Last week, liberal talk radio network Air America announced it would go off the air. Was it just another victim of the struggling economy, or were there other factors at play?
At its core, Air America was an experiment in how the left could counter the right’s hold on talk radio, and as Marketplace’s Amy Scott reports, trial and error attempts to craft that programming may have been at the core of the network’s problems, even more than its financial woes.
Founding Air America host Al Franken has been off the air for three years. Thom Hartmann replaced him, before taking his show elsewhere. Hartmann says that was part of Air America’s problem: constantly changing line-up.
But the financial burden of the network was too much to keep big name hosts like Rachel Maddow and Al Franken afloat, as David Folkenflick noted on NPR today.
Back in March 2009, Vanity Fair’s Matt Pressman all but predicted the network’s downfall.
As Air America’s fifth birthday approached, it seems fair to ask: is the concept of a liberal talk-radio network dead? And why didn’t it take off as its supporters had hoped?
Air America was far from alone in its business struggles. Scott Rosenberg writes on MediaShift that traditional newsrooms grew based on revenue and so should new ones:
The newsrooms of today acquired their size and shape and structure thanks to the business model that supported institutions of their size. The world has changed; that model is vanishing. We shouldn’t be asking “What sort of business can support a newsroom online?” The question is, “What’s the best kind of newsroom that the online business can support?
In their new book, “The Death and Life of American Journalism” Robert McChesney and John Nichols examine how we got to a crisis point in the media, and government policy’s role in the media. The authors spoke with KQED’s Forum program this week about the Air America collapse and other recent issues in the media.