Skip to comments.Liberal Radio Group Says It Is Close to Acquiring 5 Stations
Posted on 11/30/2003 9:41:00 PM PST by raccoonradio
Liberal Radio Group Says It Is Close to Acquiring 5 Stations By JIM RUTENBERG
Published: December 1, 2003
Democratic investment group planning to start a liberal radio network to counterbalance conservative radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh says it is close to buying radio stations in five major cities.
The acquisitions would represent a major move toward making the network real. After its conception was announced in February, many radio analysts and even some Democratic activists predicted that the network would face too many challenges to get off the ground, including finding stations to run its programming and bucking a historical record replete with failed liberal radio attempts.
But executives with the newly formed company, Progress Media, said late last week that if all went as planned they would have the network running by early spring, in time to be part of the public dialogue during the presidential campaign season.
The executives said the stations they were acquiring reached all radios in 5 of the 10 largest media markets: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston. They said they would buy stations in other markets in the near future.
"We're steady as she goes to have a broadcast debut in early 2004, which gives us time to be part of the election year," said Mark Walsh, the company's chief executive and an Internet entrepreneur formerly with VerticalNet and America Online.
The group is planning to present a daily schedule filled with liberal personalities as hosts of a range of programs, including news analysis segments, talk shows and entertainment programs in the spirit of "The Daily Show," the spoof news program on cable television's Comedy Central that skewers Washington.
Jon Sinton, Progress Media's president, said the company had hired Lizz Winstead, one of the creators of "The Daily Show," to oversee entertainment programming. Shelley Lewis, a longtime network news producer who was most recently in charge of "American Morning" on CNN, will oversee news programming, Mr. Sinton said.
He said Progress Media was pursuing a deal to give the comedian Al Franken a daily talk show. The company, whose programming division is to be called Central Air, is also talking with representatives of the comedian Janeane Garofalo.
The network has hired Martin Kaplan to be the host of an early evening talk show about the news media. Mr. Kaplan is associate dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and was once a speechwriter for Walter F. Mondale as well as a Disney studio executive.
Mr. Kaplan said in an interview that part of his charge would be to address some of the more extreme voices on the right. "It will be a chance to make fun of the pomposity and the bullying which the right has engaged in, and which a good chunk of the mainstream media has bought into," he said. "The self-righteousness of the right is now their greatest weakness, and I think we need to put those people on a whoopee cushion."
But in terms of ratings, history is against the likes of Mr. Kaplan, Mr. Franken and Ms. Garofalo. Radio analysts say there is a reason there are so many more popular conservative radio hosts than there are liberal ones, and a reason so many highly publicized attempts to start left-leaning radio programming have failed. (Mario M. Cuomo's talk show was canceled. Jim Hightower, who once had a nationally syndicated three-hour show, is still in the radio business, but as the host of a two-minute commentary segment heard mostly on noncommercial radio.)
Some political analysts have attributed past failures to liberal audiences' lack of interest in hearing their own views repeated. Some radio executives, including Kraig T. Kitchin, the president of Rush Limbaugh's radio distributor, Premiere Radio Networks, have said the cultural composite of the left is too diffuse to be easily targeted.
For his part, Mr. Limbaugh has dismissed reports about planned liberal alternatives to his program as silly, contending that he is merely a counterweight to overwhelmingly liberal mainstream news and entertainment media.
"Please! On TV you own C-Span, PBS, C-Span 2, CNN, ABC, CNNfn, CBS, MSNBC, CNN Headline News, NBC, CNBC, Bloomberg, Lifetime, Oxygen, etc.," he wrote on his Web site this year, addressing liberals. "Simply for giving the conservative point of view equal time, you call Fox `conservative.' You have radio guys on NPR 24/7!"
In response, Mr. Sinton said: "While individuals on those networks may occasionally express views that are left of center, on balance we find those organizations to be pretty centrist. Our task is more than to be left leaning with the exception of Al, who wants to call his show `The Liberal Show.' Our task is to be funny and entertaining, a no-sacred-cows sort of thing."
Progress Media would not say which stations it was planning to buy. Officials said they had begun to build a central studio space in midtown Manhattan.
They would not say how much the stations would cost altogether. But a major-market station can cost on the order of $30 million.
Much of the money for the company initially came from Sheldon and Anita Drobny, wealthy Chicago Democrats who originated the project but sold much of their stake to Evan Cohen, a New York investor.
n 1: a hole (as in the wall of a building) made by rats
2: a small dirty uncomfortable room
Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University
BBAAAAAWWWAAAAAAA.....they can't listen to their own TRIPE....and they think this will WORK....no one really WANTS to listen to their "intellectual" discussions or even their non-intellectual discussions......they are LOSERS! LOSERS are not people who others FOLLOW! (Or listen to.)
Zilch, zip, nada.......
On the contrary, I will listen. And I imagine quite a few other people will listen in as well... for the sheer joy of calling in and logically abusing whatever asinine hosts they manage to scrounge up. Then we probably will get bored and go back to letting Rush do the dirty work, whereupon the stations will die.
They may get their twaddle on-air, but they can't make people listen to it and take it seriously. And when they can't deliver the audience, they won't get the advertising dollars. And when they can't do that, they will bleed to death financially over a long period of time. Consider what salon.com would be if it was a small chain of radio stations, and you've got the idea down pat.
In that case I wish they would buy HDTV stations across the country.
FReegards and Happy Hols!
Wonder who the advertisers will be ... establishments that cash government checks, ambulance chasing law firms, p-rno shops, abortionists ...
So long, Oogie.
Hokey smoke - Republicans stand to lose votes in all five of those bastions of conservatism...we're talking twenty, thirty people here.
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