What's All This Then?

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Most of the time, I take pride in my uncanny ability to make accurate predictions about coming events. I’ve made many such predictions in this blog which you could find easily by going back to its beginnings and reading for a few hours. I’m too modest to point them out myself.

But I’m not terribly proud of my predictions about Air America Radio which have become at least partially true with its filing for bankruptcy protection last week. I say "partially" because by no means has Air America failed as I predicted it probably would back on October 15, 2003 - before it was ever launched - when it was still in the planning stage!!

Six months later, on April 16, 2004, I was asking the question - "Will Air America Survive?"

A year after that, on April 20, 2005, I speculated that Air America didn’t need to survive because Jon Stewart and The Daily Show was weapon enough to expose all the nonsense flowing from the Bush administration and from right wing punditry. I was only half serious. The Daily Show is on cable and not everyone has cable. On the other hand, Air America isn’t in every radio market - so there are people who probably aren’t capable of watching/listening to either one!!

And then on August 3, of this year, I wrote a general critique of "progressive" radio.

Air America of course has not "failed." It ran short of money to continue to finance the over ambitious attempt to create an all day network - currently 21 hours - which was probably doomed to failure and which indeed may fail in the long run as a way to program "progressive" talk radio around the country. The right RWRARS - right wing ranters and ravers - are having a field day over the news of the Chapter 11 filing. I haven’t listened to them but I did catch a few minutes (all I can stand) of Michael Savage while I was in my car on Friday. According to this cretin - Air America "failed" because its on-the-air cast of characters had no talent!! This is the same Michael Savage who says the Mark Foley scandal was because of the kids who pursued him!! This is the same Michael Savage who says that Madeline Albright should be hanged - very likely along with all dues paying members of the ACLU, which organization he more or less accuses of being America’s fifth column. That this is an organization that would go into court to defend Savage’s right to attack it in this way is an irony lost on this moron.

But while Savage is wrong about why Air America needed to file for the protection of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, he’s half right about an absence of radio talent among its offerings. I won’t bother to repeat my critiques of mainstays Franken and Rhodes. They’re there in my previous posts all linked above. But I have no idea what the network is/was trying to achieve with shows like "Eco Talk," "Workin It," "The Time is Now" and other strange sounding shows that it offers on week-ends and can be viewed here.

It may be too late for Air America to recover or to ever become financially viable with the business plan with which they began. You’ll note on their program page, they list two items under "syndication" - which of course is the way they should have gone from the beginning. Production and syndication of individual programs - not purchasing the full broadcast day of two bit, weak signal stations - which was what landed them in bankruptcy. They owed money to Multicultural Broadcasting for time purchased on its Chicago and Los Angeles outlets when the network first started - and they’ve never paid off the debt!!

I found it kind of amusing listening to Franken talking about the bankruptcy this morning and boasting that in 60% of the markets in which he goes head to head with one RWRAR or another, he wins the ratings battle - despite - he wanted his audience to know - being on many stations with lousy signals - such as the 2500 watt day-timer, 50 miles out of Chicago, claiming to be that city’s outlet!!

"Progressive" radio will survive no matter what happens to Air America - though admittedly it has a long way to go to catch up to the number of RWRAR’s on the air. It’ll be a struggle because the program offerings first have to hurdle the barrier of station ownership - which is unlikely to be sympathetic to liberal points of view. If you don’t think that’s a problem - why else would it be that in a market like Chicago and Cook County, Illinois - about as BLUE a part of the country as you can find, you can find stations carrying the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, Michael Savage and Dennis Prager - but - apart from one time program repeats on a week-end by the local Air America station - not people like Stephanie Miller or Thom Hartmann. We get Ed Schultz - but again - on the weak signal daytime station that carries some of Air America’s offerings. It makes no sense - unless I was right when I said in my October 15, 2003 post:
I predict it will fail.

It will fail because although a majority of Americans are reasonably sane and reasonably fair minded, not enough of them are likely to want to listen to hour after hour of discussion daily that focuses on a liberal perspective of events.

Not that it wouldn’t be interesting or educational or amusing. But it would lack the ingredients that have catapulted right wing radio into the stratosphere.

Rabidity. Unreasonableness. Unrelenting, vicious, blind partisanship. And freely expressed contempt and loathing for those with opposing political or philosophical views.

And it would lack the audience to whom these essential ingredients appeal. Those who believe that millions of their fellow citizens are little more than blood sucking traitors to the true America and the true American dream. And never get tired of someone telling them that, day after day.
But much as I like to see my predictions come true, I fervently hope that I’m wrong in this case.