Friday, January 29, 2010

Air America Radio - RIP

Al Frankin is shown in 2004 when Air America Radio was launched as a left-wing alternative to right-wing dominated Talk Radio. When he was on the air, I often listened to Frankin's program on my XM satellite radio and found it entertaining and informative although I seldom agreed with him. I also listened to Randi Rhodes (who I enjoyed because she was so outrageous) as well as other stimulating programming including the Young Turks and Lionel. I sometimes felt as if I was their only regular listener. Perhaps I was :^)

Sadly, after six tumultuous years, during which Frankin was elected senator from Minnesota, Air America Radio is no more. When Frankin left in 2007 to pursue his political career, the heart was cut out of the operation. Shows originated by Air America, which filed almost all their time slots, began to be replaced by syndicated shows. At the time of their demise on January 21, 2010, all but two shows were from syndication.

The operation was never properly funded and was badly managed from day one. (Perhaps money management is an inate limitation for L-minds :^)? Within two weeks of launch, they were reportedly bouncing checks and in legal disputes with their outlets in Santa Monica and Chicago. Within a month, their CEO and Programming VP were gone, followed by their Chairman and Vice-Chairman! Over the next year, some of their more vitriolic anti-right hosts chased away more moderate listeners by calling the Bushes a "crime family" and right-wingers "rat bastards" and other intemperate names. When radical hosts were fired, sympathetic listeners launched petition drives that may have led some affilliates to drop Air America.

Financial shenanigans including no-interest loans from a charitable organization funded by New York City forced them into bankruptcy in 2006. Repeated re-organizations and loss of popular hosts plagued the operation until its recent demise. I guess for a leftist enterprise where "profit" is a dirty word it would follow that they apparently never made any money.

So, for left-oriented Talk Radio we have only a few syndicated shows remaining. They are heard mainly in larger markets, plus the the America Left channel on XM and the SIRIUS Left channel on SIRIUS.


Why is Talk Radio so dominated by right-wing talkers? I do not think it is because radio station owners object to leftist viewpoints - they would put almost anybody on if that would generate a large audience and bring in advert dollars. Nor do I think it is due to the advertisers objections to leftist talk - most of them would put their adverts on any media that brought in customers.

Therefore, it must be the listeners who choose right-wing talkers over lefties. Since the vast majority of radio listeners are in their cars, perhaps those who do a lot of driving, such as those in sales and delivery jobs, tend to be C-minds? Perhaps right-wing views are more entertaining than leftist ones? Radio stations depend upon local advertisers and are therefore very sensitive to audience share.


As I showed a few months ago, more Democrats watch Fox News than CNN or MSNBC. So, perhaps the News and Talk TV and Radio audience is not so much Republican voters as they are moderates and independents who find conservative-oriented talk more entertaining and informative than left-wing elitist whining? I would appreciate contarary views.

Why are all the major networks left-leaning - except Fox News! And, for how long?

According to Cable News Ratings the most recent average day ratings (Jan 26, 2010) indicate that Fox News dominates: FNC – 1,617,000 viewers, CNN – 446,000 viewers, MSNBC –350,000 viewers, CNBC – 212,000 viewers, and HLN –398,000 viewers. That puts Fox News ahead of all the others combined by 211,000 viewers!

The Prime Time average ratings are even more lop-sided: FNC – 3,044,000 viewers, CNN – 657,000 viewers, MSNBC –684,000 viewers, CNBC – 213,000 viewers, HLN –796,000 viewers, putting Fox news ahead of all others combined by 694,000 viewers!

How long till the major networks "wise up" and tilt closer to the center?

Ira Glickstein


joel said...

I think Rush Limbaugh's analysis of why he's so popular is the most logical to apply in this situation. He says that he was simply filling a void. Conservatives never heard their own sentiments echoed until he came along. The communication media were generally so liberal that an ordinary conservative had the impression he or she was all alone. Rush didn't have to compete, since he was all alone in reflecting conservative ideology. Liberal commentators portrayed his audience as mind-numbed robots, when in fact he only gave voice to what they were already thinking. Air America or any other liberal radio network has to compete all the TV networks, films, etc. that paint conservatives as bible thumping, militaristic, racist rednecks. That's a tough row to hoe, y'all. -Joel

Ira Glickstein said...

Correct, Joel, conservative talk radio was filling a void not being served by the generally liberal main stream media that seem so blind that they did not even recognize the void existed.

However, in 2004, when Air America Radio started, the C-Talk void had been filled to overflowing. There seemed to be an L-Talk void for programing that would appeal to a similar audience of drive-time listeners and delivery people.

Why does L-Talk fail? Well, since I spend a fair amount of time listening to and watching L-Minded Talk, I have a theory:

L-Talk is mostly snarky repartee that that appeals to the academic elite find appealing but totally misses the ears of "Joe Sixpack and Jane Hairspray". Check out the few L-Talkers some time. Compare then to C-Talk and Fox News. The successful talkers mostly avoid the oily type of sophisticated, phony, snarky blather and, instead, talk directly to the common people.

Why does L-Talk miss the mark?

Because, deep-down, the elite 1% have no respect for the 99% of us who do real work in factories and offices and repair cars and install cable-TV, and fix broken toilets, and mow lawns, and yes, flip burgers at McDonalds. You know, those of us who prefer Dunkin Donuts to Starbucks! Those of us for whom "If they ain't got it at Walmart I don't need it!"

Yes, the L-Talkers have sympathy for the "plight of the masses", but they treat them like dependent children. They really think the working classes need the elite to look out for them, taking from the rich to give to the poor (and keeping a percentage for themselves).

They have sympathy but no empathy.

Most of the working classes are proud of their ability to do their jobs and earn their keep. That is why C-Talk appeals to them.

Ira Glickstein