In the wake of Air America's sad demise, the rightwing blogs are predictably crowing. See the aptly-named HotAir, which argues that the network's failure demonstrated the lack of interest in liberal talk radio or the Newsbusters blog which contends that the network was redundant because of the blatant leftwing bias of National Public Radio.
I have a different take, informed in part by actually working with Air America in various ways. I think the network was a mess in important respects, that it unnecessarily burned through money, and that management blunders were among the chief reasons for its bankruptcy. (The Nation's Nicholas von Hoffman published a tough report on the then-fledging network in 2005, which I think hit many correct points.) Essentially, I agree with Bill Press writing at the Huffington Post: "In the future, business majors will study Air America as the textbook case of a great idea, but lousy execution."
So I do think there's an immense market for smart, funny (ideally at the same time) progressive radio. The huge audience for Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!, the standard-bearer of left radio, is just the most obvious demonstration of the medium's popularity.
Other well-known professionals on the progressive radio scene include Stephanie Miller, who is heard across America on local stations and via Sirius and podcasts and free live streaming; Ed Schultz, who produces his own show and broadcasts live each morning from 30 Rock in New York City to hundreds of affiliates nationwide, and Randi Rhodes, the erstwhile Air America star who left the network in a dispute in 2008 to host her own eponymous program, which airs live Monday through Friday from 3 pm to 6 pm EST online and over dozens of affiliates.
There's also the national Pacifica Network, which has a venerable history and a somewhat more spotty present, but boasts strong stations in New York City, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Los Angeles and Houston, featuring fine programming like WBAI's "Joy of Resistance" and Behind the News, KPFA's "Letters to Washington"and KPFK's Wednesday show with my friend Jon Wiener.
You can get a good sense of the breadth of progressive radio at OpEdNews.com, an aggregator site that brings together radio segments from stations large and small around subject areas like "Election Integrity," "Econ Crisis," and "LBGT."
This quick list is far from comprehensive so please use the comments below to let me know what I missed. I'd love to do a second installment of this post with your ideas.
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