Perhaps you've already heard the shocking news. Air America Radio has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Gosh, and things seemed to have been going so well...
Okay, all joking aside. Anybody who's been been paying much attention to the ongoing situation at the left-wing talk network knew this was coming. Despite the fact that "progressive radio" is proving to be a profitable and timely radio format, two and a half years of bad management and poor decisions have savaged the radio network that had a rocky start to begin with. Lefty website "Think Progress" predicted bankruptcy was imminent weeks ago, and perhaps Air America was trying to hold out until after the mid-term elections. But just too many people were NOT getting paid. (Take a look at the long list at the Smoking Gun website).
For now, AAR has received court permission to dig into a nine-hundred grand pile of dough from a group calling itself "Democracy Allies LLC" who agreed to lend AAR the cast to keep them in business as the legal proceedings continue. It's not clear if any of the "Allies" money will pay Franken any of the $360,750 he's owed (according to the court filing), but the money could certainly be better spent.
And while Franken salary has climbed to an ungodly two million a year (and the better part of another million per year for his bloated staff) he probably can't be blamed entirely for Air America poverty. While it's easy to understand why this may have seemed to be a good idea to promote AAR at first, after Katherine Lanpher left the program Franken's foray into talk radio quickly proved to be not only an embarrassment, but a HUGE drain on the struggling company. Apparently, the Air America executives haven't figured this all out, and Franken's ego is so huge that he can't see it (or hear it) for himself.
For better or worse, Franken's rubbery mug has been the face of Air America from the very beginning (In fact, I think every story I say online today regarding the bankruptcy filing included his name), and since he's personally responsible for sucking away millions from the Air America's coffers you'd think that on the day of the court filing he'd come forward on his program and deal with the issue. Fat chance.
On that Friday, Franken opened his show with an extended jokey segment preceding an interview with Bob Woodward in which Franken made fun of the way Woodward says the word "report." It seems that Mr. Woodward pronounces the word rah-port instead of ree-port. Wow. Hilarious stuff. This went on for several minutes before the Woodward interview, and then there were more knee-slapping clips of Woodward's mispronunciation of rah-port after the interview was over. Jeez Al. Bob Woodward is from Boston, where some people talk a little funny. And that's one of the many irritating things about Franken's show, is that there seems to be nobody brave enough to let him know when his material is really NOT funny-- like making a big stink about an important guest's regional accent. And of course, he didn't do it to Woodward's face. Because Franken is even less than a lousy radio host. He's also a coward.
Franken not only failed to address the bankruptcy on his show, he didn't take callers either. Actually, he almost never take calls during his program and he's also a horrible interviewer. Why is Franken on the radio again? Oh, that's right he's a CELEBRITY. Other than the Woodward interview and the rah-port jokes, and an extended extremely unfunny repeat of a Franken humor segment (about negative campaign ads) from a previous show, the rest of his three hour program on that Friday consisted of interview after interview of Democratic candidates running in the upcoming mid-term election. No analysis of the elections from anyone other than Franken and the candidates themselves-- just Al throwing softball questions and candidates in turn pleading for votes. As much as I hope every single one of those folks win their races in November, it was boring misguided radio. It was The Al Franken show, which somehow makes NPR sound pretty damn exciting in comparison.
Once Air America is gone, perhaps it won't be known just as that
talk network that Al Franken was a part of, but it may also be known as
a good idea Al Franken ruined as well.