Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Air America's Continued Turbulence

Great story from the New York Times about the continued troubles of Air America.
In early March, the network's chief executive, Mark Walsh, said that the company had raised more than $20 million, enough to keep it broadcasting for months, if not years, before making a profit. At the time, Mr. Walsh said that the network's primary backers included Evan M. Cohen, a venture capitalist who was the network's chairman, and Rex Sorensen, a business partner of Mr. Cohen's who was the chairman of Progress Media, the parent company of Air America.

But in an interview on Friday, Mr. Walsh said: "I was misled about that number.'' Mr. Walsh refused to say who had misled him, but he said that he had resigned in April because "the company wasn't transparent'' and "I was unable to decipher how it was being operated.''

Less than a month later, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Sorensen, who had previously operated radio stations together in Guam and Saipan, resigned under pressure from the company's other investors. David Goodfriend, who served as general counsel and later as acting chief operating officer of Air America, resigned about a week ago, having done his best, he said, to hold the company together in the wake of the departures of Mr. Cohen, Mr. Sorensen and Mr. Walsh. (Separately, Dave Logan, executive vice president for programming, also left, in late April.)
In fact, they claimed to have raised $30 million. And the source of new funding is still murky and shadowy.

Still, there is good news. Their ratings in at least one market are near the top. But it's also worth remembering that this is for the launch of the network, when the curiosity factor was at a high and their mere existence was a lure to check them out. As time goes on, their ratings may change. Give it a few more months for the novelty to wear off and then report the numbers. That'll really tell the story.

I also noted that the story didn't mention the abrupt resignation of evening flame-thrower Randi Rhodes, she of the famous "take Bush to the center of a lake like in The Godfather and put a bullet in his head" remark. Did she not quit?

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