- The Washington Times - Friday, January 22, 2010

Air America is going silent.

The progressive talk radio network will cease live broadcasts immediately, a victim of an uncertain economy, a fragmented audience and dwindling advertising revenues in a crowded media marketplace.

“It is with the greatest regret, on behalf of our Board, that we must announce that Air America Media is ceasing its live programming operations as of this afternoon, and that the company will file soon under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code to carry out an orderly winding-down of the business,” said Air America Media chairman Charlie Kireker in a memo to staffers on Thursday.

The network will switch to “encore programming” of previous shows until ending their on-air presence at 9 p.m. Monday.

Mr. Kireker blamed the network’s woes on the “perfect storm” of financial and marketing challenges facing the news industry in general, citing the recent bankruptcies of Citadel Broadcasting and the trade publication Radio & Records as prime examples.

“Those companies that remain are facing audience fragmentation as a result of new media technologies, are often saddled with crushing debt, and have generally found it difficult to obtain operating or investment capital from traditional sources of funding,” he said.

“In this climate, our painstaking search for new investors has come close several times right up into this week, but ultimately fell short of success.”

The network was launched with much ballyhoo in 2004, and included then-comedian and political commentator Al Franken and Rachel Maddow among its stable of talent. Jerry Springer, Arianna Huffington and Randi Rhodes were also regulars.

The progressive fare was ultimately heard on 100 stations.

“At a critical time in our nation’s history — when dissent on issues such as the Iraq war were often denounced as ‘un-American’ — Air America and its talented team helped millions of Americans remember the importance of compelling discussion about the most pivotal events and decisions of our generation,” Mr. Kireker said.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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