By John Fisher
The progressive radio network Air America goes off the air on Monday
night at 9. That's almost six years after the network started March
David Hinckley in the New York Daily News lists a number of reasons
for the network's failure.
First, talk radio has to entertain. But Air America wasn'tentertaining. Instead it had an agenda, based on ideology.
Air America brought in professional entertainers Al Franken and
Janeane Garafalo, but neither were radio people. Rachel Maddow
learned radio at Air America and then went to MSNBC.
Second, as The Daily News' David Hinckley wrote, "If people can't hear
you, what you're saying doesn't matter."
Air America was underfinanced and so didn't find any major stations to
host their shows. In addition, Air America didn't get the publicity
from the liberal media to boost its popularity.
While Air America was a failure, it could be argued that it made Al
Franken a U.S. Senator. It also made Maddow a star and gave voice to
It may have also may have helped progressive politicians like Obama.
But this has its downside. While progressive radio had plenty to talk
about under Bush, it's hard to bash your own man when he is president.
Air America could have gone to the Internet like Moveon dot org and the
Huffington Post. However, the web isn't a great money producer.
While it could be argued that diversity in opinion is important,
reinstating the Fairness Doctrine is not the answer. In a democracy,
any media, including radio, needs to stand based on its ability to
gain an audience and run at a profit.
So, while Air America is signing off permanently, conservative talk
show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and Michael Savage continue
to reach huge audiences.