by Steve Young
So Al Franken's Air America program finally premiered here in L.A...again. And soon after, it disappeared...again.
After Air America's big launch last year, it only took a couple days before they were knocked off the air in L.A. because of a dispute. It took ten months to get them back on the dial, and now, after two weeks, I guess they did so well that they felt it was time to take a vacation.
Not the entire network's MIA, but Franken's show was replaced this week by the "Best of Franken," which included, some legendary pieces from...TWO WEEKS BEFORE. At the same time, Randi Rhodes, the network's pin-up and one true progressive radio pro, had to take time off for surgery and Air America replaced her with "Best Of Randi." And with the weekend already full of "Best Of's," the network is sometimes rerunning shows that were already rerun on weekdays.
I understand that Air America's budget is tight, and running a radio deficit that borrows from our children's listening future is out of the question (as opposed to the Bush economic model). But does AA really think that the way to keep the budding fan-base growing is to replay the classics from a couple days ago?
C'mon guys. Politics happens every day. Hannity goes on vacation and there's always a replacement joker in his time slot dishing out the latest party line. I'm not suggesting that AA follow Limbaugh's example, when he brought in a so-called unbiased news anchor like Fox anchor Tony Snow (imagine if Dan Rather had sat in for Franken). But is the pool of talent so dry that there was no one who could have filled in for them, and offered something to combat the conservative crap being spewed 24/7 through zillions of broadcasting outlets? And don't give me "at least Ed Shultz is still live;" just because someone calls himself a "lefty" doesn't mean he's interesting to listen to. 'Course, O'Reilly's oft-time sub, Fox's windy John Gibson, contradicts that notion.
Look, progressive radio support is tenuous at best. And with the sputtering start last year, it becomes doubly important to keep any audience that's tuning in from tuning out. Opportunities narrow the more the false starts swell.
I'm not suggesting that Air America adopt the American Idol model -- Kelly Clarkson is weak on economic issues, and Clay Aiken has Log Cabin Republican written all over him. But if the liberal talk machine is going to be up and running by the next important election, talent has to be discovered and experience has to be gained. Enlisting the best and brightest liberal voices is essential to forge both an immediate public response to the distortions of the Hannitys and Limbaughs, while supplying a soapbox to lay out the truth. You do this by giving weekend and overnight slots to the B-team, not by replaying month-old send-ups of the inauguration (again). This is a sure-fire incentive for listeners to switch over to classic rock.
America needs Progressive Radio to grow -- it's the only way to get a truly fair and balanced foothold of the airwaves. Reruns will only rerun 2004, which only gets us four more years of Bush reruns. They put television reruns on during the summer because no one is watching. Unless they want no one to listen, please, keep it fresh.
February 26, 2005 (http://www.albionmonitor.com) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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