Friday, October 13, 2006

Adapt or die

Holy crap. Air America Radio filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today (over a dispute with a creditor from their early days). While they haven't officially 'shut down' it may push them a step closer to actually doing so and becoming every naysayer's wet dream.

This should come as a wake up call to this poorly thought out idea. Oh how cute it seemed in the beginning to start an entire radio network from scratch with a cause to fight for. Well, a lesson could have been learned that no other entire radio network exists today. It's cool to be a pioneer but be willing to change midstream should your pioneering ways not work. Flexibility is important in today's business world.

Hell, I am no radio expert but I do own a radio so I guess I AM a radio expert so here goes. Air America lacks entertainment value. The most carried shows on many 'progressive' talk stations aren't even Air America shows. Talkers like L.A's Stephanie Miller and Ed Schulz from Fargo have much wider exposure than Air America branded programs in the same time slot. While Schulz is far from entertaining he is informative without trying to be funny. He knows he isn't funny so he keeps it basic and lets callers talk. Not everyone agrees with him and that is what makes the show work. Miller, however, does best mocking both politics and pop culture; I will admit to listening to at least an hour of her show because it has comedic value to it. Make me listen to Al Franken's nasal drone and I'll jam an ice pick through my retina faster than you can say tuna casserole.

Franken and the like are the problem with Air America. He has a touch of name recognition but him talking for three hours in monotone fashion is painful at best.

Air America made the mistake of trying to launch an entire network and force its entire schedule on stations. They would have done better to syndicate shows like any other program syndicator. Build actual radio talent and not rely on C-list name recognition with Franken and Garofalo who sucked, too, on Saturday Night Live where Franken was best in five minute doses and Garofalo was best... um... well she worked well filling out sketches.

Hopefully, this latest spat with what they say is one creditor from the network's earliest days teaches them a lesson. They have trimmed the fat recently but it may be time to rethink further operations. Even if they met their eventual demise, they have served a purpose to make corporate radio big wigs realize that 'progressive' talk is viable if done correctly and there are two sides to everything.

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