Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Big changes for Air America

Air America Radio today announced a few big changes both to its program roster and to its infrastructure, with some upcoming moves.

First, a revamp of the on-air schedule, effective May 21:

  • Mark Riley moves from 5-6A to 8p-Midnight ET, hosting "The Air Americans" with "Ring of Fire" hosts Robert Kennedy, Jr and Mike Papantonio, current "Politically Direct" host David Bender and "RadioNation" host Laura Flanders.

  • Jon Elliot gets bumped to the Midnight-3AM shift, giving the network a live presence in the early morning hours.

  • Randi Rhodes' replay will air 3-6A weekday mornings.

  • "EcoTalk" appears to be history

  • And of course, Lionel arrives for the 9-Noon shift starting May 14.

  • Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow and The Young Turks stay put.

    On the weekends, there are also a few changes:

  • Mark Green gets his own show, "This Week In America", featuring panelists Ariana Huffington and Bob Kerrey. This 'week-in-review' show will air 6-7P ET Saturdays.

  • As reported yesterday, Marc Sussman's investment show will air 9-10A ET Saturday mornings.

  • "Clout," a new two hour show with Richard Greene, will air 8-10P ET on Saturdays

  • Sam Seder returns for a Sunday afternoon show

  • "RadioNation" with Laura Flanders gets a makeover and will be a one-hour show on Sunday afternoons.

  • "Ring of Fire" will now be a three hour show on Saturday afternoons, with a Sunday replay.

  • "Our line-up combines the best of proven radio stars like Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow and The Young Turks along with new programming that broadens and deepens Air America's reach," claimed network president Mark Green. "When people ask what Air America 2.0 means, they'll hear the answer on May 21."

    In addition, Air America announced a new advertising sales deal with Westwood One, which will replace a similar 3-year deal they had with Jones MediaAmerica, which terminates next month. Westwood One will oversee all of Air America's network and affiliate ad sales, in conjunction with the network's in-house affiliate relations department, effective June 1.

    "Because WW1 is such a renowned network ad and affiliate sales firm," said Air America COO Scott Elberg, "it's obviously exciting that Westwood One will be a vital part of AAR 2.0. We appreciated Jones Media's past work and now look forward to a new effort behind the new Air America."

    "We're pleased that the new ownership and management of Air America is looking to us to expand their audience and secure their success of being informative, entertaining talk programming," said WWI Executive VP/Chief Marketing Officer Roby Wiener.

    You can read the official press release here.


    ltr said...

    And here's where I add my own personal take.

    First, the Westwood One deal is a very strong move. WW1, owned by CBS, is the biggest radio syndicator in the country. In addition, they have a very powerful sales force, and have a ton of clout in the industry. Hell, they got Dennis Miller cleared on 70 or so stations! Jones is a good network too, but they deal mostly in music formats, with a little bit of talk thrown in. The fact that they compete directly with AAR on some level does create a conflict of interest, though.

    As for the programming moves, I'm kinda mixed. "The Air Americans" doesn't sound like the type of show that's going to clear a bunch of new affiliates. If it were up to me, I'd take the four hours and split it evenly between Sam Seder and Harrison on the Edge, but that's just me. Scanning the blogs and boards, people seem to like the idea of Laura Flanders and the "Ring of Fire" guys on five+ days a week. To me, it almost seems like they're getting out of Mike Malloy's way.

    Clearing "Politically Direct" and "EcoTalk" from the weekday schedule was a good idea. Not sure what's to become of "EcoTalk" though. It's not even on the new weekend schedule.

    Moving Elliott to the post-midnight shift makes sense, since most of his affiliates delay him anyway. Besides, it gives them a presence in the post-midnight time period, where there is really no live competition besides UFO talk. He's still on 9-midnight on his native West Coast, so no need to buy him cases of Red Bull. He will likely be carried live on his flagship station, KLSD, which will probably start clearing all three hours of Malloy live as well.

    As for weekends, I'm not sure who Richard Greene is, but I think it's this guy. He's a professional speaker. Why this show is about corporate influence in politics is beyond me.

    The weekly recap show with Mark Green sounds like a good idea. Getting Arianna Huffington was a very good move, as she's pretty well known in the media and HuffPo is probably the most popular left-leaning site on the internet. Same with Bob Kerrey.

    I notice Lionel is in reruns on the weekend, squashing the possibility of staying in his current WOR weekend show timeslot, as it is carried on many stations across the country from 5-8P on Saturdays. His reruns will air Saturdays from 11A-1P and Sunday mornings 4-7A. Not a very smart move, since they could have taken advantage of Lionel's current weekend affiliates.

    Here's the whole schedule:

    M-3A "This Is America, with Jon Elliott" (Tues-Sat)
    3-6A (replay) "The Randi Rhodes Show"
    6-9A "The Young Turks"
    9A-N "The Lionel Show"
    N-3P "The Thom Hartmann Program"
    3-6P "The Randi Rhodes Show"
    6-8P "The Rachel Maddow Show"
    8P-M "The Air Americans" hosted by Mark Riley with David Bender, Laura Flanders. Robert Kennedy Jr., and Mike Papantonio

    M-3A "This Is America, with Jon Elliott"
    3-5A Best-of "The Young Turks"
    5-7A Best-of "The Thom Hartmann Program"
    7-9A Best-"The Air Americans"
    9-10A "Your Money, with Marc Sussman"
    10-11A "State of Belief" with Reverend Welton Gaddy
    11A-1P Best-of "The Lionel Show"
    1–3P Best-of "The Randi Rhodes Show"
    3-6P "Ring of Fire" with Robert Kennedy Jr., Mike Papantonio, & David Bender
    6-7P "This Week in America" with Mark Green, Arianna Huffington, & Bob Kerrey
    7-8P "The Time Is Now" with the Reverend Dr. James Forbes
    8-10P "Clout" with Richard Greene
    10-M Best-of "The Young Turks"

    M-1A Best-of "The Young Turks"
    1-4A Best-of "The Air Americans"
    4-7A Best-of "The Lionel Show"
    7-9A Best-of "The Young Turks"
    9-10A "This Week in America" (replay)
    10A-1P Best-of "The Thom Hartmann Program"
    1-2P "Radio Nation" with Laura Flanders
    2-4P "Clout" with Richard Greene (replay)
    4-7P "Seder on Sunday" with Sam Seder
    7-8P "State of Belief" (replay)
    8-10P "Ring of Fire" (replay)
    10-11P "The Steve Earle Show"
    11P-1A "On the Real" with Chuck D.

    hashfanatic said...

    in your opinion
    will the williams/greenfield show
    continue to run on wwrl?

    for how long?

    ltr said...

    Likely no change. While WWRL carries AAR all day, they do their own morning show. And any changes at AAR will likely not trickle down to what they do.

    Looks like you're stuck with Sammy and Army until WWRL decides to do something different. Many affiliates do their own morning shows.

    Jill said...

    The big winner here is Pops Riley, who gets rewarded for being a good and loyal soldier and navigating the various permutations of management. This sounds like the first good new show being put out under the new management.

    I would have a lot more respect for Mark Green if he wasn't using the network at ALL for a vanity project, but the relentless shilling of his own book combined with giving himself a show is not a good sign.

    And how much of this will play in New York remains to be seen. WWRL seems to want to continue its lineup of snake oil infomercials.

    My overall response? Once you get past the Riley/Flanders/Bender/Kennedy/Pap show? Meh. None of it makes up for how shabbily Maron and Seder were treated.

    will_in_chicago said...

    Ltr, I doubt that the Air Americans will clear many new affiliates and I would not be surprised if Nova M makes a push for Mike Malloy on several AAR affiliates. The hours are a bit long, and the fact that we have one solid hosts and what seems to be a rotating list of cohosts may or may not work for some station managers.

    Running Lionel on the weekends, which will likely result in the loss of his weekend shows, may limit his reach. If he had kept his weekend show, it might have helped convince some of those stations to look at him during the week. The AAR name could have been mentioned during those shows.

    I think a late show is a good idea, and gives AAR some presence. However, Nova M did drop John Loftus and they may wish to put in some programming in that slot to follow Mike Malloy.

    The Young Turks will still have the problem of the morning shows, and Lionel will face the same problem plus the juggernaut that is the Stephanie Miller Show. Time will tell if this new line up will help AAR.

    I do think Westwood 1, which has a lot of experience selling talk can help. My question is that as most of their clients have been conservatives -- and some are on opposite of AAR shows -- how strongly will they seek to promote AAR? I am not familiar with the advertising end of the radio business, but is there a potential for a conflict of interest.

    Missy Zimmerman said...

    I think this improves AARs programming after Maddow. But, once again, AAR's best talent is being shorted 12 hours of airtime. Sam Seder is sorely missed.

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