Friday, April 01, 2005

An important milestone?

Has it already been a year since Air America Radio went on the air? (And are they playing an April Fool's joke on their listeners by adding Jerry Springer to their daily line-up?) On Sunday, the New York Times profiled Janeane Garofalo, who seems comfortable with her career change to a political pundit. (I miss you in the movies, Janeane.) And last night, HBO ran a documentary, titled Left of the Dial, which followed Air America's struggles to get on - and stay on - the air. Some painful moments were captured on film, which made for an entertaining show.

I don't know how many of you have ever listened to the network, since it still isn't available in that many cities. It's still not available in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area, which sort of baffles me. We're a liberal college town, man. We'd eat that stuff up. Well, maybe. But it's available in Charleston, SC, for Christ's sake. If they can get it in the heart of conservative country, where the states are seriously red, where I was referred to as a "yankee," then why can't I get me some "progressive" talk radio out here?

The debut of a liberal radio network, the idea of chipping away at the right-wing dominance of the radio airwaves excited me, and I tuned in via streaming audio. But once I heard Randi Rhodes scream at Ralph Nader for getting involved in the election, I remembered that political talk radio, regardless of political sensibility, is still largely yelling and bloviating.

But I tune in semi-regularly to Al Franken's show when I'm near a computer, mostly because it has some damn funny moments (I could listen to Al imitate Rush Limbaugh every day), and hearing someone echo your political thoughts and beliefs does have its appeal. (Hopefully, I'll be able to pick it up on an actual radio in the next city I live in.)

So does one year on the air represent a triumph of sorts for Air America Radio? Considering the financial troubles they've dealt with, the answer is probably yes. Has it made a dent in the conservative dominance of talk radio? Only people who study Arbitron ratings and the like know for certain. I suppose progress has to be measured in baby steps in this case. Air America wasn't going to change the world in a matter of months. After all, look who got re-elected to the White House.