Local radio gives liberal talk the business

Air Atlanta signs off

Air America has signed off in Atlanta, with few immediate prospects for finding a new home.

J.W. Broadcasting, which purchased the Atlanta affiliate that broadcast Air America, has launched a business talk format on WCFO-AM 1160. “After doing some research, I realized [Atlanta] was the only top 10 radio market without a business talk station,” says Jeff Davis, vice president/general manager for J.W. Broadcasting. “It was needed.”

The decision comes as a letdown for local liberal listeners and Air America execs. Until J.W. Broadcasting purchased its second area station in late January, the 1690 dial had served as the home of Air America, the only liberal AM talk radio in a market saturated by conservative talk show hosts such as Neal Boortz and Laura Ingraham.

J.W. Broadcasting owns two AM frequencies: 1160 and 1690. The company switched its eclectic programming of R&B, jazz and poetry on WMLB from 1160 to 1690 because that frequency has a stronger signal.

Davis told CL in May that they were considering continuing the Air America programming on 1160. In the end, he says he chose financial programming because 1160’s signals are strongest in Cobb and Gwinnett counties, where left-leaning programming wouldn’t suit the mostly conservative crowd. “The Republican business types are out there,” Davis says. “If we carried Air America, we’d get nothing but complaints.”

Meanwhile, Jon Sinton, the president of Air America who happens to live in Marietta, says he’s continuing to shop Air America around the Atlanta area. He says J.W. Broadcasting continues to broadcast Al Franken on WMLB 1690 dial in the afternoons, and that he’s received numerous calls and e-mails asking for Air America to come back.

“The outcry for [Air America] has been very gratifying,” Sinton says. “We’re talking to some other people to see what we can do.”

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