Monday, April 09, 2007

Lionel slides into Seder's slot

In a surprise move, talk show veteran Lionel has been tapped to take over Sam Seder's 9A-12P ET midday slot on Air America Radio, beginning May 14, according to radio industry news site All Access.

"Lionel will be an eclectic mixture of current events and off-the-wall topics infused with his special brand of humor," said Air America President Mark Green. "Because he's one of the biggest names in talk radio, Lionel will be a very important addition to our line-up and affiliate base."

"Air America is about one thing: radio. Not about ideology; but democracy. Radio that's an alternative to the usual, bumper sticker Rush wannabe. Radio that's listenable," said Lionel. "My goal is to garner and gather listeners. If you've got a radio, I'm your guy. Listeners want smart, funny, thoughtful, thinking, entertaining talk radio.With that in mind, my first show for Air America will be 'Great Polkas of the 20th Century.'"

Lionel, who's real name is Michael Lebron, has a nighttime show that is currently syndicated via WOR Radio Network, and airs on stations across the country, including many progressive talkers. WOR is currently seeking a replacement for the time slot.

Seder will wrap up his weekday show this Friday and will soon debut a Sunday afternoon show, to air 4-7P ET.


Jill said...

They're out of their freakin' minds.

Now I know why everyone hates baby boomers -- it's because baby boomers like Mark Green have turned into their own parents; that anything younger and edgier is not to be tolerated. Well, THIS particular baby boomer is outraged -- outraged that the new owners are going to feed us a guy who hasn't made a dent in progressive radio penetration in all his years in the business, but even more outraged that Mark Green had the GALL to say that we would be thrilled with this choice.

Eff you, Mark Green -- and your network. Nice work, a**hole -- with this latest move, you've just alienated the rest of your most loyal listeners who've been with AAR since the beginning.

Marion Delgado said...

Even at that this doesn't compare to Danny Goldberg.

I truly hate him. He wrote a pretentious book called how the left lost teen spirit pretending he "gets" youth culture and stuff and the Dems don't and so on. Lying whore was simply lobbying for the Hollywood capitalists' right to further pander to idiocy with gratuitous shock, sex and violence, of course.

Then he joins Air America and tries to finish it off, since Ethan couldn't. He phucked with Marc Maron unmercifully, and you could gather elliptically from Janeane's comments what a zombie environment he created.

His book must be ghost-written, because he set the bar so low for "getting" edgy humor the youth like that Paul Harvey would probably qualify.

Mark Green is sort of okay on balance, but of course, this is a typical moderating move. Talk radio sucks as an industry to a degree people can't understand till they are involved. I had shows with good ratings but I never had any urge to try for a career. By this point I would almost say Sam's show doesn't fit in at AAR so, like Unfiltered, it's broken up and moved to weekends.

In fairness, they have stuck by rachel maddow, and at least chuck d and sam still have shows.

The glory days of early Air America Radio will never come again and that's a damn shame but that's the industry for you.

Unknown said...

Morning Sedition and Unfiltered were great.They're gone. Majority Report was great. Gone. Sam Seder. Gone. This is a bad bad direction you're choosing Mark.
Rachel Maddow and Randi continue to rock, but, I doubt they can do it alone. This fellow will bring in NO ONE.
Bring back Liz Winstead and Marc Maron.

ltr said...

Okay, so I guess I'll give my personal take here, aside from the article itself.

First off, this one's a shocker. Never in a million years would I have guessed they'd go after Lionel. Actually, my top two guesses were Cary Harrison or Stacy Taylor. I was hoping for Harrison, since I feel he could have really created a unique show and placated AAR fans, many of whom enjoyed his KTLK show. Same goes for Stacy Taylor. Pretty well-liked by AAR listeners and already does a local show in San Diego at the same time. I figured it worked well for Jon Elliot.

But the Lionel thing is a surprise. Mostly in that Lionel is not your typical AAR-type host. Sure, he's good. Actually, I'd say he's one of the best at doing liberal radio. But he's a bit outside the mold, a real iconoclast, in that he doesn't toe any real political line. He's pretty straight-forward, doesn't chant talking points, doesn't toe the party line, doesn't screen callers, and basically says whatever the hell he wants. He's a former lawyer, so he approaches issues from that angle. Spends too much time on the Nancy Grace-type celeb scandals though (Anna Nicole, for one). Other than that, he does a great show, and is more seasoned at the radio game than Seder, but Seder's die-hard fans will probably hate his guts.

Much like Jon Elliot, who's a decent host but had the misfortune of replacing Mike Malloy, Lionel is going to have some hurdles ahead of him. At the same time, AAR does need to think outside the box, get away from the groupthink mentality that makes many of their shows sound too similar, and go after more irreverent hosts like this. Whether you'd like to admit it or not, AAR has been stuck in a rut. They really do need to expand the parameters a bit, and get away from the predictable.

Is this a good move? Tough call here. Personally, I'm a bit underwhelmed, since I really felt Harrison would be the better move. This sounds to me like they just hired another middle-aged white guy. And Lionel will likely lose quite a few affiliates, though he may help AAR gain some, which is probably what their objective is in this move, since they certainly won't steal any from Stephanie Miller. So I'm a bit undecided here. I see it as a move to help gain new affiliates, and to improve the image of the network, both of which are top priorities for them. If they can acheive these, then they got what they wanted. So, I guess from a business standpoint, it's not that bad a move.

Elderta said...

Simply the worst mistake ever.

ltr said...

Okay, I posted this over at DU, and the response is not overwhelming. The people at Air America Place aren't too happy either.

Atrios and Crooks and Liars also linked here, resulting in over 3500 hits here in the last hour (usually, I get less than a hundred). News travels fast, huh?

Interestingly, the most positive response I've seen is from 911blogger, since Lionel is heavy on 9/11 conspiracy stuff.

toniD said...

I don't think he's good. He's got a munchkin voice and he gets off on tangents that has nothing to do with anything.

Bad, bad choice.

They should have kept Sam!

ltr said...

Here's an announcement sent to AAR's affiliates (and in this case, former ones). Thanks to Keith Kennedy of WARF in Akron for forwarding this:

Dear Affiliate:

We're pleased to announce that Lionel will be taking over the 9a-12p ET time slot and Sam Seder will be starting a new show on Sundays 4p-7p called "Seder on Sunday."

Lionel, as you know, is one of the most recognized personalities in talk radio. Lionel is #1 in his current time slot on WOR Radio in NYC, as he was previously in Los Angeles and Tampa .

Sam's new weekend show, to run from 4p-7p on Sundays, will focus on two areas of great interest to him and to our audience -- the networks and the netroots. He'll be reviewing that morning's Sunday political talk shows and using many prominent bloggers as commentators and interviewees.

Since Sam has chosen to make his final weekday broadcast this Friday (April 13), we'll be scheduling guest hosts until Lionel begins on Monday, May 14th.

We're proud of how The Young Turks, Thom Hartmann , Randi Rhodes and Rachel Maddow are doing and pleased they will continue their excellence in their current time slots.


Mark Green, President
Scott Elberg, Chief Operating Officer

Elderta said...

Sorry, but I really don't want to hear about 9/11 conspiracies. I'm not surprised you got only one good response from the guy who loves to talk about 9/11 9/11 9/11.

Blech. Still the worst decision AAR has ever made, and since I've listened from day one, I can tell you, I've been through every bad decision and then some.

Scott Knight said...

i saw this guy on c-span the other day, he really sucks. For a so called progressive he sure was doing the corporate bidding on latin american slave labor(illegal immigration). I dont think i will be listening again.

Scott Knight said...

sorry wont be listening again

ltr said...

For what it's worth, the press release from Air America:


NEW YORK – April 9, 2007 – Air America Radio, which celebrated its third year anniversary last week, announced today changes in its programming schedule beginning May 14.

*Lionel -- Veteran radio talk-show host Lionel will bring his nationally syndicated program to Air America M-F, 9am-12 noon ET.  He has been performing talk radio for 18 years, starting as a mere caller while in law school in his home town of Tampa and was later given his own weekend show in 1988 on 970 WFLA.  Currently heard on 92 stations across the country, Lionel is the #1 rated talk host during his time period in New York, as he was previously in Los Angeles and Tampa.

"Lionel will be an eclectic mixture of current events and off-the-wall topics infused with his special brand of humor," said new Air America President Mark Green. "Because he's one of the biggest names in talk radio, Lionel will be a very important addition to our line-up and affiliate base.”

"Air America is about one thing: radio. Not about ideology; but democracy. Radio that’s an alternative to the usual, bumper sticker Rush wannabe.  Radio that’s listenable," said Lionel.  "My goal is to garner and gather listeners.  If you’ve got a radio, I’m your guy. Listeners want smart, funny, thoughtful, thinking, entertaining talk radio.With that in mind, my first show for Air America will be 'Great Polkas of the 20th Century.'  

*Seder on Sunday -- Sam Seder will be moving to Sunday afternoons, 4-7pm ET, with a brand new show, “Seder on Sunday",  which will be a recap and review of the Sunday morning talk shows. Seder will focus on two areas that are of high interest to him and AAR listeners -- the networks and the netroots, with a special emphasis on bloggers as guests. 

"Sam Seder has been integral to the Air America family since its inception,” said Green. “We're delighted that he'll be staying to launch a new show on Sunday afternoons, where he'll bring his brand of humor and humanity to his favorite subjects of the Sunday political talkfests and the blogosphere. Let the Punditocracy beware!"

"To quote the Carpenters, 'We've only just begun' -- and look forward to more announcements shortly about our 2.0 vision."

Tod said...

Mark Green is an idiot. This move is idiotic. You just lost this listener, for good.

Thad said...

Lionel was being syndicated in place of Harrison nights here in L.A., and I can't stand him. I thought Harrison was hilarious, and I really like Seder as well. I'm in one of those markets where they have enough shows that they could have TWO progressive stations. The latest schedule jerk around on 1150 put Randi on live, which is great, but Harrison and Seder got pushed out a while ago, which didn't sit well with me.

I don't want this guy to succeed on AAR. I'm sorry, but he doesn't interest me, make me laugh, anything. Seder was fabulous, and I want my Majority Report back!

. said...

I would just as soon listen to a pack of hyenas tearing into a zebra carcass than listen to this dork.

No more AAR Premium for me. Sam brought politics alive, the rest of AAR is either annoying, or unengaging.

I guess if you want to make money, you have to stop being interesting.

Back to listening to music for me.

Jafafa Hots said...

It appears that they are replacing Sam with "Lionel."

I listened to Lionel a few times, and then one day I heard him go off on a rant about how people have to stop being so "politically correct."

He was complaining that people were mad about a bunch of white college fraternity kids in the south "celebrating" Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day by dressing up as "pimps and hos" and eating fried chicken and watermelon, etc.

He argued that people were wrong to be offended, that it was just good clean fun, etc.

I haven't listened to that idiot since.

Elderta said...

Complain to AAR... but it never does any good.

Anonymous said...

Wow! And some of you complain about the tone of some of my comments.

Some of us have been saying AAR should hire people with radio experience; that does not mean ANYBODY with radio experience.

Lionel has been doing a late night show running mostly as the lone non-right winger on stations with a right-wing line-up - plus being Hannity's straw man on Fox. Now he proposes to move to almost prime time on stations with a progressive talk format. This has no chance unless he comes up with a very different show from the one he does now.

So far, committed liberals have been AAR's core audience and they have shown little willingness to accept Colmes, whom they see as not standing up to Hannity. Then again, maybe AAR thinks Colmes can extend AAR's reach beyond committed liberals.

Will Colmes continue to do his the TV gig with Hannity? Does this put AAR in the position of promoting a show on Fox News?

In all likelihood, AAR had to come up with more buck$ for Colmes than he is getting from WOR. To pay his way at AAR, Colmes will have to do better than just keeping AAR's handful of remaining stations now carrying Seder; in other words, he needs to get more stations than the current remnant of turnkeys lacking the automation equipment which allows them to switch between the AAR and the Jones satellite feeds (plus WWRL). Unlike some posters, I think Colmes' late-night radio show is OK but up against Steph, he will be fighting way over his weight. He did have some modest success getting libtalk clearances in the evening, but this is a whole different situation.

This seems like a triumph for name recognition over a good programming move.

If they'd wanted to pick up an established late night host for late morning, they'd have done better with Phil Hendrie.

And there are two outstanding liberal hosts sitting on the sidelines. I wonder if Bernstein even thought of Phil Donahue or Michael Jackson?

NYLefty said...

Emacee is confusing Lionel with Alan Colmes, which may say something about how seriously you should take Emacee's comments.

And it seems to me that this switch makes sense from a business standpoint. Lionel is currently on 92 stations and Seder is on 16, which should tell you something about the commercial viability of both shows. AAR needs to turn the corner into profitability, so I think this was a smart move.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

show blog

so far 737 comments

5 or less favoring this switch.

and no one favoring the switch so far

at the AAR Press release comments section about Sam's switch.

hell of a compliment Sam.

WTG bud!

btchakir said...

My heart is ready to lay down and die. Mark Green, you are another righty pretending to be a lefty.

Give us Maron. Give us Malloy. Give us Garafalo. Give us almost anyone.

But Lionel?

He's one step away from Imus!

will_in_chicago said...

I find Lionel to be a surprising choice as he does not identify himself as a liberal or a progressive, and seems to lean libertarian at times. I run hot and cold about Lionel. He can offer some very good insights on the administration, but he can be abrasive and focus on issues that I don't think many AAR listeners care about such as boxing or Anna Nicole Smith.

I wonder if Lionel can bring new clearances to AAR, and I think that there are many people who are going to question this move. (I was suspecting that Stacy Taylor or Craig Harrison would get the nod.)

hashfanatic said...

how do you run a liberal talk outlet
by putting on hosts who
believe the term "liberal"
is an insult

lionel may bring wor listeners to aar
but will do terribly in other areas

i cannot help but believe
seder was hit because of his aipac
stance, and criticism of israel

their worst move yet

will_in_chicago said...

Okay, I tried to link to what I posted at the Unfiltered News Network based on this entry.]LIONEL to replace Sam Seder

Let's say that the first response is pretty negative.

will_in_chicago said...

Scott, many at AAR have been critical of AIPAC such as Randi. Sam and Randi are both supportive of Israel's right to exist, but do question several of the policies of its government -- just like many Israelis do in papers like Ha'aretz. Or as I do. The same rationale was given for Mike Malloy's firing and Mike and Cathy said that the show ended for financial reasons. I think AAR wants to try something to attract new listeners, and figured that it was time to try someone new. Also, maybe Sam will comment on this on his blog or on the show.

ltr said...

I don't expect to see any pro-Lionel posts at UNN. Hell, I don't even think they like me over there!

Not putting down UNN. Actually, I think it's a pretty good site. I think I have a link to it somewhere on this page. If I don't, I will when I update my links in the next day or two.

Also, look for an analysis of this whole AAR/Lionel thing on here tomorrow. It should be pretty enlightening, and I think it will give you all a lot to talk about.

will_in_chicago said...

ltr, actually a few people there who have commented do like you and the blog. (I am will in chicago over there.) We tend to debate loudly but still are friendly to each other despite this. (I have argued that Ed Schultz does some good for some causes despite his tendency to shoot himself in the foot.) Feel free to post there any time.

I will look forward to the analysis, as I suspect it will give us some insights on where you believe Air America 2.0 is headed. This is the first major move by the Greens at AAR, so I will be looking foward to tomorrow's article.

hashfanatic said...

i'm well aware of who is aipac-positive, and who supports Middle East peace

I'm talking about what happens behind the scenes, where decisions are made

neither randi nor mike
are a quarter of the threat
sam represents to the israeli lobby
with his left-blogosphere savvy
and ties to kos, atrios, etc.

ltr said...

Hey gang, let's keep the Israel stuff outta here. These things get messy. Nobody ever wins those arguments. Same with abortion and favorite sports team debates. Let's agree to disagree, okay?

Jill said...

Well, AAR has lost this premium subscriber for good. I put up with it when they screwed over Maron, but this is too much. F*** Air America. They can fail without me. I'll listen to Sam's show, but that's it. No more paying for premium, no listening to their awful WWRL morning show.

And I was there at the very beginning.

If they think that the geezers who listen to Lionel on WOR are going to replace the loyal original AAR audience, they good luck to 'em. I won't be around to watch the carnage.

A**holes. I knew having Mark Green run the show would be bad, but I never dreamed it'd be this bad.

will_in_chicago said...

Jill, I am not too familiar with Mark Green. Why did you think that the Greens running the show would be bad?

NYLefty said...

Saying that Mark Green is a "righty pretending to be a lefty" is ridiculous. Mark Green is a life-long liberal who probably would be mayor or a U.S. Senator today if he were more "moderate."

And the problem with those "loyal original AAR listeners" is that they are such a tiny group that AAR went into bankruptcy and will never make a profit if it continues to air programs that most radio stations refuse to air.

Sam Seder had one of those programs, like it or not. I just hope that Lionel can duplicate the success he's currently having on the WOR Network on AAR --and therefore help to keep it alive.

Unknown said...

Great Polkas of the 20th Century!!!??? Malloy beat him to the polka joke long ago.. Are we in for recycled jokes now?

hashfanatic said...

i was under the impression that aar's new program director CAME from wor

so does lionel

could it be that each man's success
hinges directly on the success of the other?

this simply defies all logic

Elderta said...

Tiny listernership? Judging from comments on Seder's blog the listernership wasn't necessarily tiny. And not to mention that radio stations were afraid to pick it up, as you yourself point out. You can't blame the listerners who stuck around and attempted to keep the station afloat when there was a lot of blowback from radio stations themselves who wouldn't pick up the shows. You made your own point by pointing that very thing out. These shows weren't ever given a chance because of the networks themselves, not because they couldn't attract listerners.

And what's the point of keeping AAR alive if it's going to spout the same thing everyone else is? I don't understand that either.

will_in_chicago said...

The article that ltr posted about Bernstein indicates that he did not come from WOR. See

hashfanatic said...


from mark green's article, at air america's website

"Mr. Bernstein is a 32-year radio veteran, having held programming and news management positions at leading stations such as WOR, WBZ, WRKO, and WDBO."

Jafafa Hots said...

I see. So the argument is that liberal radio doesn't attract listeners - so the way to make liberal radio successful is to make it NOT liberal radio.

Even Green says so - no ideology, just radio. Well, that's fine as far as it goes, but there's plenty of "just radio" already out there, and I don't listen to any of it. So I guess I'll just not listen to AAR too.

I'm going to start a health food store. But the real money's in the fast food business, so I'm getting a McDonald's franchise so my health food store can sell Big Macs.

will_in_chicago said...

Scott, I referred to the article here -- can you provide a link?

hashfanatic said...


Steve Shea said...

I agree with above commenters that Sam has been edgy, funny, and consistently kickass progressive.

Lionel is definitely a softer touch type of show in his current slot and distribution. He can be interesting, and I think he is worth a listen.

Maybe not a kickouttheguywhowastherefromthebeginning, but a listen. As listeners, we can make good decisions following AARCORP's unwelcome, and possibly braindead, decision to can Sam Seder in the daily format.

Sam is a trooper, and Nova/M might pick him up. I bet Mike Malloy (I'm laughing but my ears hurt from listening, Mike!) is giving the Drobnys an earful of that.


NYLefty said...

David Bernstein left WOR in March 2002. Lionel started at WOR in 2003.

And Lionel doesn't "spout the same thing that everyone else is." He's far more liberal than 90 percent of the talk show hosts now on the air.

batguano said...

I am one of the few Progressive Talk listeners I know who actually likes Lionel. He is an "acquired taste", IMO. That being said, Sam is 1000 times better than Lionel, when it comes to hitting the nail on the head.

Sam's head must have exploded when he heard he was being replaced by Lionel. Remember back in The Majority Report days, when they signed off at 10 PM? Sam would say, "If you're in New York, turn on your computer." That's because Lionel (from WOR) was broadcast in NYC from 10 PM to 1 AM, instead of the Air America host Mike Malloy. You could stream Malloy through your computer from the Air America website, however. Then Malloy was canned. I thought Sam would have a nervous breakdown, or just sit there and say nothing for 3 hours, in protest.

I think it's only a matter of time before Sam has a daily show on NovaM.

hashfanatic said...

nylefty, didn't you opine on kos
that you couldn't stand seder's voice?

it's not just that lionel is a limbaugh syncophant

it's also that he's as much of a dim bulb as steve malzberg is, "libertarian" or not, and a substantial downgrade from seder's talent and forward-looking vision

air america is toast

Mr. Drew said...

AA needs me. Clueless Drew. QUESTION EVERYTHING. Pass it around.

rondinara said...

The good thing is that Sam will make it. He's good as anyone will verify if they've listened to him. I'm a loyal listener and premium aar subscriber but that may end when Sam is only on Sundays.

What was Green thinking. Of course, it's about ideology it's liberal talk radio, duh. Call 212-871-8290 and tell aar what you think about Sams demotion.

Uncle Paul said...

First of all, I like Sam and I'm sorry to see him go. Second, AAR is a commercial business and has to be run like one. I'm finally hearing ads from mainstream advertisers on WWRL, not the usual real estate seminar crap. Third, I listen to Lionel at night on WOR because, although I live 30 miles from WWRL's transmitter, I can't get it at night. I've never called AAR shows, but I called Lionel and he kept me on for a half hour. He's bright, funny and you should give him a chance. As Gonzogate unfolds, his legal experience will come to bear. If you can put up with Randi wandering off topic on American Idol (echh), you can put up with an occasional pop culture rant. Who knows, he may stay more political now that he's with the AAR brand.

Unknown said...

I guess I'm a different kind of progressive than most.
I like diversity of opinion... AAR often gets boring, with the same drumbeat every minute, even if I agree.
We don't have to be like the right-wing, where there's no diversity of opinion. We're supposed to be the ones with open minds.

I don't agree with everything Lionel says, but he's reasoned in his opinions, and if people give him a chance, they may realize that he'll bring a lot to AAR.

To me, it's not about having talk radio, where I agree with everything... it's about having an alternative to the right-wing spin machine.
Lionel brings intelligence & wit, without any spin. Still, a huge breath of fresh air, when ya consider the one-voice elsewhere.

Open yer minds people. AAR doesn't have to be as doctrinaire as right-wing radio.

Missy Zimmerman said...

Sam is Air America's top talent. The Greens are fools not putting him on-air 15 hours a week.

vivitiv said...

Sorry folks. I absolutely LOVE Sam Seder. LOVE Sam Love The show.I am sorry to hear that he is being bumped. But Lionel is great. He is smart and funny, acerbic and doesn't take crap from either right wing nut jobs or mealy mouthed progressives.

In Seattle I have to listen to Sam via podcasts. The management of KPTK never ran The Mjority Report in it's normal timeslot with the exception of the first few months of AAR I think. When they did carry the Majority Report it was very, very late at night. I am hoping that tyhey carry Sam's weekend show and I hope that they find some time in the day to air Lionel. In place of Rachel Maddow. Again, I think she's great-smart, witty and a great debater, however lately her show seems to be phoned in.

More Lionel, More SAm, less whining.

Anonymous said...

I used to listen to Lionel (emphasis on past tense) years ago, and he didn't even pass for "progressive" radio when there wasn't any alternative to Rush (anyone remember "Bob Grant" in New York?). He's a totally unoriginal,boring, dumbed-down version of mediocre talk radio. You won't learn anything, NOR be entertained by him. Great combination for radio. What a joke.

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