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Air America: Still Kicking, but Learning Anything?

Air America is still around—rescued from bankruptcy by New York real estate mogul Stephen Green, who’s pledged to turn it into a functioning profit machine—but has management learned to view Air America less as a megaphone and more as a business?

The Village Voice suggests reason for skepticism.

Stephen Green is having his brother, liberal New York politician Mark Green, run AA with radio veteran Scott Elberg. The way that AA had been running before its bankruptcy and rescue hadn’t been working so well:

“We were tilting at more than windmills,” said former network CEO Mark Walsh. “We were tilting at a radio structure that had become decidedly right-wing across the board. We thought we were going to change the national conversation.”

Despite the red ink in the company’s ledgers, Air America the brand did affect that conversation. Green pointed to the many liberal outfits, from The Huffington Post to MoveOn.org, that have blossomed since Air America launched its answer to Rush Limbaugh et al.

Two things:

I.) MoveOn.org was founded in 1998. Ergo, for Air America to have had anything to do with their success, it must be so influential that its influence can travel backwards through time.

II.) Though the article admits the company isn’t working so great as a business, The Village Voice and Mark Green seem to believe that “affect[ing] that conversation” is some valid measure of the network’s success.

Perhaps. But by that standard New Coke was a success too. It affected the conversation about Coke, did it not?

If a financial turnaround is underway at AA, it would be too early to see it now. But so far, this short piece makes it seem as if Mark Green has spent much of his time at hectoring Fox News and New York Post editors. It doesn’t seem like a rethinking of priorities is at hand at AA.

The article concludes:

[Mark] Green’s pugilistic instincts and the network’s loudmouth partisanship seem to be a good fit. Together they might make the radio waves that save Air America.

So what AA needs to save it is more pugilistic partisanship? More? It’s enough to make me think The Village Voice might have a left-wing agenda. But, like Rosie, I’ll keep an open mind.

Louis WittigLouis Wittig is a writer and editor in New York City. He writes regularly on media (mostly the frivolous types) for National Review Online and the Weekly Standard Online.

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