Air America’s competition will be missed

The New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts will duke it out in Miami on February 7th for the NFL championship.  Each of these two teams had to battle its way to the pinnacle of the sports world to reach the Super Bowl.  Regardless of whether one roots for the Saints or the Colts, or for neither team, we should all cheer the spirit and practice of competition embodied in the process by which each of these teams secured its place in the championship game.  As legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne noted many decades ago – in sports as well as in business, competition is good.  Competition builds not just character, but unlocks the very possibility for success in virtually any endeavor; including broadcasting.

While many conservatives are cheering the demise last week of the liberal-oriented Air America network, their glee is short-sighted and misplaced.  Many of those conservative broadcast pundits who mouth words extolling competition generally, seem to overlook its value when it comes to their profession.  Having liberal-oriented competition for the highly popular string of conservative radio talk shows crowding the contemporary airwaves, should be encouraged, not discouraged by conservatives.  If in fact conservatives’ ideas as espoused on air by the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are sound, then should not they and their advocates relish the thought of fellow broadcasters challenging them on competing programs with a more liberal orientation?

One might legitimately criticize Air America for its management and programming decisions in the years since it went on the air with much fanfare in 2004; I leave that to business and industry experts.  But having a network which presents ideas in counterpoint to the conservative perspective so widely prevalent today, would benefit all Americans concerned about formulating and implementing sound public policy; policies that are forged, strengtheneed and improved in the arena of competition, rather than in the echo chamber that talk radio in America has become.

79 comments Add your comment

deborahinAthens

January 27th, 2010
6:54 am

The only time I listen to radio is when I’m driving to an appointment. I have listened to Boortz for years and years, I used to listen to Hannity until I couldn’t stomach him any more. When Air America was on in Atlanta, I would flip back and forth from them to FM750. I came to love Air America! It was eye-opening to listen to people like Al Franken and Rachel Maddow that actually would have guests that may or may not agree with them. There would be a thoughtful dialogue back and forth. And Jerry Springer was a real eye-opener. I only knew him to be talk show host for idiots. I never watched his TV show. But he is a very intelligent, thoughtful person. He, also, would have interesting guests that would provoke some interesting ideas. He was always a gentleman, listening and questioning so that the listeners could get a broad perspective. It is so different with the bloviators in right-wing talk radio. The old, pre-Bush Boortz was a Libetarian, yet, he sucked up to the idiot Bush like nobody’s business. I lost all respect for him during that period. Everyone that he has supported in the last ten years has been a huge disappointment. He rarely, if ever has any guests, unless they are someone that will support his ideas. The same with Hannity. The last time I really listened to Hannity was when Bush was inciting us to go to war. A young female college student called in and said that she thought that we should think twice about going to war in Iraq because there was so much potential for innocent lives to be lost. The idiot, “life affirming”, anti-abortion idiot Hannity (abortion is bad because it kills the innocent), said to her, and I almost remember this verbatim, “…let not your heart be troubled. With the technology that America has, we can aim bombs with pin-point accuracy. Our soldiers can put a bomb through a window and kill only the bad guys. The war won’t last long, and we will liberate the people of Iraq…blah, blah, blah” I had to go to the BBC website to find out an estimate of how many innocent men, women, and children were killed by our bombs in Iraq. Don’t you wonder why the media in this country never told us this figure??? Believe me, it doesn’t make you proud. Rachel Maddow, who served in the military (Sean Hannity and Neal Boortz, and Rush Limbaugh did not), had many very thoughtful shows about the war in Iraq. Bottom line, it is amusing to me that right wing conservatives deride Air America, and I would bet that very few of them ever listened to it. What a shame, they might have learned some painful truths before we got in such a mess with Dubya. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

January 27th, 2010
7:50 am

I broadly agree, I always tried to miss Air America’s competition, at every opportunity. Suppose I am now limited to avoiding MSNBC, CNN, NBC, ANC, CBS, the NYT, and the Washington Post.

El Jefe

January 27th, 2010
8:06 am

If a company has bad decision making ability, a market that does not support it, then there is only one answer – they will fail. I did not realize that the progressives would not support or advertise their own brand of radio. Were they waiting for someone else (the tax payer) to fund it?

Produce a quality product, market it, sell it and you will be successful.

Ain’t the free market wonderful.

Chris

January 27th, 2010
8:11 am

With Air America going bankrupt, look for the FCC to really go after talk radio. The Obama Administration is renewing their attacks against FOX News and will now ramp it up against ALL of FOX, including FSN and WAGA FOX 5 in Atlanta.

The character assassins against anything FOX-related I fear will turn REAL now given Obama’s dictatorial tendencies that are becoming more apparent on a daily basis.

No doubt Cass Sunstein’s minions will read this and target other bloggers like myself on this.

Road Scholar

January 27th, 2010
8:50 am

Chris, with our country based on free speech, why would Obama go after FOX? He, as others, should call them out when they misquote or broadcast lies, just as the conservatives would with progressives. Manners do not exist on talk radio and the tv news channels. If you ask a question, let the guest answer. If you do not like what is being said, or that you want a certain response, do not interrupt. Do not talk over or down to people. Show some respect, regardless of your views.

Maddow is a breath of fresh air, whether you agree with her or not. She digs for facts, listens intelligently, and rebuts the invalid remarks with facts. She does her homework and has specific references to past events versus the “large paint brush attacks” by most others including Oberman and others. She’s a smart cookie! Didn’t know she served in the armed forces.

Oh by the way what governments has Rush and the others run? Shoulda coulda woulda?

Fred Smith

January 27th, 2010
9:07 am

I’m beginning to appreciate Boortz, but most of those radio shows aren’t “conservative” at all – not in the meaning of the term I learned long ago in my philosophy courses. Given the actual definition, I consider myself conservative. “Schizophrenic’, “bigoted” and “hate-mongering” are more often terms that come to mind for the radio shows you mention. At least the so-called liberal radio attempted reasoned discourse. The simpletons who flock to radical right ranting radio seem to be looking for easy solutions and targets to hate. Sure is nice to be an American.

Ridgerunner

January 27th, 2010
9:07 am

No it won’t. No one listened to the drivel.

Good old capitalism ………. supply & demand.

LibraryJim

January 27th, 2010
9:10 am

Road,
As Franken is proving, being a talk show host does not qualify one to hold office, either. So holding office should not be a qualification for hosting a talk radio show. However, each side has their own biases. I choose not to listen to the Rachael Maddows and Chris Matthews or the Keith Oblermanns of the left because their bias is such that they cannot find any thing positive in the right (example: Oblerman’s rant against Scott Brown). Whereas at least Hannity has left-leaning pundits on his talk show, and Rush has been known (albeit infrequently) to praise Democrats who stand up for the country.

If Air America wants to broadcast, I’m all for it, but let them pay their own way, like Rush and Sean do, through selling advertising time. If they can’t make it and they quit, then the Free Market Economy is working. It’s the same with a brand of cereal. If people don’t like it in the quantities needed for it to stay in production, it will disappear, and the popular cereals will sell more.

LibraryJim

January 27th, 2010
9:12 am

Oh, and by the way, It’s not Chris who came up with the idea that Obama is against Fox. Obama said as much in a press conference, that he considers Fox to be ‘the enemy’. Not what one would expect from a proponent of free speech.

LA

January 27th, 2010
9:15 am

Air America will be missed like Saddam Hussein will be missed.

Boo Hoo.

LA

January 27th, 2010
9:16 am

“Chris, with our country based on free speech, why would Obama go after FOX?”

Ahhhhhh, Road Kill has now joined this blog. Well Road Kill, Obama did say that FOX was the enemy.

Road Scholar

January 27th, 2010
9:33 am

Library: “So holding office should not be a qualification for hosting a talk radio show. ”

I didn’t say they should. As for your Franken, what has he done to get your comment?

Also, yes Oreilly is sometimes, often backhanded, complimentary of progressives, but his constant inteeruptions and insults do not do anything to engage people in constructive discussion. Rush is even more rude. I undersand your aversion to Oberman, and Matthews (ever notice his laugh is like the Penquin from Batman?”) but Rachel is different, whether you agree or not.

And LA why was that? Does “death squads” ring a bell? The gross misinformation on possible legislation continues.

DAVID: AJC Truth Detector

January 27th, 2010
9:34 am

NOBODY IS CHEERING BOB…..We are just smiling….AIR AMERICAN epitomized how the kooks on the left think…..UP is down….DOWN is up…….LIBERALS sees thing backward…..like looking into a mirror……they think the reflection in the mirror is real.

DAVID: AJC Truth Detector

January 27th, 2010
9:38 am

LIBERALs do not use logic….AIR AMERICA DID NOT USE LOGIC….LIBERALs are crazy…..if you understand that……you understand liberalism…..THEY ARE INSANE.

DAVID: AJC Truth Detector

January 27th, 2010
9:40 am

the market place doomed AIR AMERICA…..it was a commercial failure.

joan

January 27th, 2010
9:49 am

Anybody read the headlines in today’s paper? Obama still thinks Americans need to be told what they think (and by him). He needs to get a reality check. He has spoken to the public every day for a year minus only 22 days! And he still thinks we don’t understand his message. We do. That is why we would like to see the end of this guy.

Haywood Jablome

January 27th, 2010
9:53 am

Chris,
You are very perceptive. The liberal machine will be coming after you and FOX. They are gonna get ya, Chris. You must be stifled cause you are so very very important.

Boortz is right. They will be coming after you with the Fairness Doctrine and to oppress the Fair Tax. It will be just like 1930’s Germany and the Red Chinese regime.

Greg

January 27th, 2010
10:06 am

Bob….Are you kidding me? I’ve never heard Sean or Rush say that there should not be liberal radio shows. These guys are all about competition. They compete against each other, as well as anything the libs can put together. It’s a business, Bob. You understand how that works, right? If liberals can put together a show that makes money and succeeds in a capitalist economy, I guarantee you that Sean and Rush would give them all the kudos that they deserve. That doesn’t mean that they will not disagree with their ideology and take them on regarding their differences on the issues. What a piece of garbage article. I thought you were a lot smarter than that.

copdawg

January 27th, 2010
10:06 am

yes, the liberal media wants the tax payers to support them, they want no part of the free market system because they can only supply goods that a very few but vocal folks want. PBS radio and TV are two shining examples, let me add NEA. why are tax payers funding these programs? while they occasionally produce something worth watching, these programs would be successful on for profit programing. let the free market prevail. if you think you have a can’t miss idea, propose it to the free market system, believe me, if they see a profit can be made they will run with it. get all these freeloaders off the public nipple.

LA

January 27th, 2010
10:23 am

“And LA why was that? Does “death squads” ring a bell? The gross misinformation on possible legislation continues.”

Awe, did whittle liberal Road Kill forget that the health care bill is dead?

Poor whittle lib……

Rafe Hollister

January 27th, 2010
10:38 am

Library Jim has it correct. Air America, if you can’t run with the big dogs stay on the porch.

none

January 27th, 2010
10:38 am

jconservative

January 27th, 2010
10:58 am

I have never listened to Air America. (The only Air America I am familiar with is the old “Peppergrinder” CIA base in Laos.) I just do not listen to radio.

But I appreciate Bob’s point on competition in debate. Nothing could be more boring to me than reading & listening to just one point of view. That has to be an intellectual hell. I enjoy Bob Barr’s column and I enjoy Cynthia Tucker’s column. They do not often agree. One is liberal & one is conservative. But they both say what’s on their mind.

I really enjoy the “Morning Joe” TV program. They really do allow an intelligent discussion of issues without a lot of “showbiz” involved.
My problem with most shows is the entertainment quality of the program.
I do not want to be entertained, I want to be informed. I do not enjoy Fox News because, as with all Murdock properties, it is geared toward entertaining. There was a time when you could turn on CNN Headline News for an hour and come away with a ton of information. But now they too have now turned to the entertainment mode.

And I would make one qualification on Hannity. He brags on his “conservatism”. But if you will look closely at what he proposes,
he proposes solutions that require a big central government; and that is my definition of liberalism.

Ridgerunner

January 27th, 2010
11:01 am

Air America/Axis Sally/Tokyo Rose/Hanoi Hattie …………… it’s all the same.

Hard Right Hook

January 27th, 2010
11:02 am

BoreAmerica has shut down, and I really don’t care. Every radio in my house has an on/off switch, as well as a tuner. My decision to not listen to their bilge was conscious. Al Franken hasn’t had an independant, cogent thought in 30 years.

My TV is equiped the same way, and my decision not to watch Pissy Chissy Mathews or Keith Olberdork is, again, a conscious one. If MSNBC shuts down, and Zucker loses his job (could happen) will the Feds step in? Free speech, you know. Our side (liberal/progressives) have to be heard.

ICE Beer is 5.5% and cheaper too

January 27th, 2010
11:17 am

Good points Bob. Just like Mises.org and LewRockwell.com combat the otoalitarian freedom haters and Keynesian lunatics.

Sluggo

January 27th, 2010
11:29 am

I listened to Rachel Madow the night Brown won in Massachusetts. She was definitely part of the reality challenged community. Talk about someone out to lunch! If this is what “thoughtful listening” looks like I don’t want to see “willful ignorance”.
The demise of Air America means practically nothing to anyone since their listnership was so low. The demise of the leftist voice might give the liberals more encouragement to abridge free speech of the more successful brands of talk radio.

RecycledBottle

January 27th, 2010
11:31 am

Extreme liberal media will always struggle because it caters to an audience that appears to either have no money to support it (or advertisers) – or, they expect to get the programming for free.

john

January 27th, 2010
11:36 am

No. We must crush the competion and set up the wing nut caliphate is the usa.

Salt & Light

January 27th, 2010
11:40 am

Air America …………… “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” II Timothy 4:3

Salt & Light

January 27th, 2010
11:42 am

“Tolerance” never means giving destructive views (i.e., Air America) equal weight or time.

Hard Right Hook

January 27th, 2010
11:48 am

john

January 27th, 2010
11:36 am
No. We must crush the competion and set up the wing nut caliphate is the usa.

Who is “we?”

Bryan

January 27th, 2010
11:52 am

Air America was good politics but bad entertainment.

Boortz, Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck — these nutters are entertainment. It’s not so much what they say (which is often frighteningly bizarre, reactionary, and violent to the ideals of conservatism — Edmund Burke would consider them revolutionary hacks). It’s how they say it — cutting people off, not letting the other side talk, screaming with authority even when flat-out-lying. It’s bad for democracy, but great for ratings.

This is also why the Daily Show succeeds so well — it isn’t that Americans necessarily love Jon Stewart’s politics. It’s that the dude is funny.

Perhaps a better society would be able to separate cheap rhetoric from actual ideas — but we’re not one. Air America needed to be entertaining in order to get its message across, and they simply weren’t.

Bryan

January 27th, 2010
11:58 am

By the way, the conspiracy theorists who argue that the FCC will now go after talk radio…well, they remind me of the guy down in Macon who hung oranges in his backyard to ward off tigers. When told that there had never been any tigers in the area, he said “see, it worked.”

Here, a group of people has been arguing for years that liberals want to…I don’t know, ban talk radio or something. (It’s not really clear.) No one on the left has ever actually stepped forward and tried to do so. Why not? Must be the constant vigilence of those on the right!

Or…maybe…just maybe…no one on the left had any such idea in the first place. Maybe it’s a bogeyman made up by talk show hosts so that they can play the “I’m oppressed!” card. Maybe they just don’t have tigers in Georgia.

Chris Broe

January 27th, 2010
12:11 pm

I mus’ admit I’m going to miss the snappy talking headed shows on Air America. Americans only want Conservative Radio when they sext-n-drive.

Public Service Announcement: America, please only sext from the back seat of the car where it belongs anyway.

OT: How about the Rock as a Fairy? Talk about casting against type, eh? It’s a wardrobe, casting, directing, and scriptwriting malfunction.

Where’s the supervision?

william

January 27th, 2010
12:21 pm

Bob, this is a poor subject to defend. Why do you not talk about the books they are trying to get into the Texas class room and eventually in every American class room. It is a decided effort to re-write American history. After all, leaving out Paul Revere and several other American heroes is definately progressive liberalism. Christmas too! A national holiday! But I guess that is a direction to omit that we are a Christain nation and founded by such. I can see it will not be very long before I see burning of books in the streets. Yepper the Nazis will not be the only ones.

Ric

January 27th, 2010
12:23 pm

Ain’t Capitalism GREAT!!!

neoCarlinist

January 27th, 2010
12:37 pm

in a perfect world, there would be no conservative shills on one station and liberal shills on another. in a perfect world, the media would inform (as opposed to “entertain”). funny you should mention the Super Bowl. the NFL/Super Bowl is not about “competition” it is about entertainment and advertising revenue. that’s not to say Drew Brees and Bernard Berriman are not “competitors” but the “value” of the game is not determined by the level of competition, so much as it is the level of viewers. as a neo-Carlinist I am neither entertained, nor informed by the right or the left (though I was both entertained and informed by George Carlin). AND, I rarely listen to the radio (or watch TV) anyway. I spend too much time on blogs.

neoCarlinist

January 27th, 2010
12:42 pm

maybe Air American shoulda sought the ad $$ from those clowns who hired Tim Tebow to play monkey with a tin cup, while they crank the organ grinder on Super Bowl Sunday (the Lord’s day, by the way)?

Bob's A Cherry Picker

January 27th, 2010
12:44 pm

Interesting points today Bob, with minimal actual Cherry Picking.

I’d agree with those who are shouting vive la market here, but would like to make one point: Markets are very good artibiters of popularity, but lousy judges of quality. To put it another way, they’re good at providing wants, but not so hot at providing needs.

I think what you’re attempting to say is that the markteplace of idears needs some alternative ideas, but what that particular market is saying is that those alternatives aren’t wanted.

I’d liken it to Britney Spears vs. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. They both make music, but one makes quite a bit more money. And it’s not the one that produces the better quality product.

Scout

January 27th, 2010
1:03 pm

Ric:

That’s it and you are exactly right! Supply and demand. Works everytime.

Byron Mathison Kerr

January 27th, 2010
1:08 pm

Professional journalism seeks to provide objective fact checking and reporting. It assumes the listeners or watchers can think for themselves. It is not likely to generate the excitement of an “our side is winning or losing” football game. But as Jim Lehrer of the PBS NewsHour recently said, “I am not in the entertainment business.”

As far as I am concerned, one less media outlet intentionally configured to promote partisan positions and propaganda, regardless of which side, is a good thing.

Algonquin J. Calhoun

January 27th, 2010
1:10 pm

Bob, what happened to you? I remember the old days when you were a predictable fop for the GOP. Now you have become more balanced, rational and reasonable. What happened? I’ve noticed a difference in you for quite some time and I agree with you on many topics now. I hope you never intend to run for office in this neanderthal state again. You’ve become the enemy of the brown shirted, jack-booted, Bush loving, racist Republinazis that comprise much of the Georgia population. I would vote for you now as long as you don’t run as a Refublican.

Jefferson

January 27th, 2010
1:29 pm

This time, I agree.

bobbi

January 27th, 2010
1:48 pm

if you think air america radio shows had civil discourse, you never listened. all of them including maddow and franken used vile and offensive words towards bush and repubs in general

retiredds

January 27th, 2010
2:14 pm

Bob, good and balanced article. There are also some well spoken and informing blogs in response. But, as usual, the freakniks also join in. If they only know how their rants leave reasoned people cold.

96SC

January 27th, 2010
2:29 pm

Air America provided a diverse relief from the shallow perspectives attempted by the CLOWNS on TALK RADIO masquerading as CONSERVATIVES. I have been an active listener to TALK RADIO for over twenty years when often the only Program available was Paul Harvey and Farm Bureau Shows. I am now tuned to BBC Online. While visiting Toronto in 2003 shortly after the Iraqi Invasion, I tuned into CNN- Canada and after a few minutes flipped to from the CNN-Buffalo, NY and heard the same story concerning the Iraq Invasion presented in a 180 degree opposition of the reported events, etc. The Garbage allowed to be broadcast in our Media is not just permitted it is encouraged in an effort to propagandize the Citizens of America, unfortunately the Boobs delivering the messages are very poor excuses for entertainers, whose egos are fed by their own blatant lies.

Dan O'Day

January 27th, 2010
2:32 pm

Bob – You’re correct when you state, “One might legitimately criticize Air America for its management and programming decisions in the years since it went on the air with much fanfare in 2004.”

What ultimately doomed Air America was that it was founded and managed not by “radio people” but by people with an agenda.

Being “on a mission” — liberal or conservative, religious or antireligious, etc. — does not give one the skills to manage or to program a radio network.

What killed Air America was either hubris or downright ignorance. Not knowing the owners, I can only guess at which applies.

Dan O’Day
http://danoday.com

17R3W

January 27th, 2010
2:55 pm

It’s worth mentioning that Liberal Talk is far from dead.

Air American lost not to competition from the right, but from the Left.

More and more Progressive Talk radio station were filling their line up with programs from Dial Global; like Thom Hartman, Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller and Bill Press, and from (Rush’s Syndicater) Premier with Randi Rhodes.

Our local station (Detroit 1310AM) didn’t have a single Air America show between 6AM and 6PM (drive time to drive time).

I’m reading that Randi Rhodes picked up two stations today, and I believe Thom Hartmann also picked up two.

High School Dropout

January 27th, 2010
2:58 pm

Liberal media will always fail, just not enough hate in their audience.