Captain's Quarters Blog

« McCain: The Canary In The Mine of Democratic Desperation | Main | Northern Alliance Radio Needs A New Logo - Obviously »

May 15, 2004
Paid To Hate: The Err America Experience

Err AmericaGod bless Air America, for its bounty apparently is endless. The Star Tribune's Deborah Caulfield Rybak reviews the "bumpy start" that has plagued the netlet's first few months ... if you can call getting kicked off the air in two of the three largest markets, the mass exodus of executives, and failing to meet payroll simply a "bumpy start".

Bumps like that usually indicate ... a crash, don't they?

However, the on-air talent at Err America keep their spirits up, because despite the devastating reviews from even other liberals, they believe the shows' quality has improved:

Because, at least outside the revolving doors of the executive suites, the mood -- and news -- is good. Personalities for the various shows are beginning to emerge and the amateurish technical glitches are beginning to subside.

"People need to separate the business stuff from the on-air success," said Tom Taylor, editor of the industry newsletter Inside Radio. "I think they're doing a Herculean job."

Yes, well, it's typically leftist to hate the business side of anything, but unfortunately quality doesn't guarantee success; you could ask Preston Tucker about that, if he was still around. Even if their creative output may be in question by everyone who's reviewed it, it would still not matter, for Air America is a cause, not a job:

Among the 100 or so staffers, the mood remains defiant and the mission clear. "When they pay you to hate this [Bush] administration and to expose the lies, it's the best job in the world," said Lizz Winstead, the former Minnesotan who has taken over as programming chief in addition to her five-day-a-week show.

What a lucky break for Winstead -- she gets to sell hate five days a week, and fortunately for her, it's a seller's market! More perspective on life from Winstead:

"I don't try to squeeze in friends or a drink or a dinner party these days," she said. "I've kind of made the commitment that getting rid of George Bush is more important than having a social life."

An on life at Air America, host Al Franken has this to say:

Although Franken says most of the staff is shielded from executive-suite shakeups, "every once in a while I get called in and told, "This manager has left or this one is coming in, and I go 'Oh, OK.' But mainly we're just trying to get the show on. That's really what it's about."

Bear in mind that they've only been on the air two months. "Every once in a while" has meant almost every week for the past month. (Check out the Radio category in this blog for more.) Business investors have noticed the lack of business acumen so far in this enterprise, as Rybak reports:

"The negative news doesn't make it any more attractive for a station to break its format and sign on in any long-term basis with Air America," said John Rash, director of broadcast negotiations for Minneapolis-based Campbell Mithun ad agency.

Michael Harrison, editor of the talk radio magazine Talkers, was more blunt:

"The impression one gets from this whole thing is that it's really more of a political campaign with contributers than it is a radio business with investors. That's been the thing that's made it seem so shaky to those inside the business. It doesn't follow the pattern of a business; it's more of a political movement. And radio is not a political machine. Radio is a medium."

However, as the Elder at Fraters Libertas points out, the news is not all bad. Here in the Twin Cities, the struggling netlet has landed a more permanent home. They've purchased yet another small station, this time through Minnesota Production Network, that the Catholic radio network Starboard Media wanted to dump for its move to the higher-wattage WMNN.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 15, 2004 9:51 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!