The network's current schedule, as of October 2008, consists of:
Original network programming for weekends includes:
AnShell announced its intentions publicly in a New York Times article in February 2003 in which writer Jim Rutenburg interviewed Jon Sinton about the need for a balanced national discussion. Sinton, the Drobnys and their associate, Javier Saade, a Harvard Business School grad and venture capitalist, continued to raise awareness and money throughout 2003 by spending time in New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. Sinton met repeatedly with Al Franken to convince him to become the network's anchor talent.
After mentioning actress and activist Janeane Garofalo during an appearance on Judy Woodruff's Politics Today show on CNN, Sinton received a call from Garofalo stating her interest in hosting a show. On a fundraising trip to Los Angeles, Sinton, at the suggestion of Al Franken, met with Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead and convinced her to come along as vice president of entertainment programming. Around the same time, he talked former associate Shelley Lewis into leaving her job producing American Morning for CNN to come aboard as vice president of new programming. In November 2003, Sinton's brother Steve Sinton left Clear Channel's talk radio division to join AAR as vice president of programming and operations.
Meanwhile, fundraising was difficult. During a trip to Washington D.C., former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta suggested a young lawyer, David Goodfriend, who introduced the Drobnys and Sinton to his former college roommate, Evan Montvel Cohen, who had profited from advertising and research companies in the Pacific Rim. Having taken the idea as far as they could, the principals sold AnShell Media to Cohen and his partner, Rex Sorensen, a broadcaster from Guam, who formed Progress Media, with Cohen as chairman, and Mark Walsh as CEO; Sinton remained as President.
In early 2004, talent, engineers and producers were hired, a lease was signed with New York's WLIB creating a New York home and affiliate, and, at noon Eastern time on March 31st, the newly re-named Air America Radio Network was launched.
At that point, Air America Radio was the only all-progressive talk radio network. A predecessor, the UAW's I.E. America Radio Network, which was home to hosts such as Thom Hartmann, Peter Werbe, and Mike Malloy, never gained national attention. Its last day on the air was February 27, 2004, only weeks before Air America took to the airwaves.
AAR became the fastest growing network in modern radio history as Sinton was able to assemble a national network of 100 stations, including 18 of the top twenty markets, in just six months.
Two weeks after the on-air debut of Air America Radio, programming was withdrawn in two key markets due to contract disputes. Multicultural Radio owned two stations contracted to carry Air America programming, in Chicago and Santa Monica, California. Air America alleged that Multicultural Radio had sold time on its Los Angeles station to both Air America and another party, and said that that was why it stopped payment on checks due to Multicultural while Air America investigated. Multicultural Radio argued that Air America had bounced a check and claimed it was owed in excess of US$1 million. Air America Radio filed a complaint in New York Supreme Court, charging breach of contract and was briefly granted an injunction to restore the network on WNTD-AM in Chicago. On April 20, 2004, the network announced the dispute had been settled, and Air America's last day of broadcast on WNTD was April 30, 2004. The New York Supreme Court ultimately concluded that the injunction was improvidently entered and that Air America Radio's court action was without merit, dismissing Air America's complaint and awarding over US$250,000 in damages and attorneys' fees to Multicultural. According to a subsequent lawsuit filed by Multicultural, Air America Radio never paid the sums ordered by the court.
Four weeks after Air America's debut, its CEO, Mark Walsh, and executive vice president for programming, Dave Logan, left the network. One week after those departures, its chairman and vice chairman, Evan Cohen and his investment partner Rex Sorensen, were forced out by the remaining investors who asked Sinton and the network's executive producer, Carl Ginsburg, a lawyer and experienced newsman, to operate the company.
As part of a reorganization, the Progress Media board of directors bought the assets of that company, creating a new company, Piquant LLC; at around the same time, the company decided to stop trying to buy radio stations and lease air time, and to allow affiliates to carry programming outside of the network's offerings.
On February 28, 2005, a new CEO, Danny Goldberg, was named, and in April 2005, Gary Krantz was named president of the network. Ginsburg and Sinton were named co-COOs with Ginsburg in charge of operations and Sinton running programming and affiliate relations.
In December 2005, over Sinton's objections, CEO Danny Goldberg broke up the network's morning drive-time show Morning Sedition, and let comedian and co-host Marc Maron's contract lapse. While the increased overhead for the show's heavily produced format may have been a factor in the show's demise, Maron claimed that Goldberg did not "get" or agree with the comedy on the show. Maron exacerbated the conflict by calling attention to his situation during the show for several weeks, prompting a petition drive that garnered over 5,000 signatures. This was to no avail, as Maron announced on November 28 that his last show would be December 16, 2005. Maron was offered an evening show, which ran briefly on affiliate KTLK in Los Angeles, but Air America never followed through with promised national syndication and the show was cancelled in July 2006.
Goldberg announced his resignation on April 6, 2006, after a little more than a year on the job.
Janeane Garofalo's last day as co-host of The Majority Report was on July 14, 2006. Although several reasons for her departure were cited (including her outside acting responsibilities), rumors claimed the relationship between Garofalo and co-host Sam Seder had become increasingly strained.
By the late summer of 2006 Sinton and Ginsburg's influence was marginalized (both would leave in short order), and the network began to fray. On August 30, 2006, nighttime host Mike Malloy was fired from the network. In the two weeks before the firing, Malloy had announced an impending multi-year deal for him to stay with Air America (and to return on the air in New York City), and so far the firing has not been explained. Rumours persist that Malloy's criticism of Israel during their bombardment of Lebanon in the summer of 2006 may have played a role. News of his termination was conveyed via a short statement on the homepage of Malloy's website, posted by his wife/producer Kathy Bay Malloy. His final show was on August 29, 2006, filling in for Randi Rhodes. No mention of his firing was made during the broadcast. Malloy's firing drew criticism from Air America on-air talent, including The Majority Report's Sam Seder and Randi Rhodes. It also began a massive online campaign, including a petition that has over 17,000 signatures as of October 2006. On October 30, 2006, Malloy resumed his show on a newly created progressive radio network, Nova M Radio.
In 2008 Rhodes herself was suspended from the network, prompting her to leave Air America Radio and join Malloy at Nova M Radio, taking much of her audience for the time slot with her. The show continues to be aired in its former time slot on the Air America channel on XM Satellite Radio, pre-empting the Ron Kuby program that replaced Rhodes.
Since then, the city has suspended further funding of the agency, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America has revoked the group's right to use their name, likeness or logo. At the time the funds were to have been transferred, Evan Cohen, former chairman of the now-defunct Progress Media, was also Director of Development for Gloria Wise.
In response to this report, Air America Radio's owners at the time, Piquant LLC, issued a press release stating Piquant had "no obligation to Progress Media's business activities", and Piquant, as previously agreed, would "fully compensate" the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club. While Gloria Wise remains under investigation, Air America has since repaid the loan. On May, 28, 2008, Evan was arrested at Guam International Airport for a warrant from the State of Hawaii. He is indicted in Hawaii for money laundering and stealing over $60,000 from a Honolulu-based landscaping company.
The sale was completed on March 6, 2007 to Green Family Media, a new company created by Stephen Green and his brother Mark J. Green. Stephen became the network's chairman, and Mark became president of Air America, with a hands-on role. Former chief executive Scott Elberg remained as chief operating officer.
Mark Green announced on Thursday, April 25, 2007 that Westwood One would take over the handling of Air America's ad sales from Jones Radio Networks. In addition, a new lineup was unveiled for the radio network. The top four weekday shows were kept, but extensive changes were made to the rest of the lineup. Green also announced a major redesign for the network's website, in addition to a new logo.
On March 14, 2007, the new owners of Air America announced the hiring of long time radio veteran David Bernstein to be the new Vice President of Programming. Prior to joining Air America, he was best known as the program director at New York radio station WOR from 1995 to 2002.. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Mr. Bernstein explained his vision of Air America's future as "I don't see our purpose as 'answering' conservative radio or Rush Limbaugh. There's no clear majority in this country today. We want to talk to everyone and help everyone make the right choice." On November 15th, 2007, industry news site Radio Online reported that Mr. Bernstein is exiting Air America.
WXXM in Madison had announced in November 2006 that it would switch to all sports programming by the end of the year. Following a very vocal backlash from the station's listeners and syndicated hosts, Clear Channel in Madison later backtracked, deciding to leave the progressive talk format on the station. WWRL in New York recently dropped Thom Hartmann and now gets less than half of its programming from Air America.
Air America programming can also be heard on XM Satellite Radio channel 167, "America Left". About half the shows on XM167 are from Air America. Interestingly, many of the other shows are hosted by former Air Americans: Mike Malloy, Randi Rhodes, The Young Turks, and Bill Press.
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