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Saturday, 14 October, 2006

Excerpt from DX Listening Digest 6-152 from Glenn Hauser’s World of Radio

Oct 13 11:05 AM US/Eastern By SETH SUTEL AP Business Writer NEW YORK

Air America Radio, a liberal talk and news radio network that features
the comedian Al Franken, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
protection, a network official told The AP.

The network had denied rumors just a month ago that it would file for
bankruptcy. On Friday, Air America spokeswoman Jaime Horn told The
Associated Press that the filing became necessary only recently after
negotiations with a creditor from the company’s early days broke down.

The network will stay on the air while it resolves issues with its
creditors, Horn said. In addition to Franken, the network also
features shows from liberal talk show host Randi Rhodes and Jerry

Horn declined to name the creditor with which talks had reached a
logjam. The company will operate in the interim with funding from its
current investor group.

Air America also said Friday it had named Scott Elberg as its new CEO.
Elberg, a former general manager of the radio station WLIB in New
York, has been with the network since May of last year.

The filing marked the latest turbulence at the liberal talk radio
network, which went on the air two years ago. This April, Danny
Goldberg stepped down as CEO and was replaced by an interim chief
executive from a management consulting firm.

“Nobody likes filing for bankruptcy,” Elberg said in a statement.
“However, this move will enable us to concentrate on informing and
entertaining our audience during the coming months.”

Air America has struggled financially since its inception. According
to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern
District of New York, the company lost $9.1 million in 2004, $19.6
million in 2005 and $13.1 million so far in 2006.

Air America also disclosed in the court documents that two directors
departed in the last two months, Douglas Kreeger and Tom Embrescia.
Gary Krantz also departed as president in June, and executive vice
president Tom Athans and chief operating officer Carl Ginsburg both
left in July (via Craig Seufert, Bill Harms, Paul Armani, DXLD)

Update: More Details of Air America Chapter 11 Filing Surface
Oct. 13, 2006 By Al Peterson

In the wake of Air America Radio’s announcement earlier today (Oct.
13) that it has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, details of the
filing and a long list of those who are owed money by the network were
posted at the “Smoking Gun” Web site.

According to court documents, AAR lists assets of just over $4 million
and liabilities in excess of $20 million. The list of creditors owed
money runs 25 pages and includes a number of notable names, including
AAR host Al Franken ($360,749.98) and RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser
($9.8 million).

Others listed as owed money by Air America include former CEO and
longtime music-industry executive Danny Goldberg ($133,333.32), former
network president Gary Krantz ($245,641.06), AAR host Mike Malloy
($114,678.64), Randy Michaels-owned RadioActive ($37,500.00) and
Arbitron ($161,345.26).

Read the complete list of creditors owed by Air America Radio here.
( via Brock Whaley, DXLD)

They are still on KPHX 1480 as we speak. If AAR crashes, I talked to
one of the guys who owns Nova M, the ones who [run programming for a station whose license they do not own] 1480, and he says
they are prepared to fill the day with liberal programming and not
miss a beat (Kevin Redding, AZ, IRCA via DXLD)

In most cities, Air America’s ratings were comparable to the numbers
garnered by Salem’s conservative talk stations. That’s kind-of an
average. In some cities, Salem does a bit better, and in others, Air
America wins. But it’s about equal. There’s an audience for both
liberal and conservative talk, and it makes sense for even the
staunchest supporter of either format to listen to opposing points
occasionally to do a validity check on one’s own views. I listen to
both, but I do listen to Air America more.

Just an observation: I’m from central MA and in my location there is
one Air America station within normal listening distance until sundown.
Since WLIB 1190 has switched from AA, there is no Air America in
central MA at night as the new 1600 station does not penetrate well
here even with my set up, and Massachusetts is supposed to be a
“liberal” state. But I can find conservative talk shows up and down
the dial any time of the day here, Rush, Savage, Reagan, Drudge, (the
last three at night from NY) on and on.

Most people that I know who would probably be part of Air America
target audience do not know of and have never heard of Air America. I
just wonder if lack of publicity (read: money) could have something to
do with their bankruptcy.

I drove straight through NY city today on I-95 and could not receive
the 1600 station until I was almost on top of Manhattan and lost it
fairly quickly as I hit Connecticut. I am not going to offer any more
opinions of its impending downfall as I think it had money problems
right from the beginning and some of its programming was a little off
the wall, but If they had had more great talkers like Lionel from WOR,
perhaps they could have been be more successful. I still listen and
think Al Franken is great and right on the money 99% of the time, also
the same with Lionel on WWKB 1520 (Bob Young, Millbury, MA, ibid.)

Personally, I can do without Lionel, (too much celebrity talk I can
hear elsewhere, and which I’d prefer not to hear anywhere.) But the
original Air America plan to broker the 24-hour-a-day format on big-
city affiliates (most of them owned by Multicultural), was a ghastly
mistake that almost doomed the network from its inception. It’s a
miracle they even got past that first month or so. It’s also expensive
to hire celebrities to do talk. Good for press buzz, but costly.

Another important factor to consider is that the stations most likely
to air an entirely new network 24/7 are ones with failing formats or
weak signals. They’ve had a lot to overcome in their two-and-a-half-
year history. On the plus side, AA and Ed Schultz have made liberal
talk radio more marketable. There are many excellent liberal hosts now
that have stronger shows and are syndicated in more cities due to the
number of Air America affiliates that also look elsewhere for other
programming (Rick Lewis, AZ, ibid.)

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