Monday, May 09, 2005

''Calling Air America''

"A disagreement over network versus syndicating was one of the reasons for the birth of Air America's progressive talk competitor, Democracy Radio, based in Washington. "The founders of Democracy Radio and the founders of Air America all originally started as one organization back in the fall of 2002," explains Tom Athans, that organization's executive director. Democracy Radio, which for the nonce has only two nationally syndicated programs, broadcasting a combined six hours a week, is on about twice as many stations as Air America. It also has associated with it a bundle of people with much experience in radio, including Frank Mankiewicz, the father of NPR news. "Syndication is the way of the future. The network is the way of the past," says Mankiewicz, who explains that syndicators have a built-in advantage: It's a lot easier to sell a station one or two programs than nineteen straight hours of programming. The two groups fell out over differences in "approach," which included more than the business plan. While saying that both have the same progressive point of view, Athans explains that Air America was "very big on creating a splash with celebrities, and our belief was celebrities in the long run don't make as big a splash as real broadcasters do. If you want to be successful in broadcasting, use experienced broadcasters."-from the article in The Nation on the past, present and future of lefty radio.

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