Why Air America really struggled

Amy Scott Jan 25, 2010
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Why Air America really struggled

Amy Scott Jan 25, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Air America Radio officially goes off the air later today. The liberal talk network helped launch Rachel Maddow and the political career of Senator Al Franken. But the network struggled financially throughout its nearly six-year run, and finally decided to pull the plug last week. Marketplace’s Amy Scott took a listen and filed this report.


Air America Intro: Broadcasting from an underground bunker 3,500 feet below Dick Cheney’s bunker, Air America Radio is on the air.

Amy Scott: Founding Air America host Al Franken has been off the air for three years. Thom Hartmann replaced him, before taking his show elsewhere. Hartmann says that was part of Air America’s problem: constantly changing line-up.

Thom Hartmann: Each new management wanted to put their mark on the company by changing the program line-up, which is death in radio. Stability is everything.

The latest management blamed the economy and declining ad revenue across the industry.

Michael Harrison publishes Talkers Magazine. He says though conservative radio is hurting too, it’s been more successful. It got a big head start.

Michael Harrison: It’s hard in general to get anything off the ground in radio, regardless of what your format is.

Harrison, who calls himself non-partisan, says there is an audience for liberal commercial talk radio. He says nationally syndicated hosts like Thom Hartmann are all thriving without Air America.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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