Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Air America Radio shuts down

Air America Radio is no more.

In a statement posted on its website this afternoon, the company - which would have been six years old this spring - announced it is permanently closing its doors due to "the very difficult economic environment", effective immediately.
National and local advertising revenues have fallen drastically, causing many media companies nationwide to fold or seek bankruptcy protection. From large to small, recent bankruptcies like Citadel Broadcasting and closures like that of the industry's long-time trade publication Radio and Records have signaled that these are very difficult and rapidly changing times.
The network's website has been replaced with the text of the statement which I just excerpted from, and today was the last day that live programming will be distributed. "Encore programming" will be provided through this coming Monday, January 22nd, to "affiliates, listeners, and users."

My first response to this news is to say that this has been a pretty rotten day. And a lousy week, too. Not sure how it could get much worse, though our troubles are nothing compared to the suffering of those in Haiti.

Air America's collapse, however, does not mean the end of liberal talk radio, much to the chagrin of conservatives. Affiliates like KPTK - better known as AM 1090, Seattle's Progressive Talk - will remain in business.

In fact, KPTK is only losing Ron Reagan's show, which coincidentally was originating at their studios. And Ron's show may not be off the air for long if he can find another network willing to syndicate him.

Although it's sad for us to see Air America go, we are comforted in the knowledge that the network will be so well survived. For instance, one of its stars (Al Franken) is now a United States Senator; another (Rachel Maddow) has become a widely respected primetime television host on MSNBC.

More important, however, is the market that Air America pioneered. When the network launched back in 2004, not many progressive talk shows existed. Now there are a healthy number, syndicated by several different distributors. Among them are shows that used to be on Air America but made different business arrangements at some point. Those shows will continue broadcasting, and they comprise the lineup of former Air America affiliates like KPTK.

So long, Air America. Thanks for pioneering progressive political talk during the height of the Bush error, and showing that the format was viable.


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