Ever since Air America cancelled "Morning Sedition," a radio show that had become an essential part of my waking routine, I've listened to the station less and less and have started switching between Air America, NPR and WBAI in the morning, but mostly between WBAI and NPR. Last week the station also cancelled the popular evening show "The Majority Report," which has brought us Sam Seder one of the funnier and smarter liberal/progressive commentators out there on mainstream radio. I cancelled my subscription to Air America Premium - not a moment too soon - as there was hardly even anything left to podcast, and I resent paying a network to listen to shows that have been cancelled in my area. This week, it was announced that the management had fired Mike Malloy.
This morning I woke up and remembered, "hey it's September 1st, that means the station has made it's move to 1600 am in NY wonder whether I can get it." So, I tuned to the new station and discovered that though I could get the weaker-signaled station in my apartment, I don't know if I want to. Instead of Mark Riley or Rachel Maddow, I heard some pieces of "Sammy and Army in the Morning," the regular AM show on 1600 am. Who are they? I don't know about Sammy, but "Army" is the not-so-recently disgraced Armstrong Williams.
I checked the stream on the web, and they are still streaming the "Mark Riley" show (though Bill Crowley is sitting in) and Rachel Maddow is on the stream too, but in NY, it does not sound so good. Meanwhile, WLIB, the major Black-owned station in NY, has become an all-gospel radio station and its few regular talk shows, including Al Sharpton's "sharptalk" have all been cancelled, according to this article in the Amssterdam News. Supposedly, Sam Seder is going to replace Jerry Springer in the 9-12 slot starting September 18th, but who knows whether the new NYC station will feature the new show.
There is still WBAI to listen to, especially on Fridays when Mario Murillo still hosts the morning show, but I find many BAI shows unlistenably earnest and I am not at all interested in all the "alternative health" shows that seem to dominate the programming way too often.
I heard Bernard White speaking cheerfully of Air America's failure when I heard him talking a couple of weeks ago on "Wake Up Call" and was disappointed. I understand that the two stations are to an extent competing for listeners in NY - I certainly stopped listening to the WBAI morning show while Maron and Riley were on - but it seems like there should be enough listeners to support one seriously left community radio station like WBAI and one humorous-progressive station like Air America. WBAI is at times ideologically narrow, so Air America could appeal to a wider audience, and had something that has been seriously lacking at WBAI: a sense of humor. It also has commercials, and depends on advertising, which is, White points out, why it couldn't survive as a genuinely progressive station. I agree with his explanation of the station's move to 1600 and its continuing decline having to do with the need to maintain advertisers, but both stations have been victims of the constant anti-left carping of the corporate media. Air America's programmers could just as easily criticize WBAI for its failure to raise enough money and maintain a broad listener base.
Now that Air America is quickly disappearing as a serious competitor for progressive listeners in NY, I am wishing that WBAI would take the internal criticisms of the station as an experience for real listeners a bit more seriously. I was active in the campaign to save the station back in 2002, and was overjoyed when Wake-Up Call came back, and WBAI has initiated some new shows, particularly Michael Ratner's, that are very good, but over the last few years, I've gotten impatient with the station, especially in the morning. The constant pledge drives are a sign of trouble, and I can't stand the endless playing of archived speeches of various left-celebrities when I want to hear current news, not old-time rhetoric.
That's all for now.