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Air America and Liberal Talk Radio in General

HamurabiHamurabi MiamiRegistered User regular
edited January 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
Liberal Air America Goes Off the Air

Air America, billed as the Left's alternative to conservative talk radio, airs its last broadcasts on Monday, after fewer than six years on the air. NPR’s David Folkenflik explains why high-profile hosts like Rachel Maddow and Montel Williams weren't enough to keep the network afloat.


(very long Talk of the Nation transcript)
NEAL CONAN, host

When Air America hit the airways six years ago, star attraction and unabashed liberal Al Franken kicked off his first program by announcing to his listeners what his talk show "The O'Franken Factor" was all about.

(Soundbite of radio program, "The O'Franken Factor")

Senator AL FRANKEN (Democrat, Minnesota): This isn't about Bill O'Reilly or even about Rush Limbaugh - which reminds me, we're planning to do this show drug free. We don't know if it's ever been done, but we're going to try. No, this show is about taking back our country. It's about having fun. It's about relentlessly hammering away at the Bush administration until they crack and crumble this November, because, don't get me wrong, friends, they are going down.

CONAN: Al Franken, back in 2004 on Air America. We'll he, of course, is in the United States Senate now, and Air America has gone down. The liberal radio network announced last week it would stop broadcasting and file for bankruptcy. Liberals and conservatives alike are now engaged in deconstructing the causes of Air America's demise.

You're invited to join that conversation. Give us a call. What worked? What didn't? 800-989-8255. Email us: [email protected]. You can also join the conversation on our Web site. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik is with us from NPR West in Culver City in California. David, nice to have you back on TALK OF THE NATION.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Great to join you, Neal.

CONAN: And people can disagree on why Air America failed, but one thing they all seemed to agree on is it did not come as any surprise.

FOLKENFLIK: No. Air America has been in one degree of trouble of another almost from the outset. It was company-owned in - nearly six years by, I think, four or five different management teams. That's both a sign of and a cause of deep dysfunction, internally. It was riven by a sort of arguments over direction.

It was never able to take the kind of market share that would allow it to have leverage to induce stations to do more than really pick and choose and take a couple of shows here and there, but really carry a full lineup that - allowing itself to build a brand and establish a footprint in markets across the country. This was not a particularly viable thing. And part of it was - I think you can make the case very strongly. Part of it was from the outset. You know, was it a commercial agenda? Was it a political agenda?

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

FOLKENFLIK: This was created by, you know, Democratic donors originally. They said, you know, we have to build a counterweight to the Rush Limbaughs and the Sean Hannitys of the world on radio. It is tough to build a viable financial structure when what you're really trying to promote is an ideological agenda.

CONAN: And you can also talk - you mentioned all those changes in the management structure. Every company has its pluses and minuses. The company itself had a lot of flaws.

FOLKENFLIK: The company itself was deeply flawed. You know, I've spoken to people in recent years who've been, you know, almost taking book on when it would really go into one form of bankruptcy or another. You know, we're now in a time when, you know, credit is - been much tighter than it was when Air America first found its footing and went on the airwaves. And so, you know, there is a lot less room for error. But, you know, business errors were, you know, apparent throughout.

You take a guy like Ed Schultz, who's now - pops up on MSNBC. You know, he came to fame and came to some degree of prominence as a radio host. And he was with Air America for a time, but found it was a more constructive for him to do so outside the America umbrella.

CONAN: And there are nevertheless - you mentioned Ed Schultz, but two people who really did become stars. Well, I think Al Franken was a star before he went to Air America, but Rachel Maddow, who now hosts her own show at MSNBC, really came to prominence there.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, yeah. I'd say that, actually, now Senator Al Franken and Rachel Maddow, now of MSNBC as a primetime anchor and a leading light of that channel, really are, in some ways, the two signature accomplishments of Air America. That wasn't what Air America set out to do, was to launch people to prominence other places. But, you know, if you think about Al Franken, he certainly was well known. He was a comic. He had "Saturday Night Live." He had written best-selling liberal, satiric books.

And at the same time, you know, this was a place he could park for a couple of years and talk about national politics every day in a way that I think gave him a better grounding, a versing in the issues that allowed him to have the vocabulary, almost, to go out and, you know, campaign with voters in his native Minnesota. You know, it's a funny, almost bank-shot approach to doing politics, and it worked for him.

For Rachel Maddow, you know, she's a very sharp woman, very learned. And at the same time, she'd been coming out of, shall we say, a slightly less serious radio background. Air America was a place where she could get the muscle knowledge to shine. She was seen as sharp and promising on MSNBC. And if you think about it, MSNBC achieved, to a degree, what Air America set out to do. That is, MSNBC, in recent years, decided, you know what? We're going to explicitly become a liberal primetime counterpart to the conservatism of Fox News on cable television. And it's had - it's not an equal of Fox News in ratings or in revenues, but it is now profitable. It is now a viable enterprise for NBC and parent company GE - until it sold off - in a way that it never was before. It was always something of a maybe break even, maybe lose money. MSNBC has found its footing as a liberal, primetime opinion block of shows that's, in a sense, a successor to Air America's desire.

CONAN: Yet, we've seen on radio that the conservative talk show lineup - and it's worked in a number of different syndication kind of deals - that works -not nearly works. It's a goldmine, at least as far radio is concern. Why did that not work for liberals?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, you know, there may well be a hunger for a block of entertaining, intense, intelligent, articulate liberal hosts with an explicit ideological bent. It's not clear to me at all that Air America was the answer to that.

If you look at Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity and Michael Savage, to name but a few people on the significantly right of center who have attained real success on radio, you know, they're not all bundled up in a single, neat network. You know, some of them now share syndicates or share a programmers. But, basically, you know, it wasn't that they said this is a package deal. These guys emerged from - often from local radio as strong voices, and they succeeded.

The other thing was, you know, Air America said we've got to counter radio with radio. Well, those that have succeeded, really, in being a counterweight are people like Arianna Huffington and The Huffington Post. So you're seeing - and Daily Kos, you know, as strong online movements, new forms of media thinking about counterweights to strong ideological conservative voices, but saying: Do we have to do it exactly the same way that Rush Limbaugh do it - did it? Do we have to do it exactly the same way Sean Hannity is doing it? No. There are new outlets for us. There are new ways to do this that will take a lot less investment and take a lot far fewer things to break in our direction.

So, you know, I think that there are counterweights. There are successes on the left in terms of media. They may not be exact mirror images of the big forces on conservative media.

CONAN: We're talking with NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik about the demise of Air America. 800-989-8255. Email us: [email protected]. And we'll start with Henry, Henry calling us from Brainerd in - is that in Michigan?

HENRY (Caller): In Minnesota.

CONAN: Minnesota. Okay. I just can't read today. That's all right. Go ahead.

HENRY: I thought a big problem with Air America is that they went after the -with the right, and they basically preached to the choir. And I don't think that this so-called leaning left ever sought out that kind of media. I think something more moderate like NPR, for example - which you could argue is leaning left, but at the same time, they don't give a one-sided opinion.

And I just don't think the left, you know, needs that so-called feel-good preaching to the choir type of aspect. I've just never ran into, you know, liberal that needed that. I think we look for more of the moderate approach, more (unintelligible) sensical approach, I guess.

CONAN: David, I know we could provide Henry with a lot of the statistics that indicate a third of our listeners here at NPR consider themselves conservative, a third considered themselves liberal, and another third somewhere in the middle. But, anyway, his point, though.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I think that there's something to that. I mean, there are studies that suggest different ways in which people seek out information and that not all liberals and conservatives have the same sort of media patterns. I will say that, you know, MSNBC has been able to attain a robust audience. But it is, really, a niche audience. You're not talking about a whole lot of shows above a million viewers a night.

But you're absolutely right in the sense that a lot of liberals who read The New York Times or listen to NPR or watch ABC News or CNN may find enough of what they're looking for with some, you know, some dissenting voices or other voices that they find that fulfills them. You know, there are also listeners to shows like "Democracy Now" or Pacifica Radio or things like that that are more clearly ideological.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

FOLKENFLIK: It's not clear to me at all that Air America was - that the personalities as a lineup up and down were robust enough, were provocative enough, were indispensable enough that it worked out as a full-fledged experiment of would this work on the left.

CONAN: Well, thanks very much for the call, Henry.

HENRY: All right.

CONAN: Here's an email, this from Liz in Salem, Oregon. Air America was a business venture. Like some other startups, it ran into problems. But it did provide an alternative to right-wing radio. Our local station was the first affiliate. KPOJ is in fine shape. I often listen to their local morning show. They may have lost the Air America shows. Much of their lineup is local or none-Air America - Ed Schultz, for example. How are Rush Limbaugh and the other righty talkers - as Ed Schultz would call them - doing on their business plans? Do their networks make a profit?

FOLKENFLIK: Sure. They make a lot of money. You know, I don't think Rush - you know, Rush Limbaugh always said that - in interviews he's done with me and with other people, he talked about his desire to make his show provocative enough so that he could charge confiscatory advertising rates to his sponsors. And he assuredly has done that. He's made, you know, a ton of money over the years. Sean Hannity and Michael Savage and others have done well, as well.

And, you know, there is nothing better, in some ways, for the ideological outlets - or the personalities, in particular - than to be in a full-throated opposition. It's a little harder for conservatives, in some ways, when President Bush was in office and they had a Republican Congress, because then, at times, you have to take issue with somebody who might be closer to you on the ideological spectrum.

I talked to Victor Navasky of this. He's the, I believe, publisher emeritus of The Nation magazine, the long-respected, very old, storied, left-of-center publication, leftist publication. And he said, you know, if it's bad for the country, it's good for the nation. The magazine never did so well as when it was in opposition. And the same holds true for Rush Limbaugh and other talkers.

CONAN: Here's an emailer named Zoren(ph), who contests a comment you made earlier, David. He said, your guest mentioned it's hard to build commercial success with an ideological agenda. That is not the case with Fox News. Ideology before logic - they appear to be doing just fine.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I think - and Roger Ailes is a genius at broadcasting and at political marketing, and no one should mistake. You know, he was with "The Mike Douglas Show" before he was with Richard Nixon, but he was with Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush and other leading Republicans before he was with, you know, CNBC and Fox News. And he's very, very shrewd.

One of the things that he thought saw was that there was space in the market. There was an underserved market of people who felt they were not being spoken to you by the mainstream press, the CBSs, the NPRs, the New York Timeses and, you know, all the familiar subjects. So he catered to that.

And one of the things about cable and I alluded to this before - is that you need to build the largest niche market you can. So, you know, Bill O'Reilly, on a great day, gets four million viewers in primetime. And it's that's a big audience. But that's smaller than even the least impressive audience gotten by Katie Couric on the "CBS Evening News," which is the third of three major nightly newscasts on broadcast. So, that is to say he built a very large niche audience every night.

One of the things that Ailes does is he feeds the sense of aggrievement. He feeds the sense that somehow conservatives, that people in red state, people in the non-coastal regions of the country are somehow being overlooked, and, you know, effectively insulted by the mainstream media. And by both catering to those tastes and by feeding that sense of aggrievement, he's able to cement audience loyalty both in his opinion shows in primetime, which are very popular, but also throughout the day in the other shows, as well. There are these threads that you might not see in other newscasts. And it's a smart market opportunity that feeds in ideological interest.

CONAN: David Folkenflik, NPR media correspondent. We're talking about the demise of Air America.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's get Jennifer on the line, Jennifer, calling us from Germantown, Illinois.

JENNIFER (Caller): Yes. Hi. I think liberals in America just cannot take the snark. I know when Air America first came on, I was I really wanted to like it. I was glad that there was a response to the right wing stuff that we're disparaged with. And then after about a week, I thought, I can't take this. It was just too combative. It was too stressful for liberal America to listen to.

I think a lot of us spend our day working in social service causes, and it is too much. I we I just can't - the snark was ridiculous. I mean, I don't think the way that they responded to the right wing stuff was acting just like they did. I don't think any of us appreciated it. It was too stressful.

CONAN: The mirror image did not quite connect with the same audience on the other side.

JENNIFER: Not at all.

CONAN: Right.

JENNIFER: Not at all.

CONAN: Thank you for...

JENNIFER: So I was I hate to say I was glad to see it go, but I was.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: All right, Jennifer. Thanks very much for the call.

JENNIFER: Thanks.

CONAN: And here's Anthony on email, addressing a point you made earlier, David. Air America was a nice broadcast and a good stepping stone. However, their core audience has migrated to the Internet to organize. Air America helped liberals realized there were others out there like them, but the Internet proved a faster, more inclusive and more effective way to organize their efforts. I guess he - you were talking earlier about Huffington Post and, I guess, MoveOn.org.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I think that your emailer and the previous caller have it exactly right. I mean, there are other outlets for that. If you want snark, you can go to Gawker or any of a hundred sites that traffic in that. If you want a devotion to liberal causes, you can see Daily Kos. You can see Talking Points Memo. You can see Huffington Post, each with a different kind of take on politics of the day, but generally from a liberal bent, some reporting at it periodically, sometimes some prominent names and faces. You know, you can read what Alec Baldwin have to say in The Huffington Post. But you can also see what, you know, their small corps of actual reporters have to say, as well, often on pursuing storylines and threads that would be most of interest to people on the political left.

CONAN: The demise of Air America is the loss of one group of broadcasters. Well, this kind of thing happens all the time. Nevertheless, David, as you look at radio as a medium, the audience for radio overall continues to dwindle.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I mean, that's right. But, you know, as I was my first month on the media beat about a decade ago, you know, the head of a local CBS station took me aside and said, understand, our ratings will probably go down. Understand, all of broadcast ratings will probably go down. He said, we are competing for time, not just with one another, not just with other broadcast outlets, but with all the sources of entertainment, diversion, information that were out there.

So they're competing with people playing, you know, games of Second Life online. They're competing with online news sources. They're competing with the expanding number of satellite and cable channels. You know, there's no they're competing now with iPods. They're competing with anything you can think of.

So there's no end of other diversions, and they're trying to hold onto - if you hold onto your audience, you're doing well. Actually, one of the few standouts, on the whole, is public broadcasting. Public radio, in particular, does quite well. But, you know, Rush is doing very well. Conservative talkers and certain kinds of talk are doing very well. But, you know, this is all going to chip away at established mainstream media outlets.

CONAN: David Folkenflik, thanks for your time today. Appreciate it.

FOLKENFLIK: My pleasure.

So everyone's probably heard the news. Our local Air America carrier in the Miami market was bought out in '07 by Clear Channel, and replaced with The Sports Animal (which, as it turns out, is the "sister station" of our local conservative station, also owned by Clear Channel).

Do you think this is a sign that liberal radio just doesn't work as well as right-wing talk radio? That the demographics (and the associated media consumption habits) stack the deck against liberal stations/networks? Will left-leaning AM radio never match the success that its online, print and television counterparts have seen?

Or was Air America just a one-off case of basic mismanagement? Lord knows they had their share of woes from the beginning.

Hamurabi on
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Posts

  • MKRMKR Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    There was a chance for it back in the '90s, but that boat sailed once streaming took off.

    MKR on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    I am theoretically the target market and demographic for Air America. I would literally never listen to them, just about ever. Maybe if NPR suddenly ceased to exist. Even then, I'd probably just switch over to the local public jazz station, which is my #2 behind NPR when they're doing something that isn't interesting.

    There's a reason that I loathe Rush Limbaugh, and it isn't just because I disagree with him and he's wrong about everything.

    moniker on
  • HamurabiHamurabi MiamiRegistered User regular
    edited January 2010
    I'm actually in exactly the same boat.

    I started out listening to Air America just because it seemed like I should. A few months in, though, I realized I didn't really like people telling me things I already agreed with. So I just listened to that conservative station until I pulled my head out of my ass and discovered NPR.

    Hamurabi on
  • Dr Mario KartDr Mario Kart Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    1) Hard to compete with NPR
    2) The natural state of the market isnt to provide choices to people. Its to let the establishment use their size to crush competitors. Its Clear Channel buying stations out. The natural state of the market is monopoly.
    3) I think years of there being no alternative radio really pushed progressives to other media, and they really arent coming back. Certainly everyone that has been listening to conservative radio all these years have had it drilled into their skulls that they are covering things that no one will because of the liberal media bias - No one else is worth listening to.

    Dr Mario Kart on
  • dlinfinitidlinfiniti Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    i listen to ranchero music cause thats what all of my good stations got replaced with after i went away for college

    dlinfiniti on
    AAAAA!!! PLAAAYGUUU!!!!
  • MKRMKR Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    97.1 (good music) and the NPR stations in Athens and Atlanta are about the only good things on our airwaves.

    MKR on
  • Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited January 2010
    I tried listening to Air America on the way to work for about a week, only to discover that most of the things I hated about conservative talk radio I also hated about Air America.

    I just don't think that the format or style of AM screeds really lend themselves well to liberalism.

    Kind of how comedy or rock music do not lend themselves well to conservatism.

    Irond Will on
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  • YodaTunaYodaTuna Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    I've always been of the opinion that liberal radio would not succeed because the idealogy(for various reasons) does not lend itself well to an echo chamber. You'll see the same pattern in left wing TV, Olbermann, Maddow for example.

    There are too many disparate groups of liberals(herding cats, etc...) and speaking for myself, I really don't need some one else to tell me how to think or how to justify my own positions. Therefore never listened to Air America.

    Not to mention their best hosts, Franken and Maddow obviously moved on to better things.

    YodaTuna on
  • ErandusErandus Registered User
    edited January 2010
    Conservative talk in the vein of Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, Levin, et al. generally tend to be more controversial and sensational. That draws listeners.

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  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Yeah, I think we liberals in general don't like listening to people spout things we already think. Conservative radio succeeds because they are purveyors of negativity and hate and that appeals to a certain conservative demographic.

    I dunno if NPR is really Air America's "competition," but it's what you listen to if you actually have a brain and like real news.

    tsmvengy on
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  • EmperorSethEmperorSeth Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Plus, we have the Internet.

    EmperorSeth on
    You know what? Nanowrimo's cancelled on account of the world is stupid.
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    I've always thought that Air America's big problem was that NPR basically already was the liberal talk radio.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    hold your head high soldier, it ain't over yet
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  • HamurabiHamurabi MiamiRegistered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Dyscord wrote: »
    I've always thought that Air America's big problem was that NPR basically already was the liberal talk radio.

    I lovelovelove Neal Conan's reply to the guy who said that NPR was left-leaning.
    CONAN: David, I know we could provide Henry with a lot of the statistics that indicate a third of our listeners here at NPR consider themselves conservative, a third considered themselves liberal, and another third somewhere in the middle. But, anyway, his point, though.

    EDIT: And I'm a little torn, personally. I can only speak for myself, but I know that I got tired of listening to the echo chamber and instead opted to just listen to conservative talkers' counter-points to my own views; I don't know that that's what happened to most other libs, though, and it's possible it was just Air America's format that did them in. I do tend to think that it's much easier to hold a bunch of diehard tea partiers in thrall than libs.

    Hamurabi on
  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA
    edited January 2010
    Dyscord wrote: »
    I've always thought that Air America's big problem was that NPR basically already was the liberal talk radio.

    NPR isn't liberal. Only people that listen to Rush Limbaugh believe NPR is liberal.

    Bionic Monkey on
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  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA
    edited January 2010
    For me personally, I know I listened to nothing but Air America from about Feb. 08 up through Jan. 09. I just couldn't keep it up after that though. Maintaining that kind of high-level interest in politics in the off season was just too much for me, and I needed a break. I pretty much haven't listened since Ron Reagan took over for Maddow.

    Bionic Monkey on
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  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Dyscord wrote: »
    I've always thought that Air America's big problem was that NPR basically already was the liberal talk radio.

    NPR isn't liberal. Only people that listen to Rush Limbaugh believe NPR is liberal.

    Seriously. NPR just talks about reality, instead of the corporate spin you get on the rest of the news.

    Though reality does have a well-known liberal bias.

    PBS and NPR do the best job of having intelligent, non-screaming people from all sides represented in their panel discussions and as experts on shows.

    tsmvengy on
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  • HamurabiHamurabi MiamiRegistered User regular
    edited January 2010
    I dunno who they had really late at night, but he at one point was going on and on about how, once the Democrats retake Congress, they should just oust all the Republicans.

    Hamurabi on
  • ErandusErandus Registered User
    edited January 2010
    Hamurabi wrote: »
    I lovelovelove Neal Conan's reply to the guy who said that NPR was left-leaning.
    CONAN: David, I know we could provide Henry with a lot of the statistics that indicate a third of our listeners here at NPR consider themselves conservative, a third considered themselves liberal, and another third somewhere in the middle. But, anyway, his point, though.

    Well to be fair, statistics on the listeners aren't conclusive of the political leanings of the programming itself.

    Erandus on
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  • DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    I always felt that NPR was more centrist than liberal. The idea of right/left in the US is screwed up, and what is considered centrist here is pretty right-wing in other parts of the world.

    I listened to Air America during it's launch week, mostly to Al Franken's show, but wasn't that impressed. I mostly listened to it by internet streaming at work. So they launch with a stream to begin with.

    The deck is stacked against liberal media, but not because of demographics. It's because all media is basically owned by large corporations, like Clear Channel, which are going to have a right-wing bias by default. All the dollars, therefore, get thrown behind conservative media. That's one of the big advantages of the internet is that liberal channels can exist without corporate interference...theoretically. We'll see how long Net Neutrality lasts.

    Dalboz on
  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Erandus wrote: »
    Hamurabi wrote: »
    I lovelovelove Neal Conan's reply to the guy who said that NPR was left-leaning.
    CONAN: David, I know we could provide Henry with a lot of the statistics that indicate a third of our listeners here at NPR consider themselves conservative, a third considered themselves liberal, and another third somewhere in the middle. But, anyway, his point, though.

    Well to be fair, statistics on the listeners aren't conclusive of the political leanings of the programming itself.

    This is true.

    However, if you think NPR is "liberal slant," then you're only comparing it to the rest of the news available here in the good ol' USA.

    Spoilers ahead:
    All the rest of the news is controlled by corporate interests. Every other news outfit out there is at least corporate slanted if not straight-up right-wing.

    tsmvengy on
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  • ErandusErandus Registered User
    edited January 2010
    tsmvengy wrote: »
    Erandus wrote: »
    Hamurabi wrote: »
    I lovelovelove Neal Conan's reply to the guy who said that NPR was left-leaning.
    CONAN: David, I know we could provide Henry with a lot of the statistics that indicate a third of our listeners here at NPR consider themselves conservative, a third considered themselves liberal, and another third somewhere in the middle. But, anyway, his point, though.

    Well to be fair, statistics on the listeners aren't conclusive of the political leanings of the programming itself.

    This is true.

    However, if you think NPR is "liberal slant," then you're only comparing it to the rest of the news available here in the good ol' USA.

    Spoilers ahead:
    All the rest of the news is controlled by corporate interests. Every other news outfit out there is at least corporate slanted if not straight-up right-wing.

    I honestly have rarely listened to NPR, so I'm not qualified to judge on the slant of its content either way. I have listened to my fair share of Limbaugh and Hannity, and I know that they talk of any media outlet left of themselves as "the liberal media". I'm sure they label anything remotely resembling actually centrist as a liberal propaganda spigot regardless.

    Erandus on
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  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Erandus wrote: »
    Conservative talk in the vein of Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, Levin, et al. generally tend to be more controversial and sensational. That draws listeners.

    I think this may be a large part of it honestly.

    There just doesn't seem much room for non-mocked crazy radical leftism in the US.


    Plus, Talk Radio is a cesspool of stupidity and horror. It's not the content, it's the format.

    That Liberalism doesn't work well in that format is nothing more then a shinning endorsement of Liberalism.

    shryke on
  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    There just doesn't seem much room for non-mocked crazy radical leftism in the US.
    I'm willing to fill that niche.

    All women should be required to have at least one mandatory abortion and murdering infants less than six months old should be completely legal. William Jennings Bryan was our greatest president. The Republicans stole that election!

    Couscous on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    ...you guys do realize that corporations aren't right leaning, they're profit leaning...right? Which is to say that they slant towards 'controversial' crap that will get them listeners. If it made them money they'd have the Zombie Karl Marx Power Hour with Bourgie and Bo-Ho the Clown.

    moniker on
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    moniker wrote: »
    ...you guys do realize that corporations aren't right leaning, they're profit leaning...right? Which is to say that they slant towards 'controversial' crap that will get them listeners. If it made them money they'd have the Zombie Karl Marx Power Hour with Bourgie and Bo-Ho the Clown.

    Well they are "Right-leaning" in that the Right in the US is all for deregulating the shit out of everything they can get their hands on in, which helps companies out a TON.


    But generally, you are right in that the Media cares about ratings and controversy sells.

    It just really seems like the 2 issues are:

    a) The Left just doesn't seem to react the same way to stuff as the Right. There's no Left wing Glenn Beck or Limbaugh type because that type of shit just doesn't seem to sell to the Left Wing.
    b) The Right Wing is fucking CRAZY but in order to get that much needed controversy, they get air time anyway. Hell, they get more because they are so crazy.

    shryke on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    shryke wrote: »
    moniker wrote: »
    ...you guys do realize that corporations aren't right leaning, they're profit leaning...right? Which is to say that they slant towards 'controversial' crap that will get them listeners. If it made them money they'd have the Zombie Karl Marx Power Hour with Bourgie and Bo-Ho the Clown.

    Well they are "Right-leaning" in that the Right in the US is all for deregulating the shit out of everything they can get their hands on in, which helps companies out a TON.


    But generally, you are right in that the Media cares about ratings and controversy sells.

    It just really seems like the 2 issues are:

    a) The Left just doesn't seem to react the same way to stuff as the Right. There's no Left wing Glenn Beck or Limbaugh type because that type of shit just doesn't seem to sell to the Left Wing.
    b) The Right Wing is fucking CRAZY but in order to get that much needed controversy, they get air time anyway. Hell, they get more because they are so crazy.

    Well, sure, their lobbyists and financing is pretty right-wing/incumbency bribing, but that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

    moniker on
  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    NPR news is not liberal.

    A lot of other NPR programs are, but even most of those I don't think are left-wing liberal.

    Yar on
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    MKR wrote: »
    There was a chance for it back in the '90s, but that boat sailed once streaming took off.

    Yeah, there's certainly a market out there for hyper-partisan liberal red meat and/or snark, it's just that said audience has been getting their fix on the internet for at least the past decade.

    Since the right-wing talk radio demographic skews so much older, there are enough luddite listeners to keep that type of programming afloat.

    Lawndart on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited January 2010
    I don't need somebody on the radio to tell me what to think, thanks.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • MazzyxMazzyx Comedy Gold Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    The left wing radio station here is still doing well but it is not Air America and has some local host who talk local stuff the whole time. The two main national people are Ed Schultz and Tom Hartman. It isn't bad to listen to but also I am forced to since my parents have it on all day here on the radio in the kitchen during the week. Weekends though are pure NPR.

    Mazzyx on
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  • HozHoz Cool Cat Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    "Reality has a liberal bias" Bullshit.

    Liberals tend to be more educated and need something more sophisticated than a screaming fat white man to reinforce their world view. NPR is liberal and sophisticated. Not liberal in a political way, but liberal in a more philosophical way. It's not biased, of course, like Fat White Man or Olbermann. It's journalism, and I'd say that certain strains of journalism are philosophically liberal.

    Hoz on
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2010
    I'd say a large part is that liberals see their information networks as a source of intelligence, while conservatives see it as propaganda. You can see the same pattern in house polling.

    Scalfin on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Hoz wrote: »
    Liberals tend to be more educated

    There's a pretty good reason for that.

    It has to do with facts and knowledge and higher reasoning.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • MKRMKR Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    NPR is where I learned about kisha clubs.

    MKR on
  • Zombie NirvanaZombie Nirvana Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    It has nothing to do with political leanings and everything to do with money. Political leanings aren't the cause.

    Zombie Nirvana on
  • Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited January 2010
    It has nothing to do with political leanings and everything to do with money. Political leanings aren't the cause.

    Of course political leanings are the central cause.

    It is not a coincidence that conservative talk radio dominates the AM dial (and now FM and satellite too!) while there is not a single successful left-wing talk radio show.

    Left wing views just don't lend themselves to the talk-radio rant format.

    Irond Will on
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  • Zombie NirvanaZombie Nirvana Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Ok.

    Zombie Nirvana on
  • Darkchampion3dDarkchampion3d Registered User
    edited January 2010
    Hoz wrote: »
    "Reality has a liberal bias" Bullshit.

    Liberals tend to be more educated and need something more sophisticated than a screaming fat white man to reinforce their world view. NPR is liberal and sophisticated. Not liberal in a political way, but liberal in a more philosophical way. It's not biased, of course, like Fat White Man or Olbermann. It's journalism, and I'd say that certain strains of journalism are philosophically liberal.

    Ideally, I agree with this. There is still room for some segments of the liberal base in the whole groupthink thing and getting off on listening to someone rant about things they agree with. (Olbermann followers come to mind)

    But I know at least for me personally and the people I know who share similar beliefs, we would rather listen to something that may teach us something new or shed a different and reasoned light on the subject than have our own opinions just spit back at us. Yeah it's anecdotal evidence and I could be completely and horribly wrong.

    Darkchampion3d on
    Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence --Thomas Jefferson
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Is Olbermann really popular enough where he would be able to sustain the cost of a national radio network for one hour? Let alone exceed them by so much that it would subsidize less 'popular' personalities who don't quite carry the same weight?

    moniker on
  • BubbaTBubbaT Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Irond Will wrote: »
    It has nothing to do with political leanings and everything to do with money. Political leanings aren't the cause.

    Of course political leanings are the central cause.

    It is not a coincidence that conservative talk radio dominates the AM dial (and now FM and satellite too!) while there is not a single successful left-wing talk radio show.

    Left wing views just don't lend themselves to the talk-radio rant format.

    How many of their hosts even knew what they were doing? AAR was put together by a bunch of investors who insisted on putting themselves on the board despite zero industry experience. Then they put together a roster big on celebrity (and salary) and low on experience. So it ended up with no one really knowing what they were doing on or off mic.

    Montel Williams was supposed to somehow transition from doing paternity tests on 2pm syndicated shows to doing 15 hours a week? His first radio show ever was a national one? Ron Reagan couldn't hold his own as a local radio host in Seattle, all of sudden he's given a national show? There's really no reason for him to have gotten it, other than his last name. Ditto RFK Jr. Mike Papantonio was an Air America executive who put himself on the air, the equivalent of Jerry Jones declaring himself the starting QB for the Dallas Cowboys.

    Contrast that with the other side. By the time Limbaugh got his first national show, he had been in radio for 16 years. Beck started working in radio when he was in high school. They spent years learning how to build and hold a radio audience. The right has radio people, Air America had people doing radio. Montel Williams wasn't a radio person, neither was Janeane Garofalo, they were just celebrities on the radio. There's more to a successful talk show than just talking/ranting for 3 hours, just like there's more to being a comedian than telling jokes. I can recite George Carlin's material, but it won't be as funny because I didn't spend years in two-bit clubs perfecting my timing and honing my craft.

    Air America's actual radio people, like Randi Rhodes (my pick as AAR's best show) and Mike Malloy, have been able to stay on the air post-AAR. Though Malloy's arguably closer to Art Bell nutbaritude than any coherent politics. Heck, Rhodes' show was picked up for syndication by Premiere, the same network that syndicates Limbaugh and Beck and Hannity and Dr. Laura.

    BubbaT on
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