The biggest brand name in liberal talk radio, Air America, is going through some times that could even charitably be described as "rough".
The most visible evidence of the network's problems involve the actual on-air schedule.
Wednesday afternoon, about 30 minutes before he was scheduled to fill-in for AAR afternoon drive host Randi Rhodes, Atlanta-based late night host Mike Malloy was told his services would no longer be required by the network.
Malloy, on his own website, says the move was explained as a "financial decision", just days after he believed he was staying on under a new contract:
MIKE MALLOY FIRED BY AIR AMERICA RADIO
There will be no Mike Malloy program on Air America Radio as we have been terminated as of 8/30/06.
We are as shocked as you are, especially since as recently as last Tuesday we were told we had the go-ahead to announce our return to NY airwaves and that our contract was "on the way."
We are told its a financial decision.
More details to follow as we hear them ourselves.
Malloy's own 10 PM-1 AM ET show is being covered this week by Detroit-based Peter Werbe, the long-running weekend talk show host at Greater Media Detroit rocker WRIF/101.1.
Malloy's situation is by far not the network's only scheduling change.
As OMW has reported, AAR evening host Sam Seder has been announcing his move to the mid-morning network slot currently occupied by (partially) Cincinnati-based host Jerry Springer.
We also hear that Seder and Springer may actually co-exist in that time slot, with "Springer on the Radio" moving to a syndicated effort decoupled from the turnkey AAR feed...offered to whatever stations still want to carry it.
That'd make the Springer radio show AAR's second "syndicated" show, after Thom Hartmann's 12-3 PM ET program, but we have to wonder if Springer's program is just being sent out to die at the expiration of his contract with Clear Channel.
OMW has heard rumblings that Randi Rhodes' afternoon drive show - delayed to evenings on all three Clear Channel Ohio liberal talk outlets - will be clipped from four hours to three, and that morning host Rachel Maddow will move into a two hour 6-8 PM weekday slot.
One reason this makes sense is that Maddow loses New York City starting tomorrow. New AAR flagship WWRL/1600 will not carry AAR's morning drive programming, keeping an existing local morning show with Sam Greenfield and Armstrong Williams.
Rumblings from the rumor mill suggest that syndicated hosts "The Young Turks" will slide into the AAR morning slot.
How this affects Ohio's three progressive talk stations - if at all - is hard to say. Of the three stations, Springer is only heard on home base WSAI/1360 in Cincinnati. If AAR is hanging onto him as a syndicated show, he'll likely stay there until the end of his contract with Clear Channel.
All three stations carry Rhodes' afternoon drive show delayed into evenings, and WTPG/1230 Columbus has long carried only one hour of that program. The only effect to stations like Akron's WARF/1350 "Radio Free Ohio" is that there will physically be one less hour of Randi's show to run on delay.
WTPG and WSAI do carry "Air America Mornings" with Maddow and Mark Riley, which sounds like it's ending. We wonder if either station will consider picking up Jones Radio's Bill Press, who is heard locally on the station which started his current show, WARF.
And none of the three Ohio Clear Channel liberal talkers carries Mike Malloy's late night show live, or even delayed, on weekdays. Malloy's "best of" Saturday late night broadcast has been heard, and we assume the local stations will carry whatever AAR feeds in that slot - or run "best of" segments from other shows already on the schedule...