Thursday, February 24, 2005

Air America comes to Air Austin

After months of rumors, radio industry sources confirm that Air America, the liberal talk format starring Al Franken, is about to find a home in Austin, where the airwaves are still dominated by tough-talking Rush Limbaugh wannabes. Air America is now heard on 48 stations around the country, but on only one in Texas, KCCT-AM in Corpus Christi. An announcement on an Austin affiliate is expected within days, according to one source.

Although details are still sketchy, speculation focuses on Border Media Partners, the Houston-based company that now owns seven Spanish-language stations in Austin. BMP president Tom Castro was national deputy finance chair of the Kerry for President campaign, and one of the company's main investors is notable Democrat Tony Sanchez, the former candidate for governor. Asked to analyze the Austin market last week, Castro immediately pointed to the lack of a format for "intelligent and interesting dialogue." Austin, he said, seems like a place where "a lot of people want an outlet for voicing their opinion."

Castro declined to detail any specific plans, but industry sources say BMP has been talking with Air America, as well as other networks, about new programming for Austin. If BMP did, in fact, pick up Air America, KFON-AM (1490), which simulcasts a norte–o music format, or KOKE-AM (1600), which has been struggling to establish a Spanish talk format, are the likely targets.



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