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O'Reilly & Malkin Diss Air America - Predict Its Imminent Demise

Reported by Marie Therese - September 28, 2005

On last night's Factor [9-27-05], Bill O'Reilly and guests Michelle Malkin and Brian Maloney wasted three minutes predicting that Air America will be history in a couple of months. Their reason? The fact that Air America has instituted an Associates Program, patterned on fund-raisers like the ones Pacifica, PBS and NPR use

The trio also made highly negative comments about Air America's low ratings. However, according to the station's website, Air America has grown in one year from 25 affiliates to 67. Their listening audience has increased from 1.3 million to 3.1 million in the same time period and they have also instituted a Air America Syndication, with the Thom Hartmann Show as its first offering. Granted Air America isn't the juggernaut that Clear Channel is, but they are trending upward, whereas the right wing talks shows are trending downward. Air America Radio has surpassed Hannity in Portland, OR. Al Franken's show bested Hannity in Minneapolis. As Drudge reported recently, The Radio Factor is being dumped by 630 KHOW Talk Radio in Denver. KHOW is the station that turned so mercilessly on Ward Churchill and whose radio talk guys O'Reilly booked on his TV show several times. Guess that wasn't enough sucking up to save the Radio Factor from getting ditched.

Feeling squeezed, are we, Billy?

Here's my transcript of the interview:

O'REILLY: Believe it or not, I think the nation is well-served by liberal opinion matched up against conservative opinion in the media. Both schools of thought have historically come up with solutions to problems and made the U. S. A. stronger by vigorous debate. Enter Air America Radio liberal radio network which is having some problems. Even though it has been propped up by the New York Times and other liberal newspapers, the ratings are not good and the programming is full of personal attacks. Now, last week Air America sent out a mass email asking supporters to send them money, much like what PBS and NPR do. But, why would they need money if, as they claim, they are doing so well? Joining us now from Washington is FOX News Analyst Michelle Malkin and from Boston Brian Maloney a radio (hesitated) industry analyst. Both Michelle and Brian are not - not bullish on Air America. Alright Brian we'll begin with you because you actually study this crew and you know, I've never seen a commercial enterprise ask their listeners for money, ever.

MALONEY: That's right.

O'REILLY: Is this unprecedented?

MALONEY: There's only one example that we know of in the past and that was, believe it or not, Ted Turner many, many decades ago when he owned a television station in Charlotte actually made an on-air appeal for funds. It's the only time that we know. I don't know how that worked out for him. Guess it - guess it panned out, but in this case it's an NPR-PBS-style approach, sayin' , you know, we need money, send us a dollar, save - uh - save midnight Mass - basketball - in the Bronx - basically is what we're lookin' at here. It's pretty amazing.

O'REILLY: OK. Now is the - they've been on the air long enough to establish a track record. We know their ratings are low in most markets. Their advertising is very low so they really - they can't support themselves without sugar daddies like George Soros and other people like that pumpin' money in

MALONEY: That's exactly right and what we're seeing right now is - part of the financial trouble Air America is in is the result of Soros and some of the big wigs not contributing what Air America would like. They're having to hit up the same people over and over. Those people are startin' to get tapped out. It's not an election year. There's no Kerry to back, so the interest level from the elitists on the left is lower than usual.

O'REILLY: Now, Michelle, the New York Times has run more than twenty favorable articles on this outfit and the L. A. Times has run a few and in most media markets they get good pub, yet they can't get any traction. Do you know why?

MALKIN: Well, part of it, as Brian suggested, is that they have a bad business model and they are not able to drum up enough advertising. Another thing I think is a huge problem is the content of the programming on the air. And you've got any number of these Air America hosts saying outrageous things that I think even rational liberals have to agree is just beyond the pale. Randi Rhodes, for example, advocating essentially the assassination of President Bush and joking about it ...

O'REILLY: She apologized.

MALKIN: Not just ...

O'REILLY: She apologized.

MALKIN: Not just ... But she didn't just do it once, Bill, she did it twice and most recently, of course, she was caught on air cheering the looters in New Orleans. Um - so it's this combination of not, not only the programming problems, but, of course, the business model as well.

O'REILLY (overtalks last 5 words): Did you hear - I didn't know that. She was cheering the New Orleans looters?

MALKIN: Oh, yes she was.

O'REILLY: Really.

MALKIN: She basically rationalized their criminal behavior ...

O'REILLY: Um-hum.

MALKIN: ... and , you know, there may be some fringe segment of the Air America audience that agrees with that, but not enough to stem, apparently, a lot of these ratings problems and money problems. I mean, it is, really, you know, almost comical that they're putting on these sort of panhandling pleas to their audience ...

O'REILLY: Well, they're trying to survive and it doesn't look like they are going to survive. I mean, Brian, do you have a prediction here?

MALONEY: Yes. I mean, as things stand now, they may be down to their last couple of months, but that could change at any moment if Soros or one of the other big guns comes in, steps to the plate and puts up some cash. But, otherwise, I think things are looking bleak. They're overpaying the air talent. They're fending off lawsuits. They're overspending. They just put a brand new studio facility in. They didn't need that. That was at Franken's insistence and now he's not even gonna use it. He's movin to Minnesota. So they're wasting money. They're not bringin' it in. It's a mess.

O'REILLY: Alright. Michelle you have the last word on it?

MALKIN: Sure. They've got a trail of debts, a trail of creditors. And there's two stories, really, here. The crumbling of Air America and the failure and the refusal of the rest of the mainstream media to cover it as a financial, political and entertainment media story.

O'REILLY: Oh, that's excellent. That's right, Michelle You're not gonna hear that anywhere but the Factor and the FOX News Channel. They're not gonna cover that demise.

COMMENT

FOX viewers never learned that Brian Maloney is really a talk show host. They listed him as a "radio industry writer" in an attempt to give him a gravitas he does not have.

O'Reillly lamenting about programming that is "full of personal attacks" is a ridiculous.

Interesting tidbit: The Glenn Beck Show is replacing O'Reilly in Denver. Beck used to be represented by the same company that handles BillOReilly.com - Broadcast Commerce Partners. However, Beck and BCP parted ways a while back.


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