Air America Radio Files Bankruptcy

Air America Radio, a radio network that was launched in 2004 as a liberal alternative to Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators, on Thursday shut down abruptly due to financial woes.

The network once boasted hosts such as Al Franken and Rachel Maddow, but struggled from the outset, including multiple management shake-ups, a bankruptcy in 2006 and sale for $4.25 million the following year.

Air America ceased airing new programs Thursday afternoon and said it will soon file to be liquidated under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It began broadcasting reruns of programs and would end those as well Monday night.

“The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America’s business. This past year has seen a `perfect storm’ in the media industry generally,” the company said in a statement on its Web site.

The New York-based network said its “painstaking search for new investors” came close to succeeding even this week, “but ultimately fell short.”

Carey Curelop, operations director for KPTK-AM 1090, an affiliate station in Seattle, said Air America’s launch prompted the station to switch from classic country to a progressive talk format in 2005 in the middle of the George W. Bush presidency.{loadposition in-article}

Although the station’s programming was once filled entirely by Air America shows, it weaned itself off nearly completely as the company’s financial troubles became public. It will only need to replace “The Ron Reagan Show” from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and a midnight show called “Clout,” but other left-leaning shows are now available from syndicators, he said.

“There was a needed outlet for the left on the air,” Curelop said. “We’re totally indebted to Air America for launching the network and allowing us to get our feet on the ground.”

New York real estate magnate Stephen Green and his brother, politician Mark Green, bought the company out of bankruptcy in March 2007. Messages left for them were not immediately returned.

Air America said 10 consecutive quarters of declining ad revenue and the difficulty of making money on the Internet contributed to its troubles.

The network had some 100 radio outlets nationwide.

Franken, a Democrat, hosted his own show from 2004 to 2007 before leaving to campaign for a U.S. senate seat in Minnesota, which he won last year after a recount battle decided by the state Supreme Court.

Maddow went on to host her own TV show on MSNBC.

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