Air America $20 million in debt
Sat Oct 14 11:10:31 EDT 2006

The first job of a radio talk show host is to entertain.  The second job is 
to entertain.  The third job is to entertain.  Therefore, the first job of 
the people who are putting a talk radio network together is to HIRE 
ENTERTAINING PEOPLE.  Ed Schulz is a case in point.  He is entertaining to 
listen to, therefore, he gathers an audience, therefore, his show makes 
money.  Ted O'Brien was entertaining when paired with Janet Jeghelian, as a 
solo act, not so much.  The list goes on.  As Donna has said, Air America 
made numerous poor business decisions, but the first, in my estimation, was 
hiring a set of hosts primarily for their Progressive credentials, rather 
than their ability to put on an entertaining talk radio show.  This is a 
mistake, of course, that happens all across the business.  Witness the large 
number of stations and networks that have hired people who are celebrities 
in other fields who turn out to be complete busts on the air.

I still believe there is nothing intrinsically wrong with hiring people from 
a left-of-center viewpoint to host radio talk shows, even on stations 
dominated by right-of -center hosts.  They must be entertaining people who 
engage their audience so that they can either build a large enough following 
of like-minded folks to make the show profitable, or, even better, they can 
build an audience of people across the ideological spectrum who tune in to 
be entertained, even when the host's views drive them crazy.

Dan Pierce
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Donna Halper" <>
To: "Bob Nelson" <>; "" 
<>; <>
Sent: Friday, October 13, 2006 2:23 PM
Subject: Re: Air America $20 million in debt

> At 12:27 PM 10/13/2006, Bob Nelson wrote:
>>The network declared Ch. 11 bankruptcy today (ability to stay on air
>>while they reorganize and pay off debt). The Smoking Gun has details;
>>they owe $20 million (assets of $4 million)
>>including almost $10 million to Rob Glaser of Real Networks and $360,000 
>>Al Franken.
> My well-informed sources (people inside Air America Radio) say that a 
> large chunk of the money Al is owed is money HE lent Air America during 
> some times of financial crisis, just to keep it on the air.  And one other 
> well-informed source who is with a competitor tells me Al is quietly 
> shopping his show around to see if he can place it elsewhere, in the event 
> AAR doesn't get back on firm financial ground.  There was a myth from Bill 
> O'Lie-ly that Al was being paid 500,000 a year or something-- I've seen 
> some of the financials, and no he wasn't paid anything close to that. 
> Like him or not, Al really believes in progressive radio, and while AAR 
> has been run by some pretty inept people (including the dishonest original 
> founder, Evan Cohen, who incidentally was a long-time Republican and 
> supporter of Bush the Daddy... I only mention that because some of those 
> who are gloating on the right are ignoring that a rightie is one of those 
> who started this entire set of problems, which AAR then compounded with 
> some incredibly bad management decisions.)
> Interestingly, if it's "liberal talk" that is a failure, why are the Ed 
> Schultz Show and the Stephanie Miller Show, both syndicated by the Jones 
> Radio Network, either breaking even (Stephanie) or making a profit (Ed)... 
> AAR's problems are more complicated than "oh progressive talk can't work." 
> We've discussed this before, and I don't wanna beat a dead horese, so I'll 
> just remind everyone from the right that it took Limbaugh SEVEN YEARS to 
> become a successful talker, and sponsors were hesitant about being on his 
> show then, just like many are hesitant to start off with progressive talk 
> now.  But when talk shows are interesting and are on stations where you 
> can actually hear their signal, and when there is a promotion budget to 
> support some outside events to bring in new cume, there are a number of 
> markets where progressive hosts are getting very good numbers.  The format 
> is just 2 years old-- let's not write it off because AAR has never figured 
> out how to run their business cost-effectively...

More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list