Monday, April 02, 2007

Mark Green: Air America 2.0 "not your father’s Oldsmobile"

The gang at Truthdig have a new podcast up, and in it, they interview Mark Green, new president of Air America Radio. Green talks about the network's previous woes, how he’s going to do to fix them and the new management's upcoming plans.

A few excerpts:

...I have the opportunity to be running a radio network that has great progressive talent with two and half million people listening, streaming on satellite, for example. It’s a very important vehicle, especially in this ’07-08 political cycle. But before we can be influential, we have to be profitable, so we’re trying to stem the losses and make it grow.

...Thom Hartmann, who broadcasts out of Oregon, is amazingly knowledgeable, interesting and popular. Randi Rhodes, who’s on from 3 to 6 on Air America. Very opinionated and entertaining. She’s followed by Rachel Maddow, who reads and comments on and makes fun of the news. I think we have a very strong lineup. We will be making changes, inevitably, because you never know who the next—. Well, take him: Rush Limbaugh was just a local guy who went national, not because of his beliefs but because of his skills.

...The second thing we’ll be doing is being very smart about new media, digital media, Internet media because, while it costs X dollars to have good hosts on a box called radio, we’ve got to think outside the radio box and distribute that same content—it already exists—on the Internet by people streaming, download it onto iPods, satellite it around, videocast it so it’s on cable or your cell phone next. So we’re going to be working very aggressively to distribute our wonderful programming in a way that can make money in these other platforms. We have, now, new capital, new owner, new management, a new group selling it and getting affiliates.

You can read and hear more about the company's future plans, the switch from "Air America Radio" to "Air America Media," Green's take on his competition, attracting advertising, and that GOP debate thing at Truthdig.


Jill said...

Yeah, right. "Great Progressive Talent." So why, then, is he apparently firing one of the best of them in Sam Seder -- or at best relegating him to the Graveyard of Sunday? And why, then, did he try to get Marc Maron back by using him to stab Seder in the back?

NYLefty said...

Seder may be "one of the best of them" to his fans, but he's been a failure in the radio marketplace.

Almost all of the progressive talk radio stations have made it clear that they prefer Stephanie Miller to Seder -- and as Green says, Air America is a business and has to turn a profit someday. To anybody who knows anything about the radio business, Seder had to go from the weekday lineup because he was getting hardly any clearances.

If Maron turned down the job because of his friendship with Seder, I suppose that's admirable, but that decision will leave both of them without a fulltime job.

pjs said...

So, what marvel does AAR have waiting in the wings that will sell itself to affiliates? Can they perhaps entice Springer back?

I don't think a "fulltime job" is all that much of a concern for Maron at this point. He enjoyed doing the radio show, but his prospects have done nothing but improved as of late.

Jill said...

So who at AAR who didn't already have a following on radio or a Big Name HAS gained any traction? Certainly Rachel Maddow hasn't. Majority Report was carried on a sizable number of stations -- so the suits moved Sam Seder to the 9 AM to noon slot. When Morning Sedition was starting to gain traction, and stood to gain more with the exodus of Stern to Sirius, they cancelled it.

How long was Rush Limbaugh on before his show started to make money?

The bottom line is that you can't keep shuffling your lineup every six months, refuse to promote any of your product, and expect your shows to gain traction. If AAR has no marketing budget, or doesn't know how to market, or hasn't been able to find its way out of its early financial problems, that's management's fault, not Marc Maron's OR Sam Seder's.

Anonymous said...

> It’s a very important vehicle,
> especially in this ’07-08
> political cycle. But before we
> can be influential, we have to
> be profitable...
What an idiot! He still thinks it's a crusade, not a business.
He doesn't know anything about winning elections - because he's never won one.
And he doesn't know anything about running a business - especially a radio station, either.

FTR: Majority Report got poor clearances - mostly because of the stations which took Big Ed live and delayed Randi to early evenings (thus bumping Majority Report). The show was in the red because of high production costs. Janeane and her bloated staff were getting the big bucks (like Franken).
Rush was in the black early on because they did the opposite of AAR. ABC pulled the plug on their early experiment in running a talk network with a wall-to-wall turn-key schedule. A former ABC exec as part of his departure deal got satellite time ABC no longer used. He hired a guy from Sacramento nobody ever heard of but who did have talent, thus keeping talent costs down. (In contrast, AAR spent big bucks hiring hosts people had heard of but who did not have talent for talk radio.) And he arranged for this guy to do a local show on WABC in return for production facilities for a syndicated show. The guy was an experienced radio exec: He wasn't throwing money away when no money was coming in. He was selling spots. And he wasn't worried about "influence." Again, the opposite of AAR.

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