Air America, the left-wing radio network started with personalities including now-Sen. Al Franken and Rachel Maddow – now of MSNBC – has crashed and burned, announcing a bankruptcy filing and plans to pull its plug by Monday.

A letter from Air America Media chief Charlie Kireker today told workers, “With radio industry ad revenues down for 10 consecutive quarters, and reportedly off 21 percent in 2009, signs of improvement have consisted of hoping things will be less bad,” according to a report in Mediaweek.

“And though Internet/new media revenues are projected to grow,” Kireker said, “our expanding online efforts face the same monetization and profitability challenges in the short term confronting the Web operations of most media companies.”

The company morphed through a series of managements and ownerships since its launch in 2004. In 2006, it pursued a Chapter 11 filing and
was sold to new investors several months later for $4.25 million.

One year prior to its bankruptcy, Air America had no measurable audience in the nation’s capital, according to the Arbitron rating service.

According to Radio Ink, Kireker’s posting continued, “The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America’s business. This past year has seen a ‘perfect storm’ in the media industry generally. National and local advertising revenues have fallen drastically, causing many media companies nationwide to fold or seek bankruptcy protection.”

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The report said Air America’s hunt for new money fell “short of success.”

It’s 100-some affiliates will be offered other programming until Monday at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, when the network will end, the report said.

Among other personalities lending their voice to the effort were Janeane Garofalo, Ron Reagan Jr. and rapper Chuck D.

The Washington Post reported Kireker confirmed the filing this time would be for Chapter 7.

The network portrayed itself as a “liberal” alternative to the highly popular talk radio offered by Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh.

Not even a year ago, the company formed an agreement with Newsweek to syndicate the magazine’s weekend show in another attempt to reach stability. Air America Media said the long-running show “Newsweek On Air” would be the first offering of its new division, Air America Media Syndication.


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