We Didn’t Know He Was Here, Or We’d Have Asked

As it turns out, on the day liberal talk radio network Air America filed for bankruptcy (see below), the network’s best known star was so close to the OMW World Headquarters…that we could have driven a few miles and asked him about the day’s events.

Not that he was saying anything about the news.

We find out from the Akron Beacon Journal’s Rich Heldenfels that Air America midday host Al Franken was actually in Akron on Friday, at an event at the University of Akron to support Democratic candidates.

Franken didn’t comment on the bankruptcy of the radio network that’s had much trouble paying him over the past two plus years, saying he’d hold off commenting until Monday due to the fact he’s traveling.

Heldenfels also talks to Tom Embrescia, who OMW pointed out Friday as a creditor in the AAR bankruptcy filing.

The former local radio owner (WWWE, WDOK) says his percentage share of the network is in the “low single digits”.

Though he thought the idea of a progressive talk network was a “good radio idea”, like just about everyone else with background in radio instead of left-leaning politics, Embrescia tells the Beacon Journal that Air America’s plan “had not been well executed”.

Talk about your understatement of the year.

At times, the liberal talk network has been a classic case of “how not to run a radio network”, with a bloated staff (how many commercial talk radio shows have a staff of WRITERS?) and little idea how to handle the nuts and bolts of a radio operation.

Air America also has, in its 2-plus year history, pretty much directly ignored most of the advice radio professionals have given it, including advice from those radio pros actually working for the company.

And it’s always felt more like a political operation than a radio one, and that hasn’t changed. In its press release about the bankruptcy, Air America notes the importance of being on the air in the upcoming election season, as new CEO Scott Elberg points out:

“Staying on the air is crucial for the Network’s primary ratings period as well as for the country which is facing its most important mid-term election in recent history.”

From elsewhere in the land of progressive talk, Jones Radio’s Ed Schultz put out a statement noting his show’s independence from Air America. And according to this blog entry by Joe Gandelman at “The Moderate Voice”, Schultz had Product 1st co-owner Stu Krane to talk about it on Friday. Gandelman writes:

They want to produce a show that’s good radio, good entertainment, that gets listeners and makes money.

Krane is half of the group which owns the Schultz show – the other half being suburban Cincinnati’s Randy Michaels.

The Beacon’s Heldenfels also – as we did yesterday – quotes WARF/1350 “Radio Free Ohio” operations manager Keith Kennedy’s online statement on the current status of the Air America network and the network’s local affiliate.

A sidebar: Heldenfels now is credited as the “popular culture” writer for the paper, a beat which continues to include television. He’ll eventually be taking over movies from departing critic George Thomas, and it appears radio is also in his beat mix now.

We don’t know if Mr. Heldenfels reads OMW, as Mr. Thomas does.

But as he starts using his first name Rich on his byline, we remind him that radio stations do not have to physically move to their exact communities of license. So, don’t call up city officials in Stow and ask them how they feel about WWVA/1170 Wheeling WV not camping out in the Akron suburb.

(OK, Denise Grollmus, we promise that’ll be the LAST joke about that article!)

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