Air America Gone But Not Forgotten

Air America, the politically left-leaning, liberal talk-radio network, is finished. Kaput. Over. Done. Gone. Vanished. Missing in action. Totally bankrupt. Flat broke. Down and Out.

What happened? They had plenty of talent (Al Franken, Rachel Maddow, to name just two), 100 stations, free funding, ads, microphones, mixer boards, transmitters, towers, and antennas; absolutely everything they needed to succeed.

Everything, it would seem, but listeners. Pundits across the United States are still trying to determine just why it is that people did not want to hear endless, mind-numbing rants against religion, gun ownership, war against terrorists, military trials for enemy combatants, Gitmo, life, big business, and capitalism.

Can anyone explain this mystery? Is it too late to save this vital broadcast empire? Donations? A telethon? Something? Anything? A big concert?

Sadly, it appears nothing will save this experiment in left-wing, liberal broadcast radio. America will suffer with its demise. Citizens will no longer be able to count on fairness on the airwaves. Without Air America, where will we turn? Only NPR remains standing as the last bastion of broadcast liberalism.

Please support it or we might lose it, too, and that would be the death knell of broadcast liberalism and the death knell of America as we know it.

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Posted by at 04:41 | Posted in Measure 37 | 58 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Steve Plunk

    I take issue with Franken and Maddow being given credit for having talent. They, like Air America, do not represent American values and are consistently illogical.

    • Anonymous

      What?! Let me guess, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck do represent American values though, right?

      • Steve Plunk

        I’m not a Rush or Beck listener so all I can use to gauge their representation of American values is their ratings and success. Wow, look at that, they are successful. Apparently they’re on to something the Air America people couldn’t understand.

        • Bonne chance

          “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.” – Francis Bacon

          That said, Anonymous seems to coincide with what’s Left of US.

          Beck him, Dano!

        • Anonymous

          Oh. Now I understand. Howard Stern must be the most “American” American radio personality in the history of broadcasting in that case.

          I never listened to Air America one single time, wouldn’t have known where to find it if I had wanted to, and have no interest in staging a defense of Maddow or Franken (though he was elected to public office, were you?). I find it both idiotic and a touch disturbing that you would equate success in business with the degree to which one is representative of American Values.

          • Steve Plunk

            Idiotic and disturbing? Without wanting to pick a fight let’s put this in context and look closely at it.

            Air America was designed to provide a liberal talk show network to fill a supposed unfilled desire for leftist viewpoints on the radio. It became much like the right wing network and spent a good amount of time bashing the political opposition. The only problem was they could not attract enough listeners to pay the bills. It seems people didn’t like the trashing of traditional American values and those were the same values the right wing talkers were promoting. In short the Air America message offended most Americans while Rush, Beck, Hannity, and the rest promoted traditional American values.

            Business success has traditionally been valued by all Americans. Success stories of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Bill Gates have been held up as examples of how hard work pays off and we should all aspire for such success. To say that does not represent an American value is either an attempt to mislead or a misunderstanding of American tradition.

            As for the Howard Stern illustration let me say Americans, like all people, have their vices, their guilty pleasures. Stern is one of them but no less representative of American tastes. His show is not political as much as the others so a true comparison is a misguided errand.

            So my idiocy and disturbing analysis is actually quite reasonable and logical. And for the record I listen to my local public radio station the most followed by classic rock.

          • Anonymous

            No, Steve, it is not reasonable or logical. You are confusing absolute and relative values:

            There is a distinction between relative (or personal or cultural value) and absolute (or noumenal) value (not to be confused with mathematical absolute value). Relative value is subjective, depending on individual and cultural views, and is therefore synonymous with personal and cultural value. Absolute value, on the other hand, is philosophically absolute and independent of individual and cultural views, as well as independent on whether it discovered or not what object has it.

            Relative value may be regarded as an experience by subjects of the absolute value. Relative value varies with individual and culture while absolute value, on the other hand, is the same, regardless of the experience of individuals.

            Relative value may be explained as an assumption upon which implementation can be extrapolated. Absolute value could possibly be implemented if it was known, but cannot be assumed, but is what it is.

            (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_ethic_value#Absolute_and_relative)

            The point is that neither you nor the folks at Air America nor at Fox News nor anyone anywhere else is capable of defining what “American values” are. And certainly the successes and failures of radio personalities would be a dangerous way to gauge such a thing. Does everyone listen to the radio? Does everyone have access to the same programming? Is everyone aware that these programs and personalities exist? I do listen to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck on occasion, I have never listened to Air America (because I have no idea what station it is/was on), I do find Rush and Beck to be the kinds of individuals that I would have nothing to do with in my personal life (I don’t share their values), and for the record, I voted YES on 66 and NO on 67 (so where does that leave my politics?).

            As for Howard Stern, it is far from a “misguided errand” to compare his enterprise with Air America et al. In fact, few things could be more appropriate. Diamond Jim’s post was inspired by the failure of the business entity that is Air America, not of the political views they espoused. AA failed because their business model sucked. Period.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            > I voted YES on 66 and NO on 67 (so where does that leave my politics?).

            You hold up Frankens election as some sort of validation, when his election was very questionable. You steer a conversation into a didactic discussion of the difference between relative and absolute value,.You would have nothing to do with Rush or Beck and you voted to raise taxes on the rich (measure 66) and the productive (measure 67).

            Not a tough call, that pretty much leaves your politics on the left end of the spectrum.

            Big surprise.

          • Anonymous

            “You hold up Frankens election as some sort of validation, when his election was very questionable.”

            His election wasn’t all that questionable. Coleman’s repeated challenges were, on the other hand, highly suspect and reeked of sour grapes.

            “You steer a conversation into a didactic discussion of the difference between relative and absolute value.”

            LOL You, of all people, doubting the appropriateness of my didacticism is priceless. Thank you.

            “You would have nothing to do with Rush or Beck”

            Yes. Apparently because they don’t share my un-American values. I think they both seem like jerks (i.e. not very nice people), and that assessment has little to do with their politics.

            “and you voted to raise taxes on the rich (measure 66) and the productive (measure 67).”

            Try reading the sentence again, Rupert. I voted YES on 66 and NO on 67.

            I voted YES on 66 because the argument that 66 is a referendum tantamount to class warfare is true only in the sense that it serves to counter the downward warfare waged by the rich on the poor for the last three decades. If income equality in this country were improving I would have voted otherwise. I am an unashamed supporter of a progressive tax system.

            I voted NO on 67 because like many here I felt that the untargeted tax on gross revenues would be bad for the business climate and local economy in general. In short, I thought it was unfair. I had no beef whatsoever with the increase on the corporate minimum to $150, but as we all know that was not what this measure was all about (despite what its proponents would have us believe).

            “Not a tough call, that pretty much leaves your politics on the left end of the spectrum.”

            So be it, Rupert. Whatever you say is absolutely true.

            “Big surprise.”

            That you would take exception with anything and everything I say… big surprise!

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >His election wasn’t all that questionable.

            Interesting. Well, I think most would agreee that taking something like six months to tally a vate means there was some question. You obviously feel otherwise.

            >Try reading the sentence again, Rupert. I voted YES on 66 and NO on 67.

            Ah, so you did. I stand corrected I was wrong.

            >I am an unashamed supporter of a progressive tax system.

            Well, if you support that then your vote makes sense, even if your contention about the war on the poor by the rich is a little looney.

            >I voted NO on 67 because like many here I felt that the untargeted tax on gross revenues would be bad for the business climate and local economy in general. In short, I thought it was unfair. I had no beef whatsoever with the increase on the corporate minimum to $150, but as we all know that was not what this measure was all about (despite what its proponents would have us believe).

            Can’t argue with that. Ok, so you are a liberal who actually understood the issue. Colour me impressed.

            >That you would take exception with anything and everything I say

            Aww, that’s cute.

          • Steve Plunk

            After I read the mumbo jumbo, a technical term used by laypersons, I could see where you are coming from. It’s called La La Land. It’s called because the residents skip around singing la la la while ignoring real life events surrounding them.

            Air America failed because of it’s politics. Right wing radio is a success because of it’s politics. America is more conservative than liberal. Howard Stern is entertainment, not politics. Those are the real life facts that you are conveniently ignoring.

            The most important fact is Air America is no longer polluting the airwaves with the vitriol they became known for.

          • Anonymous

            “After I read the mumbo jumbo, a technical term used by laypersons, I could see where you are coming from. It’s called La La Land. It’s called because the residents skip around singing la la la while ignoring real life events surrounding them.”

            Which real life events would those be? The election of a left wing politician by a majority of voters to the presidency? Does that count?

            “Air America failed because of it’s politics. Right wing radio is a success because of it’s politics. America is more conservative than liberal. Howard Stern is entertainment, not politics. Those are the real life facts that you are conveniently ignoring.”

            Air America failed because nobody knew or cared to know where their broadcast could be found, and presumably because their broadcasters weren’t all that entertaining. Howard Stern is, as you correctly characterized him, an entertainer; as are all the rest of them. Where did Glenn Beck get his start again? How about Rush Limbaugh? Are they politicians? Economists? Why is Howard Stern so successful while others, Adam Carolla for instance, are not? They do the same thing don’t they? Maybe liberals listen to conservative radio personalities more often than liberal ones for the same reason Rupert listens to NPR (according to his sermon on the acceptance of diversity)? Maybe they would rather argue with their radios than be preached at? I don’t know. Rupert tells me I’m a liberal, yet I hardly ever listen to NPR/OPB and I frequently listen to Fox News.

            “The most important fact is Air America is no longer polluting the airwaves with the vitriol they became known for.”

            I guess I’ll have to take your word for it as I wouldn’t know. I never listened to it or even heard anyone talk about it.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >Rupert listens to NPR (according to his sermon on the acceptance of diversity)?

            Well, if at first being didactic flops, try being condescending I suppose.

            >Rupert tells me I’m a liberal, yet I hardly ever listen to NPR/OPB and I frequently listen to Fox News.

            >I wouldn’t know. I never listened to it or even heard anyone talk about it.

            This is a little laughable. Air America was all over Fox news when it started. They talked incessantly about it, especially when talk of “The Fairness Doctrine” came up.

            Look, if you are going to run around using nonsense like the rich waging war on the poor and thus you stroongly support the progressive tax system, and then claim you arent a liberal, good luck with that.

            There is nothing wrong with being a liberal by the way. It’s just kind of wacky that with your views you insist you are a “moderate conservative”. Moderate Republican say in the mold of John Chaffee is more like it.

          • Anonymous

            “Well, if at first being didactic flops, try being condescending I suppose.”

            I’m just going along with what’s going on, Rupert. I didn’t set the tone of discourse on this blog. Besides, cutting and pasting definitions of rudimentary concepts of value is hardly what I would call didactic. Not that you’d really want to analyze it. If you and Steve want to believe that American values are absolute and that radio pundits and their listeners are the most accurate measure of those values, well, be my guest.

            “This is a little laughable. Air America was all over Fox news when it started. They talked incessantly about it, especially when talk of “The Fairness Doctrine” came up.”

            Yes, Rupert, I’ve heard of Air America and I’ve heard it mocked aplenty on Fox News. My meaning was that of all the people I associate with personally and professionally I have honestly cannot remember ever having a discussion or overhearing a discussion of the goings on at Air America (with the exception of the superficial awareness that Franken and Ron Reagan Jr. were employed there). In my experience nobody seemed to give a crap about Air America one way or the other.

            “Look, if you are going to run around using nonsense like the rich waging war on the poor and thus you stroongly support the progressive tax system, and then claim you arent a liberal, good luck with that.”

            Good luck with that? Am I running for office or something? Do I need the approval of other Republicans? No, pretty sure I don’t. As for my contention that the “rich have waged war on the poor”, history fairly well supports that position; though I generally feel it wise try to refrain from hyperbole in discussions of this nature. It was opponents of M66 who accused its supporters of class warfare. The idea that a marginal tax increase on the top 3% of income earners constitutes a waging of war by the poor on the rich is patently absurd. Furthermore, those that keep statistics on these kinds of issues (CIA World Fact Book, United Nations, World Bank, etc) support that position as well (using the GINI coefficient as the standard metric). Income inequality has increased dramatically in the United States over the last three decades. It’s a fact. Look it up.

            “There is nothing wrong with being a liberal by the way. It’s just kind of wacky that with your views you insist you are a “moderate conservative”. Moderate Republican say in the mold of John Chaffee is more like it.”

            Frankly, I don’t value any of the political pigeon holes that you feel a need to stuff people into. I am a registered Republican who votes according to reason, not ideology. But if you want to take me to task for using a phrase that was used often by Gordon Smith, go ahead. It changes nothing.

  • Bob clark

    Air America couldn’t compete with NPR, the other station based on pretend logic and financial subsidization. Unfortunately, NPR & OPB will continue to live on because they have the government to force taxpayers to subsidize them. Why do folks listen to these media NPR & OPB when their whole being is in conflict with the principles of free speech (because they are essentially government sponsored, they are not much different than Pravada in the old Soviet union).

    • Rupert in Springfield

      Actually I listen to NPR and watch OPB quite a bit. I think they are a valuable way to listen to the other side. Generally the guests or hosts they have tend to be the sort who will have the best thought out and most articulately framed arguments on the other side. In other words, you can listen to the opposing viewpoint put forth by those who will give it its best shot. Does that mean I agree with them? No. However it does give one a way to think about how one would answer a coherent liberal argument should one ever be presented with that situation. Since my circle is composed almost in its entirety of liberals the occasion does arise from time to time so I view NPR and OPB as mental exercise for the event.

    • Scatcat

      You beat me to the punch. I have to shake my head when liberals claim they need an alternative voice on the air. The failure has to do there are already liberal voices on the air. I find it ironic that Air America failure has to do with idea we on the right have been fight for ages: how government subsidies hurt free enterprises system and impede competition.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >I find it ironic that Air America failure has to do with idea we on the right have been fight for ages: how government subsidies hurt free enterprises system and impede competition.

        >I find it ironic that Air America failure has to do with idea we on the right have been fight for ages: how government subsidies hurt free enterprises system and impede competition.

        Hmm, now that’s interesting. It hadn’t occurred to me but I think you are right. The thing that’s interesting about it is that if that is true, then that does imply there is a limited market for liberal talk radio, say in the case of NPR. Why would one radio network co-opt the opportunity for another one, say Air America? That hasn’t been the case with conservative radio.

        I think it would be a mistake to make the assumption there are less liberals out there than conservatives, thus a market that can support NPR, but nothing more, like Air America. I think what it really is about is that liberalism is not a big intellectual pursuit. It is based on feelings and once you are there there isn’t much more to say about it. Now that doesn’t mean that listening to Rush is a big intellectual endeavor, it isn’t. However that does mean that the totality, Rush, Hannity, O’Reilly, Savage, Beck does form a more challenging intellectual soup than the monolithic NPR. Rush and Savage agree on just about nothing. O’Reilly and Beck? Very different. Beck is big on drawing discussion of his faith into almost every topic, O’Reilly rarely referred to such during his radio program and was also pretty much on board with much of the environmental agenda. Virtually all conservatives I know love Rush, virtually all I know hate Coulter and Savage.

        NPR might have some diversity in liberal guests they have on their shows, and some in their liberal commentary however after the failure of Air America one at some point has to conclude that NPR covers it and there just simply isn’t room for much more. That doesn’t say a lot about the thoughtfulness or diversity of opinion there and that’s probably the one thing I have learned in my dealings with liberals, tolerance of thought can be very difficult for them.

        Recently I was at a party, about 50 people, all liberal to my knowledge. I was talking with someone I had known as an acquaintance for several years and like quite well. He has constantly bemoaned the fact that we did not see more of each other due to his living in Portland, me down here. This got into a discussion of why I lived where I did, a rural area because I prefer distance between neighbors. I remarked that after a year of living in our house I was working in the shop with O’Reilly on the radio, the neighbor heard it and came over, astonished that I, like him, listened to O’Reilly. It was an offhand remark that I didn’t consider but my wife instantly froze. The acquaintance instantly latched onto it, assuming I was joking, he could not accept that I would listen to such a thing and said that he never would have started talking to me years ago had he known. I was astonished that he didn’t know I was conservative, and told him to respect my diversity.

        My wife was really upset on the way home. She hates when I get into a political discussion but she understood I had said what I did not to get into one but simply as part of the story of where we lived. What she really hated was realizing that it was absurd that some offhand remark revealing I was conservative had to be something that made her cringe. It annoyed her to no end that whenever we are out in a liberal crowd, which is virtually always, any revelation of my beliefs brings forth this response, whereas in a conservative crowd such is not the case with her beliefs.

        I think that’s the crux of why the free market doesn’t really support the same sort of thing in this regard as it does with conservative shows. Liberalism is orthodoxy, thus there is only so much to say about it.

  • Bad Boy Brown

    Glad to see they died along with the idiots that listen to their garbage! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

  • v person

    As a liberal who listens to NPR, but never developed an attachment for Air America, for me it was simply that NPR offers an intelligent, non emotional, entertaining, and balanced broadcast journalism while Air America aspired to be nothing more than a flip side of the dumb, emotional, entertaining, and way unbalanced right-wing radio jocks. When Franken was on Air America, he was at least entertaining. The others on there I have heard are not.

    MSNBC has fallen into the same trap by trying to counter Fox. They would be better off emulating NPR rather than going for the cheap thrills.

    And I agree with anonymous up above. The success or failure of these shows has nothing to do with the success or failure of the politics they espouse. In fact if anything their success tends to be counter-cyclical to the electorate, evidenced by Fox ratings going up after Obama’s win.

    • Tami

      Dean,

      …NPR “balanced broadcast journalism” and “unbalanced right-wing radio jocks”???

      I grant your expertise in the area of “unbalanced” but how in the world would you recognize “balanced”? As evidenced by your statement: “The success or failure of these shows has nothing to do with the success or failure of the politics they espouse.”

      “…nothing…”?

      Now, *that’s* balanced.

      tee-hee

      • v person

        Tee-hee all you want Tami, but the fact is that Air America and MSNBC had higher ratings during the Bush years when liberals were out of power, and Fox had declining ratings. After the 2008 election Fox and right wing radio ratings went up, and Air America and MSNBC went down. A reasonable conclusion is that the “outs” feel more need to go somewhere that feels friendly than do the “ins.”

        “Balance” in this case simply means following the facts of the matter. Facts are not a point of view.

        By the way, have you done any more research on me? Have you found out how wrong you were yet? Would you even admit to it?

  • Bob Tiernan

    Anonymous:*

    [Franken’s] election wasn’t all that questionable. Coleman’s repeated challenges were, on the other hand, highly suspect and reeked of sour grapes.

    *Bob T:*

    Well, Coleman’s challenges were reasonable considering the lack of uniformity in standards being used by various counties. The race was so close that I wouldn’t have expected either candidate to not challenge the results, but Franken got it when the music stopped so that’s that. Fact is we’ll never really know who actually won. So far as Coleman is concerned, one bright spot is that his defeat meant that he was not getting rewarded for supporting things that he was too cowardly to attack, such as farm subsidies.

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

    • v person

      “Fact is we’ll never really know who actually won.”

      Fact is we do know who won. Franken, which is why he is the Senator. Just like we know Bush actually won because he served as president and did such a bang up job.

    • Anonymous

      My choice of words was, in hindsight, poor. I should have said, “Franken’s victory wasn’t all that questionable.” If memory serves, the initial recount was stipulated by Minnesota state law, the second recount was due to Coleman’s legal challenge, which in turn led to an appeal when he was unhappy with the decision of the court. It was an exceedingly close race, of that there can be no doubt. I agree that the initial recount and even the initial lawsuit were within the bounds of reason, but by the time the appeal was filed Coleman was well on his way to cementing his reputation (in my mind) as a sore loser.

      Nevertheless, I only mentioned it because Steve was suggesting that radio listenership is a better gauge of cultural values than election results (i.e. more people listen to Rush Limbaugh than ever listened to Al Franken, therefore Rush Limbaugh is more representative of American values than Al Franken). That seems like some wacky logic if you ask me. I was never holding up Franken’s election “as some sort of validation” for anything, as Rupert suggested.

      • Steve Plunk

        I’m curious where I said radio listenership was a better gauge of values than an election? Al Franken is a senator elected by one state rather than the whole country. Time to back up and rethink your argument.

        • v person

          I hope you apply the same thinking to Brown’s election in Mass. then. Just one state. No need to draw any national conclusions about it right?

        • Anonymous

          “I take issue with Franken and Maddow being given credit for having talent. They, like Air America, do not represent American values and are consistently illogical.”

          “I’m not a Rush or Beck listener so all I can use to gauge their representation of American values is their ratings and success. Wow, look at that, they are successful. Apparently they’re on to something the Air America people couldn’t understand.”

          “In short the Air America message offended most Americans while Rush, Beck, Hannity, and the rest promoted traditional American values.”

          Steve, all I can do is take your comments at face value. First, you explicitly state that Al Franken (via Air America) does not represent American values. Next, you present ratings success as a gauge for the representation of American values (i.e. the values presented on their shows are the cause of their success). And finally, you suggest that Air America’s failure was due to their lack of “traditional American values” and nothing else (e.g. boring programming, poor marketing, etc).

          Meanwhile, Al Franken is elected to public office by real, honest-to-goodness Americans. Are you saying that the Americans that elected Al Franken aren’t good, wholesome Americans? That their values aren’t in keeping with “traditional American values”?

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