January 29, 2007
Air America Bailed OutAir 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 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. [...]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.
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