Saturday, February 19, 2005

Air America Flys 

Remember when all the wingnut wunderkinds and the Sunday gasbags and conventinal wisdom wowsers were rolling their eyes and smirking into the bright lights telling us all about how it would never even get off the ground?

Madison Magazine March 2005
The Liberal Media - One network set out a year ago this month to make the mtyh a reality.

The network went on the air in just a half-dozen cities one year ago this month...

A year on, listeners still hear Bush-bashing of the first order. Christy Harvey of the Center for American Progress and conservative-cum-liberal writer David Brock are near-daily guests on Franken's show, as is Franken's college roommate (and die-hard Republican) Mark Luther. Luther is Franken's "Resident Ditto-head," charged with defending Rush Limbaugh sound bites that may or may not contain half-truths and fibs. Callers can play Franken's game show, "Wait, Wait, Don't Lie To Me," in which they must identify quotes from the news as truth, lie, or "weasel words." Morning listeners hear "Ambrosia Sings the News," in which sultry jazz vocalist Ambrosia Parsley renders her three-verse version of the day's events. Guests and callers make a full-contact sport of trying to get a word in edgewise on The Randi Rhodes Show, and evening host Mike Malloy routinely refers to the president's kin as "the Bush crime family."

In a world where big corporations own most of the radio stations in the country, that kind of thing couldn't possibly survive, could it? No radio stations would sign on as affiliates to that, would they? After all, big corporations are all in bed with the NeoCons, aren't they?

Whether they are or they aren't, it turns out that their first priority is their own bottom line. Media conglomerates surprised more than a few people by letting local stations sign on for some or all of Air America's lineup, tolerating the potshots at the corporate-friendly right wing, as long as those local stations delivered audience and the resulting ad sales. And deliver they did - a test run in Portland took a station from the cellar to number three in three months, and the station now sits at number two in the market. That meager handful of stations at the start has grown to 50 in just a year, in addition to two channels on satellite radio. It's back on the air in LA and recently landed in Bush's backyard - Corpus Christi, Texas. By the time Bush was inaugurated for his second term, AAR had 40 percent of the nation's airwaves covered (projected to approach 50 percent by the time this article goes to press) and millions more sets of ears listening online. It has been the fastest launch in radio network history.


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