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September 13, 2005

Dear Air America Radio

Posted by Thad

I'm a very big fan of the pinch-hitting that's been going on at your network these past couple of weeks -- first, Rachel Maddow's outstanding guest stints on the Al Franken show and the Majority Report over the last two heartrending weeks. And now, OpTruth's Paul Rieckhoff and GNN's Anthony Lappé are taking over for Mike Malloy. (Temporarily.) It was great to hear Rachel at a normal human hour, and to give her the chance to stretch out, develop ideas, and interview people -- and frankly, Rachel's voice was frequently the only thing keeping me from trepanning myself with the corner of my desk. And giving Paul and Anthony the opportunity to develop new programming for you is a terrific idea, one that's long-overdue.

However...

Okay, in the spirit of constructive criticism, let's just say that I'm glad you've got such talent in your bullpen, because some of your starters are getting a little tired.

I'm just saying.

Anyway, if it's not too late in your timezone, you should really tune in to Paul and Anthony. They will be back Tuesday night as well. Of course, if you missed it, you can catch the podcast (when it goes up) here or here (second link requires iTunes 5.0).

- Thad

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Comments

And I thought it was just me.

I don't even bother to try and find Air America. I like Al Franken as a comedian, but....the left needs, well, other voices.

Benji, if you're not at least downloading the podcast for Rachel Maddow's show, you are seriously missing out.

Dear Majikthise,

I guess what Thad has said about Air America's modality the last couple of weeks could be compared to Majikthise since Lindsay left for NO. A comparison could be made to Franken's vacancy and Lindsay's.

Franken's program could be a LOT, LOT better. That's not to say it doesn't occasionally work. But somebody on his staff needs to find a way for the format to reach out more to the hundreds of thousands of listeners wanting to hear strong statements of progressive solutions. Al and Air America rely way too heavily on the Democrats. I consider this to be the fatal flaw of Air America - and of a lot of progressive blogs. They could be hustling along the inevitable demise of the exceedingly obsolete Democratic Party and help find a strong replacement. Sort of like the way the late 1840s newspapers helped rid us of the Whigs.

Rachel Maddow didn't do that, but she probably attracted a few new (25,000?) listeners nationwide.

I don't regard Air America as a genuinely progressive idea, in that it reaches back toward old school Democratic Party traditions more than it invites guests who might articulate a vision from outside their party line's multi-faceted, but highly confining box. If somebody from the Democratic machine would say on Franken's program that "The Green Party has many viable ideas" rather than insinuate that the Green Party cost Al Gore the 2000 election, I'd be impressed. The Democratic Party isn't evolving faster than 99% of the political institutions on this planet. Doesn't make for good radio. No change from day to day, unless the other guy screws up. Then you get to talk about that.

Thad and others are standing in for Lindsay this week. Although Air America was started to grab a part of the AM dial for moderately progressive ideas, Majikthise (I think) was started to articulate the link between contemporary American philosophical currents and emerging trends in progressive thought. But the site has inevitably been drawn into many other aspects of the progressive debate.

And the stand-ins at Majikthise are doing a better job than the Air America stand-ins. Not by a whole helluva lot, but better.

As far as I'm concerned, within the next 24 months we won't recognize the media environment. Bloggers who can find advertising footing may become the next internets revolution. That is unfortunate, but unless the regulatory environment makes it harder for sites like Majikthise to be found by new viewers, growing interest in independent and reliable sources will increase.

People are sick, sick, sick of the regular media. The MSM's unfolding desperate run back to their schlock after last week's examples of real reporting may produce a backlash, as word of mouth points people toward the superior examples of reporting done on the non-corporate web.

I really want to beat my head against the desk right now. Every time I hear about Air America (which I enjoy) as the only progressive radio network, I want to snarl. It's just not true. Pacifica radio has been around for decades. Rachel Goodman has been syndicated with them for a long, long time.

They're further left than Air America, and have the feel of old-school NPR migled with a coverage of topics I didn't even know existed until I'd heard them. They're a valuable connection to the "Old Left" that still has a great many valid messages.

One of the things I love about Science Fiction (trust me, this relates) is the concept of Cognative Dissonance - where you are pulled outside your own set of assumptions for a moment, and look through the world with someone else's. It doesn't last long unless you're happily ensnared in someone's writing (or less often, a movie), but when it does you learn. Lots. Pacifica Radio provides lots of opportunity for that, if only by letting you hear people talk who isn't interested in adopting your worldview and values - they've got their own, and have grown strong in fighting for them.

I first heard Dorothy Healy's "Marxist Commentary" there, first heard speakers sympathetic to AIM, and from supporters of Aristade. Yes, that list was designed to be somewhat inflammatory in the eyes of the Nielsen "average" - because that is the job the alternative media is supposed to do: to give voice to concepts that are taboo in the mainstream.

It's not something that will appeal to everyone, or even most. This is a group of people who's managed to do a lot with very little support from anyone. Given that Pacifica has held on for so very long under some stiff media opposition and public indifference, they have a great deal to teach us as well.

I'll give Rachel a listen. Thanks Thad.

I can barely stand listening to Al Franken anymore.Enough with the dumb skits already,and the same old "regulars"over and over.Al has become the"flagship"for Air America,when he's actually one of the more inexperienced radio people there.

Rachel Maddow is much better and really oughta have more air time during peak hours and/or drive time.

Everything Angry Old Broad says is true, and yet were I king of Air America, I'd ease Rachel into the afternoon drivetime slot, after agreeing to write Randi Rhodes a heartfelt letter of recommendation as she goes on to find other, greener pastures. Because of, you know, triage. Because Rhodes is just abysmal. Franken could stick around for a few more weeks, until I found out whether Laura Flanders wanted his slot.

And speaking as an erstwhile KPFA host, thanks, Stealth, for the props to Pacifica. The network drives me nuts sometimes, but it's pretty much the way a beloved family member can drive you nuts.

I lost my link to AAR when I sold my car, with its XM receiver, earlier in the year. How have Mark & Mark been doing?

StealthBadger:

Not Rachel Goodman, but AMY Goodman.

And, yes, Democracy Now is far more articulate than Air America.

Sorry. -_-;

There are six feet of cotton between me and the rest of the world right now. And I even looked up the link.

I listen to the Al Franken show every day, then sometimes I even catch the same episode on Sundance Channel. Because his is a great fucking show and you people who say otherwise don't know what the fuck you are talking about.

Rachel Maddow is NOT better. I caught her while she was subbing and I could hardly stand to listen to her even though I agreed with almost everything she was saying. Because she's not fucking funny, and it was goddam monotonous.

Al has great guests, especially David Brock, and usually the skits are funny. And hey, it's hard to be funny every day, that's why Maddow doesn't even bother trying.

And the same goes for this blog - it's better when Lindsay is hosting. If I didn't think she'd be back soon, I wouldn't bother visiting at all.

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