RFK Jr. Claims Air America Was More Popular Than Conservative Radio

... which helps explain why conservative radio continues to dominate the airwaves while Air America Radio, uh, went kaput.

During a recent appearance on Tavis Smiley's PBS show, enviro lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose "Ring of Fire" show ran on Air America, made what reasonable souls among us might construe as a questionable claim.

Here's Kennedy responding to a question from Smiley on how liberals can better hone their message (video clip after page break) --

SMILEY: How do the people get the facts to deal with the issues that you're raising, that I'm raising, and others are raising consistently?

KENNEDY: Well, you know, there's ways to do it nowadays. You can, you know, I mean, I do it in my own way which is, I don't use computers a lot. That's what my kids do. But you get, and you know, if you go to certain sites you'll get, you'll get truthful information, but it's really, I don't think we have the infrastructure yet to really deliver that kind of information in a targeted way that, information that is critical of corporate power.

So much of the media's really dependent on corporate money, so you're not going to see, like Air America failed not because it wasn't popular. In every jurisdiction where it was operating it was beating out right-wing radio. There was a huge appetite for it. The problem was, it couldn't get advertising because the corporations, the oil companies, the biggest advertisers, the pharmaceutical companies, which is now 70 percent of the, of the revenue for, for, news shows on TV, is pharmaceutical companies. And so it's very hard to criticize them on the news. Automobile companies, which is the other big player, and many other, these companies won't, wouldn't advertise, they all boycotted Air America.

So Air America was like, you know, relying on, like, you know, hair growth products and this kind of stuff and they were scrambling for money and they couldn't find it and it killed them.

I don't pretend to be an expert on the machinations of radio markets across the country, but consider me skeptical. Air America was so popular, Kennedy claims, with a "huge appetite" among the public for its content , yet it could not line up advertisers because of that ever-so convenient bogeyman, corporate America.

A claim like this begs for specifics -- where and when did Air America Radio outdraw Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, etc., for listeners?

This wasn't quite the take on Air America's demise as reported by Brian Stelter in the New York Times on Jan. 25 2010 --

The nearly six-year-old network, which suffered from merry-go-round management and repeated financial shortfalls, halted production on Thursday evening, only one hour after staff members were told they were losing their jobs.

... In an interview (Thom Hartmann) said he found Air America to be "spectacularly incompetent" at running a radio network and gaining an audience, and left Air America last year for a lesser-known syndication company. "We've been far more successful since we left," he said.

In interviews last week a half-dozen former Air America employees cited similar complaints, namely that a series of owners and managers lacked the necessary broadcasting business expertise.

... Air America's problem, said Michael Harrison, editor of Talkers Magazine, was not knowing "whether they were a political campaign or a broadcasting company."

"They ended up not being terribly good at either," Mr. Harrison added.

The article curiously lacked any mention of a corporate "boycott" depriving Air America of advertising.

The Times also cited the losses of Al Franken and Rachel Maddow as contributing to Air America's downfall, as did Hartmann and Randi Rhodes departing for other companies.

(h/t, IHatetheMedia.com)

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts