April 19, 2005

FLASH UPDATE! Air America Still Failing

In case you haven't heard enough about Air America the last year or so, it's still failing to perform well despite star power and a boatload of free coverage in the media.

Aside from the business with bouncing a check and so forth, it's just not performing well. Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly and Bill Bennett (who started his radio program the same time as Air America) are all doing very well. So what does this tell us?

Two things. One, maybe Democrats don't need a radio station when they already have NPR, plus CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN. Conservatives feel marginalized by much of the MSM, rightly so, and it behooves them to hear commentary and news from people closer to their views. Democrats don't really have that problem.

Two, next time you want to launch a major radio enterprise, get more than one person with experience in radio. From what I've heard, AA only had a single personality with radio experience. They weren't truly launching a radio network; they were launching a left-wing alternative to right-wing radio, which is very different. Instead of trying to make a good radio show as priority one, they made top priority the political agenda. Needless to say, that's not likely to produce a good business model.

They sought to harangue, lecture and preach their views, not to simply entertain. People who hate Rush Limbaugh forget a few things about him: one, he has extensive radio experience and a wonderful radio voice; two, he seeks to entertain through his personality, his insults and his comments, in addition to lecture; and three, he started slowly and built a fan base, rather than trying to more or less create one from the top-down.

I'm not sure if they're trying too hard or not trying hard enough. I think I would settle for they try too hard but not very skillfully.


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