Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Rhodes coming back, with or without Air America

UPDATE: Randi going to Nova M?

Less than a week since Air America Radio suspended Randi Rhodes, the fate of her show is up in the air. Rumors began circulating Wednesday night that Rhodes was no longer with the network, and that one of her affiliates will continue airing her show regardless.

Air America CEO Charlie Kireker and president Mark Green finally issued a statement Thursday morning:

Last week Air America suspended Randi Rhodes for abusive, obscene language at a recent public appearance in San Francisco which was sponsored by an Air America affiliate station.

Air America Media was informed last night by Ms. Rhodes that she has chosen to terminate her employment with the company. We wish her well and thank her for past services to Air America.

We will soon announce exciting new talent and programming that will accelerate Air America’s growth in the future.

At this time, Rhodes' own website and message board redirects to Air America's site.

Kireker announced her temporary suspension, a first for the network, last week following the release of a YouTube video that featured part of a raunchy monologue delivered by Rhodes at a radio station promotional appearance last month.

The partial video clip showed Rhodes doing a stand-up comedy bit, where she called presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton and former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro "f-ing whores." The clip was allegedly circulated by associates of Larry C. Johnson, an ex-CIA employee and former Republican operative who is currently a strong supporter of Clinton and a bitter foe of Clinton's rival, Sen. Barack Obama. The video clip has since been pulled from YouTube.

Michael Hood at blatherWatch quoted a source at the network as saying she would be gone for several weeks. A suspension period of that length seems par for the course in the broadcast industry, as both David Shuster of MSNBC and Dana Jacobson of ESPN returned after two weeks following their own verbal gaffes. Personalities such as Don Imus and Opie and Anthony were suspended, then released outright by CBS Radio following controversial bits aired on each of their shows. The Rhodes appearance was not broadcast.

Since former air personality Al Franken departed the network early last year, Rhodes has been positioned by the network as their highest profile air talent. Air America has especially worked hard at lining up affiliate stations to carry her show. An outright dismissal could be messy for the network, and further upset a rather shaky alliance with radio stations.

But some began speculating that Rhodes could be gone for good. First to speak up was KKGN (960AM), the station that sponsored the promotional appearance on March 22. Whether Rhodes returned to Air America was irrelevant, as Green 960 forced their hand, claiming that she will be back on the air next Monday, Air America or not. According to program director John Scott, "We have been very frustrated the past few days in our efforts to rectify the Randi Rhodes Situation (her suspension by her network, Air America Radio). It is our understanding that today (April 9th) she is no longer an employee of Air America. So we are bringing her back." Green 960 will air her return next Monday (April 14) at 4P PT.

The station also dedicated a page on their site to refute claims made by others around the web. Some claimed that the appearance was an event for Obama. While one Green 960 listener did post the gathering on MyBarackObama.com's event listing, the appearance was strictly a Green 960 event. The station goes further, via a YouTube video.

Rhodes reportedly has been in the process of moving back to West Palm Beach, FL from New York. And her flagship affiliate there, WJNO (1290AM), which, like Green 960, is owned by Clear Channel Communications, has all but confirmed that they will air her show, to be broadcast from their studios. Rhodes has been with WJNO for well over a decade, long before joining Air America, and reportedly has a separate contract with them. The station has been running some of her best-of shows during the past week. Likely, other stations, such as WINZ (940AM) in neighboring Miami, will follow, and rumors point to all of her Clear Channel affiliates following suit.

Fellow Air America host Sam Seder, who had been filling in for Rhodes since her suspension, was skeptical about the rumors. "I'd really be surprised if Air America fired Randi and would be extremely disappointed if that was the case," Seder said in an earlier e-mail to Raw Story. "My understanding was that she was returning from suspension within a day or two."

However, adding fuel to the fire, Rhodes voiced her displeasure last week with the suspension. "They are in breach of my contract and have damaged my hard won excellent reputation in the broadcast industry," she told blogger Jeff Norman at Huffington Post last week.

So, as it appears Rhodes and Air America really have parted ways, where will she wind up? She has ties with Nova M Radio, which is headed by Air America co-founder Sheldon Drobny and currently employs her former producer and confidant John Manzo as CEO. They currently carry two weekday shows, and Rhodes would fit right in, provided Nova M has the resources to add her to the fold. And don't count Jones Radio Networks out either, which carries a nine hour block of progressive talk with Bill Press, Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz. Both networks, according to subscription trade site AllAccess, are in the running.

Don't rule out Premiere, Clear Channel's syndication arm, either. They could conceivably step in, though their 800 lb. gorilla, Rush Limbaugh, has reportedly issued ultimatums in the past demanding that no liberal hosts be syndicated by them. Both Premiere and JRN initially balked at syndicating her back in 2004, but she does currently have a decent lineup of affiliates, including many of the biggest markets.

And so, we will write the next chapter in the Randi Rhodes chapter...

This entry will be continuously updated, so keep checking back.

12 comments:

workshop said...

She's such a blowhard, but I can't see how she was fired for the airing of a video she never intended should be aired.

Clay said...

Over at Sam's (Seder) site... it has been announced that Randi has left the network.

http://www.samsedershow.com/node/2848

Jill said...

We can haz Sammy in PM Drive Time?

Pleez?

ltr said...

Just an FYI - The wording of this entry may become a bit disjointed, as I am constantly updating it. This is now current, as I have now incorporated the press release from AAR making it official.

Stephen Shea said...

Randi was the remiere talent at AAR. I only started listening to talk radio because of her.

I sometimes disagree with her, but I think a comedy bit, off the air, never intended for broadcast, for the benefit of a local station, short of actual libel, should not have prompted the suspension.

Anyone ever hear Randi say what her mother calls her? She's from Brooklyn!

I'm in the Green 960 - KKGN market, so I'm looking forward to hearing Randi on air again.

poet748 said...

Air America was the midwife of commercial progressive talk radio, providing enough programming in the early days to allow affiliates to experiment with the format. But it has made one disasterous programing decision after another, and allowed Jones and Nova M to steal all the prime spots. With their latest bit of stupidity, they have now lost late afternoon--how long until Rachel Madow goes and takes drive time with her as well? As Mao said, founders come first, then profiteers. If progressive talk is to survive, it needs programmers and executives who know how to make a profit off of it. Air America may not survive to learn that lesson.

Sunshine said...

eya LTR

rhodes website plug pulled by AA.

looks like the stream link has been changed as well.

keith said...

So, are they saying that Geradine and Hillary are NOT whores? By their deeds and their words they most certainly are. Hillary is GW Bush in a pantsuit, and they are both corporate shills. Elect Hillary and expect more of the same corporate socialism we have come to expect of the republican party.

ltr said...

From HuffPo, a look at what's going on inside the building. It's obvious this source doesn't much care for Ms. Rhodes:

A source at Air America, who asked to remain anonymous, said, "Many people screw up and then apologize and move on. Like Imus. Like David Shuster. Like Jay Rockefeller on McCain. Like Obama on Rezko. Like Hillary on Bosnia. Randi Rhodes refused to apologize for her obscene comments and has chosen instead to terminate her relationship with Air America."

The source also said that there is no love lost between Rhodes and her colleagues at the network. "No one is upset. She made the move but there's relief and joy."

Dismissing claims that Rhodes was just doing stand-up comedy in San Francisco when she made the remarks, the source confirmed that Air America paid her way to California, that she was advertised as "Air America's Randi Rhodes," and that the Air America website urged people to go for "an evening of politics and pop culture." The source said, "Air America pays people to be talk show hosts, not stand-up comics, or else we'd hire Chris Rock."

It remains unclear who will substitute for Rhodes' time slot in both the short- and long-term, but the source said the network is looking at Rhodes' departure as an opportunity to rebuild. "Sometimes it's for the best that the leading player leaves so you can rebuild with better talent."

plm57 said...

No loss, this is one voice liberal America can do without.

beegeechip said...

i have been listening to randi since the first day she began broadcasting from new york.at first i thought she was great,but after too many years of her annoying voice i had to start a valium drip.she comes across as a middle aged white woman having a fantasy of being overtaken by a black man.she wants to make me vote republican for the first time in my life. p.s.-- i was one of the 194,000 people that voted for dick gregory.

scott rich said...

A filthy, drug infested corporate sponsored liar was allowed to say that Gore lost the election by five million votes! He, the large mouthed numero uno, once referred to himself as an entertainer. He now believes a lot of his own calculated corporate slant. Isn't lying a leading cause of death, especially in Iraq? Can anyone fault Randi for calling the next group of ascendant liars in a way that really describes their behavior? Randi just forgot to add "corporate" to "whore" for complete accuracy!


  © Blogger template Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP