Skip to comments.Waiting for Al Franken [Hugh Hewitt: if liberal talk show fails, don't expect to learn why]
Posted on 03/24/2004 3:22:07 PM PST by RonDog
Waiting for Al Franken
Posted: March 24, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.comAl Franken launches his new talk-radio program next week. The nation's news media is working overtime to help him succeed. The cover story of the New York Times Magazine this past Sunday was an extended appeal to the readers to give Franken a shot and to explain why he ought to succeed. I can recall no parallel attention ever being lavished on Rush, Sean Hannity or any other center-right host on radio or television. Clearly there is a lot riding on Franken.
Radio talk-show hosts like me love this exercise. If Franken succeeds in attracting an audience that Arbitron can measure, he will be bringing additional listeners to the AM dial. This is exactly like adding a popular new store to a successful mall. Everyone wins. Folks who understand radio know that everyone on the dial hopes for the overall success of the dial, not just their own station. Sure we compete, but capitalists especially understand that rising tides lift all boats.
But it is more than likely than Franken will fail, and that scenario as well has a silver lining: With all this hoopla and all this cheerleading from the bigs like the Sunday Times, if Franken still falls on his face, there will be no excuses. A lesson will be written in stone. That lesson: The left doesn't have a popular following, only special interests addicted to benefits or power or both.
If Franken can't match Limbaugh's audience, or Hannity's, or Medved's, Prager's, O'Reilly's or mine, he's going to have to explain why. A lack of talent? Let's stipulate that Franken's the most talented voice on the left, a combination of nastiness and satirical humor as well as a little guy's fury, as demonstrated by his knock-down of a heckler at a Dean event earlier this year.
No, he should succeed if talent is all that it takes.
But it takes more than talent it requires an audience interested in listening to arguments that depend, at least in part, on logic and fact. And that's the Achilles' heel of "Air America," the new liberal network that Franken anchors. The modern Democratic Party is supported by interest groups that align themselves in large part because of power, money and fear not deep-seated beliefs. These folks aren't going to tune in for re-education on why they ought to believe in an agenda. They expect payoffs, and don't need to be tutored on the niceties of debate.
Sure, there are true believers in the agenda of the left. These are the folks who make Michael Moore a best-selling author, and Franken a celebrity in the first place. But their proportion of the radio population is miniscule, and already attached to NPR.
One example: A large segment of the left's coalition in America is the African-American vote. Does anyone seriously believe that Franken the lily-white, privileged Minnesota boy turned acidic voice of west-side Manhattan is going to bring south-central Los Angeles or downtown Detroit to his station?
Franken's appealing to the campus elite and newsroom hand-ringers. How many of them listen to AM radio ever? Sure, he's got the New York Times Sunday Magazine crowd, but how is his ad force going to sell that demographic in the middle of America?
Franken's got a big subsidy and a loud cheering section. But Arbitron ratings require listeners. The first set of ratings to judge Al by will be available in early July after a 3-month period elapses. Given the push he's getting from free ink, he won't have any excuse for not starting strong. If he can't make it here, he won't make it anywhere, and radio general managers and program directors know this and will watch the rollout closely.
I just hope we get updates on Franken's success or lack thereof every bit as detailed as the accounts of his launch. If he ends up in the box marked Mario Cuomo, Jim Hightower and Mike Malloy, there won't be any excuses except this: The folks who care about reason and humor find neither in the whining of the angry left.
Hugh Hewitt's new book is here! "In, But Not Of" takes a hard look at Christian ambition and influence and provides readers with valuable insights, wisdom, personal experiences and advice on how to rise in the world and achieve the kind of radical success that honors God. Autographed copies now available in ShopNetDaily!
Hugh Hewitt is an author, television commentator and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country.
The crust of it. Liberal talk has already failed before it begins.
(If you want OFF - or ON - my "Hugh Hewitt PING list" - please let me know)
Agree. Ala Phil Donahue on pMSNBC.
Here's the website. They only have 3 stations:Thanks for the LINK!
NEW YORK - Comedian Al Franken is baiting conservatives again, and this time he's bringing along a bunch of friends to back him up.
Franken will be the lead personality on Air America Radio, a startup venture promising a liberal alternative to powerhouse radio talk show pundits like Rush Limbaugh.
The backers of Air America announced their programming lineup on Wednesday and said they planned to launch the network on March 31 in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.
Franken will be joined by fellow TV comedian Janeane Garofalo (news), both of whom will have co-hosts for their live three-hour shows. Other shows will be hosted by Randi Rhodes, a radio personality from southern Florida, and Lizz Winstead, a co-creater of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central.
Franken, in a swipe at Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, plans to call his midday show "The O'Franken Factor."
"Bill, I want you to sue us," Franken said on a conference call with reporters, referring to a case last year in which a judge threw out O'Reilly's request to ban Franken from using the slogan "Fair and Balanced" on the cover of his book. The ruling turned into a bonanza of publicity for Franken.
However, it seems unlikely another lawsuit is in the offing. Asked to respond to Franken's remarks, Robert Zimmerman, a spokesman for Fox News said: "All forms of free speech are welcomed in this country. We wish them well."
Franken, who has signed a one-year contract with the network, made it clear that he intends to use his pulpit to pillory President Bush (news - web sites) in the run-up to the election.
"Bush is going down in November," Franken said. "We're not ceding this territory any more. To their credit, the right wing has captured radio. We're going after them, and we're going after them hard."
Mark Walsh, the CEO of Progress Media Inc., the company backing the network, said they have yet to sign any firm deals with advertisers but that several nonprofit organizations and progressive groups have promised to advertise.
He said the company hoped to raise "upward of $30 million" by the time the network goes live, which would allow them to operate for about 2 years before turning a profit. He declined to say how much they had raised so far, but he said "we are well on our way" to reaching the goal.
Reactions to the new network were mixed. Richard Cotter, the senior buyer of local broadcast advertising for MindShare Inc., says Air America could be a "refreshing alternative for listeners," but cautioned that "you never know until it goes on the air."
Robert Unmacht of In3 Partners, a media consulting firm in Nashville, Tenn., said Air America's initial array of stations was "weak."
"They've been far more interested in the thought of creating the network than in the actual business end of it," Unmacht said. "You need to run a complete radio station. You can't just say hey, we're liberal, isn't that great."
Walsh acknowledged that the starting base for the network was small, though positioned in key markets. "We don't expect to get giant numbers right away. This is one brick at a time."
Ironically, the name the liberal radio network has chosen for itself bears a close resemblance to "Air America," a covert CIA (news - web sites) operation in Laos during the Vietnam War. Franken joked with reporters that the radio network was also being funded by the CIA.
If Kerry wins, everyone will lose interest in seconds (if there is any to begin with), and he will disappear faster than his movie did at the box office.
In any case, this is just the Left's attempt to get an avenue for constant, unquestioned press releases into the airwaves (like they forgot about CNN).
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