{Photos: ULeft-Hannity; URight-Savage; LLeft-Limbaugh; LRight-Beck}

Conservatives’ Next BIG Challenge

[Many times during the broadcast day, I hear some “talking-head” criticizing talk radio and it’s preeminent hosts, Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Savage and those at the local level around the country as “irrelevant.” During a January 24th meeting with Republican leaders, Nerobama made a biden-type gaff. He suggested the GOP leadership “stop paying attention to right-wing radio personality Rush Limbaugh if they want bipartisanship.” Earlier, while still “socialist-elect,” Nerobama appointed Henry Rivera to head the team that will select the next FCC chairman. Rivera is widely believed to support the reinstitution of the so0called Fairness Doctrine {recently relabeled: The Hush-Rush Doctrine}. Doesn’t sound like irreleance to me!! THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE: In 1949 the first clear definition of the fairness doctrine emerged. The FCC said, in it’s Report on Editorializing, “The public interest requires ample play for the free and fair competition of opposing views, and the commission believes that the principle applies….to all discussion of issues of importance to the public.” The doctrine had two parts: It required broadcasters to [1] Cover vital controversial issues in the communtiry and to [2] provide a reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints. Additional rules were added over time: [3] The personal attack rule required broadcasters to allow opportunity for rebuttal to personal attacks made during the discussion of controversial issues. [4] The political editorializing rule held that broadcasters who endorsed a candidate for political office had to give the candidate’s opponent a reasonable opportunity to respond. The most important part of the Fairness Doctrine is that it only applies to the radio broadcast industry; not newspapers, not television, not movies, not magazines. The socialist-democrats have taken the side of reinstitution of this doctrine through faulty logic. Their intent is to remove or reduce the air time of the “Big Four,” which is not the intent of the doctrine. The Fairness Doctrine has been interpreted as requiring the airing of opposing views which, I’m sure, Limbaugh, et al, have no heartburn with. This airing would be the responsibility of the affiliate carrying the “Big Four” shows, NOT the members of the “Big Four!!” The outward desire of the socialist-democrats is that their liberal drivel get as much air time as the conservative views. Their inward desire is to force the “Big Four” off the air. The doctrine only states that opposing views be given air time; the socialist-democrats believe that a minute-for-minute equality is warranted. When the doctrine was formulated in the late 1940s, there were less than 100 “news-talk” stations; now there are MORE THAN 2,500!! Statistically, the conservative viewpoint is the most desired listening by practically everyone from the corporate CEO to “Joe Six-Pack,” down the street. If the socialist programs were viable, Air America would be on a par with the “Big Four.” The fairness Doctrine is to radio as the federal minimum wage is to quality in the workplace; they both stifle that which they claim to support. Al Franken and Ed Schultz are the two most notable liberal talk broadcasters. In the latest Arbitron statistics I could find, Mr Limbaugh has three times the number of listeners as Mr Franken; five times as many as Mr Schultz… Now do you understand why the socialist-democrats need the doctrine in force?? They already control political content in both the television and print mediums.] A political battle is brewing over control of the radio airwaves as Democrats consider pushing for the revival of the Fairness Doctrine, an FCC policy that requires broadcast stations to provide opposing views on controversial issues of public importance. “I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told liberal radio host Bill Press last week. She said she expects hearings soon on reviving the policy, which was introduced in 1949 and abolished in 1987.
Stabenow’s husband, Tom Athans, is and has been an executive at several liberal radio talk groups.
But Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe said radio programming should be based on what brings in listeners and advertisers. “I can’t think of anything worse than to have government in a position to dictate the content of information going over public radio,” said Inhofe, a Republican. “The whole idea is that it has to be market driven. We have a lot of progressive or liberal radio shows but nobody listens to them and every time one tries to get on, they are not successful.” Inhofe and other critics believe those pushing to bring back the Fairness Doctrine want to diminish the influence of Limbaugh and other conservative talk show hosts. Supporters insist that’s not the case.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, told Press Wednesday that the Fairness Doctrine is needed not to remove any conservative voices, but to ensure that there are a few liberal shows on the air. During the presidential campaign, a spokesman said Barack Obama did not favor reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. Inhofe says Democrats and liberal advocacy groups aren’t going to let the matter drop. “They are committed to make this happen,” he said. “We got to be ready.” Inhofe introduced a bill this year to prevent reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, but he said he has not gotten a single Democrat to co-sponsor it.
The democrat “Nice Try [A brief history of Air America]:” The first official fundraiser was in October, 2002 at the home of Arianna Huffington. The gathering was enthusiastically attended by many Hollywood notables. 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 met repeatedly with Al Franken to convince him to become the network’s anchor talent. Writer and comedian A. Whitney Brown was among those hired to write for the network.
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. In November 2003, Sinton’s brother Steve Sinton left Clear Channel‘s talk radio division to join AAR as vice president of programming and operations.
Meanwhile, fundraising was difficult. Having taken the idea as far as they could, the principals sold AnShell Media to Cohen and his partner,
Rex Sorensen, a broadcaster from Guam, 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 and, at noon Eastern time on March 31st, the newly re-named Air America Radio Network was launched.
Air America Radio was then the only all-
progressive talk radio network.
Franken’s show was the centerpiece of the network, and would remain so for a little less than 3 years. The show featured Franken’s low key humor, political commentary, and guest and audience participation. Difficulties and turnover
At the time it started Air America Radio, Progress Media stated it had secured US$30 million in
venture capital before its debut. The amount was later estimated by the Wall Street Journal to be closer to US$6 million.
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.
Goldberg announced his resignation on April 6, 2006, after a little more than a year on the job.
Janeane Garofalo‘s last day as co-host of The Majority Report was on July 14, 2006. Several reasons for her departure were cited. The show ended a few months later.
By the late summer of 2006 Sinton and Ginsburg’s influence was marginalized (both would leave in short order).
On August 30, 2006, nighttime host
Mike Malloy was fired from the network. The firing was explained as for financial reasons. Rumours persist that Malloy’s criticism of Israel during their bombardment of Lebanon in the summer of 2006 may have played a role. At the end of October, Malloy resumed his show on a newly created progressive radio network, Nova M Radio
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. It later turned out that there had been four separate transfers from Gloria Wise between October 2, 2003, and March 14, 2004, totalling $875,000, and that no interest was to be paid on these loans.
On October 13, 2006, Air America filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11, at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.[13] 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.
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. 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.” The sale was completed on March 6, 2007 to Green Family Media, a new company created by Stephen Green and his brother Mark J. Green.
Air America 2.0: After the sale, major changes were quickly put into place. 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.
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. 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 15, 2007, industry news site Radio Online reported that Mr. Bernstein is exiting Air America.
Thom Hartmann will be moving his show to the Dial Global radio network on March 1, 2009. Hartmann had been the flagship program on AAR for a year.
In Arbitron‘s Spring 2008 ratings book, stations carrying a majority AAR programming and in markets reporting every quarter averaged a 1.3 share. The highest rated Air America affiliates were KPOJ in Portland, Oregon (3.7 share), WXXM in Madison, Wisconsin (3.5), and KABQ in Albuquerque, New Mexico (2.6).
Affiliates: As of October 2008, Air America programming was carried on 66 terrestrial broadcast stations. Thirty-two of these stations broadcast a majority AAR programming. During the 4-1/2 years of the network’s existence, Air America has lost 63 affiliates to other programming or formats. Air America counts any station that carries any of their programming as an affiliate, similar to radio networks such as ESPN Radio.
Til Nex’Time….