Editor's Note - July 12 2006
Staff Writer Alyssa Abkowitz wrote a story this week (Fallout, p. 20) that touches on a subject near and dear to me: my brief talk-radio career.
Her article actually is about the demise of Air Atlanta, the local Air America affiliate. Air America is the liberal talk-radio network created to counter right-wing dominance of the AM airwaves. Creative Loafing sponsored (and I hosted) "Air Loaf," a call-in public affairs show on 1690 Air Atlanta. So Alyssa's story hits close to home.
I'm queasy when we write about something that involves us. It can be a no-win proposition. Some readers always think we're sugarcoating the truth. At the same time, it's hard to know if you're being too tough on yourself, just to prove your independence. The best practice is to be honest and candid, and let the chips fall where they may.
So you want my honest, candid take on Air America's demise in the Atlanta market? It sucks. It sucks for you. It sucks for me. And it sucks for democracy.
The local Air America affiliate, WWAA-AM (1690), very quickly acquired a loyal following and climbed to a respectable place in the ratings. But WWAA's owners always had set up the station with the intention of selling it for a profit. And the buyer, Joe Weber, has his own dream: to build a local arts and music AM station. He kept only one Air America show and switched to a mainly music format.
We've been running with "Air Loaf" on the new 1690 (full disclosure: We may still work out a deal where CL provides cultural content to the station). But a public affairs call-in show just isn't a good fit for the audience 1690 is now targeting. So we decided this week to place "Air Loaf" on hiatus.
Bummer for me. I liked doing radio. But the bigger bummer is for Atlanta losing Air America. Three radio stations already broadcast an unremitting stream of right-wing talk over Atlanta's airwaves. Despite a proven audience, there's no AM voice in the middle, much less at the other end, of the spectrum.
So much for all that "liberal bias" in the media.