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May 13, 2004
Air America Shuts Some Doors

Err America logoIn more bad news followed by some first-class spin, Air America announced today that it will close sales offices in Los Angeles and Chicago and will "recast" its plan, all of which follows a month that has seen the network booted off the air in the two cities and a number of executives and investors leave or get fired:

Air America has shut its sales offices in Los Angeles and Chicago and is recasting its business plan, the network's president said on Wednesday as troubles beset the liberal talk show network.

With Air America not broadcasting in those two cities after a financial dispute in April, network president Jon Sinton said, "There's not much sense in having sales offices in cities where you don't control a station."

About 15 to 20 people were laid off in the closing of the sales offices, the latest sign of problems for Air America, launched on March 31 as a liberal alternative to the country's predominantly conservative talk show culture led by right-wing icons like Rush Limbaugh.

Since it started, Chairman Evan Cohen, Vice Chairman Rex Sorensen and Head of Programing David Logan have left while co-founder Mark Walsh has stepped down as chief executive to take a smaller role in the organization.

However, when asked, the remaining few people still left at the netlet assure the public and their listeners that in reality, they have been fabulously successful. Sinton insists that they've been "moving the needle" with affiliates, which not so coincidentally is significant both in radio and in polygraph tests. The fact that they went off the air in the second and third largest markets in the US -- and closing their sales offices in both markets indicates a lack of optimism for getting back on the air in either case -- has no bearing on their "success".

Michael Harrison of the trade magazine Talkers wonders why they tried to force broadcasters to take on the entire 17-hour slate of shows, but thinks liberal talk radio is still a great concept. I'm sure NPR agrees. The problem is that listeners don't, at least not with the Err America approach, which could be called All The Laughs of NPR, but Without The Class or Intelligence!

UPDATE: Mitch picks up the scent of a scam from one of my readers ... just more Err America success!

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 13, 2004 2:46 PM

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