A letter to the Missoulian: Air America

Here's the text of a letter I just sent off to the Missoulian:

There has been much fuss made over the loss of KKNS and Missoula’s Air America affiliate in the letters of the Missoulian, most of them written by gleeful conservatives claiming the free market and listener disinterest scuttled the station.

On March 30 Steve Rossiter wrote, “Liberal politicians and, consequently, liberal talk radio have no message that is of interest to anyone other than the most left wing of the left wing” and claimed no wanted to listen or support “extreme” political views.

On March 24 Roy LaBarrer wrote: “If there is a market for the product (in this case liberal talk shows) then there will be sponsors. The fewer people listening, the fewer sponsors buying advertising time.” Mr. LaBarrer thought that the station folded because it was unpopular, which kept sponsors away.

Nothing could be more wrong.

The truth is that KKNS had a large and loyal listening audience in
Missoula. Air America’s Al Franken show attracted 3.6 percent of listeners, a much higher rating than Rush Limbaugh on two local stations, combined. KKNS listeners were in a “hot” demographic compared to Rush’s: Franken’s listeners are predominantly in their 30s to 50s, while Rush’s are typically older.

According to a New West report, general manager Dave Cowan blamed the station’s demise on local businesses who were “reluctant to commit to the alternative programming.” Sales manager, Jim Fisher, agreed and noted that many of these businesses who “shied away” from advertising with KKNS were “avid listeners.”

So why would sponsors be afraid to advertise on a popular show they liked? Frankly, potential sponsors of the show were probably scared away by the backlash they could have expected from angry conservatives who denounce any viewpoint that varies from their own narrow worldview. That is, they were scared by right-wing backlash.

And judging from the vitriol levied against liberals in the letters praising Air America’s demise, they were probably right.

Congratulations to these conservatives: you have successfully killed free speech in Missoula.


  1. Maybe just a bit over the top. :)

    Nice job switching to WordPress.com. Much nicer looking than Blogspot.

  2. Air America Phoenix is back up. Couldn’t we do something like they did about getting sponsors to finance it’s comeback?

  3. Well, granny, there are some people looking for investors to get Air American back up and running. they have a website…which is somewhere around here…

    thanks, Jeff! I like it, too. Now I’ve got to customize the blog and we’ll be cooking!

  1. 1 Links… « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Hm. Maybe this had something to do with Air America’s bankruptcy. Certainly it mirrors the reason for the departure of Missoula’s affiliate. […]




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