Air America $20 million in debt

Donna Halper
Sat Oct 14 13:29:20 EDT 2006

At 11:10 AM 10/14/2006, Dan P. wrote:
>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.

Oh Dan, you have said it even better than I did, and I commend 
you.  This ain't about ideology.  It's about entertainment. I know Al 
Franken.  He and I are not close pals, but I do know the guy.  He is 
passionate about politics-- that's not an act.  He cares deeply about 
America.  That too is for real.  And he disagrees with the Bush 
Administration on many issues.  That's his right as a human being and 
as an American.  BUT none of that makes his show interesting, even 
though he has some outstanding guests.  Many times, networks make the 
mistake of choosing somebody famous and figuring their fame will make 
them sound good on radio-- Jerry Springer is a case in point.  Clear 
Channel thought Jerry's fame as a crazed talk show host would 
translate to numbers doing a political talk show.  Alas, those who 
wanted to hear Jerry on the radio wanted to hear about men who are 
saving up for a sex change or women who secretly love sheep or 
whatever else is on Jerry's TV show.  They don't wanna hear his 
political views.  I can think of a number of TV talk shows that came 
and went because the "famous" host turned out to be dull and 
incapable of keeping the audience's interest.

But this all speaks to a bigger issue, one I have howled about for 
years.  Whether you are a rightie, a leftie or a moderate, we all 
agree there are only a handful of REALLY ENTERTAINING talk hosts.  If 
they died tomorrow, who would fill their shoes?  Since consolidation, 
with voice tracking and syndication an easier and cheaper option, 
many smaller stations, where such talent used to be developed, no 
longer train the next generation of hosts.  As a result, people are 
put on the air before they are ready, and boy it sounds awful.

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