Thursday, September 14, 2006

Air America Radio acknowledges some layoffs, cash problems

UPDATED 9/15/06

Financially strapped Air America Radio acknowledged Thursday, after star commentator Al Franken said publicly that his paycheck had stopped coming, that it had suffered a small number of layoffs but insisted there were no plans for the liberal talk show network to declare bankruptcy.

Spokeswoman Jaime Horn, without getting specific, said there were "a handful of layoffs" that followed a move of the network's New York outlet from WLIB-AM to WWRL-AM, a station with a less powerful signal. The network launched in March 2004.

Franken, broadcasting Thursday from New York, said he was aware of the bankruptcy rumors. "We may or may not, that's what I'm hearing," Franken said at the start of his noon broadcast. But he assured listeners that the financial problems wouldn't silence the network.

"Let me say one thing, if we do go into bankruptcy: I've flown on United (Airlines)," he said. "They went into bankruptcy."

United operated for more than three years before it came out of bankruptcy last February.

In a recent interview, Franken admitted that Air America was suffering from a "cash-flow problem," and that he was not paid last week.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Air America is "one paycheck" late to him:

"How late are they on the paycheck? Not very," said Franken, who claimed he was making a joke when he told Radar online reporter John Cook that he knew the network was having cash-flow problems because "there's no cash flowing to me."

The last time the network missed a paycheck to Franken (and others) was in 2004, shortly after it launched. It was discovered that then-chairman Evan Cohen hadn't raised as much money for the network as he claimed.

Franken referred questions about his company's health to Air America officials, saying, "I'm not involved on a management level."

Air America has made "no decision to make any filing of any kind," a spokeswoman said Thursday. "We continue to operate, we just announced our fall schedule and are doing everything we can to move forward." She would not comment on Franken's missing paycheck.

The AP article touches on the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club controversy, which happened during Cohen's brief involvement with Air America. Ironically, the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club is perhaps the only inner-city non-profit organization that conservatives really seem to give a rip about. Gee, I wonder why...

You can read more of the Associated Press article here.

NOTE: ThinkProgress has retracted the story. Right-wing bloggers can stop masturbating now. Here's their update:

On Wednesday, ThinkProgress reported “Air America Radio will announce a major restructuring on Friday, which is expected to include a bankruptcy filing.” We made a judgment that our sources were knowledgeable and reliable. We regret the error.
We wish Air America a long and successful future.


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