June 22, 2004

HIGH LIVING & LOW RATINGS:

Inside Air America's troubles: Optimism and shaky finances (JULIA ANGWIN, The Associated Press and SARAH MCBRIDE, The Wall Street Journal, 6/21/04)

On March 30, the night before Air America went on the air, the liberal radio network threw itself a $70,000 party at Manhattan's hip Maritime Hotel. More than 1,000 guests, including Yoko Ono and Tim Robbins, drank red, white and blue vodka cocktails as they toasted the network's bid to challenge the dominance of conservative talk radio.

But behind the scenes, Air America was running out of money. Today several employees say they still haven't been reimbursed for the costs of attending the New York launch. "It was a fun party, until I knew I was paying for it," says Bob Visotcky, Air America's former Los Angeles market manager, who hasn't been reimbursed for his hotel room and flight.

Mr. Visotcky wasn't the only insider in the dark about the company's problems. Many of Air America's investors and executives say they thought the network had raised more than $30 million, based on assurances from its owners, Guam-based entrepreneurs Evan M. Cohen and Rex Sorensen. In fact, Air America had raised only $6 million, Mr. Cohen concedes. Within six weeks of the launch, those funds had been spent and the company owed creditors more than $2 million.

When the problems came to light, "we realized that we had all been duped," says David Goodfriend, the company's acting chief operating officer.


On the other hand, aren't you really duping yourself if you think there's an audience for this stuff?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 22, 2004 8:08 AM
Comments

People who believe like they do specialize in duping themselves, 24x7.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at June 22, 2004 8:26 AM

...Yoko?

Imagine no Rush Limbaugh
It's easy if you drink
Imagine Franken is funny
And invisible rabbits are pink

Imagine all the masses
tuning in AirAmericaaa
Ja-ha-ha-neane Garofalo is a screamer
Howard's not the only one
We hope some day you'll tune in
Then we'll have an audience of one.

Posted by: Noel at June 22, 2004 9:49 AM

"Guam-based entrepreneurs" ??

yep, Guam is exactly where I would look for investors in a new enterprise. And if not there then perhaps some of those Nigerian "investors" wanting to give you gold-bullion.

Posted by: h-man at June 22, 2004 10:23 AM

Sure there's an audience for that stuff. The problem is that they are committed to listening to NPR, thanks to brand name identification.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 22, 2004 10:44 AM

The station here that carries Rush is also carrying Air America.

I listened in the car for about 3 minutes (which is 2 minutes longer than I've ever been able to stomach Limbaugh). It was really, really boring.

The problem with liberals, generally, is they tend to be vegetarians, so you can't throw them red meat.

The problem with conservatives is that when you throw them the red meat, they bite off your hand.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at June 22, 2004 4:05 PM

H-Man beat me to it: yeah, nothin' would make me more confident in my investment than the words "Guam-based entrepeneurs."
If Air America's books turn out to be as cooked as it looks like they are, I am going to laugh, laugh, laugh.

Posted by: Governor Breck at June 22, 2004 4:53 PM

Noel:

Very good. :-)

Posted by: Peter B at June 22, 2004 5:15 PM

Maybe they were waiting for the $26 million dollars promised them by a relative of a former Nigerian dictator?

Posted by: Chris Durnell at June 22, 2004 8:20 PM

>On the other hand, aren't you really duping
>yourself if you think there's an audience for
>this stuff?

Only if the audience is forced to listen.

Like North Korean radios (with no tuning dial or off switch)...

Or eating your vegetables -- Nanny sez "Listen to Air America, Billy. It's GOOD for you!"

Posted by: Ken at June 24, 2004 8:17 PM
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