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Air America



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Just one brief thought about the demise of Air America. For several years now, the venture’s boosters have insisted there is nothing wrong with the idea of Air America. Their problems all stemmed from obscure details of one kind or another. I have no doubt that all sorts of non-ideological mistakes were made. But the one important point is that if their programming were legitimately popular those mistakes wouldn’t have mattered. All sorts of successful entrepreneurial ventures make countless mistakes getting up and running. But because their products are popular those mistakes don’t really matter. If very large numbers of people wanted to listen to Air America, Air America wouldn’t be bankrupt. Money would have rolled in and this keystone cops stuff would have remained invisible. But despite the best efforts of very serious Progressive types and ample up front investment and enormous free publicity and goodwill from the mainstream media, the thing still bombed. Air America was launched on the assumption that “if you build it, they will come.” They didn’t. And that’s the moral of the story few on the left will ever admit or call attention to.

I am sure that I will get emailed all sorts of articles and blog posts pointing to the great numbers Air America had in Muncie or Austin. That’s all nice and fine. But the thing died because the thing was doomed from the start. Deal with it.

Update: From a reader:

You said: For several years now, the venture’s boosters have insisted
there is nothing wrong with the idea of Air America. Their problems
all stemmed from obscure details of one kind or another. I have no
doubt that all sorts of non-ideological mistakes were made. But the
one important point is that if their programming were legitimately
popular those mistakes wouldn’t have mattered.

Wow. Sounds like every dorm-room debate about Communism I was in
10-12 years ago…. “Implementations of Communism only failed because
of small non-ideological details!” “No, it failed because it’s
inherently unworkable!” I get a kick out of the comparison. :)

Me: It’s apt comparison for a bunch of reasons. Utopians have a hard time accepting reality for big ventures and small alike.

From another reader:

Jonah Your comment in the post about doing fine in Austin, etc. indirectly illustrates perfectly the mindset of the Air America crowd.  You or I might think about starting a radio program devoted to a particular political polarity in, say, Austin.  It may do very well in Austin at which time we or someone else might say “lets see how it plays in Muncie, etc.” and on and on until we have expanded nationwide into markets where the show does well, like Limbaugh and the like.  The Air America crowd says “we’ll build a nationwide network and keep pouring money into it no matter how few people listen and it will thus be a success”, just like a government program.  What they have found, however, is that, unlike with a government program, the money does not automatically keep pouring in.  There are only so many poor childrens’ piggy banks that can be raided and even liberal investors want a rate of return eventually.


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