Today my family formally purchases and takes over Air America Radio. Why? Because if progressive values were a stock, now is
the time to buy.
That hasn't always been true, as the cycle of politics demonstrates. In
recent decades, politics seems to have been governed by physics - for
every action, there's an opposite and equal reaction. William F.
Buckley Jr. started The National Review in the 1950s to rebut what he
saw as the dominance of liberalism in the academy and opinion journals
like The Nation and The New Republic. From 1970-72, Public Citizen,
Common Cause and the NRDC were all created in reaction to Nixon's
depredations. Similarly, People For the American Way grew out of the
rise of the Religious Right under Reagan in the mid-80s.
New progressive think tanks over the past 10 years, most recently and
prominently the Center for American Progress, were created to counter
AEI and Heritage. And, of course, the Huffington Post and Air America
were born in reaction to the electronic propaganda of Drudge and
Limbaugh et. al.
Air America was a large, smart idea to counter the near-monopoly on
talk radio by the far (f)right. But like most start-ups, the business
plan collided with reality. Six CEOs over its first three years - and
various missteps and misspending - sent it into Chapter 11.
It's now ready to go from The Perils of Pauline to The Little Engine
that Could. How? First, by focusing on the radio fundamentals of making a strong line-up
even stronger; second, by connecting to other progressive membership organizations to
be mutually fortifying; and third, by being a multi-media content company involving
other distribution platforms - Internet, blogging, audio and video streaming, mobile,
social networks, and more. It's time to think outside the (radio) box.
The twin goals are to make it profitable and influential. One without
the other won't work. If it's not a business, it'll go out of
But it'll be a business with a sharp point of view. The era of
on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand liberalism is over -- or as Robert Frost once
wrote, "a liberal man is too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel."
For all those who worry about messianic
misleaders governing on a right wing and a prayer, Air America 2.0 will
be an answer. For all those fearful of plutocracy and theocracy, the
pro-democracy hosts of AAR's programs will be an answer. If the
conservative media continue to spout propaganda and call it news,
there's now the alternative of truth, justice and the Air American
It's no longer enough just to hope that The New York Times will
cover a rally or press release. The relatively new combination of The
HuffingtonPost, Alternet, Moveon, Center for American Progress and
Campaign for America's Future, The Nation and The American Prospect,
DailyKos and TalkingPointsMemo - and so many labor unions - means that
Air America will be part of a larger progressive
infrastructure heard by a widening audience. For if we can't grow and
prosper now -- given the
110th Congress, given the unmitigated disaster that's Iraq, given a
slew of top-quality presidential aspirants -- when will we?
So Air America will aggressively cover national politics and policies
in ways that will be informative, opinionated and entertaining. All three.
We'll be full of news and views. Two views especially.
First, America should stop attacking Muslim countries in ways that
multiply terrorism. Second, instead of only talking about
exporting democracy, Washington should begin practicing it here at
home, for example by making sure elections aren't auctions.
Speaking personally, my brother and I are excited by this important
challenge and look forward to working with the Air America
professionals - in front of the mic and behind it - who have held this
dream together. Steve Green has been a very successful businessman accustomed
to making money -- and he doesn't intend for AAR to be an exception.
I've been an author, public interest lawyer and the NYC Public
Advocate. For me this feels like a continuation of so much I've done
in the progressive movement over three decades. Air America is
like a public advocate for the country, exposing problems and offering
We're both optimists in the spirit of Walt Whitman, who
wrote that "America is always becoming." Well, Air America too is
But that requires a conversation called democracy. In the spirit that
dialogue beats monologue, I am today contacting the New Hampshire
Republican Party and the New York Post editorial page. Since the
Democratic Party of Nevada actually invited Fox News to host that state's
Democratic debate, I asked if Air America could host the first Republican
debate in New Hampshire, assuring them that "we too can be fair and balanced."
And to Bob McManus, editorial page editor of The New York Post, I
proposed that he come on Air America to discuss his views and that Air
America commentators would in turn once-a-month write an op-ed on his pages, because
"it's better to exchange ideas than insults." His 500,000 readers
should hear from us and our 2 million+ audience should hear from him.
We have many fresh ideas for programming, for technology, for
partnerships with sister organizations. But it's this conversation
called democracy that's the cornerstone of Air America 2.0. We intend
to listen to our listeners. To increase our listeners. To hope they will join
our journey to better content, better programming, and a better country.
To tell them that it's your America, and your Air America.