Al Franken of Air America
Despite a court order to return the all-liberal radio network to Chicago, it appears the Windy City won’t have Air America by the end of this month, leaving New York City as the sole Top 10 market for the fledgling company.
The Chicago Tribune reports Air America will cease broadcasting over WNTD-AM in Chicago April 30, and will remain off the air for now in Los Angeles, where it was yanked from KBLA-AM last week by station owner Multicultural News Radio.
Los Angeles and Chicago are the nation’s No. 2 and 3 media markets respectively, according to ratings service Arbitron.
Besides No. 1 market New York, Air America’s next largest region is No. 16 Minneapolis, with other affiliates in Portland, Ore., Riverside, Calif., West Palm Beach, Fla., Key West, Fla., Chapel Hill, N.C.,and Plattsburgh/Burlington on the New York-Vermont border.
Programming also can be heard on XM Satellite Radio as well as the Internet, and the company says “coming soon” markets include No. 4 San Francisco.
Air America features liberal personalities including comic and author Al Franken and actress Janeane Garofalo, and was floated as an alternative to conservative radio talent such as Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity.
As WorldNetDaily reported last week, the network was silenced in both L.A. and Chicago during a payments dispute with Multicultural Radio, which alleged Air America had bounced checks, a charge strongly denied by the liberal network.
A Chicago source familiar with the situation told the Tribune “a Multicultural representative showed up at WNTD’s offices, … kicked out Air America’s lone staffer overseeing the network’s feed to the station from New York, switched over to a Spanish-language feed, and changed the locks on the doors.”
Air America has since won a court order to return it to the air in Chicago, but yesterday said that it would stop broadcasting on WNTD at the end of this month as it reached a deal with Multicultural.
“We are pleased that we reached a negotiated settlement,” said David Goodfriend, executive vice president of Air America, in a brief statement.
“We’ve been vindicated,” Gene Heinemeyer, general manager of Multicultural’s New York stations told the Tribune. “It was a dark day in radio for what they did.”
Air America isn’t giving up on Chicago, however, and is reportedly in preliminary talks with another station, WONX-AM.
“If their money is green and there’s enough of it, OK,” station owner Frank Kovas, a self-described political conservative, told the Tribune.
Industry analysts say Air America definitely has an uphill battle in reaching financial success in broadcasting.
“The liberal talkers are not only battling the conservatives for air time, they are up against the sports talkers, on-air counselors, medical advisers, computer talk geeks and so on,” writes Jeffrey McCall, professor of communication arts and sciences at DePauw University in Indiana. “This is a tough party to crash.”