Saturday, October 14, 2006

We Didn't Know He Was Here, Or We'd Have Asked

As it turns out, on the day liberal talk radio network Air America filed for bankruptcy (see below), the network's best known star was so close to the OMW World Headquarters...that we could have driven a few miles and asked him about the day's events.

Not that he was saying anything about the news.

We find out from the Akron Beacon Journal's Rich Heldenfels that Air America midday host Al Franken was actually in Akron on Friday, at an event at the University of Akron to support Democratic candidates.

Franken didn't comment on the bankruptcy of the radio network that's had much trouble paying him over the past two plus years, saying he'd hold off commenting until Monday due to the fact he's traveling.

Heldenfels also talks to Tom Embrescia, who OMW pointed out Friday as a creditor in the AAR bankruptcy filing.

The former local radio owner (WWWE, WDOK) says his percentage share of the network is in the "low single digits".

Though he thought the idea of a progressive talk network was a "good radio idea", like just about everyone else with background in radio instead of left-leaning politics, Embrescia tells the Beacon Journal that Air America's plan "had not been well executed".

Talk about your understatement of the year.

At times, the liberal talk network has been a classic case of "how not to run a radio network", with a bloated staff (how many commercial talk radio shows have a staff of WRITERS?) and little idea how to handle the nuts and bolts of a radio operation.

Air America also has, in its 2-plus year history, pretty much directly ignored most of the advice radio professionals have given it, including advice from those radio pros actually working for the company.

And it's always felt more like a political operation than a radio one, and that hasn't changed. In its press release about the bankruptcy, Air America notes the importance of being on the air in the upcoming election season, as new CEO Scott Elberg points out:

“Staying on the air is crucial for the Network's primary ratings period as well as for the country which is facing its most important mid-term election in recent history.”

From elsewhere in the land of progressive talk, Jones Radio's Ed Schultz put out a statement noting his show's independence from Air America. And according to this blog entry by Joe Gandelman at "The Moderate Voice", Schultz had Product 1st co-owner Stu Krane to talk about it on Friday. Gandelman writes:

They want to produce a show that's good radio, good entertainment, that gets listeners and makes money.

Krane is half of the group which owns the Schultz show - the other half being suburban Cincinnati's Randy Michaels.

The Beacon's Heldenfels also - as we did yesterday - quotes WARF/1350 "Radio Free Ohio" operations manager Keith Kennedy's online statement on the current status of the Air America network and the network's local affiliate.

A sidebar: Heldenfels now is credited as the "popular culture" writer for the paper, a beat which continues to include television. He'll eventually be taking over movies from departing critic George Thomas, and it appears radio is also in his beat mix now.

We don't know if Mr. Heldenfels reads OMW, as Mr. Thomas does.

But as he starts using his first name Rich on his byline, we remind him that radio stations do not have to physically move to their exact communities of license. So, don't call up city officials in Stow and ask them how they feel about WWVA/1170 Wheeling WV not camping out in the Akron suburb.

(OK, Denise Grollmus, we promise that'll be the LAST joke about that article!)


Anonymous said...

WARF...which ought to be re-named "BARF"...completely ruined the 1350-AM and lost my listenership when it left FOX Sports for this radical, mean-spirited crap they call Liberal Talk. The hosts are so arrogant and anti-Bush, anti-American (frankly), that it's IMPOSSIBLE to listen to it. This was a HUGGGGEEE mistake in programming.

I suggest they try to pick up the ESPN sports-talk and get back to something people in NE Ohio actually care about hearing: quality sports and LOCAL sports.

Rush Limbaugh is an anomaly (though I don't listen to his schtick either). We don't need this left-wing crapola ruining a valuable station. Please take note, station owner/manager, and DO THE RIGHT THING. FIX THIS!

Anonymous said...

I find it comical that when someone doesn't like the new format of a format change it is a "HUGGGEEE mistake in programming."

OK, if you want anti-Clinton pro-Bush talk listen to WHLO. If you want anti-Bush and anti-war talk you go to WARF.

I happen to listen to 1350 nearly all the time but I wouldn't rail against 640 because they are "hate radio filled with bigots, pro-killing our children in an illegal war, pro protecting pedophiles and crooks like Bob Ney."

There's a place for both formats. Besides Jim Rome, 1350 hasn't had a good number since it was country.

Anonymous said...

It's so remarkably easy to dislike the current President that it should have been like shooting fish in a barrel for AAR.

The problem is, the shows suck. Ed Schultz (not AAR) and Randi Rhodes are the only hosts in the genre that seem to get it. Even (let me see if I can get this right) radical, mean-spirited, arrogant, anti-American (frankly) as Rush Limbaugh is, he at least gets that it's about entertainment first and everything else second. Once AAR figures that out and stops preaching, they can maybe turn this sinking ship around.

As a card-carrying pinko Commie myself, I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

Boy, the liberal left is just as arrogant, stubborn and misguided HERE in their defensive answers.

How do you make divisive politics "entertaining?" If it were such a popular genre, we'd see it on network TV, instead of fringe little-watch cable. Wouldn't you LOVE to know how many advertisers are actually purchasing time on this kooky format? Two minutes of Rhandi Rhodes is about all of the dumb-quotient I can stomach before losing my lunch. Just atrocious.

Anonymous said...

For the last time:

liberal radio fails because AMERICANS HATE LIBERALISM.

Liberals are dangerous, subversive people, and most mainstream Americans know it.

Face it, guys like Rush, Hannity, and Savage succeed nationally, and even the local conservative hosts around the nation, because most people know that even when the hosts are wrong, they have the nation's best interest at heart.

The liberals have nothing but verbal flame-throwing at heart, with no plans to help the nation...only plans to advance their personal power agendas.

Need proof? More liberals actually listen to Limbaugh than they EVER do to AAR.

Americans fear liberalism, and they have spoken by forcing AAR to bottom out after just 2 short years.

Thank God.

newsnomore said...

I don't think you have to be a liberal to like listening to a liberal format.

Same for conservatives.

I believe these left and right radio stations are adding to the division of America.

There is nothing a liberal host will credit a conservative for doing and vise versa.

They say the things they do because it keeps them in business to make money. That is their real agenda...and to hell with what's good for America.

Personally, I listen to both WHLO and 1350...not because I agree with the host, but because I find it interesting to listen too...sometimes.

As for 1350, I just get tired of the bitching. And even though they don't agree with the president, they shouldn't say some of the things about him that they do.

Salute the rank, not the man and have a little respect for the office.

Ohio Media Watch said...

And with newsnomore's excellent comments, we'll warn that this item will be closed for comments soon.

OMW is not only not a message board, but we do not have the time to police the comments here. We are also not a place for left vs. right political discussion and posturing. There are roughly 8 billion other places on the Internet that cater to that kind of discussion.

Long-time OMW readers know that your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) is a long-time talk radio fan - going back to a very young age - but we've been listening less and less to all flavors of political talk radio these days.

We'll leave the comments open for a while, and close this one later tonight, only because we'd like to hear from others who are feeling the same...and what solution that you feel stations should employ to keep talk radio "alive".


Anonymous said...

Rolling Stone did a story prior to the launch of Air America a couple of years ago..Franken was talking about how somebody at Minnesota Public Radio was brought in to ''teach him how to do radio''..

I remember throwing the magazine to the floor and laughing for several minutes..I knew then that Air America was destined for failure..

Franken is a smart, engaging guy..but to try to teach somebody how to do talk radio in a few months, and then throwing them to the wolves, was wrong from the beginning..

Air America also has some of the worst sticks to broadcast on in just about every market its in..1350 has virtually no night time coverage outside of Akron..and the story is repeated in a number of markets..

With hindsight being 20/20, Air America would have been better off starting small..internet only until everybody got the hang of whatever it is they were trying to do, then a slow rollout across the country, market by the buzz took over..

Limbuagh had the advantage of doing talk radio for several years, honing his act in Sacramento before heading to NYC and syndication..he brought along a generation of talk talent--Savage, Hannity, O'Riley--along with him.

Liberal talk radio has never had that man or woman to carry the format while other talent could be developed and rolled out over Blue State markets, especially Portland, L-A and S-F it does relatively well..outside that geographic area--not so well..

But Right leanding talk radio is starting to lose its buzz as well..Limbaugh's numbers have been down across the board for several years now..while Savage does well as a strong right leaning critic of the current Administration..

Anonymous said...

Let's see, for the most part there is political talk radio, sports talk radio and hot talk radio. Could human interest-topic talk radio make it as a 24/7 format? I hear that Dr. Laura Schlessinger's ratings have been going up a bit recently. As for successful political talk, it seems to me that you can't be angry all or most of the time. That doesn't lend itself to good entertainment. That's one of the failings of Air America/much liberal talk. The woman on 1350 AM Monday-Friday after 6:00pm is a good example of this. Very annoying.

Anonymous said...

I live in Cleveland and listen to 1350 almost every night for the lionel show. I have no trouble picking up the station.

Anonymous said...

Long live Rush Limbaugh!!!

Ohio Media Watch said...

1350's pattern shoots a lobe directly towards Cleveland at the expense of some east/west coverage. Though the pattern is the same day and night, for whatever reason (other station interference, etc.) it seems worse at night.

We were not far from Akron's Wallhaven area the other night, and 1350 sounded like a distant station. A few miles further east, and it boomed.

And last call for comments on this item...


Anonymous said...

so many AM stations have "bad" signals because their antenna systems, especially the ground-radials, have deteriorated and owners haven't fixed them.
that's why folks remember that WSLR or WAKR or WHLO seemed to sound better years ago. They did, when they were operating up to spec.
now, it's expensive to redo an antenna farm and re-install the ground systems, which, at best, have a 20 year lifespan in this climate.
an exception is 850,which was re-done by the former local owners just before the station flipping that became WKNR. They have the best signal they possibly can, given their license restrictions.

Anonymous said...

I seem to see too many last calls...

Nonetheless I am always disappointed when I see people post based on their personal political beliefs rather then discuss radio.

Come on...BARF radio? I think Clear Channel offering different viewpoints on theirr two talk stations is great. They are good alternatives to WNIR and WTAM.

I listen to 1350 quite a bit. I don't love every show and certainly think some hosts are better then others. But they all have entertainment qualities of they woouldn't be on the air.

let's debate radio, not your individual (and sometimes scary) beliefs on this board.

Anonymous said...

Conservative radio has had 15 year to build an audience. Even Rush started out on small stations and took years to catch on.

Name any conservative talk NETWORKs that are rolling in cash. Individual shows maybe, but no NETWORKs. IN fact, there aren't even any general talk radio NETWORKS that are successful right now.

Not since ABC TalkRadio, and NBC's TalkNet in the 70s and 80s.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Sorry about that wait for the topic to close. We were away from our trusty keyboard...