Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Free Speech Isn't Free

Ad revenue was off the charts before it wasn't. Assassination chic before it was chic. They made not getting a paycheck a point of liberal pride. Now, the only leftist radio station to have its blockbuster movie reviewed by the staff at Les Enfants Terrible is facing bankruptcy.

Air America ran out of money promptly after it launched in 2004, after disgraced former chairman Evan Cohen inflated the amount of money he had raised to fund the network. Since then, Air America has seen a litany of troubles, executive departures, talent shuffles, and lawsuits. Six months ago, the network was booted from its flagship station in New York City, WLIB, to a much weaker signal that doesn't cover the entire city, and it laid off five staffers on September 11, according to the New York Post.

Franken isn't the only person Air America is in hock to. Last year, the network settled a multi-million-dollar lawsuit by Multicultural Broadcasting, the owner of its Chicago and Los Angeles stations, for its failure to pay for rented time. But according to Multicultural's attorney, Randy Mastro, the network still hasn't paid up.

Just to add a human element to the story, a relative of mine, an advertising genius, has never been paid for ads commissioned by Air America leading up to its debut. If there is anybody out there with any sway at the ol' Flagship, it would be really cool if she got that check.

Over at Think Progress, the news is being broken very gently to the faithful. Here's a positive:

Air America succeeded at creating something that didn’t exist: the progressive talk radio format.

I can't but marvel at the idea that the brain trust at Air America argued daily that they knew best how to run a country.

Mark Steyn sums up the enlightening lesson in liberals at the helm, calling Air America, "The brilliant pre-publicity campaign marred only by an ill-advised decision to actually launch the product."

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