Air America’s Dirty Secret

by on April 1st, 2004

When Air America took to the air on March 31, the idea was to break the reactionary right’s lock on talk-radio in America. The media coverage largely has dealt with the personalities, whether it will have any effect on the election, and the media coverage of the media coverage. What just about everybody missed is Air America’s dirty little secret. In New York City, it took over WLIB (1190 AM) which has served the black community in the area for years.

In real estate, when the white liberals move into the less-fashionable neighborhoods and drive up prices and open up over-priced coffee shops, it’s called gentrification. What that means is the locals are tossed out because they can’t keep up. And so the white liberals at Air America (Chuck D notwithstanding) in their urge to spread “progressive” values, have managed to deprive the black community in New York of a radio station dedicated to serving its interests.

Nobody doubts that WLIB was losing money; the New York Daily News has a fine report on the entire mess that suggests that ad rates for the community version of WLIB were too low. It was this “unprofitable” situation that let Air America take over the station from 5am to midnight everyday.

Now, if Air America were just another radio network, or indeed if it were a proponent of some other sort of political program, it wouldn’t matter. But if these people are really progressives, I have to say that they have already sold out on day one. They are supposed to prefer local, community-based actions and institutions to those of “greedy corporations.” But from where I’m sitting, and on most issues I’m usually left of the salad fork, it looks like a greedy corporation just wiped out a local, community-focused radio station. Apparently to save progressive radio, they had to destroy progressive radio.

Jeff Myhre