Friday, January 22, 2010

What's next, post-Air America?

With the demise of Air America, many stations and hosts are scrambling to fill programming holes, and hosts are scrambling to acquire new gigs and/or syndicators. But seeing as Air America's on-air influence had been greatly diminished as of late, listeners may not notice many differences in their local station lineups.

First, the stations...

  • Obviously, it appears that WZAA, the station the network had been leasing and operating in Washington, DC, will be no more, unless owner Bonneville International or another entity decides to air a progressive talk format there. No word yet on WWRL New York, the other station that Air America leased time from. However, WWRL's owner does have a stake in Ed Schultz' show, so having a local affiliate in New York would be a benefit to them.

  • John Scott, program director of KKGN in San Francisco, said that the station's format would be unaffected, and that Air America "was dead a long time ago. They're just burying it Monday at 6pm PT." He claimed "management screw ups, overspending, talent management, it was a mess from almost the get go. There were truly some fine, dedicated radio people there that were part of the launch team, but they never had a chance."

    "They offered un-entertaining programming. They deserved this. We are in the ENTERTAINMENT business, I am going to say this for the ten billionth time. We are not in the POLITICAL business."

  • NEW! KTLK Los Angeles will have to make a few changes, but it appears they will stick with progressive talk for the foreseeable future. KTLK PD Robin Bertolucci emailed, stating "We are figuring it out as we speak. Ron Reagan (M-F 3-6pm), Richard Greene (M-F 9-11pm), Rachel Maddow (M-F 2-3am), and some of our weekend shows are from Air America." Changes won't be in place until the beginning of next week. The station serves as the home to Stephanie Miller's show.

  • NEW! KPTK Seattle will remain. Local native Ron Reagan, who was employed by Air America and broadcast his show from the station's studios, will continue to do live shows on the station, while he seeks a new national distributor. Reagan was the network's most-syndicated host (not counting the re-airing of Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show). He is keeping fans updated via his Facebook page.

  • Until now, I didn't even realize that Montel Williams had an affiliate in Tacoma, WA, and a live one at that. But apparently, KLAY did carry his show. But not anymore, of course. Starting Monday, former Tacoma city councilman Mike Lonergan takes the morning slot.

  • KPOJ Portland, WCPT Chicago, KTNF in Minneapolis/St. Paul, WXXM Madison, KABQ in Albuquerque, WVAX Charlottesville, VA, WPEK Asheville, NC and KKZN Denver are among the stations so far that have all confirmed that they will continue with their current formats, though with some schedule modification.

  • Many other progressive talk stations will be unaffected, since they carried little to none of the network's programming, aside from weekends, which can easily be filled with reruns and other programming fare.

  • Former Air America nighttime host Nicole Sandler will continue her show online, via her website, but is looking for another broadcast opportunity. According to AllAccess, she is able to continue or fill in immediately on any station, via ISDN line. Jack Rice announced on his Twitter account that he is now "officially available for birthdays & bar mitzvahs" pending his next radio opportunity. No word on what's next for Lionel, Montel Williams, Richard Greene and the network's other on-air and behind-the-scenes employees.

  • Air America's weekend fare tended to cast a larger footprint with affiliates, though the offerings had been greatly diminished in recent years. Some of the shows are produced outside of the network, and will go on. "Ring Of Fire" is independently-produced, and will continue unchanged as a weekend offering, syndicated by Westwood One. Air America-produced shows such as "Inside Story", "State Of Belief" and "On The Real" are likely dead.

  • And then there's the non-Air America stuff. Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann and Bill Press are syndicated by Dial Global, not Air America. Nothing changes there. Randi Rhodes is syndicated by Premiere Networks. Mike Malloy, Norman Goldman, Karel and a few others are independently syndicated. All of these hosts have little to do with Air America, except that they shared many affiliates.

  • It didn't take long for others to start feasting on the corpse. Business Talk Radio Network and Lifestyle Talk Radio Network are both offering their programming to all former Air America affiliates on an immediate basis. Network staffers have been contacting the stations since yesterday to offer their services in filling programming holes. It's safe to say many other radio networks, particularly the ones offering liberal talk programming, are hitting the phones heavily as well.

  • So, what will happen to the vast audio archives of Air America? Well, nobody knows the answer to that question. Likely, they could find their way to other sources (might I suggest Internet Archive?). Some hosts did their own archiving, and will thus be unaffected. But it's too soon to tell what will happen there.

    Obviously, there will be much more to share on this whole shakeup, so this entry will be updated.

    Breaking news, fun and frivolity, always on LTR's Twitter Page. If you have Twitter, please follow.


    Mark Magas said...

    I live in Saint Louis which is a little like saying you live in the conservative part of Alabama. We never had Jim Hightower and we never had Air America. I just bought a newer computer so I could listen to Aoir America while I worked. I listened for the first time yesterday and I reveled in it. It was so good to hear some one else condemn this center right president.

    Are anyu of these stations in San Francisco or Seattle streaming?

    Cape Codder said...

    I'm glad you're back on the blog. I missed your entries and news about LTR.
    As for Air America - not a big deal. Montel Williams was not exactly stimulating radio. Fortunately we still have all the Dial Global folks along with Randi and Mike.

    Brady Bonk said...

    John Scott is partially correct. But the fact is that AAR once DID offer entertaining radio. "Morning Sedition" was terrific. He forgets that the initial offerings tried to assemble casts, pitting dynamic people against one another in studio. Franken and Lanpher had a great dynamic together. This approach was of course abandoned for what I call the 1A1M programming method (One A-Hole, One Mic). An entire programming network cannot be sustained by 1A1M programming. It can't be done.

    Anonymous said...

    John Scott and his station have been undermining AAR since his predecessor dropped Franken before his departure and flat out lied about it to the listeners. They are too smart by half and don't know what they are doing regarding creating a good progressive talker. They just dropped Schultz who is riding high.

    How is their right wing talker doing, btw? Scott runs that one also, right?

    ltr said...

    Yes, John Scott also oversees KNEW. Clear Channel PDs wear many hats.

    And in his defense, he's doing what he's supposed to - working to make his station a success. But not all decisions will please everyone. I do think he changes things up too often, but he does appear to pay more attention to his station than many other PD's I've seen. He's right about it being entertainment over politics. AAR seemed to have forgotten that.

    ctk said...

    i was for air america in practice, but against it in action. air america was run by ideologues who were more of an anti republican crowd rather than competant radio people who put together a network of liberal hosts who were entertaining. any of the good radio people they lucked into. malloy, rhodes, seder, maddow, marron, franken, hartmann. these are all competant radio people. malloy, rhodes, seder, and marron aar FIRED. maddow got a television show. franken left and became a senator. hartmann LEFT aar because they changed their focus. clearly their management had no idea what they were doing. in turn they were bringing down all of progressive radio pretty much by proxy. they became the punching bag representing all of progtalk radio and the clear example of how liberal talk could never and would never work.

    i'm glad that air america died (even though i enjoyed some of their weekend programming), so now a real progressive radio network run by radio professionals can exist and grow.

    i think a lineup of press, miller, hartmann, shultz, goldman and malloy is a pretty killer lineup right there, and now the only problem is finding other things to fill those other timeparts.

    Jill said...

    For all that Air America was pretty much dead to me for the last few years anyway, I found it's demise sent me into a real emotional tailspin. It's hard to explain what it felt like back in the days when I'd turn on the radio just before six and there was the opening music for Morning Sedition, and then I could go to work and just leave the radio tuned to WLIB all day -- and it would always be interesting.

    All I've been listening to of late is the little bit of Ron Reagan's show when he first comes on, so you'd think it wouldn't feel like such a tremendous loss. But the other night I clicked the button on my blog for the embedded player which streams the Sedition Radio stream, and I just broke down into tears. Because nothing embodies the promise, and the failure, of Air America more than that show: the comic/straight man format. The political passion. The mix of entertainment industry and political guests. The camaraderie of the on-air talent and the crew. The absolutely brilliant writing.

    The only one on the original lineup for whom it never really worked was Janeane Garofalo. I don't know what she's done recently, but for a long time she looked terrible and wasn't funny. But last night I saw her on John Oliver's new show and she looked fantastic and was at the top of her game.

    Maron is recording a TV pilot version of his WTF podcast on the 28th; you can read about it at the link, I think. I hope something good happens for him, and for Sam Seder -- a ferociously smart and talented mensch that AAR shit on regularly.

    It's really more about a) how AAR ended up being just another fucked company (government may not be able to run anything, but the private sector can't either); and b) just how much it underscored what is happening in this country.

    As for WWRL, Errol Louis says that their lineup won't be much affected, since all they ran was Montel Williams' infomercial, Ron Reagan (who WILL undoubtedly catch on someplace), and Clout for an hour in the middle of the night.

    Who knows -- they may pick up Randi Rhodes.

    NYLefty said...

    One of the problems with Morning Sedition was that it cost far too much to produce than a struggling little radio network could afford.

    Three co-hosts and a much too-large cast of producers and writers would have been justified at Saturday Night Live, but was insanely expensive for a hand-to-mouth operation like Air America.

    I've always wondered why nobody ever mentioned this obvious flaw in the concept.

    ShelaghC said...

    Just an FYI - NonStop Radio doesn't exist anymore.

    ShelaghC said...

    Sorry - another FYI - Ring of Fire will still be produced and airs at its regular time on stations like among others.
    They will also be podcasting - currently via the website and eventually back on iTunes.

    State of Belief will still be podcasting.

    Free Thought Radio still air on The Mic 92.1 and will also podcast.

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