Thursday, January 21, 2010
Bye-Bye Air America
Why is it that the one liberal--pardon me, that word has been replaced--progressive attempt at talk radio syndication struggled for its six years, yet even after the economic meltdown depressed advertising, several conservative radio networks continue to thrive? Air America, in its final hurrah, had at most 100 outlets nationally, while in many markets two or more conservative talk stations coexist and profit, side-by-side. Rush Limbaugh, whose program began in 1988, has about 590 stations according to Wikipedia.
Why is it that "progressive" talk couldn't muster support, while conservative talkers command loyalty? My fave host consistently ranks at or near the top of our local ratings, even when measured by the new electronic "people meters" that replaced the old Arbitron listener logs. Why should right-leaning talk boast dozens of radio stars and the only left-leaning network collapse within just a few years?
The only escape has been talk radio.
My fave talk host relishes debate and discussion; he enjoys persuading disagreeing callers of his viewpoint, using logic and patience. Other talk hosts blare and rant, sometimes ridiculously, but the medium, with the immediacy of callers' questions and responses, is always engaging.
That Air America sought to add its voice to the fray was never a threat, never a problem for conservative talkers; in a way it's a pity it failed. But it failed not because its perspective was unwanted or unwelcome--in our great land open discussion is celebrated. No, Air America flopped because it was redundant and unnecessary. The beauty of capitalism is that entrepreneurs profit when they provide something unique that other people want to pay for; Air America just wasn't fresh enough, so it spoiled.