Wed 3 Mar, 2004 10:56 am
March 3, 2004 -- EXCLUSIVE
The long talked-about liberal talk radio network has finally found an affiliate in New York - WLIB-AM, The Post has learned.
Air America, as the network will be known, is also expected to announce that outspoken comedian Janeane Garofalo will join pit-bull humorist Al Franken in its line-up.
The left-leaning network is backed mainly by well-heeled Democrats who want a counter-balance to conservative powerhouses like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage.
The network could be up and running later this month or early April.
Backers of the network are eager to get on the air as quickly as possible in order to play a role in the upcoming presidential elections.
WLIB (1190 AM) currently mixes Caribbean music with black-targeted talk shows after budget cuts forced it to drop its all-talk format three years ago.
Air America and its parent, Progress Media, just moved onto a floor shared by WLIB and sister station WBLS at 3 Park Ave.
WLIB, owned in part by former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton and run by his son, Pierre, broadcasts a strong signal over New York City, Westchester and a nice chunk of eastern New Jersey.
It is not known whether WLIB will be purchased outright or leased.
The line-up will pit the new network's talkers directly against the biggest names in radio.
Franken is expected to air at noon and go toe-to-toe with Rush Limbaugh, who has a 15 million-listener head start.
South Florida liberal Randi Rhodes will follow Franken and be up against Sean Hannity (WABC), Bill O'Reilly and Bob Grant (both on WOR) in New York.
She told her West Palm Beach listeners this week that she plans to "bury" Hannity and Grant.
Garofalo is the network's choice for 8 to 11 p.m., Post sources say. Robert Kennedy, Jr. will host a weekend slot.
The network has also leased time on stations in Los Angeles and Chicago and is negotiating in other big cities.
Thanks, BBB. I'll be listening out of curiosity.
Liberal Talk Radio Network to Start Up in Three Cities
March 11, 2004 - New York Times
Liberal Talk Radio Network to Start Up in Three Cities
By JACQUES STEINBERG
The creators of a fledgling liberal talk radio network who hope to challenge the dominance of conservative voices on the nation's airwaves said yesterday that its programming would make its debut on March 31 on low-rated stations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
The network, known as Air America Radio, said its hosts would include Al Franken, the comedian and political satirist, whose program will be broadcast from noon to 3 p.m.; Janeane Garofalo, an actress whose program will be on from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Chuck D, a hip-hop artist, who will be a co-anchor of a morning program; and Martin Kaplan, a media analyst who has previously appeared on National Public Radio.
Mr. Franken's program will be called "The O'Franken Factor,'' in a barb aimed at Bill O'Reilly, the host of "The O'Reilly Factor'' on the Fox News Channel. Fox News sued Mr. Franken and his publisher last summer in an unsuccessful effort to block distribution of his book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right'' (E. P. Dutton, 2003). The network charged that the book's use of Fox's "fair and balanced'' tagline would tarnish its image.
For all Air America's relative star power and connections - Mark Walsh, the network's chief executive, has donated more than $100,000 to the Democratic Party and has served as an adviser to the presidential candidate John Kerry on Internet issues - the network faces enormous hurdles. They include making money for its investors and unseating the biggest conservative voices in talk radio, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, whose programs appear on hundreds of stations.
"It's tough to build a syndicated show, let alone a whole array of syndicated shows,'' said Michael Harrison, a former radio station owner who is the publisher of Talkers, a trade magazine.
In New York, for example, Air America will broadcast on WLIB, an AM station that was ranked 24th in the metropolitan New York market last fall, according to Arbitron; WABC, which broadcasts Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Hannity, was ranked 12th. Similarly, in Chicago, Air America's affiliate, WNTD, was ranked 32nd; the Limbaugh affiliate, WLS, was ranked fifth. In Los Angeles, Air America will be broadcast on KBLA, which ranked 30th.
Nonetheless, Mr. Walsh said the effort had support, including an initial investment of more than $20 million provided by several backers, including Evan Cohen, a venture capitalist, and Rex Sorensen, a entrepreneur.
Mr. Walsh said that he expected the network, whose parent company is Progress Media, would offer something unique on talk radio - a megaphone for liberals - and that by the end of the year he anticipated its programming would be carried by stations in at least a dozen other markets, including San Francisco. Mr. Walsh declined to name any other cities where the network was pursuing stations.
Mr. Franken, who described himself in a telephone interview as "a comedian first and a citizen second,'' said he intended his show to be "entertaining, funny and hard-hitting.''
"This territory has been ceded to the right way too long,'' he said. "We're going to take it to them.''
Mr. Franken said that he had called his show "The O'Franken Factor'' with the hope that it would "annoy and bait'' Mr. O'Reilly.
Robert Zimmerman, a spokesman for Fox News, said: "One of this country's founding principles is the right to free speech. We wish them well.''
Unfortunately the NYC signal may be too feeble to bound over the mountains between the station and the backwoods.
Still, spring is coming.
Any word on if these stations will be "wired"
Franken hopes he gets sued right away
Liberal talk-radio network set for debut
By Jennifer Harper
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published March 30, 2004
Conservatives, plug your ears: Liberal talk radio is finally here.
Al Franken and a host of garrulous progressives ease onto the airwaves tomorrow morning on America Left, broadcasting live from 6 a.m. to midnight on weekdays via XM Satellite Radio and three AM radio stations -- in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Mr. Franken will debut at noon with "The O'Franken Factor," a three-hour daily show airing opposite conservative host Rush Limbaugh, who has 20 million listeners. Mr. Franken once wrote a book titled "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" and has named his show as a parody of "The O'Reilly Factor," hosted by Bill O'Reilly of Fox News.
Mr. Franken, who has scuffled with conservatives for years, is primed for a fight.
"My first priority is to get sued by a right-wing jerk in order to generate interest in my new show," Mr. Franken said in a statement earlier this year.
The daylong lineup also includes comedian Janeane Garofalo, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war; environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; and Alan Colmes, co-host of Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes."
XM Radio offers the new shows a built-in potential audience of 3 million.
For a $10 monthly charge, the company offers 120 digital music, talk and entertainment channels for home, car or computer. "America Left" -- produced by New York-based Air America Radio -- joins an XM stable that already includes talk-radio fare from Fox News, CNN and ABC, among others.
"We're excited to provide a national audience to progressive superstar Al Franken and his spirited cohorts at Air America. Challenging our listeners and giving them the best and broadest choices possible is our daily mission," Hugo Panero, XM's District-based president, said yesterday.
But XM is not necessarily a liberal bastion. They already feature 79 talk-radio hosts of every political stripe -- including Fox News' Mr. O'Reilly, ABC's Sean Hannity and independents Matt Drudge, Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham.
Air America has its own political agenda in store, however.
"There is a great underserved market of Americans who want to hear compelling and funny talk voices expressing viewpoints long absent from the radio airwaves," said Mark Walsh, president of Progress Media, the parent company of Air America.
He added, "Air America on XM will go a long way to correcting this imbalance at a particularly opportune time."
That opportune time, of course, is an election year that has become a showcase for political sniping in the news media.
As Hollywood actors-turned-pundits, Mr. Franken and Miss Garofalo have criticized the Bush administration, the war in Iraq and conservative ideology in no uncertain terms.
"I'm interested in doing what I can to affect this election. I'm thinking about what's the best use of my energies. I hope this is it," Mr. Franken told the Associated Press in January when he announced his intention to become a radio personality.
New Talk Radio
Will this station permit any new age agenda? There is a wealth of controversial information out there in the metaphysical community that could pull in a huge listening audience.
Liberal talk radio network picks CEO
Liberal talk radio network picks CEO
Air America still faces cash crunch
By John Cook
Tribune staff reporter
May 22, 2004
Air America Radio, the fledgling liberal talk radio network facing a cash crunch, has named a temporary chief executive, one of the network's investors said Friday.
Doug Kreeger, an original investor and until now Air America's executive vice president for electronic media and development, also was named acting CEO, according to Anita Drobny, who founded the precursor to Air America with her husband, Sheldon Drobny, last year.
The Drobnys, who sold off most of the company to an investor group in November but retain a minority stake, have been trying to regain control of the company.
Drobny stressed that Kreeger's appointment was temporary, and that he will serve "until the board of directors takes care of all the old business left behind by Evan Cohen." Cohen, an investor and former chairman of the network, was ousted early this month. Sources said Cohen left after expected additional funding failed to materialize.
"He's not a radio man," Drobny said of Kreeger, predicting that the network would name a new CEO within two months. An Air America executive confirmed the appointment was temporary.