bankruptcy, but without Al Franken:

Air America Radio, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings since October, will be rescued at the 11th hour by Manhattan real estate developer Stephen L. Green.

Al Franken, the best-known host of the liberal network, will announce his expected departure on his show later today, to explore a run for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota.

Green is the brother of Mark Green, the New York Democrat who served as the city's public advocate in the 90s and ran for mayor against Michael Bloomberg in 2001.
Al Franken has announced today that he's indeed leaving by February 14th. No word yet on whether he's going to run against Senator Norm Coleman in Minnesota, but he promised to announce his decision on the show before he leaves.

I'm delighted Thom Hartmann is taking Al's slot; he's the only one I listen to regularly on AA. It'll be interesting to see how the programming lineup shifts to accomodate this major change.

Al is a good liberal, but I frankly never cared for him as a radio host. He gets big name guests on his show, but that's the best thing I can say about it. Without his big salary, AA might have an easier time climbing out of the red. Of course it has bigger problems than Al's salary, but hopefully with new ownership, the company's management and overall strategy will get that much needed overhaul.

The other major hurdle for AA is the overwhelming dominance of conservative radio programming. With openly conservative media behemoths like Clear Channel controlling the airwaves, it's no wonder AA is usually relegated to the weaker broadcast frequencies, making it harder to break into the fiercely competitive talk radio market.

Of course, we have Ronald Reagan's repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 and Bill Clinton's signing of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to thank for the destruction of radio as we know it. They are also the reasons why this is so significant:

Over the weekend, the National Conference for Media Reform was held in Memphis, TN, with a number of notable speakers on hand for the event. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) made an surprise appearance at the convention to announce that he would be heading up a new House subcommittee which will focus on issues surrounding the Federal Communications Commission. [...]

In addition to media ownership, the committee is expected to focus its attention on issues such as net neutrality and major telecommunications mergers. Also in consideration is the "Fairness Doctrine," which required broadcasters to present controversial topics in a fair and honest manner. It was enforced until it was eliminated in 1987.
What do you know, truly fair and balanced reporting might still come to the airwaves. Imagine that.

It's refreshing to have adults in charge in Capitol Hill, for a change.


posted at 3:42 PM by Wonky Muse

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Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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