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Commercialized Progressive Talk Radio Shows Its True Colors.

The progressive radio network, Air America Radio, just celebrated its first tumultuous year. Air America has an impressive line-up. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to my favorite program, Unfiltered. Unfiltered featured a co-creator of The Daily Show, Lizz Winstead, entertainer Chuck D, and activist and Rhodes scholar, Rachel Maddow. The chemistry between Winstead and Maddow often left me giggling along with their infectious laughter. Chuck D. had insights that are hard to find on the talk radio gamut that is dominated by white males.
As readers can tell by my use of the past tense, I can no longer listen to three hours of the most entertaining, progressive radio. The new CEO of Air America thought it best to replace Unfiltered with three hours of -- drum roll please - Jerry Springer. Yes, the same Jerry Springer who's ads for re-runs of his TV show run side-by-side with ads for "Girls Gone Wild".

Air America relegated Rachel Maddow to a show between 5 AM to 6 AM. Down from three hours to one hour, during prime REM sleep for most people. Lizz Winstead has left the network. Chuck D may be getting a show on the weekend. But Air America listeners will get fifteen hours a week of Jerry Springer. In fact, progressives can listen to men - mostly white men - for the majority of the time on this "progressive" station -- save for the respite of the Randi Rhodes show and the Majority Report which is co-hosted by Jeanne Garofalo. But be prepared to hear Garofalo chastised about proper etiquette by her co-host Sam Seder.

My question to Air America is what sort of demographic are you trying to reach with this type of programming? Air America is taking their women listeners for granted. Women vote for the Democrats in greater numbers than their male counter parts. Does Air America really want to reach the Democrat's base by appealing to women with another white-male voice?

Do I need to say that one thing progressive women share with conservative women is that we like to be taken seriously? Do I need to remind these men that progressive women aren't going to be taking their political talking points from someone who has television ads hawking "Jerry Springer Uncensored" which entails two hours of bare breasts?

Neo-cons took over three branches of government by energizing their base of supporters. Air America doesn't appear to want to energize the Democrat's base of support. Rather, the big boys at Air America want to give us more of the same old male, make that white male, voices. Air America must think that Springer -- I mean c'mon Springer?!?!? - is going to inspire women to volunteer for get-out-the-vote drives, run for schoolboards, city councils, or even just tell their friends and family members about the news they heard from Jerry "sensationalist" Springer.

I guess Air America hopes that Springer will bring in more advertising dollars from other white guys. I guess Air America's advertisers don't want to tap into the purchasing power of women.

Ok Air America, you're on the radio dial in many large markets now. You've got you're big towers and massive transmitters. You've shown me that you're taking your toys and keeping it in the boy's tree forte. Yes, you're big boys now. You can take you're big boy toys and play with yourselves as you've shown me that you have no balls. I'll go back to finding women's and African American voices on Pacifica radio, Internet streams, and the print media
They are not progressives and never were... 08.Apr.2005 07:58


They are not progressives in my book. I learned that the very first week they were on.

They are just the Voice of the Democrats and that is all.

Commercial radio...GASP...actually commercial? 08.Apr.2005 09:10

Jimmy Crackcorn

You're just now figuring out that commercial radio is actually commercial? Who do you suppose pays for all those "big towers and massive transmitters?" Were you lining up to foot the bill before they came along?

Of course not. Any craphound qualifies as a critic. Action of the sort taken by Air America -as imperfectly representative of 'our' views as it is- is still action.

Air America happened because actual living, breathing people were willing to sink their time and money into the effort. It's no surprise you can't see the forest for all the marionette strings you envision. Smart, dedicated people are being extraordinarily careful with the ridiculously small advertising revenue they're able to collect in order to extend a public service which appears to disconcert you only as a matter of the degree to which it's willing to espouse your beliefs. Nobody's getting rich on this. Nobody's endearing themselves to their fellow broadcasters by exposing the hypocrisy that's been rampant in talk radio for fifteen years now. Yes, broadcasters consider Air America a career-level gamble and yet they're still flocking to Air America stations to help for no reason other than that it's the best they can do to correct an abysmal situation. What's the best you can do, Jen? Are you doing it? What's at stake for you, Jen?

The time slot of syndicated content is meaningless in the digital age. If Rachel Maddow earns the support of KPOJ's listerners, KPOJ's programmers will -with a couple of keystrokes- record her program to disk and air it in a better time slot. Do you propose Rachel's show just 'deserves' three hours of live, drive-time air because she's more in line with certain womyns' viewpoints than that punk-ass Jerry Springer? If you want Air America to feature Rachel's show fill our your Arbitron diary (if you get one) truthfully, and get your friends to do the same. Countless wonderful people with brilliant ideas are never heard. Rachel needn't be relegated to that number, but as long as she's participating in the relatively concrete paradigm of commercial broadcast radio, she's going to have to sink or swim on her own merits, as reflected by listenership and revenue. Sucks it's got to be that way, but that's (Air) America in 2005.

It's axiomatic in public life that there's no end to what one deranged lunatic can achieve with sufficient time. How much of your time are you willing to personally contribute to the success of Rachel's show? It's already clear how much you're willing to contribute to complaining.

agree 08.Apr.2005 09:22

woman sick of hearing and seeing men report 80% of news

I completely agree with what you said, except for the part about Air America ever having a progressive lineup. :)

But your points about Jerry Springer, Democrats taking women for granted, and white male supremacy are exactly what I've been thinking since hearing about the Springer signing and related schedule moves. The 'progressive' men who whine about the Janet Jackson flashing "it's just a bared boob" are the same men who collectively spent over 100 million of their money buying Girls Gone Wild videos (so far), making bared breasts apparently more than "just bared boobs" to my liberal bretheren.

AAR Kaput 08.Apr.2005 09:27


This is one white male who also misses Unfiltered. Jerry Springer!!!??? And, AntiFlag has it right. AAR is the voice of the Democratic Party, and is far from "progressive." AAR was always a money-making proposition. They will accept advertizing from practically anyone, from oil companies to male enhancement products, although Al Franken claimed the network won't take Wal-Mart ads. One wonders why not.

I now only listen to Morning Sedition and Majority Report, although it seems like Garofalo is not long for the airwaves either, and sometimes Randi. Franken is unbearable and not funny. It's too bad that Kerry didn't win. It would have been entertaining to watch the AAR Democrat cheerleaders attempt to defend what would have been Kerry's Bush-lite agenda, or maybe even a Bush-heavy agenda. After all, doesn't everyone want a "smart" aggressive foreign policy to go along with the empire building?

Also, there's plenty of anti-"christofascist" bashing, and for good reason, but hardly a word of criticism regarding Zionism.

Spot the spin... 08.Apr.2005 09:46

Tony Blair's dog

"Air America happened because actual living, breathing people were willing to sink their time and money into the effort."

No, "Air America" happened because CIA's old worldwide propaganda tool "Radio America"
lost all listners worldwide after its agenda was exposed.

Spot the dementia 08.Apr.2005 11:31

Jimmy Crackcorn

> No, "Air America" happened because CIA's old worldwide propaganda tool "Radio America" lost all listners worldwide after its agenda was exposed.

Reality called, but got a busy signal.

Air America: better than nothing 08.Apr.2005 13:48


The Majority Report did stuff about Israel that got such a bad listener reaction they don't do it any more. Everybody's heard it before. It's the same crap over and over, Israel's gonna do what it wants regardless of what we think, there won't be any leverage to cut aid or arms shipments to Israel for years, or probably decades, after you do one show on it there's just nothing else to talk about. It's not like there's a new policy this week to comment on, and the subject just makes terrible radio. I wouldn't listen to it.

I like Garofalo's stand-up act, but she's just not a great talk-radio personality. I don't actually like Randi Rhodes' show, but I can tell it's good radio. It's a distinct medium, and transplanting TV people like Al and Janeane isn't necessarily going to work. Marc Maron has been a standout, apparently recruited on the basis that he was a successful comedian who wanted to help, even though he'd never done radio or activism before.

I agree Unfiltered was underrated, and getting rid of it was a mistake. The show had never been on KPOJ's schedule at all. They could at least have put it on in the middle of the night instead of Rhodes reruns. And I don't know who Ed Schultz's audience is, but it's sure not me. I can barely stand Franken.

Also 08.Apr.2005 14:25



We see eye-to-eye on many AAR things, but I have to disagree with your opinion about the Israeli/Palestinian issue coverage, or lack of it. Since it's a dynamic situation, there should be no reason to expect the "same crap over and over." IMHO, AAR is subject to the same "informal," and sometimes "formal," restrictions under which all of the mainstream media operates.

Apropos, Laura Flanders, who would have been a good fit for the vacated Unfilterted slot, is going to cover the Palestinian/Israeli issue this Saturday (or Sunday?), starting at 7pm edt. It is no surprise that AAR received some "bad listener reaction." But, is that sufficient reason to drop coverage? No doubt, there are many non-"Christofascist," liberal and progressive, Christian listeners who grit their teeth and bare the implied criticism of their religion when that subject is discussed. Non-Zionist Jews should buck up and do likewise when Zionism is the topic of discussion.

To them you’re just freaks. 08.Apr.2005 14:57

Red neck

"This whole society is like one huge Jerry Springer show, it's totally sick" -Valdas Anelauskas, former anti-Communist dissident.
Yeah, it's not surprising at all. Air Amerika designed to bring progressives back into the fold. Keep them away from those truly progressive stations.

The best book ever on America.

Other Commercial Media on Air America 08.Apr.2005 15:04

DJ Shadow

Maybe I'm a total liberal reformist, but the reasons that I can't stand Air America were articulated extremely well by some guy at the-believe it or not-Portland Mercury. The Mercury may be totally commercial, and Phil Busse is about the biggest idiot ever, but they occasionally have some good stuff, like this critique of Air America:

or Joe Schneider's excellent piece on the Torture Jet:

Air America's an interesting experience 08.Apr.2005 15:27

Nutmeg Alfredo

I listen to Air America a lot, and have since it started. Some of the shows are not my cup of tea, but if you add it all up - you get some good information, you laugh a few times, and you get a variety of progressive positions talked about, discussed, bandied about and

that's a good thing. Think about what there was before this - I mean mainstream. Clear Channel. There was nothing like this. Nothing. There were no KPOJ ads around Portland and in all of the other markets where these shows are playing.

Just today, listening to Al and Randi, I mean - Al's taken on Rush, and O'Reilly on his Mark Luther and Oy yoy yoy show. Randi's going after the over-play of the Pope coverage and millions of people are hearing these shows. And who knows who's listening abroad.

I agree wholeheartedly with the first person - this is not a perfect situation - I'd rather have more Amy Goodman, I'd rather have more women and minorities and will vote that way when I can, but for now, as they figure it out, I'm overjoyed that this is gaining ground. And will keep listening and keep sending them my comments and keep


Thanks for raising the issue. There are a couple of Yahoo groups set up to discuss Air America, they're lively. Come join us.

KBOO 08.Apr.2005 15:46

is good enough for me...

I listen to KPOJ, but I wouldn't call it progressive. It is entertaining. The hosts have a schtick and they hang with the same thing day after day. It gets old. Usually, I can just read the news and figure out the perspective that they are expressing by myself. I don't need Air America talk show hosts to tell me how I should feel about things.

There's only so many times that you can listen to them calling the Repubs "hypocrites" and not get tired of it. Of course, Repubs are hypocrites! Tell me something new.

oh yeah 08.Apr.2005 16:53


The "Oy yoy yoy" comment reminded me that Franken is the one who's making a whole act out of the fact that he's an aging cranky Jewish guy. I'm not sure he realizes how little difference there is between this "character" and how he comes off the rest of the time. HE should be the one talking about America propping up Israeli apartheid every week.

Fuck 620, support KBOO 08.Apr.2005 20:43


KBOO, 90.7, is dying in their pledge drive. Give them $10 a month, you piss that away in coffee in less than a week. And listen to KBOO morning and evening news, its interesting and actually contains rational reporting and coverage.

Give it up Jimmy 09.Apr.2005 06:40

and go crack your corn elsewhere.

As a demographic, women are behind 85% of the consumer spending in the US,  http://sandiego.marketingpower.com/content20020C5609.php My legitimate concern that Air America is going to lose this powerful demographic, and the advertisers attempting to tap into this market, are dismissed by you as a whine. Doubt that would've happened had I used a male pseudonym. You're so transparent.

Here's another wild thought that you'll barely be able to wrap your mind around. Maybe the subscriptions to large national papers wouldn't be declining so much if the editors of the op-ed pages would give just a quarter more column space to women. Face it Jimmy, women just aren't buying what you're selling.

DemocracyNow! 09.Apr.2005 19:33


Amy Goodman and Janeane Garofalo should team up once AAR is completely taken over by corporate forces. The two of them would make a formiddible duo!! That Sam Ceder guy is ok, but like 99% of AAR voices, he just seems too liberal. And how can someone tell if a person is "too liberal"? Usually not from what is said...but from what is omitted...not mentioned. A few days ago Janeane wasn't on the air due to some actor's function...and boy, listening to Ceder by himself was kind of a drag. Just boring. We need female voices.

I miss Lawton. 19.Apr.2005 15:32

Suzanna Banana ibdoowop@aol.com

I can't believe Marc & Mark have been moved to 3-6am. I'm in deep mourning. I loved those two with their perfect chemistry. What am I gonna (sic)do now? My two Rottweilers, Tina Turner and Millie Vanilli are in mourning as well since our collective loss. Better if you had replaced Mike Malloy with Thom Hartmann in the 10pm spot. Hartmann is great, Malloy simply annoys me even though I agree with what he says. It's the delivery that bothers me not the message. I need humor to wake me up in the morning but getting up at 3am to listen to Macr & Mark just ain't gonna happen. (sic)

Whiners... 08.Jul.2005 19:41


I read most of the comments and never hear anything about Mike Malloy. AAR goes as far as Amy Goodman, whose own show keeps experts of 911 controlled demolition off their program, amongst other cia/ nsa atrocities. This radio is as left as left can get blasted across the mainstream. What do you want... aliens, philadelphia experiment, bohemian grove, masons, Oklahoma City, etc. The Majority Report sometimes mentions some of these issues. Mike Malloy states, proudly, that he is no Democrat and that the "leaders" of this country, Clinton and other Dems included, are complicit in murder. I could care less if the info came from a german shepherd as long as the info/ discussion is cracking the airwaves. The left media, beloved Amy Goodman included, has been funded by the CIA, Ford, Carnegie, and others that we wouldn't want sending money to them.

neoliberalism is not progressive 13.Jul.2005 06:54

nerraw nosbig

Air america is zionist and neo liberal---The ruling class is runing the sameold good cop bad cop dicotomy---n.n.