As much as I’ve been moved by Janeane Garofalo’s shoulder tattoo that proudly proclaims that she is a liberal, I haven’t been moved by AirAmerica (not just because of the obvious pun opportunity offered by their choice of a name). It’s not the quality of the shows or even my hesitation in believing that Chuck D is going to finally bring the combination of on-air skills and intellectual firepower needed to raise the voice of Dems on talk radio. It’s way too early to even talk quality at this point.
Here are my three problems with AirAmerica. First, the name of Al Franken’s show is the O’Franken factor. Cute? Sure. Poking fun at a guy who smart people love to hate? Absolutely. But why label yourself a parody? As creative and entertaining as you may have found Weird Al Yankovic in his prime, he never rose to the level of those he parodied (no matter how hard Jacko tried). Second, I don’t think that labeling an entire network a certain way will attract the kind of audience as you’d get by simply backing a number of individual radio show hosts who label themselves as being smart, tough and right on the issues and let the best ones rise and fill key slots. Related to this, if Franken’s show happens to fail, this whole project goes up in smoke. Period. I’ve never thought of building a radio personality as being a team sport.
The third and most critical issue: Liberals and their smart friends hate right wing radio for more than the politics. This kind of loudmouth, strictly partisan, ego-driven, simpleminded hogwash has lowered the level of intelligence in our country (and they said it couldn’t be done!). I’m worried that with the launch of an identical yet opposite slate of partisan bickerers, we’re doing little more than throwing shit back at the monkeys. Entertaining to be sure. But effective?