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Air America Radio
Type: Radio network
Location: New York City
Availability: North America
Airdate: March 31, 2004
Owner: Stephen L. Green
Website: airamerica.com

Air America Radio (commonly abbreviated to "AAR") was an American radio network specializing in talk programming. The network started programming on March 31, 2004 and was disbanded on January 24, 2010 featured discussion and information programs with hosts reflecting liberal and progressive points of view. The network specializes in presentations and monologues by on-air personalities, guest interviews, calls by listeners, and news reports.

The company is owned primarily by Green Family Media, made up of New York real estate investor Stephen L. Green and his brother Mark J. Green, who closed on the purchase of the network on March 6, 2007 for US$4.25 million. The Greens' purchase of Air America Radio followed the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on October 13, 2006.

The company eventually changed its name from Air America Radio to Air America Media and lastly to just Air America, an effort to establish itself as a broadcaster on multiple media sources including television and the internet, and one not merely relegated to radio. Always primarily a radio network, on January 21, 2010, Air America ceased live programming citing a difficulty with the current economic environment, and announced that it would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and liquidate itself.

On January 21, 2010, Air America announced that it would immediately cease programming, and the company would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy; citing some of the following reasons on their website: The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America's business. This past year has seen a "perfect storm" in the media industry generally. National and local advertising revenues have fallen drastically, causing many media companies nationwide to fold or seek bankruptcy protection. From large to small, recent bankruptcies like Citadel Broadcasting and closures like that of the industry's long-time trade publication Radio and Records have signaled that these are very difficult and rapidly changing times.

Programming overviewEdit

Air America Radio's progressive talk radio programming and radio shows consist primarily of news, talk, comedy, interviews, guest editorials, and listeners' telephone calls. The talk portions feature some extended host monologues in the classic talk radio format. Live and pre-recorded comedy routines, featuring various comedians, are also aired. As with most syndicated broadcast networks, local affiliate stations are able to choose which programs to air subject to contractual arrangements.

FormatEdit

The shows follow a half hour format from 6 minutes past the hour to 28 minutes after the hour followed by a hard break for six minutes until 34 minutes past the hour. The final hard break occurs at 58 minutes past the hour leading into the news at the top of the hour.

NewsEdit

Before June 29, 2007, Air America featured their own news summary breaks at the top of each hour, with content from wire services such as the Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI). Newscasters included Jo Ann Allen, Bill Crowley, Wayne Gillman, Mike Piazza, and Mark Scheerer. Some affiliates use other news services or run their own newscasts during the six minute "news hole" at the top of the hour. Recently, AAR switched completely to AP Radio Network News. Testing the editor...

Public affairs and editorialsEdit

The public affairs programs tend to closely follow current happenings in the news, with monologues and reflections offered by the hosts and their guests. Listener comments by phone or the internet are worked into these segments along with the interviews.

MusicEdit

Although better known for its political shows, Air America also features music-oriented shows, and otherwise uses music in a variety of creative ways. Most of the talk shows have their own theme songs, using 'bumper' music to segue between commercials and segments. The music in use is generally commercially released rock music. On The Real featuring Chuck D has a strong music focus. Past shows dedicated to music include The Steve Earle Show and The Kyle Jason Show.

Weekday programsEdit

Air America produces twenty one hours of weekday network programming. The entire schedule is carried on the network's internet stream, and affiliates may carry some, most or all shows.

The network's current schedule, effective Monday, Jan 14, 2008, consists of:

  • Morning show (three hours 6-9A ET) TBA
  • Lionel (three hours 9A-12P ET), debut: May 14, 2007
  • Thom Hartmann (three hours: 12-3P ET)
  • Ron Kuby (three hours: 3-6P ET), debut: May, 2008
  • Rachel Maddow (three hours 6-9P ET), debut: April 14, 2005, moved from early mornings effective September 18, 2006.
  • Clout with Richard Greene (two hours 9-11P ET), moved from weekends effective September 4.
  • This is America with Jon Elliott (three hours 11P-2A ET).

Weekend programsEdit

On many Air America affiliates, weekends feature repeats and highlights from the network's weekday shows, combined with new original programming and some syndicated shows produced independently.

Original network programming for weekends includes:

Former programsEdit

  • The Al Franken Show with Al Franken (three hours: 12-3P ET) (Aired March 31, 2004-February 14, 2007). Originally The O'Franken Factor, with Katherine Lanpher. Franken left the show in order to run for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota.
  • So What Else is News? with Marty Kaplan (first daily for one hour; later weekends for two hours)
  • Liberal Arts with Katherine Lanpher (one hour)
  • The Kyle Jason Show with Kyle Jason (two hours)
  • Morning Sedition with Marc Maron, Sue Ellicott, and Mark Riley (three hours: 6–9A ET) (Aired April 1 2004-December 16, 2005)
  • Unfiltered with Chuck D, Lizz Winstead, and Rachel Maddow (three hours: 9A–12P ET) (Aired April 1 2004-April 1 2005)
  • The Marc Maron Show with Marc Maron (two hours: 1–3A ET) (Aired February 28, 2006–July 14 2006 on KTLK)
  • The Mike Malloy Show with Mike Malloy (three hours: 10–1A ET), August 2, 2004-August 30, 2006. Moved to Nova M Radio on October 30, 2006.
  • The Majority Report with Sam Seder (Janeane Garofalo cohosted with Seder until July 2006) (three hours: 7-10P ET). Seder moved to a new time slot, and the show was renamed. Aired March 31, 2004-September 15, 2006
  • Springer on the Radio with Jerry Springer (three hours: 9-12P ET), first aired April 1, 2005. Moved from regular schedule on September 18, 2006 to Air America Syndicaton. The last live broadcast of the show was on December 5, 2006 with reruns airing until December 8.
  • Mother Jones Radio with Angie Coiro (one hour)
  • The Mark Riley Show with Mark Riley (one hour: 5-6 AM ET), combined with Politically Direct into The Air Americans.
  • Politically Direct with David Bender (one hour 8-9 PM ET), the show moved from the weekends to weeknights effective September 18, 2006, combined with The Mark Riley Show into The Air Americans.
  • EcoTalk with Betsy Rosenberg (one hour 9-10 PM ET), the show moved from the weekends to weeknights effective September 18, 2006. Show removed from weekday schedule May 18, 2007, and may resurface eventually on Sunday mornings.
  • The Steve Earle Show with Steve Earle (one hour 10-11P ET Sunday), Air America's only show concentrating on music.
  • The Time is Now with Rev. Dr. James Forbes
  • The Young Turks (three hours 6-9A ET), first aired September 18, 2006. Final show on January 15, 2008.
  • Randi Rhodes (three hours: 3-6P ET), debut: March 31, 2004

HistoryEdit

In late 2002 Chicago entrepreneurs Sheldon and Anita Drobny, angered at the firing of their favorite radio host, Mike Malloy, decided to try to get Malloy syndicated nationally. At Mike's behest they called Atlanta-based radio executive Jon Sinton and requested a national berth for Malloy. Sinton, citing a radio programming doctrine known as "formatic purity" that argues for thematic consistency in music and talk programming, explained to the Drobnys the difficulty in getting a single progressive on the then-exclusively conservative national radio, and suggested instead that they start a full-service network--one that would give radio stations a full complement of progressive talk. The Drobnys hired Sinton as CEO of AnShell Media, and the three went about raising money. The first official fundraiser was in October, 2002 at the home of Arianna Huffington. The gathering was enthusiastically attended by many Hollywood notables. Sinton's brother, broadcaster Carey Bruce Sinton, suggested calling the venture Central Air, a name that stuck until just before launch.

AnShell announced its intentions publicly in a New York Times article in February 2003 in which writer Jim Rutenburg interviewed Jon Sinton about the need for a balanced national discussion. Sinton, the Drobnys and their associate, Javier Saade, a Harvard Business School grad and venture capitalist, continued to raise awareness and money throughout 2003 by spending time in NY, Washington DC and Los Angeles. Sinton met repeatedly with Al Franken, to convince him to become the network's anchor talent. After mentioning actress and activist Janeane Garofalo during an appearance on Judy Woodruff's Politics Today show on CNN, Sinton received a call from Garofalo stating her interest in hosting a show. On a fundraising trip to LA, Sinton, at the suggestion of Al Franken, met with Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead and convinced her to come along as VP/Entertainment Programming. Around the same time, he talked former associate Shelley Lewis into leaving her job producing American Morning for CNN to come aboard as VP/News Programming. Meanwhile, fundraising was difficult. During a trip to Washington DC, former Clinton Chief of Staff Jon Podesta suggested a young lawyer, David Goodfriend, who introduced the Drobnys and Sinton to his former college roommate, Evan Cohen. Cohen had made millions in the Pacific Rim with advertising and research companies. Having taken the idea as far as they could, the principals sold AnShell Media to Cohen and his partner, Rex Sorensen, a broadcaster from Hawaii, who formed Progress Media, with Cohen as chairman, and Mark Walsh as CEO; Sinton remained as President.

In early 2004, talent, engineers and producers were hired, a lease deal with New York's WLIB that would allow the nascent network a New York home and affiliate was signed and at noon Eastern time on March 31st, the newly re-named Air America Radio Network was launched.

At that point, Air America Radio was the only all-progressive talk radio network. A predecessor, the UAW's I.E. America Radio Network, which was home to hosts such as Thom Hartmann, Peter Werbe, and Mike Malloy, never gained national attention. Its last day on the air was February 27, 2004, only weeks before Air America took to the airwaves.

Air America became the fastest growing network in modern radio history as Sinton, though his longstanding contacts, was able to assemble a national network of 100 stations, including 18 of the top twenty markets, in just six months.

Difficulties and turnoverEdit

At the time they started Air America Radio, Progress Media stated it had secured US$30 million in venture capital before its debut. The actual amount was later estimated by the Wall Street Journal to be closer to US$6 million, though Sorensen said that an investor had backed out at the last minute.

Two weeks after the on-air debut of Air America Radio, programming was withdrawn in two key markets due to contract disputes. Multicultural Radio owned two stations contracted to carry Air America programming, in Chicago and Santa Monica, California. Air America alleged that Multicultural Radio had sold time on their Los Angeles station to both Air America and another party, and claimed that that was why they stopped payment on checks due to Multicultural while Air America investigated.

Multicultural Radio noted that Air America bounced a check and claimed they were owed in excess of US$1 million. Air America Radio filed a complaint in New York Supreme Court, charging breach of contract and was briefly granted an injunction to restore the network on WNTD in Chicago. On April 20, 2004, the network announced the dispute had been settled, and Air America's last day of broadcast on WNTD was April 30, 2004. The New York Supreme Court ultimately concluded that the injunction was improvidently entered and that Air America Radio's court action was without merit, dismissing Air America's complaint and awarding over US$250,000 in damages and attorneys' fees to Multicultural. According to a subsequent lawsuit filed by Multicultural, Air America Radio never paid the sums ordered by the court.

Four weeks after Air America's debut, its CEO, Mark Walsh, and executive vice president for programming, Dave Logan, left the network. One week after those departures, its chairman and vice chairman, Evan Cohen and his investment partner Rex Sorensen, were forced out by the remaining investors who asked Sinton and the network's executive producer, Carl Ginsburg, a lawyer and experienced newsman, to operate the company.

As part of a reorganization, the Progress Media Board of Directors bought the assets of that company, creating a new company, Piquant LLC. An important change which accompanied the reorganization was a decision to stop trying to buy radio stations and lease air time, and to allow affiliates to carry programming outside of the network's offerings.

On February 28, 2005, a new CEO, Danny Goldberg, was named, and in April 2005, Gary Krantz was named president of the network. Ginsburg and Sinton were named co-COO's with Ginsburg in charge of operations and Sinton running programming and affiliate relations.

In December 2005, over Sinton's objections, CEO Danny Goldberg broke up the network's morning drive-time show "Morning Sedition", and let comedian and co-host Marc Maron's contract lapse. While the increased overhead for the show's heavily produced format may have been a factor in the show's demise, Maron claimed that Goldberg did not "get" or agree with the comedy on the show. Maron exacerbated the conflict by calling attention to his situation right on the show for several weeks, prompting a petition drive that garnered over 5,000 signatures. This was to no avail, as Maron announced on November 28 that his last show would be on December 16, 2005. Maron was offered an evening show, which ran briefly on affiliate KTLK in Los Angeles, but Air America never followed through with promised national syndication and the show was cancelled in July 2006.

Goldberg announced his resignation on April 6, 2006, after a little more than a year on the job.

Garofalo's last day as co-host of The Majority Report was on July 14, 2006. Although several reasons for her departure were cited (including her outside acting responsibilities), rumors claimed the relationship between Garofalo and co-host Sam Seder had become increasingly strained.

By the late summer of 2006 Sinton and Ginsburg's influence was marginalized (both would leave in short order), and the network began to fray. On August 30, 2006, nighttime host Mike Malloy was fired from the network. In the two weeks before the firing, Malloy had announced an impending multi-year deal for him to stay with Air America (and to return on the air in N.Y.C.), and so far the firing has not been explained. Rumours persist that Malloy's criticism of Israel during their bombardment of Lebanon in the summer of 2006 may have played a role. News of his termination was conveyed via a short statement on the homepage of Malloy's website, posted by his wife/producer Kathy Bay Malloy. His final show was on August 29, 2006 filling in for Rhodes. No mention of his firing was made during the broadcast. Malloy's firing drew criticism from current Air America on-air talent, including The Majority Report's Sam Seder and Randi Rhodes. It also began a massive online campaign, including a petition that has over 17,000 signatures as of October 2006.[9] On October 30, 2006, Malloy resumed his show on a newly created progressive radio network, Nova M Radio.

Gloria Wise controversyEdit

In July 2005, the Bronx News reported that the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club of Co-op City, a non-profit organization providing services for children and seniors in the Bronx, loaned US$480,000 to Progress Media, then owner of Air America Radio. Since then, the city has suspended further funding of the agency, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America has revoked the group's right to use their name, likeness or logo. At the time the funds were to have been transferred, Evan Cohen, former chairman of the now-defunct Progress Media, was also Director of Development for Gloria Wise.

In response to this report, Air America Radio's owners at the time, Piquant LLC, issued a press release stating Piquant had "no obligation to Progress Media's business activities”, and Piquant, as previously agreed, would "fully compensate" the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club.[10] While Gloria Wise remains under investigation, Air America has since repaid the loan.

Bankruptcy filing under Chapter 11Edit

On October 13, 2006, Air America filed for protection from creditors, i.e. bankruptcy, under chapter 11, at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.[11] Air America continued broadcasting while the finances were worked out with the creditors. The company had US$4,331,265.30 in assets and US$20,266,056.23 in liabilities. Al Franken alone was owed US$360,749.98 and Rob Glaser, founder of Real Networks, was owed the most at US$9.8 million. The filing had over 25 pages of creditors and shows the company lost US$9.1 million in 2004, US$19.6 million in 2005 and an additional US$13.1 million by mid-October in 2006.[12][13]

Air America sold to Green Family MediaEdit

On January 29, 2007, Air America "signed a letter of intent to sell its business to SLG Radio LLC, an entity controlled by Stephen L. Green, the founder and chairman of SL Green Realty Corp, a company that controls 27 million square feet with a market capitalization of US$12 billion". Air America CEO Scott Elberg said of Air America's sale, "We are extremely pleased to have reached this agreement with Mr. Green, which will solidify Air America’s future."[14]

The sale was completed on March 6, 2007 to Green Family Media, a new company created by Stephen Green and his brother Mark Green. Stephen became the network's chairman, and Mark became president of Air America, with a hands-on role. Former chief executive Scott Elberg remained as chief operating officer.

Mark Green announced on Thursday, April 25, 2007 that Westwood One would take over the handling of Air America's ad sales from Jones Radio Networks. In addition, a new lineup was unveiled for the radio network. He also announced a major redesign for the network's website, in addition to a new logo.

On March 14, 2007, the new owners of Air America announced the hiring of long time radio veteran David Bernstein to be the new Vice President of Programming. Prior to joining Air America, he was best known as the program director at New York radio station WOR from 1995 to 2002.[19]. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Mr. Bernstein explained his vision of Air America's future as "I don't see our purpose as 'answering' conservative radio or Rush Limbaugh. There's no clear majority in this country today. We want to talk to everyone and help everyone make the right choice." On November 15th, 2007, industry news site Radio Online reported that Mr. Bernstein is exiting Air America.

On March 13, 2007, Mark J. Green, new president of Air America Radio, wrote in The Huffington Post offering to host or co-host a presidential debate for the Republican Party. Made in response to the recent cancellation of the Fox News Channel's hosted Nevada Democratic debates, where some Democratic Presidential candidates said Fox News's conservative bias against Democrats was their reason for refusing to participate, Mark Green offered several advantages for the debate. He offers a "2 million radio audience”, a chance for "Republicans to differentiate themselves from Democrats”, and, if co-hosted with Fox News, "would make for a very 'fair and balanced' debate." As of yet, there has been no response from the Republican Party.

On January 21, 2010, Air America announced that it would immediately cease programming, and the company would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy; citing some of the following reasons on their website: The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America's business. This past year has seen a "perfect storm" in the media industry generally. National and local advertising revenues have fallen drastically, causing many media companies nationwide to fold or seek bankruptcy protection. From large to small, recent bankruptcies like Citadel Broadcasting and closures like that of the industry's long-time trade publication Radio and Records have signaled that these are very difficult and rapidly changing times.

AffiliatesEdit

As of December 2007, Air America programming was carried on 62 terrestrial broadcast stations[29] Forty of these stations broadcast a majority AAR programming.[citation needed] During the 3 1/2 years of the network's existence, Air America has lost 40 affiliates to other programing or formats. Air America counts any station that carries any of their programming as an affiliate, similar to radio networks such as ESPN Radio.

Air America can also be heard on XM Satellite Radio channel 167, titled "Air America Radio". The XM network is the exclusive satellite provider of Air America programming. XM167 carries a majority Air America programming, but it also carries a few other liberal and progressive shows, including Ed Schultz and Mike Malloy. Also, the AAR Thom Hartmann Show is on tape delay to evenings in favor of The Ed Schultz Show, which is broadcast live. With the loss of their morning show and no host or show announced by AAR to replace The Young Turks XM radio started carrying the Bill Press show on January 14, 2008.

As of April 1, 2007, Air America XM167 is available on XM Radio Canada.

External linksEdit


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