Friday, April 28, 2006

Air America arrives in Arkansas

Air America radio will begin broadcasting in Central Arkansas on Monday with appearances by former president Bill Clinton and retired general Wesley Clark.

The national network broadcast will be carried by Little Rock-based KXDE 1380am, which Nova M Radio recently acquired through LMA with an option to purchase.

"We're about giving people another voice to hear," said Nova M's president and CEO Anita Drobny in a telephone interview today. "We want people to digest, compare, discuss, and have an open forum."

Nova M is buying stations around the nation to carry the Air America feed, and the move into Arkansas is part of its "quest to be as spread out as possible," according to Drobny.

Air America, which started in March 2004 broadcasting in only three U.S. cities, bills itself as a liberal alternative to conservative talk radio, which dominates national airwaves. The Arkansas station will be close to the 100th Air America affiliate nationwide, and Drobny calls the network's expansion "the biggest rollout of a network since CNN."

Its Arkansas debut on Monday will feature Clinton and Clark as guests on both the Al Franken Show (which airs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and the Randi Rhodes Show (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.).

Air America To Lose New York Flagship

Air America Radio will lose its New York flagship station, WLIB-AM, on Aug. 31. While the left-leaning radio network’s original lease for the Inner City station ran out March 31, AAR managed to get an extension which only lasts until Aug. 31, according to an informed source.

Through an agreement with ICBC, WLIB will be operated as a joint venture and be programmed by P1, a company run by former Clear Channel and Jacor Communications executive Randy Michaels. Michaels is expected to program a progressive talk format, but replace AAR’s network programming with more local programming. A likely addition to the new lineup: Ed Schultz, the left-of-center talker syndicated by P1.

“To be clear, Air America will not go silent on the New York City airwaves. We do not, however, comment on hypothetical speculation,” said an AAR spokesperson.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

After 2 years, Air America grows progressively upbeat

It was two years ago tomorrow that the progressive network Air America took to the radio, like a band of pioneers seeking a foothold in territory long dominated by hostile conservatives.
The ride has been as rocky as any 19th-century wagon train, and it's still not clear where the network is ultimately headed.

But count Randi Rhodes, the 3-7 p.m. host, among those who think a lot of turf has been claimed, with more to come.

"For a long time, there was a big hole," said Rhodes, "and it's not there anymore. Now there's another side on the radio. People who think our government has been going in the wrong direction don't feel like they're alone anymore.

"I'm much more optimistic today than I was two years ago. Much more hopeful."

Air America launched amid considerable optimism of its own - heady talk of buying its own network of stations while derailing the re-election of President Bush.

Bush survived. Air America almost fell.


Air America Founders Seek Their Own Stations

Anita and Sheldon Drobny, two of the founders of Air America Radio, are taking the next step to ensure that liberal programming stays on the air: obtaining radio stations.

The couple has announced plans to begin buying or leasing radio stations across the United States through their new company, Nova M Radio. The Drobnys, who own a venture capital firm called the Paradigm Group based near Chicago, started the new company with Dr. Michael Newcomb, and a handful of investors. The name Nova M is derived from Nova Miasto, the town Mr. Drobny's father came from in Poland.

Mrs. Drobny said she and her husband were motivated in part by events that began in October in Phoenix, where a Christian broadcasting company called Communicom Broadcasting bought the station that broadcast Air America programming and subsequently changed the format to religious programming.


Gary Krantz, the president of Air America, said listeners were "very vocal and very passionate" when the network went off the air in Phoenix in early March. He said the Drobnys subsequently leased radio station KPHX-AM in Phoenix, where Air America returns today.

Air America programming is broadcast on 89 stations around the country. Sheldon Drobny said Nova M planned to acquire control of 20 to 25 stations in its first year and he said he thought the number could grow to more than 100 stations in three years. He said that while content was required to establish a network, "you also have to have distribution — that is one of the biggest risks we had as a network because all of the major frequencies were owned by the big three, Clear Channel, Infinity and ABC."

The company is looking for stations in areas where liberal talk radio is underrepresented. He said that even if a community was mostly conservative, there was still a local audience for liberal talk radio. "In the radio business you are looking for market share, not to win an election."

Two new syndicated shows available

According to two seperate posts on Radio-Info, two liberal talk show hosts are preparing to syndicate their programs.

Peter B. Collins has been broadcasting daily, 3pm to 6pm on KXRA,AM 540 in Monterey for the past six months. He announced on his Friday show that starting April 10th his daily show will be picked up by KSAC in Sacremento and KPHX, the new lib talker in Phoenix. He has also been a part of the defunct I.E. America network, as well as on Sirius Left.

And according to All Access, Air America's syndication division has announced that it will begin offering Clear Channel KTLK-AM (Progressive Talk 1150)/Los Angeles' nightly "THE MARC MARON SHOW" for syndication, effective Monday, April 17th. Comedian Marc Maron -- former co-host of "MORNING SEDITION -- returned to the network on February 28.

Maron's program will be recorded 3p-5p PT. It will be available via the AAR affiliate FTP site and will also be fed to the satellite at 10p ET (on the right side of the WW 1 channel).

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