The vast arid wasteland known as liberal radio is becoming even more barren. Loose-cannon lefty Randi Rhodes is pulling the plug on her show.
News of Rhodes' impending departure came in a terse statement from Premiere Networks, which broadcasts her show through 35 affiliates -- "[We] can confirm that Randi Rhodes has decided to end her national radio program. We've had a successful partnership with Randi for several years and we wish her all the best for the future. Premiere Networks will conclude syndication and production of Randi Rhodes on May 16, 2014." (Audio clips after the jump)
Rhodes spent considerable time on her show this week saying goodbye to listeners and outlining the rationale for her decision. She also couldn't resist taking swipes at Al Franken and Rachel Maddow, her former colleagues at now-defunct Air America Radio, especially Maddow (audio) --
So when Air America came I said, oh my God, and the opportunity is amazing, to be the advocate of even more people and to tell people even more about, you know, how you get through this life and what's important, you know, that you vote and participation and your own life, meaning every part of it is the most important thing that you can choose. So I took that and I've always described that as the worst of times and the best of times because it was the best of times for me in that I had this platform that I never would have had without them, and it was the worst of times because frankly that place was run like, OK, into the ground. How's that? That's how it was run and it was apparent from the day we got there.
And so it was like, oh my God, this is the greatest opportunity with the worst, wrong, most insane company, which passed through hands and different hands and these hands and that and people were using it for their own reasons. People were using it not to advocate for others but people were using it for their own advancement, to get someplace else. No one was there to make that place work. Everyone that was there, and they kept saying, she's the only radio person, and there was a reason why I wasn't in it for myself. I was in it for the format. I was in it for being an advocate, for having a platform where things like what I say could be heard and become very mainstream and understandable and interesting and funny and, you know, it could be a platform like we've never had before. But other people were not there for that. Some people saw, you know, a chance to be in a Cabinet and other people saw it as a chance to go to the Senate and other people saw it as a chance to national television. Everybody was using it for their own reason and it just, it was not, so I came back here to Florida.
While she didn't specifically name them, it's obvious that Rhodes is alluding to Air America co-founder Al Franken, who was elected to the Senate in 2008, and Rachel Maddow, who began dividing her time between Air America and guest appearances on MSNBC that same year. In September 2009, MSNBC started airing "The Rachel Maddow Show" as part of its weeknight lineup.
During a conversation with a sympathetic caller, Rhodes disparaged Maddow again and sounded like she was on the verge of tears (audio) --
RHODES: People who are independent, they can do, you know, pretty much what we do. But frankly you're not going to make, you know, a fortune and you're not going to have a platform that looks anything like what you thought it could be look like because, frankly, when we had the chance to make the platform successful, other people -- and you know I have a problem with some other people in this business -- because they used that platform for their own, you know, elevation, for their own ...
RHODES: ... for their own self-aggrandizement, exactly, and they let that format fail. And ever since that format failed, everybody points to it and says, see, it doesn't work. That was a huge mistake, I was in there making so much noise about that, that they had a responsibility that was greater than what, you know, they might have thought it was and that if they didn't sign up for this to get the hell out, all right? And they didn't. They continued to take a salary from it, they drained it of its resources, it failed, and then some of them went on to do, you know, the self-aggrandizement thing that they wanted to do. Some of the salaries of the people that, that, that actually sucked the life, the resources out of that platform, Air America, some of them are making $7 million a year now!
CALLER: I know what you mean.
RHODES: Right, so it's not for me. That's not why I'd do it. It's never been the reason why I did it. I had a bigger game in mind and the game was to make the American people understand they weren't alone, they weren't insane, to tell them how to, you know, address these issues the simplest way possible and it wasn't ever about me getting rich.
CALLER: You didn't need that anyway.
RHODES: No, I didn't need that and I understood that way back in the day. I understood what my value is because of the family I have, because of the amount of love and respect that I get. I didn't need anything more, other people did. And it's hard to forgive that, but I'm working on it.
This time her criticism is more obviously aimed at Maddow and her $7 million annual salary at MSNBC. Rhodes also slammed former AAR colleagues who "sucked the life" and resources out of Air America, a possible allusion to Maddow continuing to get paid there even after her "radio" show consisted of nothing more than rebroadcasts of her appearances on MSNBC.
Rhodes, you may recall, parted company from Air America in April 2008 after the radio network initially suspended her weeks earlier for maligning both Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro as "a f****ing whore" during a speaking engagement in San Francisco.
Rhodes also went after fellow lefty talker Ed Schultz several years ago, revealing that his radio show was launched with hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from Senate Democrats.
What's next for Rhodes? Beyond saying her last show will air on May 16 (same day Barbara Walters leaves "The View," Rhodes points out), she remains vague about her plans. One thing for certain -- it won't involve working in media. And safe to say she won't be making any joint appearances with Maddow, Franken, Clinton or Schultz.