air america radio
At 9:37 AM -0800 3/31/04, Devine, James wrote:
>does it mean anything that "Air America" has the same name as the
>old CIA-sponsored "independent" airline in Southeast Asia (involved
>in war and drug smuggling)?
It appears that "Air America" has failed to take off:
***** The New York Times, April 1, 2004
Talk Network Makes Debut, With Rage a No-Show
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
The tone of Air America was supposed to be as bold and belligerent as
Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, an unapologetically liberal riposte to
the conservative radio talk shows that dominate the airwaves.
The comedian Al Franken even named his three-hour program the "The
O'Franken Report," to tweak his conservative nemesis, Bill O'Reilly,
yet his maiden show proved to be oddly subdued and, at times,
Mr. Franken interviewed the salt-of-the-earth parents of his best
friend in Minnesota to prove that liberals do not hate America, as
the conservative commentator Ann Coulter has charged.
"That's unbelievable," Carol Griffin, 77, said of the accusation
while on vacation in Florida. "Liberals are the ones that love
There is little chance that Air America will overtake its
conservative competitors any time soon. Rush Limbaugh is heard on
more than 600 stations, including WABC in New York.
The Air America Radio network made its debut in five markets: New
York; Chicago; Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; and San
Air America may yet grow as a radio network, but the first day mostly
highlighted the difficulty of trying to match the fervor and ferocity
of right-wing radio. Satire and sarcasm come more easily than rage to
Mr. Franken, a former "Saturday Night Live" performer and writer. And
rage - unbound by reason or reticence - is what fuels the most
successful political talk shows.
Mr. Franken began his show by saying, "Yeah, we are angry," but he
never let loose with the kind of colorful, free-flowing rant that has
proved so cathartic to like-minded listeners. (That sort of diatribe
was provided later in the afternoon by the longtime liberal radio
talk show host Randi Rhodes, who likened the Bushes to the Corleone
family in "The Godfather" and said the president was Fredo.) Mr.
Franken stuck instead to a middle ground of mockery and mild
The Bush administration's handling or mishandling of the war on
terror after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was the main topic on all
the shows on Air America, which began at noon with Mr. Franken's show
and ended with "Majority Report, " with the actress Janeane Garofalo
and Sam Seder as hosts.
Mr. Franken's guests included Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic
senator from Nebraska who is now a member of the Sept. 11 commission,
the documentary filmmaker Michael Moore and, as a caller from
Tennessee, former Vice President Al Gore. ("Hi, Al," Mr. Franken
said. "Hi, Al," Mr Gore replied.)
Mr. Gore's call was one of the show's highlights. Mr. Moore, who
supported Ralph Nader in the 2000 election, had a few words to say to
the Democratic nominee who won the popular vote but still lost the
election to George W. Bush.
"We're really sorry, Al," Mr. Moore mumbled. Mr. Gore paused for a
beat, then asked, "For what, Michael?" Mr. Moore then began a long,
winding explanation of how he himself had not campaigned for Mr.
Nader in swing states. Mr. Gore again paused, then added politely,
"What are you saying?"
For the kickoff, Mr. Franken invited some of his more famous friends
to make call-in cameos; Ben Stein, a former speechwriter for
President Richard M. Nixon, was one. The other was G. Gordon Liddy of
Watergate fame. They did not bring great material with them.
Neither did Bob Elliott, who was the Bob of the old "Bob & Ray Show,"
and was tapped by Mr. Franken to perform a skit about a terrorist
sneaking weapons onto an airplane. In the skit, a would-be
hijacker-terrorist explains that he made his dog swallow a box-cutter
before takeoff, saying, "He gets airsick, or so we hope."
The national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, referred to as
Condi, came under attack, as did Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney
and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (Mr. Franken does a very
funny impersonation of Mr. Rumsfeld). But most of Mr. Franken's ire
was directed at conservative commentators, including Mr. Limbaugh and
his drug problems and the outrageous statements of Ms. Coulter, whom
Mr. Franken described as a "walking horror show." On the show, Mr.
Franken pretended to lock an irate Ms. Coulter, impersonated by the
actress Bebe Neuwirth, in the green room.
And clearly, it is conservative talk radio that galls Mr. Franken the
most. "The radical right wing has taken over the White House,
Congress, and increasingly, the courts," he complained in his
introductory remarks. "And most insidiously, the airwaves."
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