Thursday, February 21, 2008

Air America gets new owner

Sam Stein at Huffington Post is reporting a major changing of the guard at Air America Radio this morning, as Charlie Kireker, a former political official and creator of Pendulum Media, takes over from Stephen L. Green, the New York real estate CEO who helped lift the company out of bankruptcy, as chair of the board.

The move will be finalized in mid March.

Stephen Green will remain as a minority investor. Mark Green, Stephen's brother and Democrat activist, will remain as Air America's president.

"We look at what Steve and Mark Green have done as the transition role of saving and stabilizing the business and now we think it is a good opportunity to expand upon that," Kireker told the Huffington Post. "The company has made a lot of progress, we have consolidated operations, and streamlined things to be more efficient. We are yet to profitability but we are heading there."

Kireker is no stranger to the network. He was a minor investor in one of the companies that rescued Air America's ownership from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last March. That year, the network -- which was purchased by Green Family Media for $4.25 million -- posted more than $13 million in losses. Sometime in 2009, Green said, he envisions that the network will be in the black.

Currently Air America has 65 affiliates, an estimated audience of nearly 2 million weekly, and is set to release a new web-based format for radio listeners.

"It took Fox News five years and a half billion dollar loss to get its feet, find its audience and become profitable," said Mark Green. "We don't have a 'what's his name?" [referring to Rupert Murdoch]. But, we now have secure funding and expanded management team, on-air talent and a business strategy that will get us where we need to be... Reports of our death were greatly exaggerated by the right wing zeitgeist that wanted us to go away."

As for why the current team would leave the network on the brink of profitability, Green noted that his brother's true passion was not in media but in real estate. "The Kireker group is new money, energy and new confidence in the growing of Air America. Steve was happy to be a bridge from phase one when we had financial difficulties to phase three when it is poised for takeoff..."

No programming changes will take place at the present time. The front office stays the same, but Phillipe Collin joins the company as SVP/GM of Interactive Media.

Read more at HuffPo.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday Quickies

Oh, there's just so much stuff that goes on when one is out of town for the week. So much to talk about. And since today is Super Tuesday, we shall celebrate with an extra-long wrap-up entry.

Green revolution

First off, the move by KKGN ("Green 960") in San Francisco to interrupt two hours of Stephanie Miller's morning show there was even more ill-fated than New Coke, Windows Me, the spaceship-looking third generation Ford Taurus and that terrible "E.T." video game on the old Atari system. This time around, the local morning show featuring Operations Manager John Scott lasted less than two weeks, as Miller's fans revolted very loudly. listeners flooded the station with emails and phone calls, and even voted overwhelmingly for Miller's return in an online poll on the site. Claimed Scott, "The netroots feedback we have received is unlike anything I have ever seen for any show, in any format, in my entire career. It was real, it was raw, and it was passionate. The bottom line: Our audience loves her."

Scott said in Radio and Records that he's not offended that listeners didn't want him on the air, saying the events "energized me like few things have." He adds, "I'm sick of columns that say our business sucks. This is a good reminder that perhaps we need to market our products and look for listeners."

Scott's local show ended as he welcomed Miller back via the phone, she promised to sleep with every fan who voted yes in the online poll. Miller made a local appearance this past Friday night in neighboring Redwood City. No word on whether she made good on her promise.

Springer's Super Tuesday and Whad'Ya Know?

Remember Jerry Springer? Of course you do. Best known for his former Air America morning show, "Dancing With The Stars," "America's Got Talent," his own opera, and yeah, that trailer trash 'fight club' he does every day on TV, Springer is returning to talk radio. Sort of. The Chicago-based Springer will provide a live and local 'Super Tuesday' primary wrap-up (I know, I need to make another endorsement) for local station WCPT (820AM) this Wednesday (February 6) from 6:45A (when the station signs on) until 11A CT. Co-hosting will be Dick Kay, former political editor of local NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV (Ch. 5).

They'll look at results from all 24 state primaries taking place Tuesday, and if there's time, may even feature spurned lovers flashing their mammaries and beating the crap out of each other. Just kidding about that last part. No word on whether Steve Wilkos will be there to provide muscle. Listen for it Wednesday morning.

Speaking of WCPT, as a daytime-only operation, the station faces issues on their ability to actually do a local show without displacing popular syndicated hosts such as Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz. But they do get a bit closer, as they sealed a deal to pick up "Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?" from Public Radio International. Okay, it's not exactly local, but the oft-funny weekend quiz show, based in nearby Madison, WI, has been a fixture on Chicago non-commercial for many years. The show was dropped from its longtime home at Chicago Public Radio's WBEZ earlier this month after 22 years on the station. If WCPT adds the show, it will air without commercials. If all goes as planned, the show will be on Saturday mornings at 10A.

This is not the first time that WCPT's owner, Newsweb Corp. has aired public radio fare. Prior to WCPT's debut, the frequency aired "World Cafe," then also carried by PRI.

KTLK shakes it up, minus Schultz

Things have been quite chaotic at KTLK (1150AM) as of late. it appears the station has settled on a post-Mr. K lineup, and made some changes.First, they become the flagship station for Phil Hendrie's syndicated show, which will air from 9P-1A live. The station also adds Mike Malloy live, as will also slot in Rachel Maddow's two hour show into a three hour afternoon drive shift. How does that work? Air America is expanding the show to three hours, effective March 10, adding David Bender for the last hour. The first hour of Hendrie's show will be local to KTLK. Oh, and "Clout" with Richard Greene will air from 1-3A for the insomniacs.

Lost in the shuffle is Ed Schultz. He previously held down the 6-9P shift. The reason given by station PD Don Martin (who I'm sure is not the late, great Mad Magazine cartoonist) is that the station wants a mostly live lineup, meaning as little tape delay as possible. But EdHeads shouldn't worry too much. Paul Woodhull, president of Media Syndication Services, told Radio and Records that Schultz had been approached by another station in Los Angeles (KGIL, perhaps?). He says, “Out of loyalty to our broadcast partner KTLK, we declined that offer. Now that we have fulfilled our obligation to KTLK we look forward to competing against them in Los Angeles very soon.”

Speaking of the deposed former Mr. K, Marc Germain is back, doing a thirty minute podcast via his website.

"Indie Talk" comes to Sirius

Seeking to reinvent the rotting corpse that ego-driven talk radio is quickly becoming, Sirius Satellite Radio claims to be doing something different. Enter "Indie Talk," which they promise will "give an equal voice to individuals from any affiliation or background, target the blogger generation, and be a platform for listeners across the country to react to breaking news, issues and buzz." The most prominent personality on the channel will be veteran actor Ron Silver, a self-described former Democrat who became a Republican after 9/11/01, obviously in awe of what the Bush Administration did to prevent the terrorist attacks (hint: nothing). Nonetheless, Silver's hosting a call-in show from 9-11A (of course). No word on the other voices for "Indie Talk," but I'm sure there's got to be a left or two in there, lest Sirius listeners decide to just give the middle finger to the whole venture.

Radio Free Bellingham

Naysayers keep claiming progressive talk is dying. If that's the case, why are so many stations signing on with the format as of late? This week, we welcome to a new progressive talk station. This one is in Bellingham, WA, up by the Canadian border, as KBAI (930AM) drops oldies and picks up the likes of Thom Hartman, Rachel Maddow and Alan Colmes. A local voice, Joe Teehan, has also been added. No website exists for the station, dubbed 'Radio Free Bellingham,' as of yet. KBAI is owned by Saga Communications, which has had success with the format in several East Coast markets.

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