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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

As the Green brothers continue their demolition of Air America.....
Posted by Jill | 6:10 AM
...those of us who were there at the beginning can only weep.

Not that we had any kind of hope that Mark Green, who has made a career out of just being annoying, was going to be the savior of the troubled radio network. After all, Green has in the past been a recipient of campaign contributions from Danny Goldberg, the so-called genius whose first order of business after taking the helm of AAR in 2005 was to cancel Morning Sedition. But not even I could have predicted that the Green brothers' first order of business would be to Miltonize Sam Seder, banishing him from the 9 AM to noon timeslot where he'd finally become comfortable to the Dead Zone of 4-7 PM on Sundays -- a timeslot where he'll be heard by even fewer affiliates. Once again, AAR management takes a show that's just beginning to hit its stride and kills it.

But what makes this decision to cancel the one show that's kept the gonzo spirit of the original Air America that kept so many of us tuning in from the beginning so galling is not just Sam's chosen replacement, but the idea that Mark Green actually believed audiences would be thrilled with his choice. From the beginning, Sam has been the voice of the netroots, and while his regular blogger appearances have featured the Usual Suspects, he's also had Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis, Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft, and Firedoglake's Christy Hardin Smith on the air.

Sam Seder, the outspoken, unabashedly liberal, passionate voice of the new progressivism, is being replaced with a radio hack in what appears on the surface to be a complete selling out of what Air America is supposed to be, combined with blatant cronyism.

The new voice in the nine-to-noon slot will be one Michael Lebron, popularly known as "Lionel." This guy, presumably hired by new programming director David Bernstein, hails from WOR, which coincidentally used to be the home of -- programming director David Bernstein! "Lionel" is the kind of guy who seems like a liberal talk radio guy only because he's been on the same network as the likes of Bob Grant. This is a guy who's idea of the funny is to say "my first show for Air America will be 'Great Polkas of the 20th Century.'"

Don't fall off the chair from laughing, now.

According to a a poster at Sam's blog who has listened to "Lionel" with some regularity, this is a guy who has called fellow AAR host Rachel Maddow a "thick-necked lesbian" and once referred to Monica Lewinsky as "a fat pig", and who has praised George W. Bush for being a "deeply religious man".

This is progressive radio?

I shouldn't be surprised, though, for this is a network that has gone from being something new and special, to the worst sort of hackery. Here in New York, which ought to be the main hub of progressive talk radio, the morning airwaves that used to be full of laughter at the Presidential Palm Pilot, Sammy the Stem Cell, Morning Sedition Radio Theatre, and the surreal Dream Diary, are now full of Armstrong Williams vigorously defending everything the Bush Administration does.

This is progressive radio?

Last year the ownership of Air America chose bankruptcy over being purchased by Sheldon and Anita Drobny, who have since gone on to found NovaM Radio, scooping up Mike Malloy after AAR dropped him literally on the side of the road. I know that Marc Maron had been negotiating with NovaM; my guess is that Maron is once burnt, twice shy. And the Drobnys keep making noise about upcoming signings that will make AAR listeners happy. The problem is that right now NovaM's reach is miniscule, so if you want to listen, you must subscribe.

I'll tell you this much, though: I'll subscribe to NovaM before I give Air America one more fucking nickel of my money. Because while advertisers are important, radio advertisers are only going to buy time when you can deliver eardrums to them. And my eardrums have grown thoroughly disgusted with Air America.

Melina has more (and this time the box o'dead mice is strangely appropriate). So does The General.

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