Thursday, August 02, 2007

"The Air Americans" are grounded

In a not-so-surprising move, Air America Radio is ditching The Air Americans.

The New York Daily News is reporting that the two-month old show will be dropped by the network, and replaced with two new shows. Taking its place is longtime broadcaster and Air America weekend host Richard Greene and KTLK Los Angeles weekend host, TV anchorwoman and Texas ranchland owner Bree Walker. Green will take the 8-10PM ET slot, with Walker's new show will air 10PM to Midnight ET. The moves will be effective September 4.

Mark Riley, the devoted host of The Air Americans who has been with the network since the very beginning, has also gotten the axe. Air America president Mark Green indicated it was largely a financial decision to release Riley, an original network host.

In other moves at the network, All Access reports that four more staff members out of the existing 48 are being released. "We are continuing to cut costs and consolidate functions as we dramatically reduce our expenses and move toward profitability," said Green. "I'm especially grateful to Mark Riley, who has been an exemplary and loyal Air American since the very start of the network three years ago. From Mark and his producer Ron Dodd to the four staff members, all are consummate professionals who have done their jobs exceedingly well. Air America's commitment to continuously lower costs does not reflect at all on their skills and contributions."

When The Air Americans was announced as a show back in May, there wasn't a whole lot of enthusiasm for it from listeners. Basically, the concept of the show was radio host gumbo, various Air America personalities thrown together and allowed to simmer for four hours every night. Riley was the ringmaster, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, David Bender and Laura Flanders were also thrown into the mix. And that's about it.

As could be expected, they didn't find many affiliates to pick it up. WXXM in Madison and KOKE in Austin were among the most notable. Air America's own flagship station, Access.1-owned WWRL took a pass, opting to rerun their locally-produced morning show in the slot. XM Radio decided to time shift the show to the wee hours of the night. The show was a non-starter.

First of all, at a time when many of the network affiliates were working to establish their own identities, apart from Air America. No way in hell were they going to carry a show called The Air Americans. In addition, many affiliates use the evening time slot to time shift daytime programming, such as Ed Schultz, Randi Rhodes and Thom Hartmann. Some air local programming or non-Air America shows like Nova M Radio's Mike Malloy. And offering a four hour show is asking a bit much, when affiliates are more willing to go with 2-3 hour shows, which are easier to slot.

So, how will the new kids fare? Greene is an established broadcaster and professional speaker, with a lot of experience in public radio. He should add a bit of professional polish to the network. Walker also has a great deal of experience, and this move could placate relations with their Los Angeles affiliate, though it is not known yet if and when KTLK will carry her, which airs in the same time slot as the time-delayed Ed Schultz show. I'm guessing they will.

No word on the fate of the show's other hosts. Flanders, Kennedy and Papantonio all host weekend shows. This move will leave Bender, former host of the network's Politically Direct, without one. Tonight's The Air Americans will be guest-hosted by WXXM's Lee Rayburn.

Talking Radio has more.


Casey Buck said...

Not surprised about this at all. It sounded to me like The Air Americans was simply a 4-hour filler show, which only got carried by the turnkey stations, and a few others.

Their blog hardly got any traffic, and most of their listeners (as well as several of the progressive talk affiliates) ended switching over to Malloy.

will in chicago said...

I am not so much surprised by the cancellation of Air Americans, as by he short time that it lasted. I do feel sorry about the firng of Mark Riley, who has been a mainstay of Air America.

Most of the progressive radio show listeners I know tune in Malloy at that slot. Indeed, possibly it is going to be hard for any progressive talk show to comepete with Mike Malloy in that slot, much like it is difficult for progressive talk shows to compete with Stephanie Miller.

pjs said...

So, how's Lionel doing? All the radio "experts" seemed to think that was a great coup, dumping Seder for him.

Missy said...

Dear Mark Green,



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