Carolyn Kay
The Fall Of Air America and A Bold Prediction For The Future
Mon Oct 16, 2006 16:33

The Huffington Post

Brent Budowsky

The Fall Of Air America and A Bold Prediction For The Future

Disclosure: I have never had any business relationship with Air America, do not have any such relationship today, know various financial players who might participate in its future, and readers should consider that I reserve the right to possibly have some future business interest…

[S]ome summary points:

1. It is an absolute disgrace that going into an historic national election Air America has been mired in management and ownership myopia, self-indulgence and ulterior agendas. Air America should have played a far more powerful role, and this far more powerful role should have been good for business as well as good for America.

2. I believe in progressive talk radio and I absolutely predict that when this is over, Air America or its successor will emerge in a far more powerful and strong position than ever. To use Warren Buffett's term, the numbers I have seen publicly, dramatically understate the intrinsic value of what Air America should be worth as a going concern, with the proper business plan, management and governance.

3. Absolutely no new money should be offered or committed under any circumstances, beyond keeping the hosts on the air, without aggressive and extreme reforms of corporate governance based on commonly accepted, highly professional and totally transparent "governors" and "rules of governance".

4. Absolutely no new money should be offered or committed under any circumstances, beyond keeping the hosts on the air, without a first rate management team with clear CEO leadership with a proven track record, clear marketing and public relations expertise and plans led by executives with experience and records of success.

5. Absolutely no new money should be offered or committed under any circumstances, beyond keeping the hosts on the air, without a clear, visionary, aggressive, comprehensive and transparent business plan that integrates progressive talk radio and its audience, with other elements of the progressive communities in win-win entertainment, transactional and financial relationships.

6. Specifically, for progressive talk radio to be a truly viable and successful business model and going concern, there must be strong integration between the audio world of radio progressives and the internet world of on-line progressives. These win-win relationships would increase the audience and eyeball power of both progressive radio and the progessive blogs and create mutually beneficial revenue streams for both.

7. Never again should hosts be expected to run around like beggars with tin cups seeking their own sources of sponsorship and capital. This is demeaning, absurd, unprofessional and ridiculous. Air America must reach out to a larger audience, and have both internal and vendor capacities to attract advertisors and sponsors. The host's job is to host; while the management's job is to manage.

8. There should be a comprehensive corporate culture of reaching out to potential large new audiences such as Hispanic, African American, labor, progressive religious denominations and military families receptive to new ideas and new sources of radio support. With these new and larger audiences, there should be corrolary new win-win relationships with their media, including African American and Hispanic television and radio through joint projects and audience cross- promotion and cross-marketing.

There is downside and upside to Chapter 11 and the Debtor-in-Possession formula. The downside is that it is slow and cumbersome at its worst, the upside is that the Court will try in good faith to do the right thing, from a professional point of view, and those with the most egregious ulterior motives and agendas are, I predict, in for a rude awakening while those with the most effective and viable new business plans will have the advantage.

What has happened is a shame, but what is done, is done. I predict the future of progressive radio is greater than ever, based on the strategies mentioned here, and would welcome any and all public comment and, I suspect, private reactions.

Brent Budowsky served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served as Legislative Director to Congressman Bill Alexander, then Chief Deputy Whip, House of Representatives. Currently a member of the International Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit. Left goverment in 1990 for marketing and public affairs business including major corporate entertainment and talent management. He can be reached at

Lots more really good stuff at

Carolyn Kay

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