Liberal Air America Radio Goes Broke

After months of denial, liberal talk radio network and money pit Air America has finally read the writing on the wall and filed for bankruptcy after just two years of operating. The network was left scrambling with limited choices when Democrat Party fundraiser Sheldon Drobny backed out of a funding deal. In the past, Drobny has also owned Air America affiliate stations. Apparently, Daddy Warbucks has grown weary of his good-for-nothing children. Now if we could just get Uncle Sam to get NPR off the public dole.

Unfortunately, Drobny and his wife, Anita, have learned nothing from Air America and have just launched their own liberal talk radio network, Nova M Radio. They’ve already secured former Air America host Mike Malloy and pollster John Zogby. Perhaps foreshadowing the network’s future is their addition of Joe Trippi, whom by all accounts shouldn’t have a job. He’s worked on and managed the losing presidential campaigns of Howard Dean, Richard Gephardt, Gary Hart, Walter Mondale and Ted Kennedy.

Michelle Malkin and Brian Maloney of the Radio Equalizer have been vanguards in investigating and blogging on Air America’s scandals and slumping ratings. Maloney writes of the failed Drobny deal, “Investors seemed to be counting on the deal as a way to escape with a few bucks and finally put this loser behind them for good.”

One wonders how Air America was ever able to find financial backing when it has floundered for so long. “Air America has struggled financially since its inception. According to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, the company lost $9.1 million in 2004, $19.6 million in 2005 and $13.1 million so far in 2006,” reports CBS News. (These documents were accurate and true.)

Jamie Horn, spokesman for Air America, told the Associated Press that the network will remain on the air until it pays off its creditors. Maloney reports that it looks like another liberal fat cat may be subsidizing that process. “In this press release, Air America notes that it will remain on the air through a credit facility provided by Democracy Allies LLC… A reader found Democracy Allies LLC listed as a Delaware corporation, isn’t it interesting how similar the name is to Democracy Alliance, the George Soros-backed political investment fund?”

Air America CEO Scott Elberg said, “Nobody likes filing for bankruptcy. However, this move will enable us to concentrate on informing and entertaining our audience during the coming months.” Why start now?

Conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Dr. Laura and the scores of others are still on the air not just because they’re conservative, but because they’re consistent moneymakers. Air America’s troubles weren’t just from its financial wheeling, dealing and stealing (from an inner-city community center, no less). Cities including Portland, Seattle and Denver with the highest ratings (though still dismal compared to conservative hosts) began slumping significantly in 2006. Even worse, Air America lost stations in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, which were originally thought to be their best potential markets.

In the New York Times bestseller “Slander” by Ann Coulter, she identified the differences between conservatives and liberals in talk radio prior to Air America’s launch. “To be sure, conservative radio talk-show hosts have a built-in audience unavailable to liberals: people driving cars to some sort of job… The paradox of liberal talk radio is that if liberals cared about ideas or knew any facts, they would cease being liberals. Liberalism thrives on ignorance… This is not an ideology that can withstand several hours a day of caller scrutiny where their goofball notions can be shot down by any trucker with a cell phone.”

It’s a shame that Air America’s slew of financial backers didn’t read Coulter’s book first.

In response to several radio interviews I’ve done on Air America’s troubles, one producer wrote that I was “gloating” about their bankruptcy. That’s true, but no more than if someone were to bet me whether the sun would come out tomorrow and, lo and behold, I won! The producer also harangued me writing that Air America’s bankruptcy means a lot of people will lose their jobs, so I should show some compassion. Perhaps Air America should have done the same and run their network as a business instead of a left-wing charity case.

Anywhere on the dial, you can hear radio hosts discussing politics, gardening, callers’ deadbeat boyfriends, restoring cars, how the Oakland Raiders can turn the season around (as if), and other niche topics of interest to their listeners. Yet, Air America can’t get blue-staters to listen to their hosts’ incoherent rants.

Amid buyout rumors, charity scandals and dismal ratings, Air America has been a sinking ship since its inception. Listeners aren’t tuning in and stations were dropping them, even in heavily liberal markets, because Air America’s programs aren’t particularly entertaining or informative. Air America may have been able to weather the scandals, but they can’t handle the competition. Air America’s troubles are just another example of conservatives winning in a growing media market.


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