Air America, the liberal talk radio network, will cease broadcasting immediately, due to what it called a “very difficult economic environment.”
Charlie Kireker, chairman of Air America Media, announced, “It is with the greatest regret, on behalf of our Board, that we must announce that Air America Media is ceasing its live programming operations as of this afternoon, and that the Company will file soon under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code to carry out an orderly winding-down of the business.”
The announcement was published on AirAmerica.com.
The company, founded in 2004, never found a substantial audience or turned a profit. In 2006, it filed for bankruptcy protection, but managed to stay on the air. The network has had several owners and a number of relaunches, to little avail.
“The fact of the matter was, it was always a very challenging business proposition, and it never had the right management,” Sam Seder, onetime Air America host told The New York Times, adding regretfully, “Radio is a dying industry.”
Michael Harrison, the editor of Talkers Magazine, said that “It would be a shame if the world sees the failure of Air America as representing the failure of progressive talk radio.”
Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, hosted an Air America show from 2004 to 2007 before leaving to run for the US Seanate. The network was the subject of a 2005 HBO documentary, Left of the Dial, and launched the career of Rachel Maddow, among others.
In his statement, Air America’s Kireker wrote:
At a critical time in our nation’s history — when dissent on issues such as the Iraq war were often denounced as “un-American”— Air America and its talented team helped millions of Americans remember the importance of compelling discussion about the most pivotal events and decisions of our generation.
Through some 100 radio outlets nationwide, Air America helped build a new sense of purpose and determination among American progressives. With this revival, the progressive movement made major gains in the 2006 mid-term elections and, more recently, in the election of President Barack Obama and a strongly Democratic Congress.
Laws have changed for the better thanks to this revival…..but all the same our company cannot escape the laws of economics. So we intend a rapid, orderly closure over the next few days.
The shut-down of the network is a fait accompli. From now until January 25, listeners will hear encore programming, “at which time Air America programming will end,” Mr. Kireker said in the statement.
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