Air America — Clear Channel

A year ago today, a Clear Channel station airing 50s do-wop songs switched formats to become a Clear Channel station airing Air America. And thus, the symbiotic relationship between Clear Channel and Air America (and for that matter Ed Schultz, and later Jerry Springer) was borne.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act upped the number of stations a corporation could own to a point where Clear Channel doesn’t know what to do with a station. Such was 620 AM, which had gone from a mix of ESPN Radio and “Comedy” of whatever sort (welcome Phil Hendrie into the Portland market, at least) to a station of second and third rate Right wing talk shows (as well as Lionel — a holdover from the previous format, who push comes to shove I’d probably rather listen to than anything else on talk radio) to essentially an empty warehouse (that’s the 50s do-wop songs).

That is what is at the heart of thishere: Since switching from an oldies music lineup to progressive talk, KPOJ has moved into the top 10 most-listened-to stations locally. “We went from a 0.4 rating to a 3.7, and that’s a pretty substantial jump,” Dirkx says of the latest Arbitron ratings, for fall 2004. “It’s the most successful progressive talk station going right now.”

There’s something a little odd about hearing the promos of the voice that used to chant uber-patriotic slogans above Michael Reagan and Michael Gallagher promos now chanting vaguely liberal slogans above Randi Rhodes and Al Franken, but that’s the way the corporate world works. Such is the competition that we get something like this:

In one of the curious twists of modern media, KPOJ’s Dirkx is also operations manager for KEX (1190 AM) — a chief competitor for Portland talk-radio ears. “It’s been a good dog fight,” he says. Of the three leading talk-radio stations, KEX (which carries Limbaugh) has been the overall leader, with KXL (home to conservative talkers Bill O’Reilly and Lars Larson) and KPOJ close behind.

Today, one third of Air America Radio stations are Clear Channel stations. It probably works out well for both of them. And Ed Schultz needs radio stations that program something to slide him into, and thus… he can thank Air America for his success.

As for the unofficial/ official goal of AAR, to become part of a Vast Liberal (or perhaps Left-Wing) Conspiracy that would in some cases simply bring Democrats into power (Al Franken is basically a court jester for the Democratic Party, and sells himself off as a “DLC Democrat”) or in other cases bring some left-wing mindset into America (Mike Malloy hates the Democratic Party)? Well… Air America is available to about 75% of the nation, the problem there being that the other 25% is where the dearthline of “Liberalism” lie. The other idea I’m thinking is that you can’t quite claim success on that field until you have more than one station broadcasting “liberal talk”… thus, somewhere I posted a theoretical programming lineup of other talk show hosts to fill a different station. Then it’d be able to get itself away from a sort of “Anti-Bush Cottage Industry”, and…

Hm. Business plans, anyone?

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