Wednesday, June 30, 2004


So I finally feel it is time for a report card on Air America Radio. I have been listening with psychopathic regularity and feel quite confidant in my assessments. I will save my general thoughts for the final grade at the end.


MORNING SEDITION: : INCOMPLETE This is on opposite Howard Stern. Normally that would be nuff said, But, with Stern one of the Champions of Freedom & Goodness he is more important than 100 Air Americas. I do like comedian Marc Maron and with Stern's vacation upcoming I will give them a listen. Here is their Blog.

UNFILTERED: B+ This is my sentimental favorite. The plus in the grade signals that. How can you not love a show co-hosted by a Female Midwestern catholic comic, a still angry but middle aged Rap Star and a butchy lesbian foreign trained journalist. The unlikely but genuine chemistry these three generate (Daily Show Creator Lizz Winstead, Public Enemy leader Chuck D and rabblerouser Rachel Maddow)is infectious and informative. Sharing the mic can get confusing and they are still learning the three headed format. At times they stretch at theme type shows (cell phones cause cancer was a tough show..) but they use pop culture, music and comedy better than any other show on Air America. Funny bits include a singing newscaster, burying the lead and my fave rave the Friday Unfiltered Party Machine where they welcome in Kyle Jason and all answer musical questions like "first single I danced to" by playing the songs they each pick. It rulz. One complaint is that their section of the Air America website needs work.

THE O'FRANKEN FACTOR: C+. The Flagship show, the crowned jewel, the bestseller. I grade hard because of expectations. Let me say, this is a positive C+. There is much to like as Franken is master comedy writer with enough performance skills to be in front of the camera/mic. His conceptual parody of The O'Riely Factor is perfect and he does such a good impression of Rush Limbaugh that he should do a whole show that way. His co-host Katherine Lanpher is a very likeable and capable broadcaster but I am not sold on their vibe together and she reigns in Al to much when he veers towards silly comedy. This show does get the best guests. One day last week they had Bill Clinton, Ron Reagan Jr. ( a great interview..) and Michael Moore. Room for improvement, but getting better daily. O'Franken Factor Blog.

THE RANDI RHODES SHOW: B: The first few weeks of Air America's existence I HATED this show. I found her yenta voice annoying and her whole schtich just rubbed me raw. But once she had me broken down she built me back up like the Air Force Officer she once was. This Brooklyn Chick is like the female Stern. Unafraid of being brutally honest and opionated with a moral supiority that offends and endears. She brings it strong to the Mic and is also the only host of a call in show on the network that rocks it solo. Big ups to that. Read her bio for the background. Good work Randi! Keep it up! Love the stuff about your personal life.

SO WHAT ELSE IS NEWS? B- Like an edgier NPR style hour news magazine show.A variety of commentary, guests and musical segments. Good mix of culture and politics. Host Marty Kaplan looks like Art Garfunkel. Marty has a tendency to be a tad too smug. His jokes can bomb but he does have some witty charm, kinda like a left wing Paul Harvey. Someone on the show has good music tastes because the music bio segments are well produced and feature interesting musicians. Potential not yet reached.

THE MAJORITY REPORT: B Because this show is PRIMETIME I can't listen as much as I would like. This is a great show. Janeane Garofalo has finally found her medium. She is funny, smart, sounds good and has enough cultural clout to gain attention. Given the time to relax she is way less annoying than the soundbyte version of herself. Co-Host Sam Cedar brings a geeky compatriot to Janeane that works. Majority Report also features the most underground guests and bloggers appealing to the younger non-hippy new age crowd. Check out regular blogger-guest Atrious. A recent bit I loved was having Janeane's conservative Dad in studio and the guest co-hosting of David Cross. Also features ex-JMU trickster and Soft Skull Press publisher Sander Hicks. Majority Report Blog.
On their way to an A.

OVERALL GRADE: B- After I got over my initial jealousy of not being involved in Air America, I really became an enthusiastic supporter. The B- reflect a remarkable achievement considering their lack of money, media support and so many first time broadcasters. I hope they can survive this start up phase and continue their mutation into a viable radio network with more affiliates and listeners. Click here to listen online.

One early problem for both the station and the listeners was the lack of commercials. They ran constant PSAs and the same 3 commercials. Some atrocities still remain like Supercuts but their has been an obvious influx of new advertisers like Starbucks and Folynex hair solution.

The biggest success of Air America so far is their excellent guests. The regularly feature a wide array of authors, journalists, bloggers, comedians, muscians, politicians and other news makers. These guests have gone a long way to buying some quick legitimacy to the young network.

NOTE: This report only covers the WEEKDAY schedule. I hope to get to the weekend soon and I am dying to listen to the Saturday Night music show BRING THE NOISE

Yours in bias based radio,